99 Department of External Affairs to Ballard and Officer

Cablegrams 168, 74 CANBERRA, 26 June 1947


Van Holst Pellekaan called today stating that he had been sent from Batavia because of doubts in the minds of Dutch authorities arising from comments made by the Waterside Workers as to whether in fact the Dutch ship, if sent, would be loaded. He was informed that we took objection to this reflection on the assurance which the Government had given the Dutch authorities and that if there was any difficulty in loading, Dutch authorities would be entirely to blame as a result: (a) of the delay which has taken place in sending a ship, and (b) the unnecessarily provocative action in arranging to load army equipment before civilian supplies. He was given to understand that we could not go on tolerating the presence of Dutch service personnel in Australia and the loading of military Supplies. [1] Moreover, the press comments accusing Waterside Workers of not carrying out their undertakings, obviously emanating from Dutch sources, could only be regarded as provocative and Waterside Workers at least were entertaining doubts as to whether the Dutch in fact wanted to ship civilian goods, a high proportion of which was to go to Indonesians.

2. He asked for an assurance that if a ship were sent immediately it would be loaded. He was given the reply that that assurance has already been given. He stated that no conditions could be imposed such as type of goods to be shipped and their destination. He was told that while the Government was not a direct party to the Dutch-Indonesian arrangement, we had, having originated the arrangement, a moral obligation to ensure that it was carried out by both parties. For that reason, while the Waterside Workers would impose no conditions, the Australian Government had to be assured that both parties carried out their undertakings. He maintained that all goods could be shipped in the first instance to Batavia and allocated to Indonesia from there and that this decision was entirely within the jurisdiction of the Dutch. He was told that (a) we would have to be satisfied that the other party to the arrangement agreed with this, and (b) that from the point of view of tactics, the Dutch would be well advised to load an adequate proportion of goods for Indonesia and to off-load at Indonesian ports. He agreed and stated that that was the present plan.

3. He has stated that he will report that the assurance previously given is confirmed and urge the despatch of a ship immediately.

4. On the question of shipping in Australian bottoms from Indonesian ports, he states there is no objection to this but that we will be disappointed in the quantities available. He maintains that there is no sisal which is not produced on estates. He was informed that we would probably arrange for a shipment from Indonesian ports as even though there were only small quantities such a shipment would assist in the recommencement of trade.

1 Dutch Army personnel were being employed in Sydney to load the Tjibesar (under charter to the Dutch Army headquarters in Australia) with tools, machine parts and military stores.

[AA:A1838/283, 401/3/10/8, i]