CO-OPERATION IN BRITISH COMMONWEALTH DEFENCE
1. INTRODUCTION At its meeting on 3rd July 1947, the Council noted the Memorandum of 23rd May 1947 on Co-operation in British Commonwealth Defence , containing the proposals of the Australian Government on the matters which were discussed on this subject at the Conference of Prime Ministers in London in 1946 (Agendum No. 6/ 1947). The Memorandum had been forwarded to the Prime Ministers of the other British Commonwealth countries and to the then Government of India through the Australian High Commissioner at Delhi
2. ACCEPTANCE OF AUSTRALIAN PROPOSALS BY THE UNITED KINGDOM AND NEW ZEALAND GOVERNMENTS 2. From May to December 1947 there was correspondence with the Prime Ministers of the United Kingdom and New Zealand on the Australian Government's proposals, also discussions during the visits to Australia of Viscount Addison, Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations, Mr. Fraser, Prime Minister of New Zealand, and Field Marshal Montgomery, Chief of the Imperial General Staff.
3. Agreement has now been reached between the three Governments regarding the Australian proposals for United Kingdom and New Zealand representation in the Australian Government Machinery for matters of co-operation in British Commonwealth Defence.
4. Under the approved arrangements, the High Commissioners for the United Kingdom and New Zealand will be invited to attend meetings of the Council of Defence when matters affecting those parts of the British Commonwealth are under consideration. On the official level, the Governments of the United Kingdom and New Zealand will maintain in Australia a Joint Service Representative and staff who will be accredited to the Defence Department. Rear Admiral C.T.M.
Pizey, C.B., D.S.O., has been appointed Head of the United Kingdom Service Liaison Staff in Australia. Colonel C.J. Duff, D.S.O., has been appointed New Zealand Joint Service Liaison Officer in Australia.
5. The general principle in regard to representation on the official level win be that these Joint Service Representatives will be invited to attend meetings of the Defence Committee and Chiefs of Staff Committee when matters affecting their country are under consideration. Where necessary they may also accompany their Governmental representative to the Council of Defence as Adviser.
6. Similarly, members of the staff of these Joint Service Representatives will be invited to attend meetings of the Joint Service Machinery subordinate to the Defence Committee and Chiefs of Staff Committee.
7. Reciprocal arrangements have been made for the Australian Government to be represented in the Higher Defence Machinery of the United Kingdom and New Zealand.
8. On the Governmental level, the High Commissioners in London and New Zealand will attend meetings of the corresponding bodies to our Council of Defence when matters affecting Australia are under consideration.
9. Major-General A.J. Boase, C.B.E., with a small inter-Service staff, has been appointed Australian Defence Representative in the United Kingdom, and Brigadier G.H. O'Brien, C.B.E., has been appointed Australian Defence Representative in New Zealand. These officers will similarly attend meetings of the Joint Service Machinery on their level when matters affecting this country are under consideration.
10. With the approval of the arrangements for co-operation between the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand outlined above, there now exists appropriate joint machinery for the examination and consideration of problems of mutual defence interest to these countries.
3. OBSERVATIONS ON SCOPE OF MACHINERY FOR CO-OPERATION IN BRITISH COMMONWEALTH DEFENCE 11. During the correspondence and discussions with the United Kingdom and New Zealand Governments on the Australian proposals, the principle was reaffirmed that the arrangements for co- operation which were being introduced were subject to the sovereign control of the policy of each part of the Empire by its own people, parliament and government.
12. Attention is invited to the following views expressed in the Prime Minister's letter of 16th September 1947 to the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom , regarding the use of the machinery of the various parts of the British Commonwealth for Co- operation in Defence:-
'Each Government must retain the right of deciding its own Policy and the commitments which it is prepared to accept. The constitutional history of the British Commonwealth has shown that the correct process in all these matters is an evolution. The machinery should be allowed to develop in an evolutionary manner as problems are tackled. This process could be retarded or even frustrated by an anxiety to hasten too quickly. The approach has to be gradual and realistic. It would be quite misleading to accept responsibilities and make promises which could not be carried out. As stated in the Australian memorandum on Co- operation in British Commonwealth Defence, it is also fundamental to provide for an effective voice by Governments in the higher control of planning on the official level. There can be no question of Governments being embarrassed on the political level by the plans of Joint Planning Staffs on the official level, which are inconsistent with political reality and the resources that can be provided. As you are aware, there may also be legislative enactments which relate to such matters.'
4. REPLIES FROM OTHER BRITISH COMMONWEALTH COUNTRIES 13. The Memorandum was forwarded in May 1947 to the Prime Ministers of Canada and South Africa, and, through the Australian High Commissioner, India, to the then Government of India, with an intimation that should these Governments now, or at any future time, consider that it would be to the mutual interests and advantage for them to be represented on the Australian Defence Machinery, the Australian Government would warmly welcome such an arrangement. Reciprocally, the Australian Government would appreciate representation on the corresponding Defence Machinery of these countries if it should be mutually agreed that it was desirable.
14. Canada: No reply has so far been received from the Prime Minister of Canada.
15. South Africa: The Prime Minister of South Africa in acknowledging receipt of the Memorandum on 26th June 1947, stated- 'I thank you for this interesting document to which the Union Government and Department of Defence will give their close attention. In due course, if points emerge on which we may wish to address you, I shall approach you in a further communication. The question of our mutual representation on our respective set-ups of Defence Machinery may then also arise.' 16. India and Pakistan: The Australian proposals were forwarded through the Australian High Commissioner in India, prior to partition. Advice was received that the memorandum was forwarded by the High Commissioner to the Defence Member of the then Government of India, who is now Minister for Defence in the present Government of India. The Australian High Commissioner has received the following reply dated 2nd January 1948 from the Minister for Defence, India:-
'I have to say that the Government of India greatly appreciate the offer of the Australian Government. They recognise that it would be of advantage to India and to Australia to maintain close liaison in matters affecting the defence of the Pacific. In view, however, of our preoccupation with military problems whose solution is of greater urgency than the establishment of machinery for dealing with strategic problems of the kind envisaged in the Australian proposals, I regret that it will not be possible for us to take immediate advantage of the Australian offer or to offer Australia something equivalent in return. For the same reason, we have decided not to make any comments on the Australian proposals as regards the structure and functions of the Australian machinery. I will let you know as soon as we are in a position to do so.'
17. The Australian Government proposals were also forwarded by the Australian High Commissioner in India to Field Marshal Sir Claude Auchinleck, who at the time was the Supreme Commander of all forces in India and a member of the Joint Defence Council. The memorandum was passed by Sir Claude Auchinleck to the Secretary to the Pakistan Defence Department on 7th August 1947. Advice has been received through the Australian High Commissioner in India that the Pakistan Government, whilst appreciating that in the circumstances then obtaining, the approach through Sir Claude Auchinleck was entirely correct, suggested that, in the changed circumstances, 'it would be desirable for this matter to be raised in the form of an official communication through diplomatic channels, if the Government of Australia desire to pursue it'.
Action is being taken to confirm the invitation in the manner suggested.