44 Department of External Affairs to Kirby

Cablegram 64 CANBERRA, 6 February 1948, 4.40 p.m.

IMMEDIATE SECRET

Dutch Authorities at Batavia are raising last minute difficulties about admission of Australian observers. [1] In our view their action amounts to open contempt for authority of Committee of Good Offices. [2] The decision to increase the number of military assistants was discussed by the Committee with Van Vredenburch two weeks ago, when no objection was raised. The Dutch have now insisted that the Committee's decision be referred in writing to the Netherlands Delegation.

Meanwhile all arrangements for the departure of fourteen observers from Australia had been completed and they were to leave Darwin early this morning. Up to the present no authority for them to proceed has been received from the Dutch. We have protested to Netherlands Legation here which knows nothing about the matter.

Understand from Critchley that Spoor is mainly responsible for the delay. [3] Critchley emphasises seriousness of further delay since the truce situation requires presence of additional military assistants as early as possible.

The Committee yesterday informed the Netherlands delegation in writing that the presence of military assistants in sufficient number to cover the critical areas was a matter of vital importance, and requested an urgent decision.

To-day's press reports Republican allegations to Committee regarding 300 Indonesian casualties in 30 incidents since signing of the truce. We are asking Critchley for details. Allegations suggest that Dutch are continuing flagrant violence [4] of truce agreement.

1 On 3 February Eaton advised the Far Eastern Office of the Netherlands Ministry for Foreign Affairs that fourteen Australian military observers would arrive in Batavia on the following day in response to a request from the Committee of Good Offices to the Consular Commission to make available additional military officers for the supervision of the Renville Truce Agreement. On 3 February the NEI Government declared that it 'reserved the right' to admit the additional military assistants until clearance had been 'requested and obtained through the proper channels'.

2 In Cablegram K53, dispatched on 4 February, Critchley informed the Department of External Affairs that the decision to increase the number of military assistants had been discussed verbally and in detail between Herremans and Van Vredenburch two weeks earlier.

Critchley thought that the misunderstanding arose from Van Vredenburch's temporary absence from Batavia.

3 Cablegram 21, dispatched on 5 February, conveyed the information about Spoor.

4 This should presumably read: 'violation'.

[AA:A1838, 854/10/4/2, iv]