348 Bruce to Evatt

Cablegram N40 LONDON, 10 December 1943, 4.10 p.m.

IMMEDIATE CONFIDENTIAL MOST SECRET

Your telegram N.5. [1]

This matter is distinctly difficult. The position as I understand it is that the Netherlands Government have been giving careful consideration to the problems involved in regard to the Dutch re- occupation and resumption of administration of their territories in the Netherlands East Indies as and when they are freed from Japanese occupation. The result of this consideration has been that the Netherlands Government has decided the time has arrived when they must strengthen their organisation in the Pacific area for this purpose. They have also decided it would be desirable that this organisation should be in Australia as this would enable the closest co-operation to be maintained with the Australian Government in regard to the problems of the Pacific, in which the two countries have so mutual an interest.

I am expecting a formal communication at any moment from van Kleffens [2] asking me to inform the Australian Government of the Netherlands Government's desire to strengthen their organisation in Australia and that to this end they propose to send van Mook, their Governor-General designate of the Netherlands East Indies, to Australia. It is true, as you point out in paragraph 1 of your telegram, that the implementation of the Netherlands Government's plans requires the assent of the Australian Government, but I am certain that it has never crossed the minds of the Netherlands Government that the reply of the Australian Government would be other than a cordial agreement with their proposals and an offer of the fullest co-operation. Any other reaction from us, [whether] [3] conveyed personally and informally by me or in a communication direct from you to van Kleffens, would, I am certain, have the most unfortunate repercussions on our relations with the Dutch.

As I see it, the matter having proceeded so far and the proposals having received the endorsement of the Netherlands Government, the time has passed when we can do anything on a personal or informal basis and to my mind official and formal action indicating that an expansion of the Dutch organisation in Australia would not be acceptable to the Australian Government is out of the question. We would, of course, be quite within our rights in indicating that van Mook would not be persona grata to the Australian Government. This, however, would be a most extreme step and in any event I assume such is not the case.

BRUCE

1 Document 347.

2 Netherlands Foreign Minister.

3 Corrected from Bruce's copy on file AA:M100, December 1943.

[AA:A989, 43-44/600/5/1/5]