Skip to main content

Historical documents

330 Evatt to Bruce

Cablegram N2 CANBERRA, 20 November 1943


Your N.36. [1]

Please strongly discourage notion of sending Netherlands Indies
Governor to this country. In the present situation appointment
would be most embarrassing.

I regard it as an essential that van Kleffens should attend
Pacific Conference referred to in my recent speech [2] and that
future of Dutch New Guinea and Dutch Timor should then be
discussed along principles already accepted by Portuguese
Government in relation to Portuguese Timor.

These principles are stated in writing in certain letters between
Eden and myself which I presume you have seen. [3]

If you can obtain agreement with Netherlands Government to such
principles or better still agreement for a long lease to this
country which would not impair Netherlands sovereignty you would
achieve a diplomatic result of tremendous importance to the future
security of Australia.

As you know Timor and Dutch New Guinea were left practically
defenceless with resultant liability of dire consequence to

The matter needs most delicate handling as in case of Portugal but
I am confident you can achieve the results desired.

Above all you must [kill] [4] the van Mook plan effectively but
without publicity.

1 Bruce had been asked on 25 October to investigate a report that
the Netherlands Govt had appointed Maj Gen L. H. van Oyen as
Commander-in-Chief, Netherlands Forces in Australia, and that he
would be placed in charge of post-war reconstruction in the
Netherlands East Indies (see cablegram N1 on file AA:A989,
43/600/5/1/3). Bruce sought information from the Netherlands
Foreign Minister (Dr E. N. van Kleffens) and was advised that:

'Van Oyen has no instructions with regard to post-war
reconstruction. What he has to do-within his own sphere-is to
prepare the administrative agencies which will be needed once
parts of the Netherlands Indies are re-occupied.' (See Bruce's
note of 28 October on file AA:M100,October 1943 and cablegram N35
of 1 November on file AA:M100, November 1943.)
Van Kleffens also advised Bruce confidentially that Dr H. J. van
Mook was likely to give up the position of Netherlands Minister
for the Colonies and go to Australia as Lieutenant Governor
designate of the N.E.I. Van Mook himself informed Bruce of this
plan on 16 November and the latter informed Curtin the same day
(see cablegram N36 on file AA:M100, November 1943).

2 See Document 297, note 2.

3 See Document 233.

4 Inserted from Bruce's copy on file AA:M100, November 1943.

[AA:A989, 43-44/600/5/1/5]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
Back to top