320 McIntosh to Burton

Letter (extract) WELLINGTON, 31 May 1947


You will have seen the Prime Minister's reply to your omnium gatherum telegram. [1] We agree that F.E.C. has been a somewhat ineffective body, thanks to the Big Power veto, but we are not anxious to see it wound up until there is something else to take its place, and, what is more, something upon which we have representation. We fully sympathize with your own aspirations towards ensuring a full voice and vote for Australia in the Far East settlement but we don't want any rearrangement under which Australia is accorded such a voice while New Zealand is not. You will appreciate, therefore, that your definite attempts to terminate F.E.C., or to prevent its taking preliminary steps in regard to the Japanese Peace Settlement, appear to us to have unfortunate potentialities. We don't wish, in other words, to lose our leg in, lest there should be no other way in which our presence can be ensured.

There is one point in your telegram which is not entirely clear to us and it is this, does your dislike of F.E.C. consideration of the Peace Settlement also include the eleven member States of F.E.C. being associated in the same task? We have always assumed that this was not the case, but I will be very glad to have the point clarified. [2] We ourselves, of course, take the view that unless it is the eleven F.E.C. States New Zealand is not likely to obtain adequate representation.

Another point I should add is that we never intended our support for an interim conference to be regarded as other than support for some procedure which would pave the way for the Peace Conference, if that was immediately feasible. Personally, I don't think it is immediately feasible, and, moreover, if some interim discussion does not take place shortly there is a danger that the Big Four will somehow or other go into a huddle and settle preliminaries for themselves and for us; and that is why our people have always felt, and still feel, that an airing of the question of procedure in F.E.C. would be to the good. As you know, we were very anxious to go ahead with this but reluctantly deferred any action in deference to your contrary wishes.

I suppose by the time you get this note some definite arrangements will have been made for the talks in Canberra. I have no doubt myself that the British will agree, provided the end of August is accepted as the date. It is a pity that this should be so late, but, apparently, that is the price which will have to be paid.

As you will have gathered from the Prime Minister's telegram to Dr Evatt, Mr Fraser is little interested in conferences this year, and certainly not before, say, November at the earliest. I very much fear that he is right when he says that he won't be able to get to Canberra, and his absence will be most unfortunate, but, as you know, they have a majority of three and a very strong Opposition, and a most unreliable team of their own.

1 Document 317.

2 No reply has been found.

[AA : A1838, 371/3/1]