158 Letter from Joseph to Dan

Canberra, 23 July 1975


Thanks for your letter of 21 July on Portuguese Timor.1

I had hoped that Dick [Woolcott] would have talked to you about our outwards telegram.2

The telegram was very much for the Minister's own benefit. Earlier in the week, at the South East Asian Heads of Mission meeting, he kept saying that we had to convince the Indonesians that we were 'serious'. Your telegram arrived within 24 hours of his trying to hammer home that message. We really could not do less than ask you to go back to Tjan in the manner suggested.

But Dick had earlier discussed Timor with the Prime Minister during which the Prime Minister had rehearsed his position on the territory. My understanding was that Dick would have tempered the instructions in the outwards telegram accordingly. This was certainly the reason for the inclusion of the last sentence in the first paragraph of the outwards telegram.

I do not disagree with anything you have said about Harry. But we do sometimes get the impression here that Harry is being deliberately outrageous.

Finally, may I assure you that our telegram was not meant to reflect a criticism of the Embassy's performance. As you say the Embassy does an excellent job. The Department cannot fault its performance.

[NAA: A10463, 801/13/11/l, xii]