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19 Conference of Australian and New Zealand Ministers

Proceedings of the Conference CANBERRA, 18 January 1944


REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE ON THE AGENDA (Pacific Conference Papers, Agenda No. 3)

Mr. Chairman, In accordance with the direction of the conference in Resolution No. 4 [1], I have the honour to report as follows:-

A committee of advisers nominated by the New Zealand and Australian delegations to the conference met on the afternoon of 17th January, and examined the conference Agenda and the Notes on the Agenda [2] with a view to discovering the points on which the two delegations seem to be in substantial agreement.

The results of this committee's work are set out below, the references in all cases being to the paper entitled 'Notes on the Agenda' (Pacific Conference Papers, Agenda No. 1)- Item 1 of the Agenda Paragraphs 1 to 7. The New Zealand delegation is in agreement regarding the objectives of Australian - New Zealand co-operation, but holds the view that the co-ordination of defence measures referred to in paragraph 7 would raise technical problems which would have to be worked out in conjunction with service advisers apart from the present conference.

Item 3 (a) The two delegations are in agreement regarding paragraph 8 and paragraph 9, sub-paragraphs (i), (iii) and (iv).

They were unable to reach agreement on paragraph 9, sub-paragraph (ii) which raises the point whether or not a definite peace treaty as regards one theatre of war should be agreed to, prior to a global peace treaty at the conclusion of hostilities in all theatres. The committee agreed that this principle could only be decided on the highest political plane and should therefore be decided in full conference.

Paragraph 10 would be acceptable to the New Zealand delegation if the words 'in the Pacific Area' were deleted from the third line.

This would have the effect of making the paragraph apply to all armistice commissions and not only to those set up in the Pacific Area. Subject to this amendment the two delegations have agreed to paragraph 10.

The two delegations agreed to paragraph 11, their understanding being that the references to 'other machinery' in line 3 might be taken to include the High Commissioners appointed by Australia to New Zealand and by New Zealand to Australia.

Paragraph 12 was agreed to. The view held by the committee was that the communication to London referred to in this paragraph should be part of a general communication agreed to by both delegations embodying the views and conclusions of the conference in regard to which the United Kingdom Government should be informed. This point is therefore submitted to the Conference for decision.

Item 3 (b) Paragraphs 13 to 16 were agreed to, subject to amendment noted below.

On paragraphs 17 and 18 the New Zealand delegation felt that the question of assuming separate or joint responsibility in regard to policing arrangements in the South West and South Pacific Zones should be considered by Conference.

On paragraphs 19 to 21 there was agreement in principle, subject to the following:-

The New Zealand Government wishes there should be a clear understanding as to the distinction between systems of regional defence and the international organization for peace, or in other words, between regional defence and regional security as part of the world organization. For the international organization of peace a universal arrangement is envisaged but it is considered that a regional organization of security in itself would be incomplete inasmuch as the sanctions would be limited and inasmuch as those powers entering into a regional arrangement might deprive themselves of a voice in world affairs.

To meet the New Zealand point of view it is suggested that references to a 'zone of security' in paragraph 13, line 4, and in paragraph 19, line 2, should be amended to read 'defence zone'.

The New Zealand view is that this defence zone should be extended eastwards beyond New Zealand, and accordingly an amendment to the first three lines of paragraph 19 as follows would meet the wishes of the New Zealand Government:-

'The Australian and New Zealand Governments envisage a defence zone centred on Australia and New Zealand and stretching from the Netherlands East Indies through the arc of islands to Fiji and New Zealand, including the Tonga and Cook Islands.' In discussion of these paragraphs the question of a more comprehensive defence zone involving an outer arc of islands was raised and it was suggested that this might well be made the subject for a wider conference at which other Pacific Governments would be represented.

On paragraph 21 the view of the New Zealand delegation was that similar questions to those considered by the Australian Defence Committee would have to be submitted by the New Zealand Government to their Chiefs of Staff for technical examination with a view to subsequent integration of the desiderata of both the New Zealand and Australian Governments.

Paragraph 22 was agreed to.

