129 Mr R. G. Menzies, Prime Minister, to Mr S. M. Bruce, High Commissioner in London

Cablegram unnumbered 9 April 1940,


Please read together following telegrams from us 30th March:-Dried Fruits, Canned Fruits, and question of Australian representation on Ministry of Economic Warfare [1]; 6th April:-Policy of Ministry of Shipping. [2] And two today:-Cold Storage for butter [3], and outstanding wool questions. [4]

United Kingdom Government's policy in regard to Economic Warfare appears to be working more and more to Australia's detriment. We cannot view the position with equanimity, but are reluctantly forced to the conclusion that we must either now take a strong stand or find our economic interests increasingly ignored. To repeat a few examples:-

We are expected to bear the full cost of the special dried fruits agreement with Turkey. We are told that shipping difficulties preclude the usual purchase of canned fruits-at the same time vacant space in berth tonnage is being filled with unusual commodities such as wheat and flour; moreover, we suspect that United Kingdom has imported large quantities preserved fruits from foreign countries. We are not fully aware of the United Kingdom shipping position, but are expected to organize shipping at this end in a way which will exclude many non-priority commodities. The preference to consumption of margarine and the cold storage glut of butter threatens our dairying industry. There has been a strange failure to reply in any way to our enquiry regarding wool made more than six weeks ago.

We read in press that Allies are determined to purchase large quantities of commodities they do not need in order to prevent them reaching Germany. We have no official advice on such matters, but we have concurrent advices that some of our regular supplies are not needed, or are likely to be curtailed.

We wish you to take up this whole question with Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs [5] earliest possible. It is essential we have complete elucidation United Kingdom warfare policy. You might emphasize that we are dissatisfied with inadequately explained statements that United Kingdom Government cannot do this or that.

The irritation already existing, and daily increasing, can only be allayed by prompt replies and the frankest explanations. Our long established economic position cannot be adversely affected with what appears to us to be inadequate consideration of our interests, without arousing the strongest antagonism.


1 Document 120.

2 On file AA: A571, W40/903, i.

3 In series FA: A3196, 0.2094.

4 Document 128.

5 Anthony Eden.

[FA: A3196, 0.2098]