322 Minute by Hasluck

CANBERRA, 29 October 1943

1. On Monday, 18th October, telegrams 186, 187 and 188 from Mr.

Bruce [1] were considered in detail in conjunction with copies of telegrams 188, 194 and 195 from the Minister for External Affairs, Wellington, to the New Zealand High Commissioner, Canberra, conveying the text of communications between Wellington and London regarding the Commonwealth Civil Aviation Conference. These copies were made available by the New Zealand High Commissioner in Canberra. [2]

2. As a result, a draft telegram to Mr. Bruce was drafted, dated 18th October. [3] This was approved by the Minister for External Affairs on 20th October and instructions given by him that the approval of the Minister for Air was to be obtained before despatch. A copy was accordingly submitted to Mr. Drakeford on the 20th.

3. On the 21st, when Mr. Drakeford was asked for his views, he stated that he had mislaid his copy. Accordingly he was supplied with another copy. On the evening of the same day, a copy of the draft was handed to Mr. Mulrooney, of the External Communications Section, with instructions that it might be despatched as soon as Mr. Drakeford telephoned his approval.

4. On the morning of Saturday, the 23rd, as Mr. Drakeford's secretary could not be located, Mr. Hasluck telephoned Mr. Corbett in Melbourne. Mr. Corbett stated that, although he had not been able to discuss the matter with Mr. Drakeford, he understood that the Minister objected to the telegram and that he was annoyed at alterations made to telegram 146 [4] to Mr. Bruce after the draft had passed through Mr. Drakeford's hands. Mr. Corbett was himself prepared to accept the present draft telegram to Mr. Bruce and undertook to see Mr. Drakeford that afternoon and, if he could obtain his approval, telephone to Canberra. The External Communications Branch was then warned to expect a call from Mr.

Corbett and to despatch the telegram if he gave Mr. Drakeford's authority. It was then learnt for the first time that, without reference to any other officer of the Department of External Affairs, Mr. Mulrooney had been in touch with the Prime Minister concerning this matter and had received from him an instruction that the draft was not to be despatched. Mr. Mulrooney had not reported this development to the Secretary of the Department.

5. On the morning of Monday, 25th October, Mr. Carmody, of the Prime Minister's Department, asked that Mr. Strahan be supplied with a copy of the draft telegram as the Prime Minister was considering the matter. A copy was supplied. On the same afternoon Mr. Walshe, of the External Communications Branch, reported that he had received an instruction from the Prime Minister's Department to despatch the draft, as amended by the Prime Minister. The draft was accordingly despatched as telegram No. 153 to Bruce on 25th October. [5] Since the draft had been handed to Mr. Drakeford on the 20th there had been no further discussion of the draft with the officers of the Department of External Affairs who had been handling the subject.

1 Cablegrams 186[A] and 187[A] are published as Documents 298-9.

Cablegram 188[A] of 14 October is on file AA:A989, 43/735/832/5.

2 See letter of 18 October on the file cited in note 1.

3 A copy of the original departmental draft with Evatt's amendments is on the file cited in note 1.

4 Document 292.

5 Document 313. The cablegram as finally dispatched did not differ substantially from the draft cited in note 3.

[AA:A989, 43/735/832/5]