397 Cablegram to New York

Canberra, 8 January 1976


Timor: Special Representative of the Secretary-General

Ref 0.UN4851 and O.UN48531

Thank you for these helpful telegrams. We agree that Winspeare appears to be approaching his mission in a realistic and helpful manner. He nevertheless places us in some difficulties with his two requests which we feel must be considered against the background of the considerations outlined in our telegrams O.CH3050782 and O.CH305491.3 In general, we wish to minimise the degree of Australian involvement in the Winspeare mission and to avoid, so far as possible, a situation where his visit becomes a source of further tension between Australia and Indonesia, or provides a focus for further hostility towards Indonesia among elements in the Australian community.

  1. It would not be consistent with this approach to encourage Winspeare or the United Nations Secretariat to look to the Australian Government as a source of 'independent information' on what is happening in Timor. We believe that there could be a slippery-slope quality about such suggestions in that one request could lead to another until a situation arose where, despite ou[r] caveats, and in spite of what Winspeare himself has told you about his recognition of the problems facing Australia, we could be drawn into the role of party principal that Australian policy to date has been to resist. In any event, as you will appreciate, much of the information we have on developments in Timor comes from highly sensitive material which could not be conveyed to Winspeare.
  2. It would probably be possible to charter a suitable aircraft from Australia for Winspeare's needs in Timor. But our strong preference would be for him to look elsewhere and we are glad that enquiries are being made in Singapore and in Jakarta itself. The United Nations might find as a suitable charter firm, the United States-owned National Air Charter, which operates from both Jakarta and Singapore. The Australian Government has occasionally chartered a Grumman Gulfstream aircraft from this company for flights between Singapore and Christmas Island. We were able to do so at competitive rates.
  3. Sani's reaction reported in New York's 0.UN4853 is probably indicative of the Indonesian Government's sensitivity over this matter. We agree that in the light of the enquiries that the Indonesians are currently making as to charter availability in Jakarta we should delay our own response to Winspeare. Should Winspeare approach the Mission in Geneva about the matter, however, we would like Geneva to respond in terms of paragraph 3.

[NAA: A10463, 801/13/111, xix]