310 Curtin to Churchill

Cablegram Johcu 73 CANBERRA, 23 October 1943


I have received your telegram of the 21st October with regard to a meeting of Prime Ministers in December. [1] I am aware of all the advantages which will flow from our meeting and my personal wishes would be to concur in your proposal. However in the main the requirements of our position set out in my telegram of the 14th September [2] still make it essential I remain here for a few months. Ministers have just concluded a series of Cabinet meetings, the first it was possible to hold after the elections.

Our discussions showed how important it is for ministers to meet after a few weeks consultation with their Administration etc.

advisers to plan for legislation in the New Year on great variety of subjects including recruitment for the Services, manpower for primary industries, processing and conservation of foodstuffs for British and Australian fighting forces etc.

This food problem has become very acute here. Difficulties are cropping up unexpectedly and if we are to play our part in providing food in increasing quantities for Great Britain and our Allies it will require constant watching over the next few months.

With our great distances here you will appreciate how closely allied to food production is coal supply. The latter matter has been a constant source of worry over last year and situation now more delicate than ever before. I am fearful of serious breakdown in our industries and primary production systems unless I give it my personal attention until better position has been reached.

Moreover Cabinet decided most necessary plan legislation during next few months to hold session early in the New Year devoted solely to securing increased constitutional powers for the Commonwealth. This is necessary before Australia can fully play its part in Empire effort and in reconstruction period.

On the political side, a pre-New Year meeting would be inadvisable so far as Australia concerned. The A.L.P. has called a general Conference for 7th December next. I feel that I will be rendering greatest possible service to common cause if I am here during.

Conference period when whole Commonwealth legislative field and Australian attitude towards our present war problems and attitude within the Empire to post-war problems will be dealt with. My efforts will be directed to pointing the way to the great tasks which we have to face and bring all to a realisation of the duties and obligations which we owe to the Empire and Allies. I put it to you quite frankly that my work around and during this Conference will be I hope the greatest contribution I am able to make to the strength and in [sic] efforts of the British Commonwealth.

For the above reasons I must still press for the retardation of the meeting until (say) April of next year. I greatly regret having to do this but I feel that I am serving our common interests best by coming to this conclusion.


1 Document 307.

2 Document 277.

[FA:A3196, 1943, 0.29284-5]