413 Press Statement by Chifley

CANBERRA, 21 December 1948


Cabinet discussed today the Indonesian situation. It will be recalled that Australia raised the question in the Security Council originally in July, 1947, under Chapter 7 of the Charter under which the Security Council has power not only to order cessation of hostilities but to enforce that order by means not involving force, for example, economic or other sanctions.

The Good Offices Committee has reported to the Security Council that the Netherlands have violated both the order to cease fire and the order to negotiate. The Security Council must now therefore decide what action it should take to ensure its instructions are carried out.

Cabinet endorsed action taken associating Australia with the United States in raising the matter at an urgent meeting of the Security Council at Paris. Australia will call for an immediate cease-fire, the return of Dutch forces to previous demarcation lines, and action by the military observers on the Committee of Good Offices to prevent reprisals or executions. Meanwhile, the Australian representatives at Paris are instructed to discuss with other members of the Security Council, particularly Britain and the United States, what further steps should be taken to bring about a permanent solution of the dispute, for example, whether the Security Council should order an immediate election with a view to establishing a legislature along the lines proposed by members of the Committee of Good Offices; whether the full sovereignty ultimately envisaged by the Dutch should not be granted with much less delay than the Dutch contemplate; whether in the event of continuous disputes the United Nations should not consider a trusteeship arrangement. [1]

1 Teppema remonstrated to Chifley on 22 December that as a politician Chifley should realise the impossibility of holding immediate elections in the existing state of disorder in Indonesia; that it was impossible to transfer sovereignty to a government, without any administrative apparatus terrorised by irresponsible elements; and that in Teppema's opinion the idea of a trusteeship was 'plain silly'. Asked whether the press statement was consistent with an earlier indication Chifley had given to Teppema that Australia would take no new initiatives on the Indonesian situation, Chifley answered that the press statement was exclusively the result of a cabinet decision and that senior officials of the Department of External Affairs were not involved in it. See Rijks Geschiedkundige Publicatien, Officiele Bescheiden Betreffende De Nederlands-Indonesian Bterekkingen 1945-1950, 1948- 1949, vol. XVI, The Hague, 1991 p.271.

[AA:A461/2, A350/1/9]