34 Minute from Feakes to Lavett and Mclennan

Canberra, 20 September 1974


Portuguese Timor

This week's Policy Information Report includes a statement that 'Australia has no special ambitions in Portuguese Timor .. .'I think that I cleared this text; but at this morning's meeting with the First Assistant Secretaries, Mr Border said that he had reservations about the phrase 'special ambitions' with its implication that we might have ambitions, as it were, which were not special. In addition, the word ambitions has a somewhat predatory flavour about it. While I think that there are difficulties about refining what it is that we do not have in Portuguese Timor-for instance, I do not think that we can deny having special interests there-1 tried my hand at a reformulation of the thought expressed in the PIR. I suggested, and Mr Border agreed, that what was meant was:-

'Australia naturally has important particular interests in Portuguese Timor (for example, in oil exploration) but we have no ambition to achieve a special position there'.

Does this look all right to you? If it does, could you define what our important particular interests are in Portuguese Timor to replace 'oil exploration', the words I used, which are a bit imprecise.1

[NAA: Al838, 3038110/1, x]