177 Shedden to Montgomery

Cablegram 279 CANBERRA, 6 August 1947, 11.45 a.m.


1. You will recall that our discussion in Sydney was entirely centred on the reply to be made to New Zealand.

2.Since returning to Melbourne I have noted that your notes are headed 'Proposed Machinery for the discussion of Defence Problems in the Southwest Pacific as between the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand'.

3. I was under the impression from our discussion in Melbourne that you were in general agreement with the Australian proposals for machinery for co-operation between the United Kingdom and Australia.

4. If you contemplate that the United Kingdom - Australian machinery shall also be limited to Service Liaison Representatives, I would recall the following points mentioned by me when discussing your suggestion that the proposed Australian New Zealand machinery should be limited to Service Liaison Staff:-

(i) The proposal of the Australian Government went beyond this in two important respects:

(A) They also provided for mutual representation on the Governmental level by the attendance of High Commissioners at meetings of the Defence Committee in London and Council of Defence in Australia and the parallel bodies in the other parts of the Empire, when matters of mutual interest are discussed.

(B) They stipulated that the Service Representation on Australian Machinery shall be one Service Representative with a Joint Service Staff.

(ii) The Australian Government considered that its proposals were fundamental in respect of any responsibilities for the development of British Commonwealth Defence in the Pacific which it had accepted, or might accept in the future.

(iii) If, as you suggested, New Zealand wished only to accept the part relating to Service Liaison Representative, that was of course a matter solely for them to decide. In the answer to them that would be made quite clear, but it would also have to be made clear that the limitation of the Australian - New Zealand Machinery to Service Liaison Representatives, did not mean that Australia had abandoned the views expressed by the Prime Minister in London and in his proposals to other Prime Ministers.

(iv) Whilst, as stated, it was entirely for New Zealand to decide whether they wished to limit the machinery to Service Liaison Officers, there was the wider aspect of machinery with other parts of the Empire and in particular the United Kingdom. The Prime Minister's letter had been also addressed to Canada, South Africa and India.

5. In short, if you seek to apply your suggestion to the machinery for co-operation between the United Kingdom and Australia, as well as to Australia and New Zealand, it means that we are no farther on than at the commencement of the London Conference and not as far advanced as prior to the war when the High Commissioner in London attended meetings of the Committee of Imperial Defence.

6. Too great emphasis cannot be placed on the relation between the United Kingdom - Australian Machinery and the acceptance by Australia of responsibilities for the development of British Commonwealth Defence in the Pacific as mentioned in 4(ii) above.


1 Montgomery replied on 11 August, apologising for his lack of clarity and stressing his complete agreement with Australia's proposals for cooperation between Australia and the United Kingdom. He added that he had removed the words 'the United Kingdom' from the heading of his memorandum.

[AA: A5954/1, 76/1]