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208 Memorandum from Plimsoll to Embassy in Jakarta

Canberra, 28 December 1951

CONFIDENTIAL

Reference is made to your memoranda Nos. 666 of 30th November,1 and 687 of 6th December,2 raising a number of points regarding offers made to Indonesia for training in Australia, and in regard to the broader question of participation by Indonesia in the Colombo Plan.

2. The more urgent questions were answered in our telegram No. 402 of 10th December, 1951.3

3. Your understanding in respect of aid already offered to Indonesia is generally correct. We have so far extended only one form of assistance, viz. training in Australia. While the fellowships and scholarships held by Indonesians are financed from Australia's contribution to the Technical Co-operation Programme of the Colombo Plan, no conditions attach to this aid in respect of membership of the Council for Technical Cooperation, and it will be continued irrespective of the decision Indonesia may ultimately take concerning membership

4. Similarly, there are no conditions in respect of membership of the Council, attaching to such specific offers as that referred to in your paragraph 24, inviting nomination of an executive officer to come to Australia to ascertain what facilities can be made available for training in the field of port control and generally to inspect the Australian system.

5. Your understandings regarding the distinction between the Australian contributions to the Technical Co-operation and the Economic Development Programmes of the Colombo Plan are also confirmed. The Australian contribution to the first year of operation of the latter Programme, ending 30th June, 1952, is �A8,750,000, of which �2,250,000 has been reserved with the objective of covering the provision of assistance towards developmental projects of countries which may become members of the Consultative Committee and which require financial assistance.

6. The question in paragraph 5 of your memorandum 666 regarding the possibility of provision of training material and equipment to supplement programmes of the U.N.T.A. Missions in Indonesia, cannot be answered categorically in the absence of a policy decision as to whether these forms of assistance may be given to Indonesia without full participation by it in the Technical Co-operation Programme. It may, however, be stated that as a general principle, Australia favours the undertaking of joint projects with the United Nations and Specialized Agency Technical Assistance Programme where the countries concerned are members of the Council for Technical Co-operation, and we are prepared to consult with the Council for Technical Co-operation in respect to specific proposals of this nature.

7. Your comments regarding the recent approaches made to Indonesian Authorities by the United Kingdom in regard to the invitation previously extended to Indonesia to join the Consultative Committee, have been noted with interest. For your information, you are advised that the Australian Legation has reported in similar terms regarding the approaches to the Thai Government. You have, of course, had our advices explaining why we did not wish to be associated with the United Kingdom representations, even if this had been possible.

8. The points made in the concluding three paragraphs of your memorandum No. 666 will be given further consideration, although they have not escaped our attention. The publishing by Australia of a pamphlet in the Indonesian language setting out the objectives and operations of the Colombo Plan could not be undertaken except at the request of the Indonesian Authorities. In view of their general attitude to the Colombo Plan, care must be taken to avoid any impression of a campaign against the Government's policy.

9. The rather stringent standards set for training courses in Australia has also been considered in principle. Whilst it is realised they are high for the majority of Indonesians, there are obvious and serious dangers in any step towards relaxation. Academic courses are taken by students coming to Australia under the Colombo Plan in general classes. A backward student could receive no benefit materially and would be subject to social and psychological stress in such circumstances. An academically unqualified student would, on his return to Indonesia, represent a poor example of Australian assistance. This type of problem is less acute with ad hoc courses, special seminars and guided observation in Departments etc. and perhaps a greater concentration on these is indicated for Indonesians.

10. Your point regarding the making of specific offers is also noted. It is agreed that offers should be specific and in concrete terms, and we have been developing in this direction. The wording of the example quoted by you is doubtless loose, but a specific offer in a particular field of interest was intended. It is suggested that you use discretion in communicating the contents of memoranda you receive in this connection, or, alternatively, seek clarification.

[NAA: All 604, 704/2/2]

1 Document 204.

2 Not published.

3 Document 205.

4 Not published.

Last Updated: 10 January 2017

Category: International relations

Topic: History