83 Department of External Affairs to Mr B. C. Ballard, Official Representative in New Caledonia

Cablegram 5 29 August 1940,


Your 2 and 3. [1]

Desire you keep us informed immediately of any developments. Last thing Commonwealth Government desires is local revolution or overthrow of French Administration by extremists in New Caledonia.

Such an event might as a consequence result in a request to Australia to resume responsibility for law and order defence or even to take over the colony as a protectorate. An appeal of this nature would if acceded to or not be misinterpreted in some quarters which would have far-reaching repercussions especially regards French Indo-China. In any case we are pledged publicly to maintain the status quo and to do nothing to alter present position. Best solution seems to us to be to have an administration owing nominal allegiance to Vichy only but sympathetically inclined to the wishes of the local populace in regard to continuing the war effort-in other words to co-operate with the Allies as far as possible.

You should endeavour to get leaders of local movement to accept this point of view not only for their own benefit but for ours. If Vichy concurs in the suggestion of the Governor that he leave the colony would be advisable to suggest the appointment of a deputy acceptable to the Council and not leave the colony without a constitutional head.

Would be glad to have your early views and suggestions for most appropriate action by Commonwealth Government in the event of situation further deteriorating.

Your No. 4. [2] You should concert closely with High Commissioner Western Pacific.

1 Dispatched 28 August. See file AA: A981, New Caledonia 37. They reported that the New Caledonian Conseil General had demanded the resignation of Governor Georges Pelicier, who had in consequence informed the French Govt at Vichy of his intention to leave the colony.

2 Dispatched 29 August See file AA:A981, New Caledonia 37. It reported that Sir Harry Luke, U.K. High Commissioner for the Western Pacific, would visit Noumea on 30-31 August.