90 Chifley to Clark Kerr

Cablegram unnumbered CANBERRA, 16 February 1946

TOP SECRET MOST IMMEDIATE

Lord Mountbatten informs me that he has referred to you the question of the return to Java of some 700 Indonesians on the MANOORA which left Sydney partly loaded on February 15th and will complete loading at Brisbane February 18th and Mackay February 20th. The decision to return these persons was made with the full agreement and actually at the strong desire of the Netherlands Minister here who, we felt entitled to assume, reflected the attitude of Dr. van Mook. it would now appear that the latter wishes the movement delayed.

Advice of the projected movement was also given to the S.E.A.C.

Mission in Melbourne, who referred it to South East Asia Command.

In the absence of a reply we had assumed that no objection was being raised.

I appreciate the delicacy of the task confronting you.

Nevertheless I find some difficulty in seeing how the arrival, with Dutch and Indonesian consent, of a relatively small number of Indonesians would give rise to any incident or otherwise embarrass the discussions now taking place. indeed, in view of the Indonesians' desire for repatriation, you may consider that frustration of plans at this stage might well affect those discussions to a far greater degree than if they were allowed to proceed. Interruption of the movement would certainly create embarrassment and difficulties in Australia.

In all the circumstances, I would strongly press for your concurrence (and that of Dr. van Mook) in the MANOORA proceeding as planned. An immediate reply would be greatly appreciated.

[AA:A1838/2, 401/3/6/1/5]