250 Dr H. V. Evatt, Minister for External Affairs, to Mr R. G. Casey, Minister to the United States

Cablegram [4] [1] CANBERRA, 3 January 1942


Your telegrams Nos. 1 [2], 8 [3], 10 [4], 13 [5], draft Declarations. [6] 1. I hope you will agree that the method in which the negotiations and the transactions have been carried out has not been satisfactory to the Dominions. We hear of proposed amendments and bits of information, but even at the last we were without definitive information as to the full text. We do not even know yet whether India is a party.

2. There is evidence from the cables that much of the procedure was designed rather to bustle distant governments by telling them that agreement must be reached within a very short time. If they are not designed to bustle they are certainly calculated to do so, and I look to you to try to prevent any repetition.

3. So far as I can see, the requests you have been instructed to make on our behalf in relation to the Declaration have all been rejected. Yet as you know they were all reasonable and constructive in character. The present tendency is to treat the Dominions as too subordinate.

4. With regard to your particular question in No. 13, we are agreeable to interpret 'nations' in last paragraph as including right of free movements to adhere to the Declaration.

5. Press here contains almost daily reports of interviews with you, e.g. suggestion that you were advocating abandonment of Philippines is published to-day. Of course, we have no such policy. You are also reported as having refused to comment on recent statement of the Prime Minister. [7] It is very desirable that public statements or background information conform strictly to policy of government here otherwise embarrassment must result.

Please make sure that Bailey [8] understands this at all times.

6. I wish immediate enquiry made as to nature of press comments upon Mr. Curtin's recent statement relating to the United States and of part played by Commonwealth Information Department in America. In particular it should be ascertained whether criticism was organised or inspired from this end. Some of the criticism was calculated to obstruct the government in its plan to obtain immediate reinforcements.

7. I must impress upon you the necessity of pressing for information dealing specifically with every point raised in cablegrams and of reporting to us promptly what action you have taken in relation to each point. I do not propose to go through the cablegrams of the last six weeks but even with regard to vital comments on reinforcements (e.g. No. 164 [9]) the answer was not detailed. This tends to lack of co-ordination, to conflicting views, and to frustration of this nation's war effort.

8. I appreciate your difficulties but those of this government are also known to you. Unfortunately in certain quarters it is necessary to struggle all the time in order to protect our vital interests.


1 Inserted from Casey's reply (Document 256).

2 Dispatched 1 January. On file AA:A1608, N41/1/1.

3 Dispatched 2 January (AA:A3830, 1942, 33).

4 Dispatched 2 January (AA:A3830, 1942, 43) 5 See Document 246, note 4.

6 See Documents 236, 238 and 246.

7 John Curtin's statement to the Australian people, on 27 December 1941, emphasised that Australia 'refuse[s] to accept the dictum that the Pacific struggle must be treated as a subordinate segment of the general conflict ... Australia looks to America, free of any pangs as to our traditional links and kinship with Great Britain'(Commonwealth Govt, Digest of Decisions and Announcements, 13, pp 11-13). The statement was drafted by Curtin's Press Secretary, D. K. Rodgers, in response to an approach from the Melbourne Herald for an end of year message from the Prime Minister. It was framed in the light of efforts to secure additional U.S. assistance and public apprehension in Australia that the U.K. Govt believed that Australia might be lost and recovered later (see letter from Mr Rodgers to Professor R. G.

Neale dated 7 May 1973, now held by Historical Section, Foreign Affairs Dept). The statement angered Churchill, who drafted but cancelled a stiff Winch cablegram to Curtin threatening to broadcast an appeal over his head to the Australian people (see draft of 29 December 1941 in PRO:PREM 4/50/15) 8 Director, Australian News and Information Bureau, New York.

9 Document 226.

[AA:A3196, 1942, 0.265]