437 Dr H. V. Evatt, Minister for External Affairs, to Mr John Curtin, Prime Minister

Cablegram EP1 WASHINGTON, 23 March 1942

For Prime Minister only.

I have seen published suggestion by the Murdoch press to the effect that Menzies should be appointed Minister here. [1] At present time appointment of any successor to Casey would be calculated to subtract from authority and prejudice success of mission. As you have emphasised so often it is most desirable that there should be a Minister of the Crown on this spot and although it may be possible to have an envoy appointed later there are special reasons against it at the present time. I am assured in highest quarters that Menzies has no particular influence in this country and that relations I have already established with the President [2] and his special advisers are very close and, I believe, unique for an Australian.

2. I have been shown by Casey telegrams between yourself and Churchill [3]; Churchill has asked Casey to send copies of telegrams between yourself and Casey, and he has done so.

3. I am confirmed in view that publication of White Paper [4] and any further public comment are undesirable in public interest.

Churchill's suggesting Menzies was most gratuitous and no doubt caused by a desire to cause political embarrassment. If publication is to take place text should not, I think, be truncated.

4. If you favour the suggestion I made to you about Washington you might announce that for the time being I shall discharge the duties of envoy which also all appertain to my Department. No formal appointment need or should be made. [5]

5. Casey has been helpful in relation to contacts here and he is preparing to leave in a very short time. [6]

6. Please discuss this with Forde, Beasley and Makin. [7]

7. I am sorry at this critical time you should have had another Churchill bother: it may be desirable for you to explain the problem to Wilson and Coles. [8]

Best wishes.

EVATT

1 On 24 March 1942 the Melbourne Sun News Pictorial, in an editorial on the selection of a successor to R. G. Casey as Minister to the United States, stated that 'there will belittle doubt in the minds of most Australians that the outstanding man for the position is Mr. R. G. Menzies'. Menzies, who had been Prime Minister 1939-41, was then United Australia Party M.H.R. for Kooyong and a member of the Advisory War Council.

2 Franklin D. Roosevelt.

3 Churchill sent Casey a copy of these cablegrams. See unnumbered and undated cablegram in PRO:DO 35/1009, ii.

4 See Document 431, note 6.

5 Evatt assumed the duties of Minister to the United States from 1 April until his departure for London on 1 May. A. S. Watt then acted as Charge d'Affaires until Sir Owen Dixon presented his credentials as Minister on 10 June.

6 Casey resigned on 31 March and left Washington the following day to take up duty as U.K. Minister of State resident in the Middle East.

7 Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for the Army, Minister for Supply and Development and Minister for the Navy respectively.

8 Independent Country Party M.H.R. for Wimmera and Independent M.H.R. for Henry respectively. The Curtin Govt required their support to maintain its majority in the House of Representatives.

[AA:MP1217, BOX 474, CABLEGRAMS TO AND FROM DR EVATT]