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332 Department of External Affairs to Hood

Cablegram 731 CANBERRA, 24 December 1946, 2.10 p.m.


Australian Antarctic Territory.

Details of inter-department committee meeting to discuss further exploration and exploitation of resources and submission to Cabinet [1] are being forwarded to you by air mail for information.

2. Decisions taken by Cabinet 19th December on the recommendations are (a) To approve in principle a short reconnaissance voyage this summer by a Naval ship equipped with aircraft to find a suitable ice-free base. Estimates to be prepared and submitted to Treasurer for consideration. (b) That Departments concerned should proceed immediately to develop concrete plans for exploration and observation in the Antarctic in the respective spheres. Plans to be brought back for Cabinet consideration.

(c) That the C.S.I.R. should be the coordinating authority in connection with development of plans under (b).

(d) That the Department of External Affairs should be kept informed of prospects and follow up certain international aspects and in particular the extent to which New Zealand and the United Kingdom would join in the proposals.

3. Please inform United Kingdom authorities of these decisions.

4. It is doubtful whether from our slender resources a Naval ship can be made available with suitable equipment for. a trip this summer (Recommendation A).

5. In future work we hope to have the co-operation of the United Kingdom and New Zealand. Would you enquire:

(i) If a suitable United Kingdom ship or ships might be available to Australia for future expeditions. If a station is established in the Antarctic ships will probably need to visit it at least twice a year and we must explore all possibilities including use of whaling or naval vessels. 'Wyatt Earp' is being surveyed.

(ii) The extent to which the United Kingdom authorities would participate by attaching experts or otherwise in an Australian expedition next summer and (iii) Whether they have any particular enquiries on the subject.

6. With reference to cable D.1169 from the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs [2], could you inform the British Government that Dr. Evatt on 11th November spoke to the United States Ambassador here and expressed the hope that if United States Antarctic Expedition wished to enter Australian Antarctic Territory, early request would be made to Australian Government for permission in order that matter could be dealt with promptly. United States Ambassador said that so far as he knew there was no intention to enter the Australian territory.

7. We understand that the United States Ambassador reported this conversation in some detail to his Government. We are considering the desirability of further representations to the United States Government but our inclination is to think that no purpose would be served by duplicating these representations in Washington. We are in touch with New Zealand regarding telegram D.1169.

1 Evatt and Dedman had prepared a joint submission to Cabinet stressing that it was essential for Australia to resume activity in the Australian Antarctic Territory if sovereignty was to be maintained and full use made of its resources.

2 Dispatched 14 December, it had reported the latest developments on U.S., Argentine and proposed Chilean expeditions to the Antarctic.

[AA: A1068, A47/26/1A]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013

Category: International relations

Topic: History