173 Chifley to Evatt

Letter 28 May 1947,


The Minister for Defence has been in communication with you regarding the memorandum on Co-operation in British Commonwealth Defence, which contains the Australian Government's proposals on this subject following the discussions at the Prime Ministers' Conference in London last year, and I am now forwarding copies of this memorandum to the Prime Ministers of the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Canada and South Africa.

2. A separate memorandum containing the Australian Government's proposals on the working of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee in Australia has also been prepared, which I am forwarding to the Prime Ministers of the United Kingdom and New Zealand. [1] A copy is enclosed for your information.

3. 1 am sending copies of my letters to the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, with their enclosures, to the Australian High Commissioner in London and to the United Kingdom High Commissioner in Canberra, and I shall be glad if copies of the letters and enclosures which have been sent to the Prime Ministers of New Zealand, Canada and South Africa can be communicated by you to the Australian High Commissioners in these countries and to their High Commissioners in Australia, as appropriate. Copies of the letters and of these documents are forwarded herewith for this purpose.

4. In regard to India, although the Government of India is withdrawing its component from the British Commonwealth Occupation Force, it is thought that they should be aware of the Australian Government's conclusion on the working of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Australia as indicated in the memorandum on this subject.

Furthermore, the concurrence of the Indian Government in the change proposed in the joint Chiefs of Staff in Australia machinery will be necessary if the Indian Forces have not been withdrawn by the date decided upon. The memorandum on Cooperation in British Commonwealth Defence is referred to in that on the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Australia, as it outlines the proposed alternative machinery to the latter body. It is necessary therefore that a copy of that memorandum should be sent to the Government of India, and it is considered that the opportunity should also be taken at the same time to invite the Indian Government to participate in the proposed machinery on a reciprocal basis, should it be considered now or at any future time that this would be to the mutual interests and advantage of the Indian and Australian Governments. Though this may be a matter of delicacy at this stage of India's political evolution, it would be advantageous to establish a link on Defence matters irrespective of whether India decides to remain in the British Commonwealth or not. Both Australia and India have mutual regional security interests in South East Asia and the Indian Ocean Areas.

[5] I shall be glad, therefore, if a communication in the terms of the attached draft can be sent to the Australian High Commissioner in India, requesting him to bring these matters to the notice of the appropriate authorities in the Government of India. [2]

1 The essence of the memorandum is given in the enclosure of Document 183.

2 A letter to this effect from Evatt, dated 30 May, was sent to the High Commissioner in New Delhi, adding that while the invitation to the Indian Government was a matter of delicacy, it was felt that defence links with India would be advantageous.

[AA : A5954/1, 1850/1]