277 Curtin to Attlee Cablegram 240 [1]

CANBERRA, 14 September 1943


1. Reference your Circular D.633. [2] A meeting in November from my own point of view is too early for the following reasons:

(I) The new Parliament assembles on 23rd September.

(II) It is proposed to have a session of a few weeks when the main business will be the budget.

(III) The new Government will require some time to settle down, particularly as the first major business in the recess will be to review the Australian war effort.

(IV) Owing to an acute manpower situation, it is evident that we cannot achieve some of the objectives or commitments we have undertaken. It is essential from the aspect of our own policy for us to determine the precise limits and nature of the contribution of which we are capable in order to enable this to be related to the wider plans of the Empire and the United Nations into which our effort is fitted.

When fully resolved, these matters are, of course, suitable for mutual discussion with the other parts of the Empire, but there is much to be done here by the Government first and then by consultation with the Commander-in-Chief, S.W.P.A. I feel that my presence here during the next 6 months of legislative and administrative activity is essential for as Prime Minister and Minister for Defence I am the only Minister who has a precise personal knowledge of the factors relating to the problems which will arise.

(V) Finally the Australian forces are in the midst of important operations in New Guinea and I do not feel justified in leaving Australia until the results of the decision to carry on the war in the Pacific with the same vigor as the war in Europe are evident, both in the increased strength disposed in the Pacific and in approved plans for operations against the Japanese.

2. I would suggest that the meeting be held not earlier than the beginning of April or later if possible.


1 This cablegram was repeated to the Canadian, South African and N.Z. Prime Ministers (see the Prime Minister's Dept outward cablegram register, AA:A3643, 11, entries 0.25308-10). No Canberra or London copy has been found and the text published here is that received by Mackenzie King as no. 17.

2 Document 275.