Guide to the Papers of Denis Freney


MS 9535

National Library of Australia View Catalogue Record

Collection Summary

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 (

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Copying and publishing of unpublished manuscript material is subject to copyright restrictions.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 Copying of unpublished material for research purposes is permissible 50 years after the death of the creator of the material.

Preferred Citation

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, [1988] 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.

Biographical Note

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.

Item Descriptions

Series 1. Correspondence, 1965 - 95

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.

Correspondence, 1965-90 (File 1) - Box 1

Correspondence, 1969-84 (File 2-3) - Box 1

Correspondence, 1974-76 (File 4) - Box 1

Correspondence, 1976-91 (File 5) - Box 1

Correspondence, 1977-79 (File 6) - Box 2

Correspondence, 1978 (File 7) - Box 2

Correspondence, 1980-84 (File 8) - Box 2

Correspondence, 1986-88 (File 9) - Box 2

Correspondence, 1991-95 (File 10) - Box 2

Address book belonging to Freney (File 11) - Box 2

Series 2. Notebooks

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.

Notebooks, 1 - 2 (File 1) - Box 3

Notebooks, 3 - 4 (File 2) - Box 3

Notebooks, 5 - 6 (File 3) - Box 3

Notebooks, 7 - 8 (File 4) - Box 3

Notebooks, 9 - 10 (File 5) - Box 3

Notebooks, 11 - 12 (File 6) - Box 3

Notebooks, 13 - 14 (File 7) - Box 3

Notebooks, 15 - 16 (File 8) - Box 3

Notebooks, 17 - 18 (File 9) - Box 4

Notebooks, 19 - 20 (File 10) - Box 4

Notebooks, 21 - 22 (File 11) - Box 4

Notebooks, 23 - 24 (File 12) - Box 4

Notebooks, 25 - 26 (File 13) - Box 4

Notebooks, 27 - 28 (File 14) - Box 4

Address book of delegates to a conference in Newcastle, Easter 1973 (File 15) - Box 4

Series 3. Campaign for an Independent East Timor, 1974-83

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, 1974-75, of José Ramos Horta which had been given to Freney (File 1) - Box 5

Correspondence, 1977-78, relating to the funding of the Democratic Republic for East Timor (DRET) which was established in Melbourne in 1976 (File 2) - Box 5

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

Photocopies of messages relating to the Timor Democratic Union (UDT) Coup in 1975 (File 4) - Box 5

Correspondence, newscuttings and notes relating to radio transmissions, 1976-81, between East Timor and Australia. The file includes photographs of a radio transmitter (File 5) - Box 5

Telegrams sent by Fretilin forces in East Timor to Australia, 1978 and some tyescript translations of messages (File 6) - Box 5

Samples of the codes used to send messages between East Timor and Australia (File 7) - Box 5

Subscription details and mailing list for East Timor News (File 8) - Box 5

CIET press releases, November 1974 - January 1976 (Includes reports filed by Roger East before his disappearance in December 1975) (File 9-10) - Box 6

CIET press releases, January 1975 - September 1976 (File 11-12) - Box 6

CIET press releases, December 1975 - September 1976 (File 13) - Box 6

CIET press releases, February 1976 - September 1976 (File 14) - Box 7

CIET press releases, August 1976 - November 1976 (File 15) - Box 7

CIET press releases, October 1976 - February 1977 (File 16) - Box 7

CIET press releases, January - September 1977 (File 17) - Box 7

CIET press releases, September 1977 - December 1979 (File 18) - Box 7

Newscuttings, 1974-75 (File 19) - Box 7

Newscuttings, January - February 1976 (File 20) - Box 8

Newscuttings, March - April 1976 (File 21) - Box 8

Newscuttings, May - June 1976 (File 22) - Box 8

Newscuttings, July - August 1976 (File 23) - Box 8

Newscuttings, September - October 1976 (File 24) - Box 8

Newscuttings, November - December 1976 (File 25) - Box 8

Newscuttings, January - February 1977 (File 26) - Box 8

Photocopy of a journal article by H.W. Arndt entitled Timor: vendetta against Indonesia which appeared in Quadrant (1979)and a draft typescript response by Freney (File 27) - Box 9

Dossier on the International Seminar for East Timor held in Lisbon on 20th May 1979: proceedings (File 28) - Box 9

Photocopies of documents requested by Freney under the Freedom of Information Act in 1983 relating to CIET, East Timor and himself. The request was made to several Federal Government Departments. The material includes information held on Freney (File 29-30) - Box 9

Correspondence, 1983-84, relating to a submission to the Hope Royal Commission on Australia's Security and Intelligence Agencies by CIET (File 31) - Box 9

Photocopy of a 'Gazetteer of East Timor' and 'Report on a visit by Ken Fry to the United Nations Security Council to participate in debate on East Timor' (File 32) - Box 9

Series 4. Subject files, 1962-89

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.

