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Thursday, 20 June 1946

Mr WHITE (BALACLAVA, VICTORIA) - In the cable news from Java it is stated that the so-called Prime Minister, Sutan Sjahrir, who has been negotiating with the Dutch,' stated : "It is my Government's desire to ensure that medical supplies and other essentials are brought into Java for the relief of the population ". He also said that he would approach the waterside workers in Australia with a view to inducing them to lift the ban on Dutch ships. In view of the fact that the. Indonesians themselves are

Shipping.[20 June, 1946.] Shipping. 1649 now askingthat the ships be worked, will the Prime Minister again open negotiations in order to bring this shameful incident to an end, instead of allowing a handful of Communists to direct our foreign policy?

Mr CHIFLEY - I am afraid the honorable member has fallen into a trap. Not so long ago, a very prominent person came to Australia, and while here consulted with trade union representatives in Sydney - the Minister for Supply and Shipping . being present - regarding the hold-up of Dutch ships. I refer to Lord Louis Mountbatten, who said that he believed that Sutan Sjahrir, the selfstyledPremier of Indonesia, wanted the ships and their cargoes to be taken to Java. I am sorry that the honorable member has raised this question, because it compels me to say that I was myself informed that a message would come to me through the ordinary diplomatic channels to the effect that Sutan Sjahrir would indicate his desire that Dutch ships should be sent to Java. The British representative in Java at that lime was Sir Archibald Clark Kerr, now Lord Inverchapel, British representative in Washington. I have been most anxious to get the ships to Java with the cargoes which the Dutch bought in Australia, and the Government has been engaged in continuous negotiations with a view to bringing this about. I waited some days for the message referred to, hut the only message that came to me, and it was through the ordinary diplomatic channels, indicated that Sutan Sjahrir did not favour the release of the Dutch ships.

Mr White - The message news item was published on the front page of yesterday's Melbourne Argus.

Mr CHIFLEY - I have given the honorable member the information which I received.

Mr Menzies -- But that was a long time ago. The question of the honorable member for Balaclava relates to a cable item published yesterday.

Mr CHIFLEY - Since I received the message to which I have referred I have received no other from any source.

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