Issue 3
Tuesday, 07 May 2019
Charles Darwin University
Senior Lecturer in North Australian and Regional Studies Dr Steven Farram
Senior Lecturer in North Australian and Regional Studies Dr Steven Farram

New book explores historic peacekeeping mission

By Patrick Nelson

A new book that explores the significance of the Australian peacekeeping role in the four-year revolution for the control of Indonesia will be launched in Darwin this week.

Charles Darwin University history academic Dr Steven Farram said that while Australia’s contribution to Indonesia’s independence struggle in the late 1940s was relatively well-known, his book revealed a part of the story that had been barely touched on.

Dr Farram said that the mix of internal Indonesian power plays, tensions with the Dutch, and broader Cold War politics provided a rich backdrop for a fascinating story.

“A lot of ground was broken at the time (1947) and Australia was in the thick of it,” Dr Farram said.

“The Indonesian struggle for independence took place in the aftermath of a world war that was still fresh in the minds of Australia, and in the early years of the United Nations (UN), which was learning what to do on the run.

“The UN Security Council had just issued its first ceasefire order and Australia was called on to provide military observers to monitor proceedings. They could be considered to be the world’s first peacekeepers.

“The involvement of Royal Australian Air Force Group Captain Charles Eaton as Australia’s consul in the UN Consular Commission was viewed as interference in Dutch internal affairs. But we stood up for the Indonesians and quickly gained a reputation as being a big friend. This involvement has played a positive role in long-term Australian-Indonesian relations.”

Dr Farram, CDU’s Senior Lecturer in North Australian and Regional Studies, said Australia’s primary motivation was peace and security.

“The bombing of Darwin and the fear of a Japanese invasion was the impetus for Australian efforts to ensure peace to our north. We wanted peace in our region and a level of security among our neighbours that would facilitate trade.”

The book will be launched at the NT Archives Centre, Millner, on Thursday 9 May from 5.30pm. The event is free and open to the public.