336 Dunk to Evatt

Cablegram 983 CANBERRA, 30 June 1946


South Seas Commission.

1. Whilst it is not necessary pending indication of United States attitude to decide finally question whether Dutch should be invited to attend Conference, I feel following points should be brought to your attention.

2. As far as the geographical situation is concerned the attachment of Dutch to Australian New Guinea makes it difficult to draw the line merely at the Australian-Dutch border. On the other hand there does seem to be some doubt whether Dutch New Guinea falls logically within South Seas area from point of view, of, for example, communications, political interest and economic development. The view is that Dutch New Guinea is rather more directly connected with Java and the islands of the 'Indonesian' group.

3. The Prime Minister feels that the exclusion of the Dutch might appear rather pointed and produce an unfortunate impression at this stage following as it does upon recent Parliamentary and press discussions of relations between Netherlands representative and the Australian Government. [1]

4. Sir Frederic Eggleston is of the opinion that they should be invited if the Conference goes beyond British Commonwealth. He feels that the Dutch would have much to contribute on the functional aspects generally of the Commission's work particularly in agriculture.

5. The New Zealand Prime Minister is believed to feel strongly that the Dutch should be invited. it is possible that the New Zealand Minister in Washington will be instructed to raise the matter with you.

6. Possibly an invitation along following lines could be issued to the Dutch after clarification of United States and French attitude.

(a) Australian and New Zealand Governments are anxious to have at disposal of Commission the experience gained by the Dutch in the development of Dutch New Guinea.

(b) We should be glad to have the Dutch as a full member.

(c) An alternative arrangement would be for them to establish liaison with the Commission without being a full member and to participate in such research and functional activities as directly concerned them (as they have done to some extent in the Caribbean Organisation).

(d) The choice was entirely one for the Netherlands Government.

1 Chifley had taken public exception to comment by the Netherlands minister, Baron van Aerssen, describing current trade union bans on repairs to a Dutch destroyer as prejudicial to good Australia- Netherlands relations.

[AA:A1838/2, 383/1/2/1, i]