28th March, 1929


(Due to arrive Canberra 27.4.29)

My dear P.M.,

It is rather early yet to be optimistic about the possibilities of the economic exploitation of the Antarctic but it appears to me as if the outlook is quite hopeful from the point of view of seals alone.

Mawson [1] says that the hair seal exists in large numbers on the Antarctic coast immediately south of Australia, but they have hitherto been regarded as of little value. However, in the last year or so, the Hudson's Bay Company has developed a technique for the treatment of these skins and they say that their market value is rapidly approaching that of the fur seal. At the moment, the Hudson's Bay Company's activities as regards sealing are confined to the vicinity of Newfoundland and the Hudson's Bay area in Canada, but they tell me that they are on the point of extending their activities both as regards sealing and in many other directions to other parts of the world.

Their interest in the Australian sector of the Antarctic lies in the fact that Mawson says the seals are there in very large numbers and they happen to be of very much greater size than the Canadian seals, and so are proportionately more valuable. They have also developed methods of economic utilisation of many other products of the seal, and also penguin eggs and other Antarctic raw material. I have spent some little time lately with their Research people and am to meet their Chairman, Mr. C. V. Sale [2], shortly.

They hope that arrangements can be made whereby they will be allowed to co-operate with Australian interests in the exploitation of this area.

In this respect, as in many others, I am trenching on McDougall's [3] country, but I am telling him all about it. I hope in the near future to be able to give you fuller particulars of what the Hudson's Bay people have in mind. At first sight it would look like an Australian public company in which the Hudson's Bay Company might have up to one-third interest, their technical knowledge and experience of the marketing end being taken into account. You may, however, wish the Commonwealth Government to participate directly in any such company.

The above points to the advisability of some sort of a census of the animal life of the areas visited being undertaken by Mawson.

Sealing restrictions will also have to be considered at an early stage-but probably not until the area has been taken over by the Commonwealth. I have already sent out copies of the relevant sealing restriction regulations of a number of countries as precedents.

My lunch for Mawson this week, to which Amery [4] and a number of others came, went off quite well. Half of the time was devoted to Mawson and the rest was taken up by Hugo Hirst [5], who declaimed at great length on Imperial and Australian matters. He is completely imbued and absorbed by the Imperial spirit and uses his many opportunities for public speaking to sound the right note, and I can well imagine will do a great deal of good. But to hear him talking about the 'development of this great British heritage of ours' is a little like Mond's alleged remark in the heat of an electioneering speech in Wales-'I stand above all things for the principle of Vales for the Velsh'. [6]

Hirst told me that since his return he had had several talks to Mond with the object of trying to work out some feasible plan for closer economic cooperation between Great Britain and Australia- and the other Dominions. They hoped to continue such conversations in a few months' time and to discuss the subject with as many Dominion business men as possible-and they might have something to suggest (entirely outside politics) before the end of the year- well before the next Imperial Conference.

I enclose copy of the latest Davenport and Cooke pamphlet. [7] Although it is on broader lines than before, the attack is none the less specifically directed at Australia. McDougall and I had thought that it would be best answered from the mouth of someone like Sir Hugo Hirst and suggested this to Collins [8], but he wants to do it himself-and so as it is rather out of my country I had no more to say. I feel that Cooke is out after notoriety as much as anything, and is taking this easy line of criticism as a convenient-and, at the moment, not unpopular-medium. It has been noticed by all the papers and reviews, but I have seen no very marked comments on it one way or the other.

Mr. Baldwin's [9] references to the failures of nationalisation of public utilities (instancing Australia's efforts in this regard) have given pegs to the Labour Party on which to hang pointed and rather telling speeches. Tom Jones [10] tells me (in great confidence) that this particular speech of Baldwin's was written in the Conservative Central Office and was the only speech of recent date that he (T.J.) has not personally written or vetted. I don't know whether you know J.C.C. Davidson [11], the head of the Conservative Central Office machine-he did the publicity side of the last two Imperial Conferences. Although I don't expect it would cause him a sleepless night, he is a man whom I have little use for.

As regards the press attitude towards political parties here-the 'Daily Mail' (Lord Rothermere) declared itself a few days ago as being for a Conservative-Liberal fusion, in an effort to keep out the Labour Party. This sounds particularly inept and impossible of achievement. I hear that a lot of backstairs negotiations went on before this policy was announced. Baldwin could conceivably have got the wholehearted support of the 'Daily Mail' if he had liked to swallow hard, but he is not very good at this sort of thing.

Hankey [12] says that the 'Daily Mail' has always been singularly lacking in political sense at elections. Beaverbrook [13] ('Daily Express') has not yet announced himself finally on the election.

The 'Times' has come out wholeheartedly in support of the present Government.

I enclose copy of an article on 'Anglo-American Relations and Sea Power' by John W. Davis, that has appeared in the American review 'Foreign Affairs', and which has attracted considerable attention both in the United States and here. He was American Ambassador in London for three years after the War. It is a sane and fairly reasonable statement of the position. [14]

I enclose list of the Directorate of the Bank of England for the forthcoming year.

I am, Yours sincerely, R.G. CASEY

P.S. I enclose extract from an article on Educational Films, by Sir Michael Sadler, in the recent Film Supplement of the 'Times', in which you are spoken of as probably going to add a piece of 'talking film'.

Hankey's daughter, Ursula, has become engaged to young Benn of the publishing house. His father is a baronet and from a worldly-and I think from every other-point of view it is a good match. [15]

I enclose press cuttings about the boat race. It was a procession all the way.

I enclose copy of enlargement from a small cinema of the infant when she was four months old. [16] I am keeping a movie record of her but otherwise have had no photographs taken. She looks rather like a tennis ball but is really quite a pleasant child. [17]

1 Sir Douglas Mawson, leader of the British, Australian and New Zealand Antarctic Research Expedition of 1929-31.

2 Governor of the Hudson's Bay Company.

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

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

5 Sir Hugo Hirst, Chairman and Managing Director of the General Electric Co. Ltd.

6 Lord Melchett (formerly Sir Alfred Mond), Chairman of Imperial Chemical Industries Ltd, was German born, as was Sir Hugo Hirst.

7 See note 16 to Letter 76.

8 J.R. Collins, Financial Adviser to the Australian High Commissioner.

9 Prime Minister.

10 Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet.

11 Chairman of the Conservative Party.

12 Sir Maurice Hankey, Secretary to the Cabinet.

13 Lord Beaverbrook, proprietor of the Daily Express, the Sunday Express and the Evening Standard.

14 See John W. Davis, 'Anglo-American Relations and Sea Power', Foreign Affairs, 7, 1929, pp. 345-55. An Anglophile, Davis sought to defuse Anglo-American conflict over naval questions by having the Royal Navy and the United States Navy pledged by their governments to keep the peace in the spirit of the League Covenant and the Kellogg-Briand Pact. Davis had been American Ambassador to the United Kingdom 1918-21 and had run as the Democratic Party's candidate in the 1924 Presidential election.

15 Ursula Hankey married John Benn, heir of Sir Ernest Benn, on 23 July 1929.

16 Casey's daughter, Jane Alice Camilla, was born on 7 October 1928.

17 Bruce was delighted, but noted in a letter of 22 May 1929 (on file AA:A1420): 'Godparents, however, are a critical breed, and I reserve my full, absolute and complete approval until I have had an opportunity of personally inspecting my charming Goddaughter.'