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84 Cablegram from Gordon Walker to Australian Government

London, 11 August 1950

157. CONFIDENTIAL PRIORITY

Consultative Committee

Your telegram No.171.1

1. We should be most reluctant to contemplate postponement of general programme communicated to you by our High Commissioner if this can be avoided. We feel it important to maintain the impetus of arrangements for following up Colombo and Sydney conference proposals. A postponement of date proposed for Ministerial talks, which is precisely timed to suit convenience of Ministers who will be visiting Europe for I.M.F. meeting, would, we fear, lead to a slipping in programme which, when we came to examine the possibility of finding another mutually convenient date, might be found to have become substantial. The proposal in my telegram No. 147 for the postponement by a fortnight of date by which replies to questionnaire must be received from non- Commonwealth countries2 was designed to give maximum possible extension of time without involving any postponement in time-table for producing report.

2. We entirely agree that every encouragement should be given to non-Commonwealth countries to prepare replies to questionnaire, but we feel in the light of information received from the United Kingdom Ambassador at Djakarta,3 that there is no guarantee that even an extension of date by a month will necessarily ensure an answer in the case of Indonesia. Moreover, we feel that the really important objective is to secure that representatives of the non-Commonwealth countries concerned should attend the London conference. We should hope to obtain from them, either beforehand or at the conference, sufficient material to make it possible with their agreement to include something about their development programmes in the report, if necessary, and in last resort, leaving details to be filled out later in a supplementary communication to the United States. For this reason, we should prefer not to lay too much stress on the importance of the questionnaire in our dealings with Indonesia on this matter, lest in doing so we prejudice major objective of securing their physical representation in London.

3. Australian Government will no doubt have heard from their representative in Djakarta4 that the coming change in the Indonesian Government5 makes it unlikely that that Government will, in any case, be in a position to begin to consider this matter until after the new Government has settled in some time after 17th August. The United Kingdom Ambassador there has, therefore, suggested that the terms of the invitation to the Indonesian Government should be revised so that new Government could be asked quite simply if they were willing to participate in the London conference. The aim could be explained as partly completing the general picture of a co-operative effort by the whole area, assuming that the other Governments come in, and partly to make sure that Indonesia did not because of its understandable political preoccupations, lose the chance of sharing in any of benefits to which the whole scheme may eventually lean. If they could contribute any information at all about their present economic position, their development plans and their requirements, these might be worked into final report at the last moment, but as a last resort the published statistics could be used to assess the present economic position and some quite arbitrary allowances made for the rest. Even this would be better than nothing at all. We think this suggestion a good one in the circumstances and would, for our part, be willing that the matter be represented to the Indonesian Government in these terms. If you agree, you will no doubt instruct your Ambassador in Djakarta accordingly.

[NAA: A9879, 2202/El part 1]

1 Document 82.

2 See footnote 1, Document 82.

3 D.W. Kermode.

4 J.D.L. Hood.

5 The Government of Prime Minister Mohammed Hatta was due to resign with the establishment of a unitary state in Indonesia, planned for 17 August 1950.

Last Updated: 10 January 2017

Category: International relations

Topic: History