27th September, 1928


(Due to arrive Canberra 26.10.28)

My dear P.M.,

I had a talk with Amery [1] yesterday. The election here almost certainly will be in June. The interest of this for us is that it means almost certainly that there will be no Imperial Conference in 1929, as Amery thinks there would not be time or energy after the election to prepare for it.

Amery asked me to tell you that he had been obliged to agree, with great reluctance, to the Cabinet decision that there should be no further preference on Dominion food products in the next Parliament. He found that there was so much timidity in the Cabinet on this subject that they were not prepared to face the country with any doubt in people's minds as to further taxation of food-even if this were to be in the form of a re-arrangement of the existing taxation. He is not entirely pessimistic as to the possibility of some minor concessions being made from this policy if it is done quietly-(and he made the point that even this would only be possible if someone other than Winston [2] were at the Treasury) but he says the more the subject is ventilated the less chance will there be of doing anything. So he hopes that this particular aspect of Government policy will not be discussed openly more than is necessary.

Amery expressed the great hope that you would decide to send an entirely Australian expedition to the Antarctic next year. As the sovereignty is to be vested in the Commonwealth, he really did not see that he could get any considerable contribution out of the Treasury towards an expedition. He said the Treasury were going to be tighter than ever for money next year and he really did not see what justification he could bring forward for a contribution by this Government. But although, as he said, the matter was one entirely for Australian decision, he thought very strongly that in our own interests we should send an expedition. He said that the Foreign Office were on infirm ground in trying to defend the existing claims to the Antarctic and he thought that if we did not make some positive move towards cementing our claims, we could not rely to any extent on diplomatic action to maintain ourselves in the Antarctic in the future. [3]

He had only just seen the telegram from you with regard to the proposed taxation of American shipping trading to Australia but at first sight he saw no reason whatever why you should not go ahead and tax them. [4]

I asked him what his views were in general about the Duke of York going to a Dominion as Governor-General. He said that he was not quite sure that it would be a good plan in the next five years. In the first place he thought that the King considered that the creation of a family was the Duke of York's first duty in the next five years. Apart from this, he was not altogether convinced that royalty made good Governors-General. The regime of the Duke of Connaught [5] in Canada was not altogether a success. With regard to the Athlones [6], he thought that as they had been away from England in South Africa for five years, they might well want to spend some time in England particularly as their daughter, Lady Mary Cambridge, was of marriageable age.

He dwelt for a little on the position as between Great Britain and America (as everybody does in these days). He said that it looked as if the Americans had quite suddenly made up their minds in the last year or so that from now on everything that they said was to be regarded by the rest of the world as the word of Heaven and was to be accepted without question by other countries.

He finished by asking me to transmit to you his good wishes for your success in the coming election.

I am, Yours sincerely, R.G. CASEY

1 Leopold Amery, Secretary for the Colonies and for Dominion Affairs.

2 Winston Churchill, Chancellor of the Exchequer.

3 See note 4 to Letter 150.

4 Australia remained one of the few countries to tax shipping owned overseas, despite shipping companies' complaints that this comprised double taxation and a League of Nations call for taxation only in the country from which a shipping company was administered.

5 The Duke of Connaught, a brother of King Edward VII, had been Governor-General of Canada 1911-16.

6 See note 2 to Letter 152.