Abeles, Sir Peter and TNT Ltd, 1980-84 (File 1) - Box 10

Communist Party of Australia, 1971-81 (File 2-4) - Box 10

Crime and corruption, 1976-77 (File 5) - Box 10

Dollar Fund of Australia Ltd, 1969-77 (File 6) - Box 10

Gay Liberation Movement, 1972-76 (File 7) - Box 10

Marxism and Socialism, 1964-89 (File 8-9) - Box 11

Moll, Christo, 1979-83 (File 10) - Box 11

Nazis in Australia, 1962-84 (File 11) - Box 11

National Civic Council, 1962-84 (File 12-13) - Box 11

Negri River Corporation, 1981-83 (File 14) - Box 12

Nuclear Disarmament Party, Socialist Workers Party and the Tasmanian Unemployed Workers Union (File 15-16) - Box 12

New Caledonia and the Philippines, 1986-88 (File 17) - Box 12

New Hebrides / Vanuatu struggle, 1977-80 (File 18) - Box 12

New Left Party, 1985-90 (File 19) - Box 12

Nugan Hand Bank, 1978-83 (File 20-23) - Box 13

Organised crime, 1983-85 (File 24) - Box 13

Phone tapping, 1983-84 (File 25) - Box 14

Royal Commission on Intelligence and Security, 1968-75 (File 26-27) - Box 14

Saffron, Abe, 1976-83 (File 28) - Box 14

Schuller, Karl, 1973-83 (File 29) - Box 14

Strasser, Sir Paul, 1977-82 (File 30) - Box 14

Socialist Workers Party, 1983-84 (File 31) - Box 15

Special Branch (various state police forces), 1978-83 (File 32) - Box 15

Task Force 157 and the Nugan Hand Bank, 1977-83 (File 33) - Box 15

Tax avoidance, 1982 (File 34) - Box 15

Urbanchich, Lyenko, 1979-86 (File 35) - Box 15

Ustasha, 1969-86 (File 36-39) - Box 15, 16

West Papua New Guinea, 1976-77 (File 40) - Box 16

Miscellaneous including Labor Committee for Pacific Affairs, National Civil Council and unions, 1975-86 (File 41) - Box 16

Series 5. Published works, 1986-91

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.

Correspondence with publisher William Heinemann , 1986-91, relating to both publications, comments from various sources on Freney's manuscripts, book reviews and applications for grants from the Literature Board of the Australia Council, 1990-91 (File 1) - Box 16

Proofs of various chapters of A map of days with corrections (File 2) - Box 17

Copy of A map of days (File 3) - Box 17

Series 6. Photographs, 1975-86

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.

Photographs (File 1-2) - Box 17

Series 7. Other papers, 1961-83

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.

Typescript draft chapters of a manuscript 'O'Farrell' with a synopsis and notes (File 1-2) - Box 17

Issues of Kalori (1968) the Pittwater High School magazine and The Hill (1961) the annual magazine of the Hill High School, Johannesburg. Freney was a teacher at both of these schools (File 3) - Box 18

Photocopies of company information from records held by the Corporate Affairs Commission of New South Wales obtained by Freney in 1973-83 (File 4) - Box 18

Submission to the New South Wales Royal Commission of Inquiry into Drug Trafficking, 1983 (File 5) - Box 18

Memorabilia including badges, campaign stickers and membership cards for the New South Wales Teachers Federation and the Communist Party of Australia (File 6) - Box 18

Five sound cassettes. Four of the cassettes contain segments of radio broadcasts on the situation in Timor. Most of the interviews do not contain dates or details of speakers. A fifth tape contains the proceedings of the book launch for A map of days in 1991 (File 7) - Box 18

Typed notes on the Gay Liberation Movement including comments by Freney on his own homosexuality, drafts of poems relating to his homosexuality and a letter (nd) written to his mother and sister expressing his feelings after publicly acknowledging his homosexuality (File 8) - Box 19