Canberra, 20 December 1949
Australian representation at Colombo Conference
The Minister for External Affairs, The Hon. P C. Spender, stated in Canberra to-day that at the Prime Minister's request he would be attending the Conference of British Commonwealth Foreign Ministers commencing on 9th January, 1950, at Colombo.
Mr. Spender explained that this was the first meeting of British Commonwealth Foreign Ministers that had been arranged, and it is the intention of the British Commonwealth governments to hold such meetings as frequently as possible. Future conferences would as far as possible be convened at the capitals of the different members of the British Commonwealth.
The Conference will discuss matters of common interest to members of the British Commonwealth, and this one would pay particular attention to the South-East Asian and Pacific areas, the future of Japan, the position in China and other related questions.
Mr. Spender added:
'I regard Australia's relations with the countries in South-East Asia, and particularly with the members of the British Commonwealth, as vitally important to Australia. I welcome the opportunity which the Colombo Conference will provide of enabling me to be acquainted at first hand with the problems of the area, and I propose to follow up this particular mission by making careful examinations of Australia's relations with other neighbouring countries. In the formulation of a foreign policy, and particularly a policy in respect of South-East Asia, I look forward to working in closely with the United Kingdom and other governments of the British Commonwealth and the United States. I attach importance to closest consultation with the Government of New Zealand, with whose Minister for External Affairs I will have the opportunity of discussions at Colombo and later'.
[NAA: A1838, 532/7 part 1]