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32 Curtin and Fraser to Cranborne

Cablegram 22 [1] CANBERRA, 25 January 1944


Following is joint telegram to the United Kingdom Government from Prime Ministers of New Zealand and Australia. Repeated to New Zealand Government for information.

The Australian and New Zealand Governments desire to invite the attention of the United Kingdom Government to particular aspects of the Australian - New Zealand Agreement signed at Canberra on 21st January [2], copies of which were given to the United Kingdom High Commissioner at Canberra and Australian Accredited Representative at London for transmission to the United Kingdom Government. At the outset the two Governments wish to emphasise to United Kingdom Government that the holding of this conference and the discussions and decisions resulting therefrom were fully in accord with the principles of free consultation between individual members of the British Commonwealth of Nations, and that the strength and unity of the British Commonwealth is in the forefront of the policy of both Australia and New Zealand.

1. We would invite particular attention to the objectives of Australian - New Zealand co-operation as defined in Clauses 1-6 of the Agreement.

2. Armistice and Subsequent Arrangements. The Australian and New Zealand Governments greatly appreciate the detailed information which has been supplied by the United Kingdom Government with regard to Armistice preparations and subsequent arrangements in connection with the war in Europe.

We are in agreement that our interests should be protected by representation at the highest level on all Armistice planning and executive bodies, and that we should actively participate in any Armistice Commission to be set up. So far as Europe is concerned, and in explanation of the desire to be associated with Armistice arrangements in that theatre, both Governments base their attitude on the fact that twice within our generation we have been involved in war as a result of hostilities arising in Europe. While we look forward to exchanging with the United Kingdom Government the fullest information as to Armistice and subsequent arrangements in connection with the war in the Pacific we feel that no time should be lost in undertaking detailed preparations in this sphere, and that Australia and New Zealand should be directly associated with this work at the earliest possible date.

Meanwhile our two Governments have agreed that Post hostilities Planning Committees (similar to those already established in the United Kingdom and Canada) should be set up in Australia and New Zealand, and will arrange for the work of these committees to be coordinated. Meanwhile our two Governments are in agreement that no final peace settlement should be made in respect of any of our enemies until after hostilities with all of them are concluded.

3. United Nations Relief Administration. Our two Governments have agreed that it is most desirable that the Far Eastern Committee of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration should be located in Australia.

4. Security and Defence. The two Governments are in agreement that, within the framework of a general system of world security, a regional zone of defence comprising the South West and South Pacific areas should be established and that this should be based on Australia and New Zealand, stretching through the arc of islands north and northwest of Australia, to Western Samoa and the Cook islands.

We feel that it would be a great mistake if it were now agreed to confine the planning and establishment of the general international organisation referred to in the Moscow Declaration of October, 1943, to the Four Signatory Powers. We regard it as a matter of cardinal importance that Australia and New Zealand should both be associated in the initial stages with the elaboration of any general international system.

Our two Governments have declared in the Agreement that they have a vital interest in the action on behalf of the community of Nations contemplated in Article V of the Moscow Declaration and are therefore ready to assume responsibility for policing or sharing in policing such areas in the South West and South Pacific as may from time to time be agreed upon.

Our vital interest in this matter is obvious. The future security of both our countries is dependent, subject to a general system of world security, on the arrangements to be made for the control and defence of the South West and South Pacific areas, and these arrangements will inevitably be affected by the interim arrangements immediately following the reconquest of the Netherlands Indies and contiguous territories. Australia and New Zealand feel that they must be closely associated with all decisions and measures taken in this important formative stage, and desire, subject always to consultation and agreement with the other Governments concerned- (a) that Australia have full responsibility for the policing of Portuguese Timor, Australian New Guinea and the Solomon Islands Protectorate, and (b) that Australia have a share in the responsibility for the policing of the Netherlands Indies, particularly Java, Dutch New Guinea and also the New Hebrides.

As regards Pacific Islands in general south of the Equator, we believe that responsibility for policing should primarily be with the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand, though it is realised that regard must be paid to the position of the United States, which already has a naval base in Tutuila. We assume, however, that the United States will wish to undertake a substantial share of responsibility for policing the islands north of the Equator. We regard it as essential that such arrangements should be made as part of a general scheme and not piecemeal.

We have closely examined the means of providing a permanent instrument of security in the South West and South Pacific areas and believe that a zone of defence could be established by agreement among the Governments concerned, i.e., United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand, United States, Netherlands, France and Portugal (see Section II below).

5. Disposal of Wartime Installations. In regard to the post-war disposal of installations, the two Governments accept as a recognised principle of international practice that the construction and use, in time of war, by any Power, of naval, military or air installations, in any territory under the sovereignty or control of another Power, does not, in itself, afford any basis whatsoever for territorial claims or rights of sovereignty or control after the conclusion of hostilities. The two Governments were firmly of the opinion that, in view of subsequent difficulties which may well arise on this question, a declaration of principle at an early stage was necessary. Obvious illustrations of the international practice occur in the cases of Iceland and the Azores.

