134 Australian Government to Fraser

Cablegram 252 CANBERRA, 23 September 1946

IMMEDIATE

My immediately preceding telegram. [1] Announcements will be along following lines:-

SOUTH SEAS COMMISSION

A Conference will be convened in Australia early in the coming year for the purpose of establishing a South Seas Commission. The Governments of the United Kingdom, the United States, France and the Netherlands have expressed a desire to join with Australia and New Zealand in forming a Regional Advisory Organisation for the promotion of welfare in the island territories in the South and South-West Pacific. Formal invitations have now been issued to those Governments. [2]

The Australian and New Zealand Governments have been planning for some time the establishment of a Regional Advisory Commission for the South and South-West Pacific area, including the islands eastward from New Guinea.

Following upon discussions of the project between the Prime Minister, Dr. Evatt and United Kingdom and New Zealand Ministers in London last May [3], enquiries were made of the Governments of the United States [4], France [5] and the Netherlands [6], all of which have direct territorial interests and responsibilities in the area. All Governments concerned indicated their interest in the work of such a Commission, and their willingness to join in a conference for the purpose of establishing the South Seas Commission in the near future.

The main functions of the Commission will be to advise the member Governments in regard to the promotion of native welfare and the economic development of the island territories of the area. Mutual cooperation and exchange of information and views between member Governments will undoubtedly assist materially the organisation of health and education services for the native peoples and improve standards of native welfare generally.

The Australian and New Zealand Governments are very gratified at the encouraging reception given to the plan by the other Governments concerned. It will be recalled that the Australian and New Zealand Governments have consistently emphasised the need for such a body in the South Pacific area. Their views on the subject were clearly and concisely expressed in the Australian - New Zealand Agreement of January, 1944. [7]

The Australian Government has always stressed the necessity for planning and co-operation by all Governments interested in the welfare of the peoples of the South Seas. It believes that the South Seas Commission will greatly help the Governments concerned in dealing with economic difficulties such as those experienced in the thirties when contracting markets and falling prices had devastating effects on the economic life and welfare of the Pacific islands peoples.

In carrying out its objectives the Commission will bring together the ideas and experience of those who possess firsthand knowledge of South Seas Territories. Administrators, Anthropologists, Medical Officers, Economists, Missionaries, Planters and Traders, all can contribute to the effectiveness of the work of the Commission in ensuring that the native peoples for whom member Governments of the Commission are responsible are assisted to improve their standards of living, to develop their ways of life and adjust themselves to the changing conditions of the post-war Pacific world.

1 Cablegram 251, dispatched 23 September, in which the Australian Govt indicated that invitations to the South Seas Commission conference would be issued in Canberra on 24 September, and proposing that simultaneous statements be issued on 26 September.

2 The invitations were dated 18 September and took the form of a note with accompanying aidememoire.

3 See Volume IX, Document 229.

4 See Volume IX, Document 314.

5 See Volume IX, Document 322; and Document 13.

6 See Document 62, note 3.

7 Volume VII, Document 26.

[AA:A1838/2, 343/1]