63 Ballard to Department of External Affairs

Cablegram 145 BATAVIA, 20 May 1947, 11.58 a.m.


We have endeavoured to secure interview with Van Mook to urge the case for earliest agreement on joint message but he is fully engaged on matters set out in my telegram 144. [1] We therefore saw Schuurman and Boon this morning and had a thorough discussion.

2. We urged the following points:

(a) Malang conference has ended;

(b) Agreement on terms and conditions of message would create better atmosphere for settlement of details of allocation of goods, price etc., whereas attempt to settle details first would run the risk of bogging down;

(c) Lifting of ban would remove a factor adverse to Australian- Dutch relations;

(d) Agreement and concrete co-operation on this matter might to some extent relieve present tension in the general economic negotiations;

(e) Participation of the Indonesian Government in the message would be clear evidence to the unions that the Republic wants the ban lifted;

(f) Prohibition of export of arms from Australia would remove one of the waterside workers' objections to lifting the ban.

3. The effect was good as far as Schuurman and Boon were concerned and they

have proposed a meeting tomorrow Wednesday at 3 p.m. to endeavour to settle the question. They will meanwhile discuss with other Dutch authorities.

4. Nevertheless they revealed that certain real and important doubts are in Dutch minds viz:

(a) whether the Indonesians can in fact deliver rice;

(b) whether advisable from the Dutch viewpoint to become dependent on the Republic for rice while the deadlock on economic and political implementation of Linggadjati continues;

(c) whether joint request for good offices of the Australian Government would in fact result in the lifting of the ban. The Dutch are reluctant to risk a fiasco.

5. It would be of assistance to us at tomorrow's meeting to have firm authoritative view on the last item above, paragraph 4 (c).

In this connection please take into account the fact that the Malang conference has passed a resolution asking for continuance of Australian waterside workers' ban on Dutch ships.

6. As regards paragraph 2 (f) above we stated that such prohibition exists. [2] This was on the authority of Carne and Richardson. Please confirm urgently,

1 Document 62.

2 The export of arms to countries outside the British Commonwealth was prohibited.

[AA:A1838/278, 401/1/3/2, ii]