215 Australian Government to Noel-Baker, Fraser and Embassy in Washington

Cablegram 351, 298, 1469 CANBERRA, 19 December 1947, 5.45 p.m.


Your 122. [1] Pacific Bases.

We have consistently raised objection to any proposals such as those put forward by the United States authorities involving surrender of the control over any British Pacific islands, including the cession of the share of the Condominium over Canton and Enderbury. We have always regarded United States claims to sovereignty in the disputed islands as frivolous, and feel that they should not be allowed to use their doubtful claims as bargaining points.

2. At the same time we are reluctant to abandon entirely the idea that a regional security arrangement for the South and South-West Pacific area should be worked out in co-operation with the United States.

3. It seems, however, that there is at present little immediate prospect of achieving any such regional scheme as that we envisaged in view of lessening importance attached apparently by the United States to regional defence arrangements in the South Pacific, chiefly as a result of their establishment in the former Japanese Mandates. In the circumstances, we concur in the United Kingdom proposals, subject to the considerations in paragraph 1 and 2 above and provided also that Australia's civil and military aviation rights in Canton and Christmas Islands are fully safeguarded at all times, including time of war in which U.S.A. is Neutral.

4. The question of the administration of Canton is a matter of primary importance to Australia in view of the Australian Government's operation of airlines, and we take it we shall have an opportunity of discussing this.

5. We would suggest adding request for rights of access to air staging facilities in Guam as well as in Philippines.

1 Document 204.


In July 1946 Cabinet approved in principle the formation of a Joint Intelligence Bureau and a Signal Intelligence Centre, both to be located in Melbourne. The proposal (Agendum 1213) envisaged an organisation 'designed to fit into the overall Empire Intelligence pattern' with free interchange of intelligence within the Commonwealth ensuring Australia worldwide coverage of intelligence. Details of organisation and expenditure were formulated by the Joint Intelligence Committee (On which J.C.

Kevin then represented External Affairs) to be submitted through the Defence Committee to a Cabinet Committee comprising the Prime Minister and Ministers for External Affairs and Defence.

An agendum for the Cabinet Committee was sent to Evatt on 12 June 1947. Burton subsequently raised with both Evatt and Shedden several concerns.

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