133 Mr R. G. Menzies, Prime Minister, to Mr S. M. Bruce, High Commissioner in London

Cablegram unnumbered 10 April 1940,

IMMEDIATE URGENT

Your office telegram 8th April. [1]

Australian Censorship has been further embarrassed with respect to movements of Mauretania. Report of departure from Honolulu clearly indicated Australia as destination. Censorship here therefore considered it necessary at that stage to apply regulation which prohibits the course [sic] of shipping movements.

Simultaneously with application of ban in Australia British Broadcasting Corporation broadcast Mauretania's departure presumably with consent of London Censorship authorities, and as prohibition operated locally, Censorship is being attacked for alleged bungling. I urge that any variation of regulations concerning shipping movements, particularly when ships are en route to Australia, should be communicated to the Commonwealth Government before being released by the British Broadcasting Corporation or any other agency, otherwise both United Kingdom and Commonwealth Censorship must be brought into contempt.

Application now being received from all parts of Australia to announce arrival of Mauretania and other Atlantic liners and take photographs for publication. Because of previous publicity from overseas, movements of these ships are now generally known and Censorship feels it will be quite impossible to prevent news escaping. If prohibition is enforced here, it is feared Australian public will be informed by enemy or neutral broadcasts and that Censorship consequently will be gravely embarrassed.

I should be obliged if you would have immediate consideration given to the question of permitting newspapers to announce and to publish photographs of ships in Australian waters.

1 On 7 April 1940 the Commonwealth Govt asked Bruce to clarify U.K. press censorship policy on news of the Mauretania's visit to Honolulu. On 8 April the High Commissioner's Office reported that news of shipping movements at British ports was suppressed, but that the B.B.C. had reported the Mauretania's visit to Honolulu because it was obvious that the information would be otherwise available to the enemy. See unnumbered cablegrams to and from Bruce (series EA: A3196, 0.2061 and FA: A3195, 1.2252 respectively).

[FA: A3196, 0.2118]