6 Second Meeting of Ad Hoc Task Force on Portugal

Canberra, 17 May 1974

CONFIDENTIAL

Participants

Mr F. B. Cooper (Chairman) Head, Europe, Central and Southern Africa Branch

Mr R. J. Greet Head, West Europe Section

Mr T. Sofield Acting Head, Central and Southern Africa Section

Mr A. J. Melhuish Head, UN Political Section

Mr L. W. Herron General Legal and Antarctic Sub-Section

Mr G. C. Evans Policy Planning Group

Mr I. Wille Indonesia Section

Dr R. A. Gordon Political and Social Research Section

Mr M.A. S. Landale Law of the Sea Section

Miss S. Boyd (Rapporteur) West Europe Section

Summary Record

Recent Developments in Portugal

A paper summarising recent developments in Portugal, including the establishment of a Provisional Government and a Council of State was tabled and discussed. A copy of this paper is attached.

  1. A second paper, on the situation in the Portuguese Overseas Territories, is also attached.

Portuguese Timor

  1. It was agreed that three alternatives could be envisaged for the future of Portuguese Timor: continued association with Portugal; independence; association1 with Indonesia (possibly preceded by international administration under UN auspices).
  2. It was agreed that before any firm conclusions could be reached, more had to be known about the thinking of the native Timorese themselves.2
  3. Equally, more needed to be known about the Indonesian attitude. It might be assumed that Indonesia would not be likely to welcome a small and weak independent neighbour which could be a source of instability in the region. However, before attempting to sound the Indonesians out, we needed to have a clear idea of what our objectives were in relation to Portuguese Timor.
  4. It was noted that the future of several small Asian and Pacific territories (e.g. Cocos and Christmas Islands) was already the subject of separate study and that work on Timor should also be co-ordinated with this.
  5. Other important elements in our overall attitude would be the extent of Australia's economic interests in Portuguese Timor (e.g. oil concessions in the Timor Sea and civil aviation interests).
  6. Methods of gauging Timorese opinion were discussed. Possible sources include JIO and Immigration, which sends teams of officials from Darwin to Timor from time to time. A further possibility would be to send a Foreign Affairs Officer from Jakarta3 or as a member of an Immigration team. The latter would provide a convenient 'cover' and would be less likely to attract attention.

[matter omitted]4

[NAA: A1838, 3038/10/1, vi]