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292 Curtin to Bruce

Cablegram 146 CANBERRA, 8 October 1943


Our 144. [1]

1. The Commonwealth Government understands that the proposed talks in London on civil aviation will be an informal and exploratory exchange of views between members of the British Commonwealth of Nations.

2. We hope for eventual discussion between all interested parties with a view to obtaining as large a measure of international collaboration in civil aviation as possible. We are anxious to contribute towards an understanding between members of British Commonwealth. At the same time we look forward to a wider international agreement.

3. The problem of civil aviation appears to us to be closely linked with the problem of international security. The zone of security for which Australia must be specially responsible includes for instance Timor, Celebes, New Guinea, Solomons, New Hebrides and New Caledonia. In order to discharge such responsibility Australia should have the necessary air resources, civil as well as military. This is a leading principle for our representatives.

4. Subject to a constitution which takes account of our special needs and gives Australia adequate representation, we favour the creation, of an international air transport authority.

5. The authority might be empowered to deal with such matters as- (a) Aeronautical research, the planning of new international services and facilities, the delimitation of international air routes and the laying down of the broad lines on which they should be operated.

(b) The actual operation of the declared international routes should be under the general control of the international air transport authority. We consider that the system should be framed to allow the devolution by the international authority to national authorities of the management of routes either within particular regions or on particular services. This devolution of management must be accompanied by safeguards to maintain the general principle that the national authority acts as trustee for the international authority.

6. We envisage the eventual conclusion of an international agreement by which this international authority would be created and in which the manner of its operations and the undertakings of the various signatory states in respect of it would be clearly laid down.

7. While subscribing to the general objective of international control we also concede that certain national needs must be recognised. So far as Australia is concerned we would require full control not only over all our internal services but over Commonwealth air services to contiguous territories, and the use of Australian personnel, agencies, and materials in operating and maintaining overseas services leading to and from Australia.

Moreover, from considerations of national defence and general security in the South-West Pacific, the expansion of the aviation and allied industries in all their phases is absolutely essential.

8. The principles by which we suggest these national needs can be met include- (a) Within its own territory or jurisdiction a nation may develop and operate its own air lines subject only to agreed international requirements regarding safety and its commitments in respect of the proposed international air authority in regard to facilities, landing and transit rights for international services, exchange of mails etc.

(b) Arrangements for the operation of international routes should be such as to ensure an equitable apportionment and use of the ground staffs, meteorologists, control officers, technicians, pilots, crews and workshops of the participating countries, otherwise unfair preferences and discrimination may be established.

9. The delegation should have continually in mind the following objective: Because of Australia's political and geographical position as an isolated Western community close to large coloured populations, and because of the crucial importance of aviation to both our defence and the development of the continent, Australian Government must ensure that the Australian production of aircraft and of all the raw materials used in the construction of aircraft is adequate to our requirements.

These requirements will vary- (a) According to whether or not it is found possible, as part of the general agreement of the international control of aviation, to enter into arrangements ensuring a sufficient supply of up-to-date and suitable transport aircraft to all operating countries on reasonable terms and without discrimination on the part of the large aircraft manufacturing countries; and- (b) According to zoning methods adopted for obtaining international security.

One of the outstanding lessons of this war is that Australia is a vital area in any proper system of Pacific security.

1 Dispatched 2 October. On file AA:M100, October 1943. It instructed Bruce to represent Australia at an informal meeting of British and Dominion representatives convened to discuss post-war civil aviation policy.

[AA:A989, 43/735/832/5]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013

Category: International relations

Topic: History