312 Mr J. A. Lyons, Prime Minister, to Dr R. Asmis, German Consul- General in Sydney

Letter 29 October 1938,

PRIVATE AND PERSONAL

With reference to your letter of 24th October, 1938 [1], in regard to certain public statements made by my colleague, the Minister for External Affairs [2] on the Mandated Territory of New Guinea, I would invite your attention to the statement made by Sir George Pearce in the Senate on 13th March, 1936 [3], copy of which you no doubt have in your possession.

I would like to say that this statement had the careful consideration and endorsement of the Commonwealth Government at the time.

You will recall that on 9th October Mr Hughes made a somewhat similar statement [4] to the one mentioned by you, and on 14th October, the Acting Prime Minister [5] in answer to a question in Parliament said-'The principle underlying the statement by the Minister for External Affairs is in accord with the views and policy of the Government in connection with the mandate held by Australia'.

I assume that this is the main point on which you desire my comment, and that you do not require my views on the general statements made by Mr Hughes.

J. A. LYONS

1 Document 303.

2 W. M. Hughes.

3 Commonwealth Parliamentary Debates, vol. 149, pp. 119-23 Pearce was then Minister for External Affairs.

4 Hughes's statement to the press was that 'there was no question of Australia relinquishing its New Guinea mandate which it held as a sacred duty in the interests of a backward people'.

5 Sir Earle Page. See Commonwealth Parliamentary Debates, vol.

157, p. 864.

[AA : A981, GERMANY 22, iii]