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This paper examines Australian attitudes and decisions which undermined East Timorese self-determination between 1973 and 1979—beginning before the illegal Indonesian invasion in 1975 and ending in February 1979 at the commencement of Australian-Indonesian maritime boundary negotiations. During this period, key diplomats and politicians from both sides of Australian politics minimized, ignored, and overlooked human rights abuses in East Timor to advance Australian interests. This approach to East Timor was maintained for over two decades, but had been adapted from an earlier diplomatic blueprint established in the mid-1960s. The main Australian achievement from this approach was accessing East Timor's oil and gas reserves by a 1989 treaty with Jakarta. This was made possible by undermining the legal rights of the East Timorese and tacitly accepting the Indonesian occupation. In this period (1975–1979) around 84,200 Timorese from a pre-invasion population of 600,000–800,000 died as a direct or indirect consequence of the Indonesian invasion. By 1999, as many as 200,000 East Timorese had died since the 1975 invasion.