319 Department of External Affairs to Knowles Cablegram 86 CANBERRA, 13 December 1946, 4.15 p.m.


Your 107. [1]

We were not satisfied by the facts presented to us with the treatment of Indians in South Africa. Our policy was to ask for an investigation. This is the general Australian policy in such situations and it was followed by the Delegation in this case. We consider that even the question of whether the matter was one of domestic jurisdiction could only be determined by an enquiry into the facts as well as law. We were, however, denied this enquiry by the refusal of South Africa.

We went to the limit in support of South Africa both within and without the conference and, in fact, voted for the South African amendment referring certain aspects of the problem to the International Court. We were not prepared, however, to vote against the French-Mexican resolution [2] which though not in our opinion extremely satisfactory we thought reasonable in the circumstances, particularly as our vote would have been construed as a definite censure of India. In the circumstances, and having supported South Africa up to this point, the Delegation abstained.

On the question of the mandate, Australia again went to the limit in supporting South Africa, though at the Prime Ministers' Conference and since we made it clear that we would have preferred the placing of South West Africa under trusteeship leaving to some subsequent action incorporation with the Union.

Incidentally, we have not complained at continuous lack of support at international conferences from South Africa. They have always been opposed to every progressive move and at San Francisco they were the one nation which prevented the unanimous vote on the Australian proposal for full employment. At Paris, where we were fighting hard for democratic principles, we received no South African support.

1 Knowles had reported from Pretoria a marked resentment at what South African officials took to be a lack of Australian support.

2 See Document 268, note 2.

[AA:A1067, M46/21/7, ii]