6. Civil Aviation. As regards the clauses in the Agreement on Civil Aviation, it will be noted that, in the event of failure to obtain a satisfactory international agreement to establish and govern the use of international air trunk routes, the two Governments will support a system of air trunk routes controlled and operated by Governments of the British Commonwealth of Nations under government ownership. We would emphasise our firm adherence to the principle of international government ownership, control and specification of trunk routes to the extent defined in the Agreement and our firm belief that the alternative of British Commonwealth trunk routes should be put forward only in case every effort to achieve internationalisation fails.

7. Dependencies. There was a comprehensive interchange of information and views on wartime developments in the Pacific Islands, particularly regarding the following- (a) Development of bases, airfields, etc., (b) Wartime administration, (c) American activities, (d) Wartime collaboration between Australia, New Zealand and other powers and the local administration, (e) Effects of War on native labour, social life, standards of living, etc.

Under (b) was included the action taken by Australia in regard to preparations for resumption of administration in Nauru, the wartime administration of New Guinea and Papua, and the function of the Combined Civil Affairs Committee. On the last matter, the Australian Government informed the New Zealand Government that inquiries had been made in London [3] and that the status and functions of this Committee were being reconsidered. The two Governments agreed that if the scope of the Civil Affairs Committee were extended to the South and South West Pacific area they would desire direct representation upon it. They would also be glad to have any information as to arrangements the United Kingdom Government contemplates for the interim administration of its Pacific Island territories. The Australian Government is prepared to make available for this purpose a number of experienced officers and is prepared to institute immediately an emergency course of training for suitable qualified men.

8. Wartime Administration and Post War Disposal of Enemy Territories. The administration and disposal of enemy territories, particularly the Japanese Mandated islands, are also of the greatest importance to Australia and New Zealand. The two Governments have set out in the Agreement that 'the interim administration and ultimate disposal of enemy territories in the Pacific are of vital importance to Australia and New Zealand, and that any such disposal should be effected only with their agreement and as part of a general Pacific settlement.' 9. In regard to the possibility that changes of sovereignty might be suggested in the South West and South Pacific, the two Governments declared 'that no change in the sovereignty or system of control of any of the islands of the Pacific should be effected except as a result of an agreement to which they are parties or in the terms of which they have both concurred.' 10. Welfare of Native Peoples. The Agreement declares that in applying the principle of the Atlantic Charter, the doctrine of trusteeship is applicable in broad principle to all colonial territories in the Pacific and elsewhere, and that the main purpose of the trust is the welfare and advancement of the native peoples.

We have agreed to take the initiative in promoting the early establishment of an advisory regional organisation. This proposal is in accord with the suggestion made by the Secretary of State for Colonies in his statement in the House of Commons on 13th July, 1943, and the similar suggestion contemplated at the time when Lord Halifax discussed with Mr. Cordell Hull the possiblity of a joint Anglo-American declaration on post-war colonial policy.

It is suggested that this advisory body which might be called the 'South Seas Regional Commission', should comprise, in addition to representatives of Australia and New Zealand, representatives of the Governments of the United Kingdom and the United States of America, and of the French Committee of National Liberation.

Our view is that it should be the function of such a South Seas Regional Commission to secure a common policy on social, economic and political development directed towards the advancement and wellbeing of the native peoples themselves. The establishment of the Commission along the lines set out in Clause 31 of the Agreement is receiving further consideration here and we look forward to exchanging views in detail with the United Kingdom Government.

11. Conference relating to South West and South Pacific. The two Governments have agreed that, as soon as practicable, there should be a frank exchange of views on the problems of Security (see last paragraph of section 4 above), post-war development and native welfare between properly accredited representatives of the Governments with existing territorial interests in the South West Pacific area or in the South Pacific area, or in both, namely, in addition to the two Governments, His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom, the Government of the United States of America, the Government of the Netherlands, the French Committee of National Liberation and the Government of Portugal, and His Majesty's Government in the Commonwealth of Australia should take the necessary steps to call a conference of the governments concerned.

In this connection the Australian and New Zealand Governments are agreed that it will not be practicable to hold a conference of this kind until some time after the forthcoming conference of British Commonwealth Prime Ministers in London. It is proposed to hold the conference at Canberra about the middle of the year and invitations will be issued later.

12. Permanent Machinery for Collaboration and Co-operation between Australia and New Zealand. We invite particular attention to the articles of our Agreement relating to machinery for co-operation in defence (Clause 35 (a) and Clause 36).

13. As an immediate step towards further action in implementing the decisions of the Conference, both Governments would appreciate the views of the United Kingdom Government on matters referred to in this telegram.

1 Repeated to the N.Z. Prime Minister and to Wellington as no. 14.

2 Document 26.

3 See Document 18 and note 9 thereto.

[AA:A989, 43/735/168]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013

Category: International relations

Topic: History