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330 Evatt to Bruce

Cablegram N2 CANBERRA, 20 November 1943


Your N.36. [1]

Please strongly discourage notion of sending Netherlands Indies Governor to this country. In the present situation appointment would be most embarrassing.

I regard it as an essential that van Kleffens should attend Pacific Conference referred to in my recent speech [2] and that future of Dutch New Guinea and Dutch Timor should then be discussed along principles already accepted by Portuguese Government in relation to Portuguese Timor.

These principles are stated in writing in certain letters between Eden and myself which I presume you have seen. [3]

If you can obtain agreement with Netherlands Government to such principles or better still agreement for a long lease to this country which would not impair Netherlands sovereignty you would achieve a diplomatic result of tremendous importance to the future security of Australia.

As you know Timor and Dutch New Guinea were left practically defenceless with resultant liability of dire consequence to Australia.

The matter needs most delicate handling as in case of Portugal but I am confident you can achieve the results desired.

Above all you must [kill] [4] the van Mook plan effectively but without publicity.

1 Bruce had been asked on 25 October to investigate a report that the Netherlands Govt had appointed Maj Gen L. H. van Oyen as Commander-in-Chief, Netherlands Forces in Australia, and that he would be placed in charge of post-war reconstruction in the Netherlands East Indies (see cablegram N1 on file AA:A989, 43/600/5/1/3). Bruce sought information from the Netherlands Foreign Minister (Dr E. N. van Kleffens) and was advised that:

'Van Oyen has no instructions with regard to post-war reconstruction. What he has to do-within his own sphere-is to prepare the administrative agencies which will be needed once parts of the Netherlands Indies are re-occupied.' (See Bruce's note of 28 October on file AA:M100,October 1943 and cablegram N35 of 1 November on file AA:M100, November 1943.) Van Kleffens also advised Bruce confidentially that Dr H. J. van Mook was likely to give up the position of Netherlands Minister for the Colonies and go to Australia as Lieutenant Governor designate of the N.E.I. Van Mook himself informed Bruce of this plan on 16 November and the latter informed Curtin the same day (see cablegram N36 on file AA:M100, November 1943).

2 See Document 297, note 2.

3 See Document 233.

4 Inserted from Bruce's copy on file AA:M100, November 1943.

[AA:A989, 43-44/600/5/1/5]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013

Category: International relations

Topic: History