14th June, 1928


My dear P.M.,

My dinner to Hirst [1] fell through at the last moment owing to prolongation of his attack of gout, but it was held at his flat in Park Lane with my guests and with Hirst wheeled in in a chair.

Amery and Nathan came too and contributed anything that was useful in the evening. I was most disappointed at the contributions made by Andrew Williamson, Nivison, E.V. Reid and John Sanderson. [2] They showed themselves quite narrow business men and anything they had to say was concerned with but half-aninch round their own particular dung-hill, and was entirely lacking in any broad national outlook. They showed themselves little more than grown-up and rather cunning and shrewd clerks.

The Big Four [3] are going on the assumption that the Development & Migration Commission will have prepared data and specific queries for them by the time they arrive, in order to give them a basis to start on. I have not met Duckham but the other three know nothing whatever about Australia at the moment, and unless the field of enquiry is narrowed down for them and concentrated in a series of definite problems or questions, I would imagine that they are liable to waste a good deal of their only too short time.

Sir Hugo Hirst told me of a curious coincidence. He lives in Park Lane and walked out on a recent Sunday night to listen to the soap-box speakers in the Park. He heard his own name being proclaimed in a loud voice and stopped to listen. He heard his whole life story being extolled as an example of individual effort and determination, with reasonable accuracy. When he had finished he spoke to the speaker whom he found was an Australian called Price, who said he was subsidised as an Anti-Socialist lecturer by MacRobertson [4], the chocolate manufacturer. Part of his repertory consisted of the lives of men like Hirst, Ashfield [5], Mond [6], etc.

I gave a lunch for a dozen men to meet and hear George Wilkins [7] this week. I had men from the Admiralty, War Office and C.I.D., as well as the heads of the two Australian Press agencies in London and a few other Australians and other friends amongst whom I thought some publicity would be useful. Wilkins talked for half- an-hour, with a big map, about his Antarctic proposals. A couple of hundred pounds was forthcoming and I hope more will mature.

Wilkins does not think that he will be able to raise any money worth talking about in Australia for his expedition. This is apparently due to the activities of Sir Douglas Mawson [8], who never loses an opportunity to decry Wilkins. It seems a clear case of professional jealousy and I have heard nobody suggest (not even Mawson himself who has spoken to me on the subject) that he has anything against Wilkins except the fact that the latter has not got a University degree. It seems a great pity that Wilkins will apparently have to rely almost entirely upon American money again.

Unless I hear from you to the contrary I propose to go to Paris for a long week-end of four days on 12th July. The High Commissioner [9] agrees, and I am arranging to meet the leading half-dozen leader writers of the French press, as well as Andre Siegfried, Jacques Seydoux and a few others at various meals.

I send out copies by this mail of Harrison Moore's Diary, covering his time in America and Geneva. [10] He saw and talked to many intelligent and interesting people and his records of these conversations and his own reflections are of interest. He has an enquiring mind and loves to chew a bone. His writing is appalling and has necessitated two typewritten drafts. I am glad you are getting him for the League Assembly again as he will leaven the delegation.

I have some rather unsavoury information about the methods of the International Labour Office at Geneva, or, at least, possibly of some individuals connected with it. I am collecting further information before I write you on the subject.

I am, Yours sincerely, R.G. CASEY

From Letter 138 the form of address from which the letters were written was altered. Earlier the letterhead depicted the Australian coat of arms above the words 'Commonwealth of Australia', and the address, '2, Whitehall Gardens, London, S.W.1' was typewritten. Hereafter the letterhead was printed with the coat of arms and the words 'Office of the High Commissioner for the Commonwealth of Australia: Department of External Affairs, 2, Whitehall Gardens, London, S. W. 1'.

1 Chairman and Managing Director of the General Electric Co. Ltd.

2 For notes on the guests referred to here, see Letter 136.

3 Sir Arthur Duckham, Sir Hugo Hirst, Dougal Malcolm and Sir Ernest Clark (see note 22 to Letter 85 and Letter 134), who visited Australia at Bruce's request later in the year to advise on development and imperial economic co-operation.

4 Macpherson Robertson, Melbourne confectionery manufacturer (MacRobertson's) and philanthropist.

5 Lord Ashfield, company director notable especially in the transport field; President of the Board of Trade 1916-19.

6 Sir Alfred Mond, Chairman of Imperial Chemical Industries Ltd.

7 Australian polar explorer.

8 See Letter 132.

9 Sir Granville Ryrie.

10 Sir William Harrison Moore, formerly Dean of the Faculty of Law in the University of Melbourne; member of Australian delegations to the League of Nations Assemblies in 1927, 1928 and 1929. His diary covering 1927-28 is item 2/1/2 in the Sir William Harrison Moore Collection, Archives, University of Melbourne.