426 Johnston to Burton

Memorandum MELBOURNE, 19 November 1947

I refer to your teleprinter message No. 730 dated 10th November, 1947, which concerns the Indonesian request for landing rights in Australia. [1] In reply, I wish to say that provided it is established that the Indonesian aircraft could comply with the safety requirements, this Department [2] would be willing to grant such rights under the terms of a bilateral agreement for reciprocal air transport services. This raises two questions of higher policy on which your advice is sought. In the first place, does the Australian Government recognise that the Republican Government of Indonesia exercises sovereignty over matters external to her territory, and secondly, is the Australian Government willing to negotiate, at this stage, with the Republican Government? It may be appropriate, here, to say that a draft proposal for the establishment of services between the Netherlands, the Netherlands East Indies and Australia will shortly be for-warded to you with the request that it be presented to the Dutch authorities for consideration, together with our notice of termination of the existing arrangement.

2. It may be appropriate, also, to raise two other matters pertinent to Australia's relations with Indonesia. Firstly, I refer to my memorandum 192/101/4050, dated 1st July, 1947, which related to informal discussions with Dr. USMAN concerning his proposal that an Australian Airline company be formed in Australia, to operate between Indonesia and Australia. [3] It will be remembered that your advice was sought on the position of the Indonesian Republic, pending the official approach which was then expected. No reply has been received in this connection and, presumably, the official approach has not been made. However, this Department would not wish to lose sight of such a favourable opportunity, and, dependent on the attitude adopted by the Australian Government towards Indonesia, the subject might again be raised with Dr. USMAN should a suitable opportunity arise.

3. Secondly, I refer, for your attention, the following text of a letter dated 28th October, 1947, received from Australia's Civil Aviation Representative in London:

'A letter has been received by the High Commissioner from Dr.

Soebandrio, Representative in Britain of the Republic of Indonesia, stating that it is the Republic's wish to take up membership of I.C.A.O. [4] I have advised the Representative that full particulars may be obtained from I.C.A.O., Montreal.

The Representative also enquires whether Australia would be agreeable to sponsoring his Republic for membership, and on this point I would be pleased to receive your advice.'

In this connection, you will be aware that Australia strongly supports the aim of the International Civil Aviation Organization to achieve the widest possible membership. However, the request for Australian sponsorship again raises the general question of the Australian attitude towards Indonesia, and, here again, your advice is sought.

4. It will be seen that guidance is necessary on the overall policy of Australia in regard to Indonesia, before this Department is able to deal satisfactorily with the questions raised in this memorandum, and it is requested that an early reply may be forthcoming.

1 The message conveyed the text of a letter received from Usman which sought temporary permission for Indonesian aircraft to land on Australian territory pending entry by the Republic of Indonesia into membership of the International Civil Aviation Organization.

2 The Department of Civil Aviation.

3 Usman had proposed that an Australian company operate an air service under contract to the Republic of Indonesia between Darwin, Dili, Malang and Djokjakarta.

4 The International Civil Aviation Organization.

[AA:A1838/1, 716/26/6, i]