Makin to Chifley

Teleprinter message CANBERRA, 23 October 1945


I have received your message regarding appointment Macmahon Ball to the Netherlands East Indies. [1] Fully appreciate that Cabinet appointed Peterson as Trade Commissioner [2] and of course have no desire to interfere with that decision. Since appointment however there have been many developments in Batavia and the situation has worsened somewhat. Whilst we previously wished Peterson to take up duties immediately we now consider it would be safer for him to wait in Australia, for the following reasons.

2. The U.K. Government has requested us by top secret most immediate telegram not to appoint a consular representative. [3] It seems that they are endeavouring to guide events in such a way as to produce a modified form of administration. For that reason they apparently do not want appointments made to the Dutch which would be regarded by other groups as evidence of an intention to recognise or re-establish the pre-war Dutch regime. Moreover recent reports indicate that persons formerly accredited to the Dutch might be in some personal danger at any rate outside Batavia.

3. In view of these facts I therefore propose sending Macmahon Ball immediately as a political representative with SEAC accompanied by appropriate staff. He could be later appointed Consul-General if necessary but in any case his appointment would not be for more than a few months when the position will be re- examined.

4. None of these arrangements need interfere with Peterson’s appointment as Trade Commissioner but I must say that Peterson has never been considered by me for the position of Consul-General.

You will recall that Gorman [4] was appointed before the war with the equivalent of Ministerial rank and he was to have a trade representative on his staff. The post is of great importance and the Government I feel should appoint a man of similar rank.

5. I have been in touch with Mr. Scully again and he concurs in my proposals, and I understand is communicating with you to this effect.


1 An unnumbered telegram, dispatched 22 October, on file AA :

A1838/2, 401/1/1/1, i. It asked Makin to withhold action regarding Ball because Chifley had overlooked Cabinet’s previous agreement to the appointment of Peterson.

2 See Document 290.

3 See Document 329, note 1.

4 Brigadier Eugene Gorman was appointed early in 1942 but did not take up the post.


[AA : A1838/2, 401/1/1/1, i]