138 Burton to Evatt [1]

Cablegram 31 CANBFRRA, 23 July 1947, 12.15 p.m.



1. I have been puzzled as to course of action. You will appreciate the restraints experienced here very largely resulting from a feeling that any action taken by Australia to bring matter to Security Council would be politically unacceptable and interpreted as sympathy with position of waterside workers and their backers.

Moreover, McNeil expressed to Beasley view that it is important not to raise matter in Security Council which would bring Russia into area. [2]

2. My own estimation of opinion here is that action by Australia would be welcomed. That is certainly view consistent with press leaders. On second point, the matter is likely, in any case, to go to Security Council and, this being the case, it would be preferable for us to bring matter than for some other State such as India.

3. Watersiders have reimposed ban. [3] Teppema has publicly stated, 'We ask Australian people to leave us alone. There is no war. It is a police action.' [4] United States have decided on a policy of 'hands off' [5] and it is clear United Kingdom in fact adopting same policy, though professing willingness to mediate, if requested. [6]

4. Meanwhile, Sjahrir has left for India [7] and Sjarifoeddin, in broadcast from Djokjakarta, made personal appeal to various countries and persons, naming Australia and yourself [8] Precise action sought not clear.

5. 'London Times' speaks of influence Britain, United States, and Australia have been trying to bring to bear and is by implication critical [of] Dutch. 'New York Times' states action cannot be condoned and matter should come to Security Council.

6. Sjahrir at Singapore quotes Australia and India as having been two most friendly nations and looks to them for assistance. [9]

7. Have followed up your original message London [10] and emphasised to Beasley importance Australian initiative or at least association with any mediation [11], but no move is imminent because, while sympathy undoubtedly is against Dutch, no one is prepared to act against European in favour of native Indonesian.

8. Australian vital long-term interests clearly demand unequivocal action to express Australian sympathies. Only action which meets the need and which is consistent with Australian policy of judging on facts would be immediate reference appropriate body. If matter is claimed domestic, and if in any case reference Security Council unwise, immediate appointment Australian Commission Enquiry seems way out. This could be done without reference either party, but with request both parties facilitate enquiry, with view to suggesting means terminating conflict. Difficult for Dutch to refuse, but even so, fact of taking step puts us in good position.

This could be put forward by you in such a way as to take advantage of press leaders' view that Australia must be active;

obviate criticism of sympathy with Indonesians and waterside workers; and would give better reason for non-reference to Security Council.

9. May I discuss with Prime Minister and seek concurrence in statement by you of appointment Australian Commission of Enquiry to ascertain facts and recommend to both parties solution?

1 Evatt was en route to Japan aboard HMAS Kanimbla.

2 See Document 135.

3 The Waterside Workers' Federation announced on 21 July that 'inview of the report of violent Dutch aggression against the Indonesian people' it had placed a temporary ban on loading two Dutch ships (at Brisbane and Adelaide). The Federation reimposed a complete ban on the loading of Dutch shipping on 24 July.

4 Teppema's comments were made at a press conference in Melbourne oil 22 July.

5 In a statement released to the press on 21 July, the United States Government expressed profound regret that negotiation bad been discarded as the means of achieving a settlement of Dutch- Indonesian differences, but refrained from criticism of either side.

6 See Document 128.

7 Sjahrir flew from Djokjakarta to Singapore on 22 July.

8 Sjarifuddin concluded a broadcast on Radio Djokjakarta on 22 July with the following appeal: 'It is clear that the current conflict must affect the peace of the whole of South East Asia.

Therefore, every possible effort should be taken to settle the Indonesian dispute and this should come quickly and effectively. I appeal to the world and foremost to our friends in Australia to strengthen their efforts in order to stop further bloodshed and to judge our fight in the light of justice, freedom and humanity.' 9 Sjahrir's remarks were made at a press conference on 22 July.

Asked from where the Republic of Indonesia expected help, he replied: 'We are on very good terms with India and Australia. The Australian attitude has always been very favourable toward Indonesia.' 10 See Document 116.

11 See Document 136.

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