10 Chifley to Beasley

Cablegram 14, CANBERRA, 25 January 1949, 10.30 p.m.

IMMEDIATE SECRET AND PERSONAL

Minister for External Affairs Dr. Evatt has received from the French Legation at Canberra the following message from the Government of France - Begins.

'The French Government is proud that Paris had been selected as the venue of the Third Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations and would like to celebrate the occasion by conferring on you as President of the United Nations Assembly the Grande Croix de la Legion d'Honneur.

'Before taking any formal step the French Government is anxious to ascertain whether you would be willing to accept this honour and whether the Australian Government would have any objection to the conferring of this honour on you in your capacity as President of the General Assembly of the United Nations and in token of your achievement in that capacity and your constructive contribution to the work of the United Nations.' Ends.

I regard this proposal as a compliment and courtesy not only to Dr. Evatt but to the Government and people of Australia.

Moreover the desire to confer this honour emanated from international gathering of world wide importance over which Dr. Evatt presided. Accordingly I expressed to Dr. Evatt that I had no objection and he so advised the French Legation.

It is of course necessary that His Majesty express his approval of Dr. Evatt accepting and wearing the Decoration prior to it being conferred by the French Government.

As a matter of urgency I should be grateful if you would see the Private Secretary to His Majesty without delay and explain the matter to him and convey to him that I have no objection to this Decoration providing that it has His Majesty's approval.

I will personally speak to His Excellency the Governor-General with regard to the matter.

I would be also grateful to you if you would telegraph me without delay as to the course of the matter.

[AA : A2908, H28]