Item 3 (C) Substantial agreement was reached on most of the principles contained in paragraphs 23 to 26, but the New Zealand delegation had certain reservations on the statement of principles, particularly the point contained in sub-paragraph 2(b) of paragraph 25. As regards subparagraphs 2(c) and 2(d) of paragraph 25, the New Zealand delegation suggested that the interests of New Zealand should also be covered in any arrangements such as that proposed.

The committee agreed however that, in accordance with paragraph 27(ii), there should be an exchange of views between the Governments during the present conference and that the modification desired by New Zealand might properly be discussed when that point on the agenda was reached.

Paragraph 28 was agreed to.

Item 3 (d) Paragraph 29 was accepted and it was decided to refer to the conference the question of the method on which the regular exchange of information and views should take place.

The information given in paragraphs 30 and 31 was noted.

Paragraphs 32 to 34 were agreed to.

On paragraph 35 the New Zealand delegation supported the general principle but felt that they did not have enough experienced officers available to enable them to participate in the proposed course of action. The Committee accordingly recommends that the paragraph read as follows:-

'It is submitted further that the two Governments inform the United Kingdom Government that Australia is prepared to make available a number of experienced officers and is prepared to institute immediately &c., &c., &c.' Paragraph 36 was agreed to.

It was agreed to refer paragraph 37, sub-paragraphs (i) and (ii) to the conference. It was agreed that sub-paragraph (iii) be omitted. The New Zealand delegation made a strong point of their desire to retain all present British interests and sovereignty in the Pacific and on subparagraph (i) they expressed the view that if Australia wished to take over the administration of the Solomon Islands that would become a matter for mutual arrangement between the Australian and the United Kingdom Governments.

Sub-paragraph (iv) of paragraph 37 was agreed to subject to the inclusion of New Zealand islands and mandated territories in the list of territories mentioned in sub-paragraph (iv) and other British territories south of the Equator. Sub-paragraph (v) was agreed to.

Paragraph 38 was agreed to.

Item 3 (e) Paragraphs 39 to 42 were agreed to.

Item 3 (f) Paragraph 43 was agreed to. It was assumed, however, that it would be physically impossible to hold this conference until after the projected Prime Ministers' conference in London.

Item No. 4 Paragraphs 44 to 46 were agreed to. The committee recommends that 47(a) read as follows :-

'Conferences of Ministers of State to be held alternately in Canberra and Wellington, and that it should be the aim of the two Governments to see that such conferences are held at least twice a year.' The information given in paragraph 48 was noted.

Agreement in principle was reached on paragraph 49, but the committee suggests that the words 'permanent machinery for consultation' be substituted for 'permanent secretariat'.

Regarding paragraph 50, it was the view of the committee that the best arrangement for creating this machinery for ensuring joint consultation and collaboration would be the setting up in each country under the control of the respective Departments of External Affairs of an Australian - New Zealand Affairs Secretariat.

This secretariat should be charged with the functions referred to in paragraph 49, and take the initiative in ensuring that effect is given to the arrangements made by Australia and New Zealand at the present conference and in raising for joint discussion and action such other matters as may seem from day-to-day contact with the general trend of affairs to require attention by the two Governments; and generally to provide for more frequent and regular exchanges of information and views, such exchanges between the two Governments to take place normally through the respective High Commissioners.

It is proposed that the Government of each country should nominate an officer or officers from the staff of their respective High Commissioners to act in closest collaboration with the Secretariat, in which they would be given full and free access to information and the responsible officials.

It is further considered that the respective Ministers of External Affairs and High Commissioners should have a joint responsibility for the effective functioning of what would virtually be a joint secretariat.

Paragraph 51 was agreed to.

Paragraph 52 was agreed to.


1 A procedural resolution of 17 January that: 'Each delegation shall nominate representatives to a committee to examine the Agenda and Notes on the Agenda and, at the next meeting, Dr. Evatt will report to the conference regarding those points in the Agenda upon which agreement has been reached'. See 'Proceedings of the Conference' on file AA: A989, 43/735/168. 2 See Document 18.

[AA:A989, 43/737/168]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013

Category: International relations

Topic: History