31 Commonwealth Government to Mr M.J. Savage, N.Z. Prime Minister, and to Sir Thomas Inskip, U.K. Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs

Cablegram unnumbered/21 28 February 1939,

SECRET

2. No. 21. The following telegram has been sent to the Prime Minister of New Zealand:-

Your secret telegram 17th February [1] reference proposed defence Conference. Advice received that United Kingdom Government will be represented on defence matters by Service Officers. Commonwealth Government is agreeable to participation on this basis, but as pointed out in my cablegram of 15th February [2] discussion on several matters in agenda could only proceed between Ministers of Governments concerned. It is therefore considered that items (c), (d) and (h) are matters that cannot be dealt with by a Conference of Service representatives and that discussions on these items must necessarily be exploratory only with a view to drawing up reports for further consideration by the Governments concerned. It is impracticable for a Commonwealth Minister to attend and so far as Australia is concerned discussion will be on purely defence matters. In so far as the defence aspect of Conference is concerned Australian representatives will be empowered to discuss only technical aspects of Service plans, and it is noted that cablegram of 2nd February [3] from United Kingdom Government also takes this view. Owing to pressure of work mentioned in my cablegram of 15th February and departure of Chief of Air Staff [4] for England this month the Australian representation will be the Chief of the Naval Staff [5] and Senior Officers of the Army and Air Force. Full list will be notified later. Please advise date proposed and as requested in my cablegram of 15th February forward papers on items in agenda for examination in advance of departure of Delegation.

1 Document 28.

2 Document 24.

3 Not printed (on file Defence: Special Collection I, SR 1/1, box 96).

4 Air Vice Marshal Richard Williams. Vice Admiral Sir Ragnar Colvin.

[AA: A981, PACIFIC 1]