10 Shedden to Dunk

Teleprinter message [MELBOURNE], 7 January 1946


Your message of 2nd January, regarding the bringing of Australian Mandated Territory under the trusteeship provisions of the United Nations organisation. [1] Following views on this matter have been expressed by Defence Committee:-

(a) On the assumption that we intend to retain in New Guinea bases and defences in contravention of the terms of the Mandate [2], the placing of the territory of New Guinea under trusteeship offers no advantage from the Defence point of view: but on the contrary, may produce the very great disadvantage of making a Defence area subject to inspection by representatives of potential enemies. [3]

(b) On the other hand, if the terms of the Mandate are to be adhered to, it is a distinct advantage from the defence point of view that Australian Mandated territory should be placed under trusteeship. In this event, it will be possible for strategic areas in the territory to be designated by the Commonwealth under Article 82 of the United Nations Charter and hence for military installations to be maintained therein. [4]

(c) If, from a political point of view, it be considered desirable to place New Guinea under trusteeship, the question of declaring any strategic area should be deferred pending consultation with other nations of the British Commonwealth.

(d) The question of drawing up defence provisions for inclusion in the Trusteeship Agreement should be deferred at this stage, and the United Kingdom be requested to supply, for our consideration, the views of the United Kingdom Chiefs of Staff on the defence provisions which it is proposed to make in respect to United Kingdom trust territories.

(e) With respect to Nauru, which is mandated jointly to the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand [5], it is not considered that there is any defence question which would affect the placing of this island under the trusteeship system.

2. On account of urgency, the Defence Committee's views are submitted in advance of their consideration by the Acting Minister for Defence.

1 Document 4.

2 Article 4 of the New Guinea mandate approved by the League of Nations had banned fortifications in the territory.

3 Article 87(c) of the U.N. Charter allowed for U.N. visits to trust territories.

4 This indicated some misapprehension in that the U.N. Charter did not ban fortifications in trust territories-whether designated strategic areas or not.

5 The Nauru mandate had been awarded in 1919 to the British Crown and exercised jointly by the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia, with Australia providing the island's administration.

[AA:A1066, P45/153/5]