398 Mr A. W. Fadden, Acting Prime Minister, to Mr R. G. Menzies, Prime Minister (in London)

Cablegram 217 11 April 1941, 12.15 a.m.

MOST SECRET

Your M. 49 [1]: During Anthony's [2] visit to New Zealand proposal made by Prime Minister of New Zealand [3] for appointment Committee consisting of New Zealand and Australian Cabinet Ministers to confer periodically in New Zealand and Australia alternately on mutual defence and supply problems. Anthony cabled this proposal to me and reply was forwarded stating proposal not agreed to.

On Anthony's return he presented memorandum from Fraser suggesting formation Consultative Committee on war and post-war supply questions, consisting of Ministers for Supply as the permanent members and other appropriate Ministers co-opted as required.

At the time I did not consider this of sufficient importance for consultation with you but as I had turned down previous request I thought it advisable to agree to the latter proposal, and accordingly despatched a cable notifying agreement in principle but stating that the time and place of meetings should be a matter for further examination. [4]

Anthony's press announcement gave far more importance to the Committee than the circumstances warranted. I had already advised him to this effect and that any press notice should have been made by me. Terms of reference and proposed procedure have not yet been considered but will consult you before finality reached.

FADDEN

1 Dispatched 9 April (AA: A3195, 1941, 1. 5456). Referring to the reported formation of the Committee, Menzies said: 'I would expect to have been consulted on important step of this nature and advised as to constitution, terms of reference and proposed procedure.' 2 Minister without portfolio assisting the Treasurer and the Minister for Commerce.

3 Peter Fraser.

4 See Document 329, note 2.

[AA: A3196, 1941, 0.4547]