30th August, 1928


My dear P.M.,

I have kept the High Commissioner [1] fully informed of the Antarctic negotiations [2], by word of mouth and by submitting a complete file of the correspondence to Trumble [3] at intervals.

They seem quite content to leave it to me. In fact I very much doubt if they have read the material I have bombarded them with. I will not deal with the subject here as I am treating it very fully by letter and telegram and it has so many ramifications that there is little useful that I can say shortly.

I will only say this. The success or lack of success that the Foreign Office may achieve diplomatically has nothing to do with the question of our issuing a licence to Irvin & Johnson. The former may stave off the immediate threat to our sovereignty-the latter goes some way in advance of this in establishing and cementing our rights. [4]

The related subjects of transport, road building and traffic handling seem to have been inadequately handled-judging by results in the old countries of the world. At the present time people appear to be groping in the dark. Ten years ago in the United States I remember having the fact brought home to me that for 'short hauls' of up to 100 miles under certain conditions, road transport was able to compete successfully with rail. This competition has evidently crystallised into something more serious from the railway point of view. In America with its comparatively small railway network one could imagine such competition existing and not meaning very much, but in these last few years the menace to the railways of road transport (both passenger and goods) has begun to take on serious proportions even in England with its closely-knit railway system. The proper respective spheres of road and rail do not seem to have been properly allocated as yet, either in new or old countries.

Situated as we are in Australia, on the threshold of our development, we have a comparatively clear field. I should think that it would be worth while some independent body in Australia taking the subject in hand-or rather the three inter-related subjects of transport, traffic and road construction.

The problem of laying down city street surfaces that will last more than a year or so under modern traffic conditions is obviously unsolved-London is a vivid example. Whether the big rural arterial roads are going to stand the pounding of five and ten ton lorries is problematical, even when laid down on concrete.

Town-planning and the traffic problem are obviously intimately related.

No municipality has the means of reviewing all the problems-even if they had they would only solve them for themselves and their own particular conditions. It would seem to me to be a job for the Development and Migration Commission.

The question of transport has always interested me and from the point of view of personal interest I am keeping in touch with the development of the 100 ton tracked machine here, from the results of which I have great hopes. McDougall [5] assures me that the potentialities of this development are fully recognised in Australia.

With reference to Duckham [6] and Coal enquiry [7], I enclose as a matter of interest copy of the Command paper containing this one- man minority report. This was never acted on, but it is regarded with respect in almost all quarters. Although it happened nine years ago it is still widely remembered and commented on as an able judgment.

I have seen your memorandum with regard to the new posts to be created in the External Affairs Department [8], and I think it is quite a considerable advance. I think, however, that you will lose Officer [9] if you try to keep him down to the range of pay 420- 510. After all, he has quite considerable qualifications for this sort of work and has in addition personal attributes which make him a most valuable man to the Department.

I do not know if your ideas are hard and fast about keeping the salary range where you have put it. If this is so, then I am afraid he will continually be on the look-out for something else, as he cannot afford to live on the amount offered, as he has no private means. Would it be possible for him to have the grading of third assistant, class III, and yet be temporarily filling the next higher appointment on a higher salary basis? Things being generally as they are in the External Affairs Department, I really don't know how the show would carry on there without him if he chooses to go. This is not prompted by Officer, although I have discussed the matter with him. I venture to mention the matter to you as I have fears for the satisfactory conduct of affairs in the External Affairs Department if he goes.

I gather that Henderson [10] still has in his mind what I think is a misunderstanding about my letters from this end. He apparently thinks that you have instructed him not to put my letters into the official files. When I was in Australia I asked you about this and you replied that you intended this to apply to personal letters only and I so informed Henderson. But I gather that he still has a complex about it. Possibly you might relieve his mind by a word on the subject.

Everyone is away and Departments are short staffed, but it is being for me rather a busier month than usual.

I am, Yours sincerely, R.G. CASEY

1 Sir Granville Ryrie.

2 See note 13 to Letter 146.

3 Thomas Trumble, Official Secretary to the Australian High Commissioner.

4 The Foreign Office was seeking at the time principally to contain Norway's Antarctic ambitions. Irvin and Johnson, a South African whaling firm operating out of Cape Town, had sought a licence to hunt off the shores of territory allocated to Australia at the 1926 Imperial Conference. The Australian Government doubted its powers to issue such a licence and might, besides, have suspected the intentions of a South African firm-some of the allocated territory was due south of South Africa rather than of Australia. In the event, South African indifference finally was recognised and Irvin and Johnson got their licence on the understanding that they would act as the Norwegians were assumed to act: planting a flag or two while hunting whales.

5 F.L. McDougall, Economic Adviser to the Australian High Commissioner.

6 Sir Arthur Duckham, consulting engineer and a member of the British Economic Mission to Australia in 1928.

7 Duckham had urged greater state control over mines, and a minimum wage for miners supplemented by bonuses for results.

Duckham's was not in fact a minority report. Members of the Coal Industry Commission had formed groups along political and industrial lines in writing their reports. His was a compromise between the owners' and the miners' positions. See also note 4 to Letter 69.

8 See note 3 to Letter 144.

9 F.K. Officer, then in London before going to Geneva for the 1928 League of Nations Assembly.

10 Dr Walter Henderson, Head of the External Affairs Branch.