469 Teppema to Evatt

Letter CANBERRA, 11 August 1949

I am writing to you on a matter which has engaged my attention for a long time and which in the past has been the subject of many conversations with you and in your absence with the Right Hon. The Prime Minister. I refer to the boycott on the shipping between Australia and Indonesia imposed by the Waterside Workers' Federation and Seamen's Union and which but for a short interval in the second half of 1948 has now been in existence for nearly four years.

I would only repeat myself unnecessarily if I submitted again the reasons why it is desirable, indeed necessary, that the restrictions on trade and shipping between this country and Indonesia should be removed. Mr. Chifley and yourself have never left me in doubt as to the views of the Australian Government with regard to the sanctions which the Unions have imposed. In fact the Prime Minister recently assured me that he will do his best to have the ban lifted as early as possible.

You are aware of the great changes which have taken place in Indonesia during the last seven months and in particular of the successful negotiations which, under the auspices of U.N.C.I., led to the Van Royen - Rum statements [1] and the full implementation which has been given to these by my Government. Perhaps equally, if not more important than these concrete results already achieved is, in my opinion, the restoration of confidence between the parties in the dispute. Recent statements authorised by both sides and U.N.C.I. show the satisfactory development of events and anticipate with confidence the Round Table Conference which I understand will begin next week.

Our own optimism in this respect is shared even by the Asiatic countries, as seen in the lifting last month of the restrictions imposed for a short time by the Governments of India, Pakistan, Ceylon and Burma on Netherlands aircraft and shipping.

In viewing the shipping ban situation from all aspects I am inclined to believe that the moment is opportune to remove the ban. A certain amount of useful spadework has been done to smooth the way for normal relations and I know that constructive work beneficial to both our countries is waiting to be taken in hand almost immediately. It would be deplorable, therefore, if the present unsatisfactory situation were allowed to drift along any longer. A clean break with the past should be made now specially in view of the vast amount of good feeling which exists towards Holland in this country. This friendship should not remain unproductive nor be jeopardised by the action of a small minority group. In fact I very much doubt whether even amongst the rank and file of the two particular unions concerned there is any interest in maintaining the boycott.

1 See Document 376 and 385.

[AA : A1838, 401/4/4/1, v]