112 Chifley to Teppema

Letter CANBERRA, 13 April 1948


I desire to acknowledge your letter of the 1st April having reference to the matter of the shipping ban affecting Indonesian trade. [1]

Since speaking to you personally, I have discussed this matter with the Minister for Shipping and Fuel (Senator Ashley), the President of the A.C.T.U. (Mr. Clarey), and Mr. justice Kirby, Chairman of the Stevedoring Commission. I am endeavouring to see if some satisfactory understanding can be reached in regard to this matter.

With reference to the remarks which Mr. justice Kirby is alleged to have made to overseas shipping interests, I understand that he has said no more than that the matter should receive consideration in due course. This I take to mean that the matter of negotiations should be undertaken when the position in the Netherlands East Indies is clearer.

It would appear to me highly desirable that if possible some joint statement be made by your representatives and the interested Indonesian parties on the lines of the arrangements entered into between the three of us before police action was taken some time ago. [2] If you feel prepared to indicate that this proposal would be acceptable, I feel that it would be most helpful and we for our part would do everything possible to assist in arriving at a satisfactory arrangement. [3]

1 Document 109.

2 i.e. the Gani - Van Hoogstraten Agreement (see Volume XI, Appendix II).

3 On 19 April, Teppema, the Netherlands Minister to Australia, telegraphed Boetzelaer that Chifley was looking for the path of least resistance with the Unions by trying to gain concessions from the Netherlands and scoring points with the Republic, even potentially to the point of establishing direct trade relations with the Republic. Teppema proposed to give a negative reply to Chifley's proposal of a joint statement by Dutch 'representatives' and 'interested Indonesian parties'.Boetzelaer replied on 29 April, endorsing Teppema's postition and asking him to emphasise to the Australian Government that the boycott affected the whole of Indonesia (both Netherlands and Republican territory) which could only be spoken for, during the transitional period, by the NEI Government which in turn consulted with the Provisional Federal Government. See Rijks Geschiedkundige Publicatiegn Officiegle Bescheiden Betreffende De Nederlands-Indoneische Betrek kingen 1945-1950, 1948, vol. XIII, The Hague, 1986, PP.478-9.

[AA:A1838, 401/4/4/1, v]