397 Mr P. Fraser, N.Z. Prime Minister, to Commonwealth Government

Cablegram 73 WELLINGTON, 9 April 1941, 11.55 p.m.


Free French Pacific Territory.

With reference to your telegrams 89 and 94. [1] The following are among the questions which it is suggested should be discussed between representatives of Australian and New Zealand Governments and the Free French authorities in the Pacific.

(a) Does acceptance of responsibility by His Majesty's Government in Commonwealth of Australia extend only to financial assistance or does it include provision of supplies, men, arms, weapons, etc.? (b) If not, is it proposed by Australia to meet the full cost of such supplies, men, arms, weapons, etc. as the New Zealand Government consider it proper to provide? (c) In either case is it proposed that Australia should meet the requirements of all Free French Forces in Tahiti or is it proposed that Australian responsibility should be confined to expeditionary force? (d) Is it proposed (as is understood by His Majesty's Government in New Zealand) that Australian responsibility should be limited to defence matters, and if so how is it proposed to distinguish between civil and defence liabilities which in some cases are indistinguishable? (e) What is the exact line of demarcation proposed between operational liability which it is assumed the New Zealand Government will accept and other liabilities? (f) In so far as the New Zealand Government is ultimately to be responsible for its proper proportion of expenditure incurred in respect of French Oceania by the Australian Government, what arrangements are proposed to enable the New Zealand Government to ascertain from time to time the liabilities to which they are likely to be committed and in appropriate cases to express an opinion on the desirability or otherwise of any course of action that may be proposed? (g) What bearings have these proposals on financial arrangements for Free French Forces generally which have been under discussion between His Majesty's Government in United Kingdom and General de Gaulle [2] and which were conveyed to us by the United Kingdom High Commissioner in New Zealand [3] on 24th February with an intimation that a similar communication had been sent to the Australian Government? [4]

2. It will be understood that His Majesty's Government in New Zealand are, in many respects of the offer [5], [? not] clear as to the exact implication of the Australian proposals and while they are in general agreement with these proposals they feel it essential that matters in doubt should be cleared away as soon as possible. It is for this reason that they have suggested a conference and they would now make further suggestion that it might be convenient to hold such a conference during the period when M. Brunot [6], who arrives here at the end of this week, is in New Zealand. If His Majesty's Government in Commonwealth of Australia see no objection New Zealand would propose to suggest this to M. Brunot accordingly and to inform the Australian Government of his views.

3. It will be understood that the New Zealand Government have not allowed [7] their rendering such assistance as lay in their power to French Oceania.

1 AA: A3196, 1941, 0.3364 of 18 March and AA: A3196, 1941, 0.3599 of 22 March respectively.

2 Leader of the Free French movement.

3 Sir Harry Batterbee.

4 Cablegram 104 of 22 February on file AA: A1608, D41/1/9, iv.

5 The words 'of the offer' were annotated 'mutilated' in the original.

6 Representative of de Gaulle who undertook a special mission to French Oceania in April 1941.

7 The original was here annotated 'as received'.