105 Chifley to Attlee

Letter CANBERRA, 10 December 1948


Thank you for Paper PMM(48)1-The World Situation and its Defence Aspects [1]-which I received just before the recent Conference of Commonwealth Prime Ministers in London. The Defence Committee has considered the information and suggestions contained in your paper and I am enclosing a copy of their report [2] for your information.

2. You will recall that, on 24th May 1948 [3], I forwarded for information:-

(i) Council of Defence Agendum No. 1/1948 [4] and Supplement No. 1 [5]-The Strategic Position of Australia-Review by the Chiefs of Staff Committee.

(ii) Council of Defence observations and conclusions of 20th April 1948 [6] on the above Agenda.

In their conclusions, the Council of Defence authorised the development of strategic planning on an official level within the limits of a zone which had been recommended by the Chiefs of Staff. [7] The arrangements for linking with New Zealand were to be discussed on an official level.

3. In extension of the conclusions of the Council of Defence of 20th April 1948, I have authorised an examination by the Defence Committee, in conjunction with the United Kingdom and New Zealand Liaison Staffs, of the following:-

(a) The basic objectives of British Commonwealth Defence policy and general strategy;

(b) A suitable basis for the distribution of strategic responsibility and war effort.

4. When Government consideration has been given to the conclusions reached in official level discussions under paragraph 3(a) and (b) above, the next step would be the authorisation by Governments of the preparation of general outline plans to meet immediate and long term dangers.

5. The Defence Committee consider that 'it is an essential pre- requisite to a study of these subjects in Australia for the United Kingdom views to be made available', and it is suggested that these problems might be discussed in the first instance in London by your Defence Advisers with the Australian Defence Representative, Major-General A.J. Boase. When advice received through General Boase is available for consideration by our Defence Committee, we would, of course, invite your Chief Liaison Officer and the New Zealand Joint Services Liaison Officer to attend meetings of appropriate Committees.

6. It is considered that the liaison arrangements in existence between Australia, the United Kingdom and New Zealand are suitable, and that they should be used whenever possible for such discussions.

7. The considerations which I mentioned in paragraph 7 of my letter of 24th May 1948 would apply also to the approved extension of authority for planning, viz:-

(i) That the strategic planning authorised is to proceed strictly on an official level.

(ii) That it does not involve any commitment in regard to Government policy, except where approval is specifically sought and obtained.

(iii) That the development of planning is subject to considerations mentioned in sub-paragraph 3(iii) of the conclusions of the Council of Defence of 20th April.

8. I am sending a copy of the Defence Committee's Report on your paper PMM(48) 1-The World Situation and its Defence Aspects-to the Prime Minister of New Zealand. Copies of this letter and enclosure are being forwarded for information to the Australian Defence Representative, London, and to your Chief Liaison Officer in Melbourne. It is also proposed to send copies of the Defence Committee's Report for the information of the other Commonwealth Governments which were represented at the recent Conference in London, and it is desired to know whether there are any views you may wish to offer on this course.

1 Document 100.

2 Document 104 3 Document 98.

4 Agendum 1948, dated 12 March 1948, comprised (a) the Chiefs of Staff Minute 3/1947 which was published in Volume 12, Document 161, and (b) part V of the Chiefs of Staff Appreciation, dated September 1947, which was published in the Attachment to Document 161.

5 Document 96.

6 Document 97.

7 The zone is described in Document 97, pact (3) in reference to 'paragraph 92'.

[AA: A816/52, 14/301/353]