145 Cabinet Minute

Minute 146 23 August 1939,

ENCROACHMENT BY JAPANESE IN AUSTRALIAN WATERS

The recommendations [1] of the Inter-Departmental Committee on Japanese encroachment in Australian Waters were approved by Cabinet- (i) That steps be taken to negotiate for an agreement with Japan to secure protection of the Australian pearling industry and some form of control over the activities of Japanese and Australian vessels and their crews engaged in the industry.

(ii) That the Commonwealth Government provide a patrol vessel at Broome as soon as possible.

(iii) That the Department of Defence give consideration to the provision of aerial reconnaissance by seaplane or aeroplane in connection with all the patrol services.

(iv) That there should be created a Standing Advisory Committee of Commonwealth Officers, representing the Departments of the Interior, Health, Trade and Customs, Commerce, the Prime Minister (Territories Branch), Defence and External Affairs, to advise on policy, co-ordinate action and supervise the operation of any agreement with Japan. [2]

1 See Document 125.

2 On 5 October 1939 Lt Col W.R. Hodgson, Secretary of Department of External Affairs, wrote to F. Strahan, Secretary of Prime minister's Department, to tell him that he had discussed with his Minister, Sir Henry Gullett, whether in view of the outbreak of war it was advisable to take action to implement the Cabinet decision. The Minister directed that, while the matter was to be kept in mind, no action was to be taken for the present. (See AA:

A981 Japan 100.) A similar decision was made by John McEwen, Minister for External Affairs, in 1940. (See Hodgson to Strahan, 3 August 1940, on file AA: A461, J345/1/3, iii.)

[AA: A2697, VOL. 2]