460 Pyman to McIntyre

Minute BATAVIA, 28 July 1949

AUSTRALIAN POLICY REGARDING THE FUTURE OF WESTERN NEW GUINEA

1. The issues raised under this heading appear to us to be of critical importance for Australia. They could become also in a very short space of time matters which would involve dramatic attention in the Australian press. We feel these statements to be accurate for the following reasons:-

(a) Western New Guinea occupies a position of strategic and tactical importance for Australia and its external territories.

(b) Nominal control by a non-European administration in Western New Guinea could result in the rapid influx of large numbers of Asiatic peoples, with consequent serious implications for- (i) the Metropolitan Territory of Australia and Australian Immigration Policy (ii) the administration of Papua and New Guinea.

2. It should be mentioned also that, whether justifiably or otherwise, any indication of withdrawal by a European power from Western New Guinea would be calculated to lead to serious questioning of the approach the Government has adopted to the Indonesian-Netherlands dispute.

3. It is felt, therefore, that wait and see tactics may not be justified in the present situation. The attached cable [1] suggests certain possible courses of action and it is felt that Critchley should be asked to treat the matter as one of the highest importance and some urgency and to indicate as soon as possible the likely attitudes of the Indonesian and Dutch representatives to such courses of action.

4. Finally we should like to suggest that this is a matter which should receive consideration at Ministerial and Cabinet level.

1 Document 461.

[AA : A1838, 401/3/1/1, vii]