234 War Cabinet Minute

Minute 265 CANBERRA, 13 May 1940


The Prime Minister [2] stated that he had made a careful review of methods of procedure in order to ensure the vigorous prosecution of Australia's war effort, that business is dealt with expeditiously, and that excessive demands are not made on the time of Ministers who carry heavy burdens of Departmental administration, and are also required to attend Full Cabinet and, in some cases, Economic Cabinet.

2. He pointed out that the War Cabinet business falls into the following two main divisions:-

(a) Major and general questions which are of equal concern to all Ministers;

(b) Other questions of a more specialised nature concerning particularly Departments and groups of Departments.

3. The following rules were approved:-

(i) The Prime Minister will decide into which category of the above division War Cabinet Agenda fall, and will direct the Secretary to issue notices with the relevant Agenda to the Ministers concerned.

(ii) As a general rule the Reviews of Chiefs of Staff, Reviews of the International and Military Situation, questions of policy and other major general matters will be dealt with by the full War Cabinet.

(iii) As a general rule other questions of a more specialised nature win be dealt with by groups of Ministers representing the Departments primarily concerned.

The Prime Minister will decide in any of these cases whether the recommendation of a group of Ministers should be submitted to War Cabinet or Full Cabinet for final decision.

(iv) Summaries of decisions of groups of Ministers will be circulated to all members of War Cabinet for information.

Summaries of decisions of War Cabinet and groups of Ministers will similarly be circulated to Full Cabinet.

4. It was also decided that when Parliament is in recess, the headquarters of the War Cabinet should be in Melbourne where Ministers would be in attendance as required. The tentative weekly procedure outlined by the Prime Minister is to be as follows:-

(i) Mondays: Prime Minister and Minister for [Defence] Co- ordination confers with- Ministers of Departments directly associated with the Department of [Defence] Co-ordination;

Chiefs of Staff, Business Board.

(ii) Tuesdays: Full War Cabinet meeting.

(iii) Wednesdays: Meetings of Groups of War Cabinet Ministers.

1 On file AA: A2671, Agendum 107/40.

2 R. G. Menzies.

[AA: A2673, VOL. 2]