42 Dunk to Evatt

Minute CANBERRA, 22 January 1946


The attached paper [1] deals at length with the recent adverse drift in Australian-Dutch relations.

The position in very brief summary is- (a) the trend probably started with the Australian Government decision not to admit Dutch troops to Australia for training (this was before the end of the war and before any Indonesian problem developed), (b) in subsequent matters, e.g., repatriation of Indonesians held in Australia, shipment of relief supplies, etc., the Dutch have not been very co-operative and most of the moves have been from the Commonwealth, (c) although the Commonwealth has refrained from giving statements to the press while we have been endeavouring to negotiate for shipment of relief supplies, various Dutch officials have given press statements seeking to throw all the blame on to the Australian Unions and inferentially on to the Australian Government for not controlling the Unions, (d) other press comment has appeared which, although not directly attributed to the Dutch Authorities has the appearance of being provided by them.

The Dutch are obviously bewildered by the rapid march of events in N.E.I. They had a country, lost it to the Japs and just as they looked like re-occupying it Indonesian difficulty prevented them.

They do not seem to be able to understand why former friends are not fully and openly supporting them against what they regard as an Indonesian 'revolt'.

The Dutch try to apply pressure through the business community by crying 'damage to future trade'. I think undoubtedly some damage will result if they again become masters in N.E.I. On the other hand their goodwill would never have extended to purchasing goods in Australia which could be obtained more cheaply elsewhere.

I suggest the line with the Netherlands Minister should be- (a) that we take a serious view of the public statements by Dutch officials which are inferentially critical of the Government, (b) that while we are desirous of continuing friendly relations, they can only be maintained if the Dutch co-operate.

I suggest further that you should keep the discussion on general lines and not be led into discussion on particular cases. [2]

(W. E. DUNK)

1 'Australian-Dutch Relations-1945-1946', dated 21 January.

Evatt conferred with Van Aerssen on 22 and 23 January. Included in the issues discussed were the difficulties associated with he shipping of relief supplies from Australia to the N.E.I. Van Aerssen confirmed that the N.E.I. authorities in Batavia now agreed to Australian unions' demand for the distribution of relief supplies in the N.E.I. to be supervised by SEAC. Also raised during the discussions was Evatt's hope that Australia might be involved in negotiations between the N.E.I. Govt and the Indonesians.

[AA:A1838/2, 401/3/9/1/1, i]