174 Chifley to Attlee

Cablegram 200 CANBERRA, 28 July 1947, 4.45 p.m.


Thank you for your message of 27th July. [1]

2. It now seems apparent that, even though United States were reluctantly persuaded to approach the Dutch in association with the United Kingdom Government, there would be a considerable delay before the approach were made and before a Dutch reply were given.

Moreover, I interpret your message as indicating that you do not think Australia could be associated with any such approach.

3. The conflict has now been going on for 9 days, and as yet no action has been taken by any Government to attempt a settlement.

You set out to approach the United States Government 4 days ago, but their hesitation has led to delays and it will obviously be 2 weeks or longer before a definite move can be made.

4. I do not think that we in Australia can afford to wait another week, particularly when even at the end of this period we may not be associated with any move which is ultimately decided upon.

5. Furthermore, we have always supported the view that the Security Council of the United Nations is the appropriate constitutional tribunal. It has a function analogous to an Arbitration Court in relation to international situations and disputes, and the by-passing of this tribunal for reasons of expediency will be most difficult to justify. The real reasons are not such as can be publicly stated.

6. I appreciate that it is difficult for the United Kingdom Government, because of her relations with the Netherlands, to state that she supports and is party to reference by us to the Security Council. I do not consider however that United Kingdom Government should in any way be embarrassed if the action were taken by Australia solely on her own responsibility.

7. Having during the last several days carefully weighed the position, I feel that Australia should immediately draw attention of the Security Council to the situation in Indonesia, raising the question in a quasi-judicial way. We have in mind an immediate recommendation that Article 17 of the Linggadjati Agreement [2] be observed by both parties and in this way obviate all unnecessary discussion of merits of the case.

8. We hope you will see your way clear to support Australia, at least at the initial stage when the jurisdiction of the Security Council might be questioned. In this way, and in this way only, can the discreditation of the Western Powers which you feared be avoided.

9. We feel that a decision in regard to reference to the Security Council should be made by Wednesday.

1 Document 170.

2 See Appendix I.

[AA:A1838/274, 854/10/4, i]