87 Tonkin to Menzies

Minute CANBERRA, 17 June 1947

TRADE WITH N.E.I.

On Saturday morning, the 14th instant, Mr. Forsyth of the Department of External Affairs saw me with Dr. Oesman of the Indonesian Government who is here in Australia in an unofficial capacity in connection with trade.

He has returned to Sydney to-day to discuss shipping matters with certain Governmental representatives and has in mind to go to Melbourne possibly on Thursday or Friday of this week. I have asked him to call on you as he is desirous of obtaining detailed information regarding the possibility of Australia supplying to the Indonesian Government certain commodities which are required urgently.

During the course of the conversation he mentioned the following items:

Telephones and telephone equipment.

Textiles including dyeing cloth for the batik industry, shirting material, shirts and material for shirts, ladies' dress material.

Medicines, including medical equipment.

Motor tyres and tubes, all sizes.

Commercial aircraft-two-engined machines.

He also mentioned meat, cheese and tinned butter, regarding which I furnished him with the necessary details.

In connection with the commercial aircraft, the question arises as to whether these would be made available to the Indonesian Government as they could possibly be regarded as coming within the category of munitions of war. [1]

I pointed out to Dr. Oesman that certain of the items which he has mentioned, particularly telephones and telephone equipment and textiles, were in very short supply in Australia, and that difficulty would be experienced in securing supplies. On the other hand, I am under the impression that certain of the medicines and medical equipment mentioned might be available as might also be motor tyres and tubes.

However, it might be advisable for you to examine the position prior to your meeting Dr. Oesman.

1 See Document 63, note 2.

[AA:A609/1, 552/175/2]