252 Bruce to Curtin

Cablegram 118A LONDON, 21 August 1944, 8.05 p.m.


(Addressed to the Prime Minister) Your 103 [1] and [my] [2] 115A. Before entering into discussions with the United Kingdom Government it is desirable I should have clearly in mind what is your intention as to the scope and functions of the Civil Affairs Committee to be established in Australia.

In paragraph two of your telegram 103 you limit the activities of the Committee in Australia to Civil Affairs policies and their application to territories within the areas of the South East Asia and South West Pacific Commands.

Sub-paragraph one of paragraph eleven also appears to contemplate that the functions of the Committee in Australia will be limited to matters concerning territories recovered from the Japanese.

In paragraph three, however, you stress the importance of decisions on the administration of enemy Pacific territories immediately after Allied occupation and indicate it is important that we should be aware at first hand of developments in these territories and participate in decisions. The South East Asian and South West Pacific Commands however do not embrace any enemy territories other than that of the Japanese satellite, Siam.

What I desire your instructions on is as to whether it is contemplated that the Australian Civil Affairs Committee should have jurisdiction- (1) In respect to all territories embraced in the Far Eastern war or- (2) Its activities should be confined to territories situated in the South East Asia and South West Pacific Commands.

On these two alternatives I send you the following thoughts for what they are worth and with regard to (2) I have considerable doubts. The establishment of a committee in Australia with its jurisdiction limited to the South East Asia and South West Pacific Commands would give us no voice in respect to former Japanese territories as and when conquered which would remain, as they are at present, more or less an affair of the Americans. Its establishment would also, I think, militate against our claim for representation on any committee which may in the future be set up to deal with civil affairs problems in regard to the Pacific war as a whole.

With regard to (1) I have considerable doubt that the consent of the U.S.A. could be obtained to the setting up in Australia of a body with such far reaching powers.

An alternative to (1) or (2) might be for us to press now for the establishment of a Civil Affairs Committee to deal with the war in the Far East as a whole. On this Committee, we would insist on representation but as regards its location, we would, I think, have to fall into line with the general consensus of opinion.


1 Document 246.

2 The word in square brackets has been inserted from Bruce's copy on file AA:M100, August 1944.

[AA:A989, 44/655/19]