141 Curtin to Attlee

Cablegram 67 CANBERRA, 18 March 1943

1. The Australian Government regards the subjects raised in your telegrams [D]149 to 152 [1] as of outstanding importance and welcomes proposals for international consideration of post-war plans for improving living standards and promoting efficient production and distribution of foodstuffs and other primary products.

2. Our general policy was expressed by me in a public statement on 11th March [2] which contained the following:-

'The Commonwealth Government is convinced that there must be the widest international agreement in relation to food and nutrition standards and also to ensure rising living standards in housing, clothing, social services and above all to ensure a high level of employment. Only in those ways [can] the promise of the four freedoms [3] be fulfilled. Only by easing [world] economic readjustments after the war, by increasing the demand for the basic needs of the people of all countries [can] the flow of goods through the channels of international trade be increased. I hope that the vigorous pronouncements of President Roosevelt and Mr.

Morrison will be followed by bold action. The Australian Government will urge united action along these lines now and in the future. Dr. Evatt, on his forthcoming visits to Washington and London, will leave Allied leaders in no doubt where the Commonwealth stands on this issue.' 3. In your 149, paragraph 2, you expressed the view that the best way of making progress was to seek preliminary agreement between the United Kingdom and the United States after which the Soviet and Chinese Governments should be brought in. We feel that in all such matters we should have an opportunity of presenting our views at the time when proposals are being shaped, and we should never be placed in the position of simply being asked to endorse plans on which others have already agreed. We assume, however, that the subsequent proposal of the United States and your acceptance of the invitation to the Washington Conference [4] will mean that in the present case the initial discussion will actually take place at a full meeting of representatives of all the United Nations.

4. In your 150, paragraph 3, you expressed the preference for a Conference which would pass resolutions on a limited range of subjects rather than one which would initiate discussion on post- war economic problems as a whole. Our opinion on whether the scope of the Conference should be limited or expanded would be governed largely by the hope of attaining concrete results. In our view the time has come to progress beyond general declarations and to proceed towards working out the measures by which the declared principles of the United Nations will be applied and we hope the Conference will be realistically directed towards that end.

5. We share the concern expressed in paragraph 3 (c) of your 150, lest port-war relief should be relegated to the background. This matter can best be advanced by proceeding more rapidly with the proposals already made for a Post-War Requirements Bureau.


1 Dispatched 15 and 16 March (FA:A3195, 1943, 1.12106/111, 1.12115/118, 1.12104, 1.12117/ 119).

2 Curtin's statement was in fact issued on 9 March. See Commonwealth Government, Digest of Decisions and Announcements, no. 55, 25 February-4 March 1943, pp. 47-8. Words in square brackets have been corrected from the original.

3 See Document 42, note 6.

4 Circular cablegram D150 reported that the U.S. Govt had given the U.K. Govt a copy of an invitation it proposed to issue to the United Nations to attend a conference on food supplies commencing on 27 April. The U.K. Govt had warmly welcomed the proposal.

[FA:A3196, 1943, 0.7660, 0.7675]