Guide to the Papers of Denis Freney
National Library of Australia
- Denis Freney
- Papers of Denis Freney
- Date Range
- Collection Number
- MS 9535
- 2.54 metres (19 boxes)
- Language of Materials
- National Library of Australia
Scope and Contents
The collection comprises correspondence, notebooks, brochures, flyers, journal articles, memorabilia, newscuttings, pamphlets, photographs, press releases, reports and research material. They document Freney's career and activities as a teacher, political activist, journalist and writer. The papers particularly relate to Freney's involvement in the Campaign for an Independent East Timor as well as independence campaigns in New Caledonia and Vanuatu. Other topics include the Nugan Hand Bank and crime and corruption in Australia in the 1970s and 1980s.
Correspondents include Abilio Araujo, Julie Ann Ellis, José Ramos Horta, Brian Manning, Warwick Neilly, Michel Pablo, Chris Santos and Barak Sope. File 1 in Series 3 contains further correspondence by José Ramos Horta which has been given to Freney.
Conditions Governing Access
Please refer to the collection's catalogue record for the access conditions (http://nla.gov.au/nla.cat-vn16004).
Conditions Governing Use
Copying and publishing of unpublished manuscript material is subject to copyright restrictions. For such material, written permission to publish must be obtained from the copyright holder(s). Copying of unpublished material for research purposes is permissible 50 years after the death of the creator of the material.
Items from this collection should be cited as '[Title or description of manuscript item], Papers of Denis Freney, National Library of Australia, MS 9535, [ series and/or folder number]'.
The collection was donated to the Library by David McKnight in six instalments in 1997, 1998, 2000 and 2001.
The six instalments have been amalgamated and arranged into seven series. Where possible, the original arrangement of the papers and file titles have been preserved by the Library.
East Timor; the fight for independence, Sydney, D. Freney, 1975 In defence of the Vietnamese revolution: against its Trotskyist detractors, Annandale, D. Freney, 1975 Timor: freedom caught between the powers, Nottingham, Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation for Spokesman Books, 1975 The CIA's Australian connection, Sydney South, D. Freney, 1977 Australia's CIA connection , 1977 The Socialist Labour League: the Moonies of the left, Sydney South, D. Freney, 1982 Polish voices: interviews with Solidarity, Red Pen, 1981 All the way with the CIA? The Labor Committee for Pacific Affairs and the attack on the Pacific trade unions, Sydney, D. Freney, 1984 Nazis out of uniform: the dangers of neo-Nazi terrorism in Australia, Sydney South, D. Freney, 1984 The Socialist Labour League: the Moonies of the left ... with additional material on the Socialist Workers Party, Sydney South, D. Freney, revised edition, 1984 Get Gough! and Dr Jim and Rex and Lionel and all: the CIA, organised crime and arms dealers in the loans affairs conspiracy, Sydney South, D. Freney, 1985 The fruits of Glasnost: selections from the Soviet media, edited by Denis Freney, Ultimo, Australian Radical Publications,  The politics of Solidarity: supporting liberation struggles in the Australian context, Sydney South, D. Freney, 2000 A map of days: life on the left, Port Melbourne, Heinemann, 1991 Larry Death, Port Melbourne, Mandarin, 1991 Shadow over East Timor, a documentary film produced in 1987 and updated in 1991 for SBS TV. Freney was co-producer and scriptwriter for the film.
Denis Freney was born in Sydney in September 1936 and grew up in the suburbs of Sans Souci and Harbord. He attended North Sydney Boys High School (1948-52) where he gained his Leaving Certificate. He then studied at the University of Sydney (1953-55) gaining his Bachelor of Arts. This was followed by a Diploma of Education (1956).
At the age of sixteen Freney joined the Australian Labor Party and then later at Sydney University joined the Communist Party of Australia. He became disenchanted with the party after the denunciation of Stalin by Khruschev in 1956 and the Soviet invasion of Hungary. He then joined the Trotskyist movement.
He began teaching in 1957, first at Balgowlah High School and then later in Cessnock. In 1960 he left Australia for Europe. During this time he visited many countries and made contact with members of Communist Parties and the Trotskyist movement. He visited South Africa in 1961-62 and then travelled to Algeria in 1963-65 to work with the Algerian Press Service and with Michel Pablo, a member of the Trotskyist Fourth International and an adviser to the new government.
In 1968 Freney returned to Australia where he helped organise many demonstrations against the war in Vietnam. In 1971 he was instrumental in organising the massive campaign against the Springbok rugby tour which ended sporting contacts with South Africa. This was followed by his involvement in the Campaign for an Independent East Timor and the independence struggles in New Caledonia and Vanuatu.
During the 1970s he also wrote one of the first articles in Australia reporting the emergence of the militant gay liberation movement in New York. A short time later he publicly acknowledged his own sexuality and became one of the early activists in the gay movement in Australia.
