97 Addison to Beasley

Letter LONDON, 24 June 1947



As the Minister of State and I promised at Friday's High Commissioners' meeting we have looked into the question of the extent to which the Australian Government was taken into our confidence before our recent approach to Mr. Marshall in connection with Indonesia. [1]

Up to Friday last we had, as you know, sent your Government no less than nine separate telegrams about Indonesia since 23rd May.

(The numbers are D.466 [2], 467 [3], 468 [4], 492 [5], 499 [6], 511 [7] 525 [8], 534 [9] and 535. [10]) Our object in sending these telegrams was of course, in accordance with our usual practice, to keep Australia, in common with other Commonwealth countries, currently informed about all major developments in our policy. I can assure you that we entirely recognise Australia and New Zealand's great interest in Indonesian affairs (Dr. Evatt indeed in his statement on the 6th June laid special emphasis on this [11]) and it is with precisely this interest in mind that we have throughout covered developments in Indonesia in such detail in our telegrams.

We have heard from Mr. Williams that Dr. Evatt took the opportunity of Lord Killearn's recent presence in Australia on his return journey from New Zealand to Singapore to express the natural anxiety of the Australian Government over developments in Java. [12] But I think it only fair to say that except for [y]our own observations at Friday's High Commissioners' meeting we have so far received from your Government no comments on the specific issues which have arisen in the immediate crisis in Indonesia, although, needless to say, we have throughout been, and are still, anxious to hear any suggestions which the Australian Government care to offer about the best policy to follow in the present very difficult situation.

So far as consultation between the United Kingdom and the United States is concerned, the telegrams sent to the Australian Government up to 9th June (i.e. well before our latest approach to Mr. Marshall mentioned in our telegram No.534) contain the following specific statements:-

(i) D.468 of 23rd May:-

'H.M. United Kingdom Ambassador, Washington, has been instructed to discuss position with United States Government and to inform them of Prime Minister's remarks to Netherlands Ambassador.' (This refers to Mr. Attlee's warning as to the effect of the use of force by the Dutch.)

(ii) D.492 of 4th June:-

'U.K. Ambassador Washington has been instructed to ascertain views of United States Government on Dutch proposals' (for implementation of Linggadjati Agreement).

(iii) D.499 of 5th June:-

'Dutch have now requested us to use our good offices in representing to Indonesians desirability of accepting in substance Dutch proposals of 27th May. They are making similar approach to United States Government.' 'We have instructed His Majesty's United Kingdom Ambassador Washington, to inform State Department of action which United Kingdom Consul-General has been authorised to take, and to express hope that they will be willing to authorise United States representative to take similar action.'

(iv) D.511 of 9th June:-

'United States State Department have sent instructions to United States Consul-General Batavia to take similar, but not simultaneous, action, and United States Consul-General will doubtless visit Djokjakarta. State Department have agreed with us that no (repeat no) publicity shall be given to either of these visits.'

I think you will agree that these passages in the telegrams can have left no doubt (a) that we were maintaining close touch with the United States Government over the current developments in Indonesia, and (b) that we had in fact already, at the instance of the Dutch, agreed with the United States Government to take common action in Java with the object of persuading the Indonesians to be reasonable. In the absence of any comment from your Government, I think that we were justified in concluding that this procedure was acceptable to Australia, and it was on this assumption that we acted when it became clear that we must lose no time in approaching the United States about the next step in our common approach to the crisis. The despatch of our telegram to Washington instructing His Majesty's United Kingdom Ambassador to invite the United States Government to associate themselves with our offer of good offices was approved only on 16th June, and the urgency of the situation was increased by the fact that the Dutch Cabinet was expected to meet within twenty-four hours from that time. It seemed imperative to take action before then.

In conclusion I would repeat that we here, both in the Foreign Office and Dominions Office, are fully conscious of the importance of events in Indonesia to Australia, and most anxious not only to receive any information which the Commonwealth authorities may have about the situation there (such as you mentioned on Friday that they had) but also to give full weight, in framing United Kingdom policy, to the Australian Government's views.

1 See Document 96.

2 See Document 79, note 3.

3 Dispatched on 23 May, it conveyed a summary of the United Kingdom Government's views on the Indonesian situation with special reference to the status of the Indonesian Republic and economic considerations. De facto recognition of the Republic of Indonesia by the Government of the United Kingdom had been announced by Bevin on 31 March.

4 See Document 79, note 4.

5 See Document 77, note 1.

6 Document 77.

7 Document 79.

8 See Document 88, note 1.

9 Document 88.

10 See Document 95, note 6.

11 In a statement tabled in the House of Representatives on 6 June, Evatt reviewed recent developments in the NEI with particular reference to the recent trade negotiations. Referring to general Australian responsibilities in the Pacific and South East Asia, Evatt also emphasised 'the need confronting us to play our due part, for which our experience equips us, in helping the peoples of these areas achieve their legitimate aspirations'. See Commonwealth Parliamentary Debates, vol. 192, pp. 3687, 3691-2.

12 Killearn arrived in Sydney on 12 June and departed on 17 June.

No Australian record of his discussions with Evatt has been located.

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