101 Chifley to Evatt

Cablegram E79 CANBERRA, 13 October 1948, 5.10 p.m.


PART A We have had only a brief opportunity to study the United Kingdom views put forward with regard to the world situation and its defence aspects in the paper PMM.(48)1. [1] The following is a summary of the statements on Australian Defence Policy relating to the views in the United Kingdom paper:-

(1) In my directive to the Defence Department on Australian Defence Policy and National Security of February 1946, I said that:-

'The nature, strength and functions of the Australian Forces, and the munitions and supply resources to be established for their maintenance in peace and war, will be governed by the following considerations which are blended and inter-related:-

(i) The forces to be provided in accordance with Articles 43 and 45 of the Charter, including regional arrangements under Article 52.

(ii) The forces to be maintained by Australia under arrangements for co-operation in Empire Defence in accordance with the inherent right of collective self-defence under Article 51.

(iii) The forces to be maintained by Australia to provide for the inherent right of individual self-defence under Article 51.' (2) It was further stated that the security of Australia will rest on a blending of these three safeguards which are complementary to each other and none of which is exclusive of the others. The nature and extent of the provision to be made for defence will be influenced by the state of development that has been reached in organising a system of collective security, and a scheme of British Commonwealth Defence, and the degree of reliance which can be placed on them.

(3) The Government's post-war Defence Policy, as announced to Parliament in June 1947, was based on the foregoing.

(4) In regard to collective security, it has frequently been made quite clear that, in its international policy, the Government has given, and will continue to give, unwavering support to the United Nations Organisation and its related organisations, and to the principles and purposes declared both in the Atlantic Charter and the United Nations Charter. The Government has consistently endeavoured to assist in establishing a just and lasting peace based on those principles.

(5) It has also been stated that, if an overall plan could be prepared in accordance with the principles of the Charter, it would indicate the nature and strength of the forces and facilities and resources to be provided by each of the parties to the arrangement. This would have a vital influence on our future defence organisation and the basis of our planning. It is essentially a long-term view, but is fundamental to any scheme for a substantial reduction in the burden of armaments. In the meantime, reliance must primarily be placed on co-operation in British Commonwealth Defence and, in the last resort, on the forces that can be raised in an emergency to provide for the inherent right of individual self-defence under the Charter.

(6) The stage reached in co-operation in British Commonwealth Defence is that various Imperial Conferences over the years have laid down principles relating to co-operation. However, the basis of their practical application was stated by me at the 1946 Conference as follows:-

'Co-operation between members of the British Commonwealth is a matter of bilateral or multilateral planning, according to the strategical position of the particular part of the Empire concerned, the views of its Government and those of the other Governments that may be concerned.'

This means that each member of the British Commonwealth has a primary responsibility in regard to its own problem in its particular region which requires working out, not only with the other members of the Empire concerned, but also with other nations with territorial and strategic interests in that area. If these regional arrangements are ultimately pieced together, a major contribution to an over-all plan may have been achieved, whether on a British Commonwealth or world basis.

(7) It was also stated by me at the Conference in London in 1946, to be fundamental to arrangements for co-operation in defence that appropriate machinery should be created to provide for an effective voice by the Governments concerned in policy and in the higher control of planning on the official level.

(8) The Australian Government's proposals for United Kingdom and New Zealand representation in the Australian Government machinery for matters of cooperation in British Commonwealth Defence have been agreed to by all three Governments concerned, and the machinery for United Kingdom and New Zealand representation in Australia and Australian representation in the United Kingdom and New Zealand has been set up.

(9) Finally, the importance of close co-operation with the United States of America is fully recognised by the Australian Government. As I stated at the Conference in 1946 in relation to Regional Security in the Pacific, the approach to a common scheme of defence for this area should be by agreement between the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand, and thereafter with the United States, and later with other nations with possessions in this area.

PART B The following observations are made on the relationship of the foregoing to views expressed in the United Kingdom paper:-

(1) The United Kingdom Government states that it has not been possible to achieve collective security under the United Nations, and that the Western Powers feel that it is of paramount importance that all like-minded Governments should co-operate in building up collective security from the angle of regional security as provided for by the Charter.

The United Kingdom statement with regard to the need and urgency for a regional plan for Western Europe, the foundation of which was laid by the Brussels Treaty and in which the Western European countries, United States of America and the United Kingdom should closely co-operate, is in principle in accordance with the Australian Government's views with regard to the Pacific region.

(2) In regard to planning between members of the British Commonwealth, its basis and machinery for this purpose are outlined in paragraphs 6, 7 and 8 above. This machinery is in existence in so far as the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand are concerned, and it provides a means of consultation on the political level, and also on the official level in respect of matters approved by the Governments concerned. It will be recalled that our memorandum on machinery for co-operation in British Commonwealth Defence was addressed not only to the United Kingdom and New Zealand, but also to Canada, South Africa, India and Pakistan. The three latter, as well as Ceylon, are mutually interested with us in regional security in the Indian Ocean.

(3) The United Kingdom Government states that the United States, through her geographic position, is affected by the Soviet threat both in the West and in the East, and that close co-operation with her is obvious and natural.

The views of the Australian Government on co-operation with the United States in regional security in the Pacific are stated in paragraph 9 above. It will also be recalled that one of the basic principles laid down at the 1946 Conference relating to the machinery for co-operation in British Commonwealth Defence was that it should be capable of interlocking with that of other nations on a regional and world basis in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations.

In so far as Australia is concerned, the development of corresponding British Commonwealth planning to that proposed between United Kingdom, United States and Western European countries, would also require the linking of Australian and British Commonwealth plans with those of the United States in the Pacific, to cope with the Soviet threat in the Pacific as mentioned in the United Kingdom paper. The machinery established for co-operation in British Commonwealth Defence is capable of interlocking with that of the United States, though the procedure to be followed would be a matter for consideration and development.

(4) Finally, it can be stated generally that the proposals in the United Kingdom paper require detailed examination by the Government and its advisers, and we will give favourable consideration to the matters raised therein. We would also be glad to know the views of the other Governments of the British Commonwealth.

1 Document 100.

[AA: A1838/283, TS899/6]