549 Cabinet Submission by Evatt and Ward

Agendum 1286 CANBERRA, 14 January 1947


The Australian - New Zealand Agreement of January, 1944, in Article 30, proposed the establishment of a regional organisation with advisory powers to be called the South Seas Regional Commission (this has subsequently been altered to the South Seas Commission) on which, in addition to representatives of Australia and New Zealand, there might be accredited representatives of the Governments of the United Kingdom and the United States of America and other interested Governments.

Preliminary arrangements and discussions have taken place for some time in regard to the establishment of the Commission and at a meeting of Commonwealth Prime Ministers in London in May 1946 it was agreed that a conference should be convened in Canberra by the Australian and New Zealand Governments to set up the Commission.

Invitations were accordingly issued in September 1946 to the Governments of the United Kingdom, United States of America, France and the Netherlands to join Australia and New Zealand in a conference in Canberra on 28th January, 1947. All have accepted and will send delegations.

It is proposed that the Commission should advise the member governments in regard to native welfare generally and the matters to be considered by the Conference in determining the functions of the proposed Commission will include such matters as the following:

(a) Co-operation in regard to health and medical services and education;

(b) The maintenance and improvement of standards of native welfare in regard to labour conditions and the participation of natives in administration and social services;

(c) Co-operation in research in economic, social and anthropological fields;

(d) Co-operation in regard to material development including, for example, communications and marketing.

The invitation stated that the level of representation would be Ministerial and although replies from the other Governments have not stated precisely the composition of their delegations, it is understood that the United Kingdom and New Zealand will be represented by Ministers. It is considered that the Australian delegation should consist of Ministers as delegates, alternate delegates, and advisers, and that the delegates should be the Minister for External Affairs and the Minister for External Territories; alternate delegates Sir Frederic Eggleston, Professor K.H. Bailey, Colonel J.K. Murray, Administrator of Papua - New Guinea, and J.R. Halligan, Secretary, Department of External Territories, advisers to be determined by the Ministers for External Affairs and External Territories.

The foregoing proposals are recommended for approval. [1]

H.V. EVATT Minister For External Affairs

E.J. WARD Minister For External Territories

1 On 16 January Cabinet approved the proposed delegation and agreed that the Department of Social Services should be represented when necessary.

[AA : A1838,343/1]