152 Department of External Affairs to Eaton

Cablegram 144 CANBERRA, 1 June 1948, 12.10 p.m.


Your 131. [1]

On 26th May Federal Transport and Waterside Unions, at a conference summoned in Melbourne by the ACTU, decided to lift the ban on Dutch shipping provided (according to press)- (a) that an embargo be continued by the Australian Government on the export of weapons of war, and (b) that the same rights of freedom of trade between Indonesia and Australia be accorded Australian vessels in Indonesian ports as are accorded Dutch vessels in Australian ports.

2.While the desirability of increasing trade generally between Australia and Indonesia has played an important part in discussions leading up to the lifting of the ban, an equally important consideration is the hope that the Dutch will respond with relaxation of the restrictions they have imposed on Republican trade. In emphasizing the importance which the Netherlands Government has attached to the lifting of the ban, the Netherlands Minister in conversations here has frequently expressed the view that it would go far towards improving the atmosphere and removing other causes of friction. We most certainly expect that the Unions' decision will now be reflected in a more liberal and generous attitude on the part of the Dutch towards Republican needs.

1 Dispatched on 28 May, it requested the Department of External Affairs to advise whether press reports in the NEI of the lifting of the Australian trade union ban on Dutch shipping were correct.

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