309 Record of Conversation Between Taylor and Tjan

Jakarta, 29 October 1975

SECRET

Portuguese Timor

I told Tjan that the Ambassador's meeting with General Yoga yesterday had been unsatisfactory and went through the main problems as we saw them. I gave him a typed up copy of the message from Gerald Stone, Channel 7 and the Victorian Branch of the AJA and emphasised that pressure on this matter was now becoming intense. We had to have firm confirmation that the journalists were dead. We had to know how they died and details of how they were identified. We needed to obtain any personal effects etc. which remained and to deal with the bodies [in accordance] with the wishes of the next of kin. In the Embassy we saw this as being very important in terms of the immediate future for Australia/Indonesia relations. We had to ask Indonesia for assistance because there was no other way of contacting the UDT/APODETI side. Malik had often said that Indonesia had an interest in Portuguese Timor because it had a common boundary. The same arguments can be used as to why we had sought information through the good offices of the Indonesian Government.

  1. Tjan said he would check as far as he could. He said he was in a difficult position. He did not have direct contact with General Yoga. In the absence of General Ali and Benny Moerdani, Tjan's main channels to influence were not there. Nevertheless he would do what he could.
  2. I said we were making approaches again to BAKIN and Foreign Affairs on the matter of the journalists. We were also again seeking approval for Johnson to go to Atambua and the border region.
  3. I told Tjan that the Government intended to make a statement on the Timor situation in the Senate on 30 October. Tjan was disappointed but clearly expected a statement at some stage.
  4. I asked whether anti-Australian feeling was growing in senior echelons in the Indonesian Government. Tjan said no. Great faith was placed in Mr Whitlam.
  5. I gave Tjan the latest information on the ship bans in Australia and told him about the meeting of the maritime unions later today.

[NAA: A10463, 801/13/11/1, XV]