204

27th June, 1929

PERSONAL AND CONFIDENTIAL

(Due to arrive Canberra 26.7.29)

My dear P.M.,

I have now met the Prime Minister [1] and delivered to him your letter of October 1924, accrediting me to him. He asked me to tell you that he would do anything in his. power to maintain the system of liaison that you had instituted.

I have also met Mr. Arthur Henderson [2], Mr. Snowden [3] and Mr.

Alexander (First Lord of the Admiralty).

The Labour Government is adopting a policy of great secretiveness, which, in so far as it is directed against leakages of information, is to the good-but it is going to make things more difficult unless it is modified, as at present Ministers are not even telling their private secretaries what they are doing.

I have but little direct evidence of what their policy is going to be in foreign and imperial affairs. They apparently intend to implement their election pledge to re-open relations with Russia without more ado-I am telegraphing a suggestion to you in this regard today; they are liable to stiffen up our relations with France (they think Chamberlain [4] was led by the nose); they think Sir Josiah Stamp [5] let us down on Reparations; they may decide to alter the policy regarding Singapore.

I think I had some influence on the decision to advise and consult the Dominions on the question of the recognition of Russia. I have always felt that the Dominions should be consulted on these acts of diplomatic recognition as we are concerned in the results-and, anyhow, recognition is an imperial and not merely a domestic affair. It is my impression that we have never been consulted on such a subject previously. I spoke to Hankey [6] about it as soon as I heard that the re-opening of relations with Russia was part of the Labour policy-and told him that I felt sure (although I had no specific advice from you on the subject) that you would be irritated if the business was conducted without even the gesture of asking for Dominion opinions.

There is no doubt that the new Labour Government has a great chance, thanks to the coincidence of Hoover's [7] arrival at the White House, of achieving some forward step on Naval Limitation, and, indeed, in betterment of Anglo-American relations.

Many thanks for your letters of 22nd July [8], which I was glad to get. A few comments on what you say.

I know General Bruche [9] well and am collaborating with him on C.I.D. papers. I don't think there should be any more trouble.

[10]

I note that you think that politics and industry are too closely interwoven in Australia to make the visit of a British 'Labour Four' a practical and useful matter. [11]

Yes, I have seen W.L. Baillieu several times, I know him well and have sat on many Boards with him before my elevation to the Civil Service. He was 70 recently and carries it remarkably easily. [12]

I note what you say about an 'Imperial' press campaign and will bear it in mind. [13]

Lloyd Dumas, who has been Manager of the Sun-Herald Cable Service in London, goes back to Australia by this mail boat to edit the Adelaide 'Advertiser', recently acquired from Bonython [14] by the Melbourne 'Herald' interests (Baillieu [15], Fink [16], Murdoch [17], etc.). He is a decent levelheaded fellow.

I have made a point of keeping on friendly terms with all the Australian press here. They come and see me regularly and I explain things to them that come within my sphere, but they never expect, and never get, secrets.

I met Bavin [18] (N.S.W.) at dinner this week. I much appreciated meeting him. I imagine that sooner or later he will go into Federal politics.

John Nivison [19] dined with me this week. He is very bitter about the entry of Corporation and General Securities Ltd. into the business of underwriting Australian securities, and he prophesies all kinds of disaster if others are tempted to follow the lead of the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works.

As I have written privately to Mr. Latham [20] today, your and his efforts in response to my appeal for Major Jones [21] to keep me better informed on communist activities in Australia, have borne good fruit. I get half-a-dozen letters a week now from Jones, and New Scotland Yard are delighted with the free flow of information that I am able to supply them with. Already they have begun to link up activities in Australia with corresponding activities here, and I am sure, if Jones continues as he has started, that the results will be to the good.

I regret to add to your troubles, but I would not be doing right if I did not bring to your notice the increasing burden of carrying on this office with my present staff. For one reason or another the work here has increased out of all reason, and I find myself approaching the stage when none of my work will be properly done owing to the calls on my time and attention from so many quarters. The scope to be covered is reflected to a certain extent in my weekly mail to you, but in addition to the written matter, I have to attend many interdepartmental conferences and see large numbers of people each week on subjects on which either I or they want information.

Australia House cannot be expected to supply me with staff other than that approved by you, and I have in consequence been obliged to pay an additional stenographer of my own for the past year in order to make it possible to get through the work.

Martin [22] from Australia House would relieve the tension somewhat and I will have to telegraph you again in this regard in a few days' time.

I do not want to have to drop any sections of the work that I have been doing, as it should all be done, and it can only be done properly (modesty to the contrary notwithstanding) in this office.

I am, Yours sincerely, R.G. CASEY

1 Ramsay MacDonald.

2 Foreign Secretary.

3 Philip Snowden, Chancellor of the Exchequer.

4 Sir Austen Chamberlain, Foreign Secretary in the previous Conservative Government.

5 British representative on the Reparations Commission's Committee on German Currency and Finance in 1924.

6 Sir Maurice Hankey, Secretary to the Cabinet.

7 U.S. President Herbert Hoover.

8 This should read 22 May.

9 Maj Gen Julius Bruche, Australian Adjutant-General.

10 In early January 1929 Bruce passed on to Casey Australian Defence Department requests for increased numbers of copies of Committee of Imperial Defence papers (for Casey's reply see Letter 173). In a further letter (Letter 192) Casey quoted Sir Maurice Hankey as having reason to fear that there might be some conflict in Melbourne between civilian and service areas of the Defence Department. In his letter of 22 May (on file AA:A1420) Bruce rejected the existence of such conflict, and was happy to leave the circulation of C.I.D. papers to Hankey's discretion.

11 Bruce was prepared to co-operate, however, if such a proposal were to come from or through the British Government. See his letter of 22 May 1929 on file AA:A1420.

12 Bruce had inquired after W.L. Baillieu, describing him as 'an admirable citizen' but rather unpopular because of his very success as a financier. See note 3 to Letter 130, and Bruce's letter of 22 May 1929, on file AA:A1420.

13 Bruce had agreed with Casey's suggestion that more should be done to induce the British press to attend to imperial questions.

See Letter 191, and Bruce's letter of 22 May 1929, on file AA:A1420.

14 Sir Lavington Bonython stayed on as a director of the new board.

15 W.L. Baillieu.

16 Theodore Fink, Chairman of Directors of the Herald and Weekly Times Ltd.

17 Keith Murdoch, Managing Director of the Herald and Weekly Times Ltd.

18 Thomas Bavin, Premier of New South Wales 1927-30, moved to the bench of the N.S.W. Supreme Court in 1935.

19 Son of Lord Glendyne, senior partner in the City firm of R.

Nivison and Co., which had been the major underwriter of Australian government securities.

20 John Latham, Commonwealth Attorney-General.

21 Major H.E. Jones, Director of the Commonwealth Investigation Branch.

22 Not identified.