379 Mr R.G. Menzies, Prime Minister, to Mr R.G. Casey, Minister for Supply and Development (in London)

Cablegram unnumbered 21 November 1939,

PERSONAL MOST SECRET

Referring your various cables relating to problems of Far East and Singapore, Cabinet is not yet satisfied, having regard to the figures you give relating to number of British Divisions in France, that presence of Australian Division is sufficiently urgent to justify us incurring risk with our own defensive position.

One thing in particular is puzzling us: It seems to be assumed that approximately forty vessels and relevant naval convoy could be obtained at short notice to transport special Division to Egypt, yet the Commerce Department has for weeks been endeavouring to get some sort of satisfaction in relation to shipping urgently needed to transport our export commodities and without which the wheat industry alone will need many millions of Government support. All the efforts of Commerce Department so far have been practically unavailing, and our anxiety regarding shipping is increasing.

We cannot reconcile these two things. It would appear that, having regard to the shipping position, we must determine the relative priority of such things as wool and wheat, and the special Division.

Can you throw any light on this?

MENZIES

[AA: CP 290/6, ITEM 35]