88 Evatt to Melville

Cablegram 2784 [1] CANBERRA, 22 March 1944


For Melville from Minister for External Affairs.

1. Cabinet Sub-Committee met to discuss in provisional way work of delegation. [2]

2. They were fully in accord with the great concern and with the detailed points expressed by me in my telegrams [3] in relation to adherence to the Australian point of view on commercial policy discussions. They pointed out that your instructions were contained in the written Australian - New Zealand arrangement in relation to economic collaboration. [4] The Sub-Committee desire discussions to proceed in an exploratory way and on no account should they be broken off. But in view of Committee it is not practicable to favour removal of Commonwealth preferences or reductions of tariffs as immediate measure. It might be advantageous to indicate this to all concerned. All your messages are now being closely analysed by Departments of Customs and Commerce.

3. Of course you will make it absolutely clear that there is no commitment whatever on the Australian Government. In addition we are anxious lest appearance of commitment on the official level should embarrass the Government's ultimate decisions on these matters. For that reason it seems to me that at present you should avoid any commitment even on the official level, especially any written expression of views.

4. It is important for you to emphasise that in the subsequent proposed conversations between the United Kingdom and U.S.A. no proposals can be advanced as having obtained the approval of the Australian Government.

5. Cabinet Sub-Committee was anxious to know whether New Zealand representatives had consistently supported the agreement between the two Governments at Canberra, which agreement constitutes instructions of yourself and your co-delegates.

6. With regard to the monetary question you should know that there was substantial opposition in the Cabinet Sub-Committee to the whole notion of a gold standard with sanctions. it was thought this might be disastrous to Australia. It is agreed that the detailed approach on this question has resulted in improvements.

At the same time you must not ignore the possibility or probability of Australia refusing to come in.

1 Sent through the High Commissioner's Office in London.

2 The Cabinet Subcommittee met on 21 March (see Document 21, note 15).

3 Documents 78 and 84.

4 Document 28.

[AA:A989, 44/735/55/3/2]