129 Teppema to Chifley

Letter CANBERRA, 12 May 1948

From our yesterday's discussion [1] I gathered that it would be useful to you, if, in the course of your present efforts to have the 'ban' removed, you could produce some sort of statement on two points which are apparently of interest to the Union leaders.

I understand that you are personally satisfied with the position- which, after all, does not materially differ from the general rule in every country and certainly not in these days-but that this information with regard to access of shipping in Indonesian ports and the so called 'blockade' would assist you to obtain a satisfactory solution.

I enclose two statements. [2] The one on shipping is necessarily short. In fact the position is fundamentally what it has always been and which, curiously enough, is very much the same as in Australia.

As to the 'blockade' I pointed out to you that this is a misnomer of a very simple situation, the crux of which is the exercise of sovereign rights in territorial waters by the only authority who can exercise these rights. That is, the Netherlands Government in which sovereignty is vested until such time that federation will be proclaimed as such.

I meant to give you a concise statement, but, in consulting my files I realised that it was necessary to go to some length. It occurs to me that a comprehensive factual statement meets your purpose better than some sort of summary which in minor points might be attacked. I leave it to you whether it should be condensed.

I have given considerable thought to our interview of yesterday and incline to the conclusion, for which your optimism is in no small degree responsible, that if it be a question of getting the Unions over what I would term minor hurdles you are bound to see your efforts crowned with success. For the reasons which I have expounded I sincerely hope so.

1 No Australian record of this discussion has been located.

According to a telegram sent on 11 May from Teppema to Boetzalaer, Chifley informed Teppema, that he had been approached by a number of union leaders about access of Australian shipping to all Indonesian ports and about the blockade. Teppema replied that foreign shipping could call at all ports opened to international traffic and that there was no question of a 'blockade' in the exercise of Netherlands sovereignty in its territorial waters.

Chifley nevertheless requested from Teppema, a statement, which he could give the union leaders, on these two issues. See Rijks Geschiedkundige Publicatien, Officiele Becheiden Betreffende de Nederlands-indonesische Betrekkingen 1945-1950, 1948, vol. XIII, The Hague, 1986, pp.639-40.

2 The first of the two statements related to the 'blockade'. It explained that the exportation of all goods from the NEI, with the exception of native produce, was subject to a permit from the Director of Economic Affairs and that the importation of many goods was subject to a permit. The statement also explained that inter-island trade in the NEI was controlled to ensure a 'fair distribution' of foodstuffs. The second of the statements, on shipping in the NEI, explained that ships of all nations had access to pairs which were open to traffic but that coastal trade, which was mainly inter-island trade, was rescued to the Netherlands flag.

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