Freney was a journalist and sub-editor for Tribune, the magazine of the Communist Party of Australia in 1970-76 and again in 1980-91. He was also editor of East Timor News in 1976-79 and editor of Seli Hoo (a monthly magazine on the Vanuatu and New Caledonian independence movement) in 1977-79.
Following his fiftieth birthday in September 1986 Freney decided to write his autobiography. A map of days was published in 1991. This was followed by Larry Death, a political thriller, which was also published in 1991. Freney died from cancer in September 1995.
This series consists of general correspondence including letters, notes, drafts of speeches and articles, flyers, telegrams, pamphlets, press releases and telegrams. The majority of letters relate to Freney's involvement in the independence campaigns in East Timor, New Caledonia and Vanuatu. Other material relates to his membership of the Communist Party of Australia, his work as a journalist for Tribune and his personal writings.
Correspondents include Abilio Araujo, Julie Ann Ellis, José Ramos Horta, Brian Manning, Warwick Neilly, Michel Pablo, Chris Santos and Barak Sope.
The correspondence has been arranged in chronological order. Due to the amalgamation of the seven instalments there is a small degree of overlap in dates, as the original arrangement of material within files has been retained.
This series consists of 29 notebooks and an address book. The notebooks contain names and addresses, appointment details, notes of press conferences, research notes and travel arrangements. Freney's writing is quite difficult to read and the notes do not have dates or subject headings attached to them. The notes which can be read appear to relate to the Nugan Hand Bank, intelligence organisations including the CIA, crime and corruption, land rights and notes on the Philippines.
East Timor was a Portuguese colony from the 16th century until 1974. In April 1974 the Portuguese armed forces overthrew the right wing government in Lisbon and undertook to relinguish their overseas empire. After the withdrawal of the Portuguese, the situation in East Timor deteriorated rapidly as Indonesian forces began to cross the borders. On the 28th November 1975 the East Timorese Fretilin Party declared the region's independence but on 7th December 1975 Indonesia launched a full scale invasion of the territory.
Freney's commitment to East Timor began well before the Indonesian invasion when he organised a trade union and community delegation to the newly liberated Portuguese colony. In this period and after the invasion he worked closely with leaders José Ramos Horta and Abilio Arujio in keeping the world informed of the brutality of the Indonesian rule and the Fretilin guerilla struggle.
The Campaign for an Independent East Timor was established in 1974 to support the right of the East Timorese to independence and self-determination, to oppose any Indonesian invasion and to support Fretilin community projects. Freney was Secretary of the CIET in 1974-87. In 1976 a radio link was established with the Fretilin forces in the Northern Territory. Though harassed by government intelligence agencies, Telecom and the police, this contact survived for at least 18 months before being closed down.
This series consists of correspondence, telegrams, press releases, newscuttings, notes and reports relating to the campaign for an independent East Timor. File 1 contains correspondence between José Ramos Horta and Freney and other supporters of the campaign from around the world. See also Series 1 for other correspondence relating to East Timor.
Correspondence, 1985-88, notes, newscuttings and press releases relating to the re-establishment of radio contact between East Timor and Darwin in 1986. The file also contains correspondence (1988) and an agreement (1989) for the production of a documentary film entitled Shadow over East Timor to be made by Freney and others (File 3) - Box 5
This series consists of newscuttings, brochures, pamphlets, journal articles and reports on various subjects. A majority of the folders relate to the Nugan Hand Bank and its connections with the CIA and organised crime in Australia and overseas. Freney became interested in this subject after the death of Frank Nugan near Lithgow, NSW in 1980. He wrote various articles on this for Tribune and prepared a number of draft chapters on the subject.
This series consists of papers relating to Freney's autobiography A map of days and the political thriller Larry Death which were both published in 1991.
This series consists of black and white prints and negatives, colour prints and a box of 35mm colour slides. The majority of the photographs do not have any accompanying caption information or the dates when they were taken. The subject coverage includes demonstrations, marches and meetings in Australia and East Timor relating to the Campaign for an Independent East Timor and also the independence struggles in New Caledonia.
There is an envelope of colour prints showing the liberated areas in East Timor (1983) with troop training, guerrilla fighters and the Fretilin Commander-in-Chief Xanana Gusmao. There is also a portrait shot of Freney, a small number of prints showing him taking part in demonstrations as well as a series documenting a visit to the Philippines in 1986.
This series consists of miscellaneous papers including personal memorabilia and badges and stickers relating to the campaign in East Timor. There are also typed draft chapters for an historical novel on Henry James O'Farrell and photocopies of company records collected by Freney as part of his investigations into the Nugan Hand Bank and its association with organised crime and intelligence organisations in Australia and overseas.