347 Evatt to Bruce

Cablegram N5 CANBERRA, 9 December 1943

MOST IMMEDIATE SECRET

Your N.39, reference van Mook. [1]

You, of course, appreciate that while it is entirely within the competence of the Netherlands Government to make this appointment without any reference to Australia, the active occupancy of such a post in Australia does require the sanction of this Government.

Thus the proposal itself required our initial consent.

2. In our view the time for van Mook assuming such a post in Australia is most inopportune and I see no difficulty in your stating this on an informal basis to van Kleffens. [2] If difficulties are raised and your informal approach is rejected I shall feel impelled to raise matter with him direct.

Best regards.

1 Document 344.

2 Netherlands Foreign Minister. Bruce discussed this issue on 9 December with the Netherlands Ambassador to the United Kingdom (Jonkheer E. Michiels van Verduynen) and stressed that in view of the Commonwealth Govt's reaction to the appointment of Maj Gen L.

H. van Oyen (see Document 330, note 1) it was essential that the Australian Prime Minister should be formally notified of the proposal that van Mook proceed to Australia. Bruce pointed out that 'the question was not one of a diplomatic appointment which it was suitable to convey to the Minister for External Affairs but was one concerning fundamental Government policy between Australia and the Netherlands and the intimation should accordingly be to the head of the Australian Government'. Bruce also told the Ambassador 'most confidentially and completely off the record' that he 'had the impression that the relations between van Mook and Evatt were not of the best'. See note on file AA:M100, November 1943.

[AA:A989, 43-44/600/5/1/5]