34 Evatt to Bruce Cablegram SL55

CANBERRA, 1 September 1942

TO BE DECIPHERED BY OLDHAM MOST CONFIDENTIAL AND PERSONAL

Please take up with Palace authorities immediately question of exchange of Ministers with Russia. [1] It is desired King's informal approval be obtained for Honourable William Slater M.L.A., Speaker of Legislative Assembly, Victoria, [to be] nominated as first Australian Minister. In this connection see particulars for information of King in following telegram. [2]

2. On receipt of above approval, please arrange for immediate despatch of following message to Molotov [3] through British Ambassador and request necessity of most urgent despatch and reply.

Begins.

For Molotov from Evatt.

The Australian Government has nominated as Minister to Soviet a

very distinguished Australian, the Honourable William Slater M.L.A. He is Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Victoria and he has been a member of the Assembly for many years. He is one of the leaders of the Australian Labour Movement and has been long associated with Trade Unionism. He has been actively associated with voluntary bodies formed for the purpose of providing aid to Russia and with a number of Russo-Australian cultural bodies.

The Government would be obliged if you could indicate your agreement with nomination and simultaneously nominate your Minister forthwith. The moment you do Mr. Slater will leave to take up his appointment as we agree with you that delay in these matters is unsatisfactory. Ends.

3. I may tell you matter is regarded as of pressing urgency.

Please advise moment reply is received from Russia. [4]

4. As regards remainder of formal procedure, course followed in case your appointment to Netherlands will be adopted.

1 This question was considered by Full Cabinet on 26 August and by War Cabinet on 31 August. See AA:A2703, vol. IC, minute 324 and AA:A2673, vol. 12, minute 2355.

2 See cablegram SL56 of 1 September on file AA:A981, Soviet Russia 44.

3 Soviet Foreign Minister.

4 Bruce advised on 22 September that the Soviet Govt had approved Slater's appointment and on 7 October that Andrei Petrovich Vlasov, an officer of the Soviet Foreign Ministry and formerly an academic and trade union official, had been appointed Soviet Minister to Australia (see cablegrams S112 and S123 on the file cited in note 2).

On 4 November Evatt announced that Slater's staff would consist of F. K. Officer (Counsellor), Professor R. M. Crawford (First Secretary), P. R. Heydon (Second Secretary), W. J. P. Duncan (Attache), John Fisher (Press Attache), Irene Saxby (Archivist) and Elizabeth Fisher (Clerical Officer); John Fisher and Miss Saxby were already working in the Soviet Union as a journalist and a teacher respectively (see press release of 4 November on file AA:A981, Australia 197). Slater presented his credentials to President Kalinin in Moscow on 13 January 1943 and the legation in Kuybyshev (whither the diplomatic co Immunity had been evacuated in October 1941) was opened on 17 January (see report of 23 December 1943 attached to dispatch KU46/43 of 22 December 1943 in FA:A4231, Moscow, 1943). Vlasov presented his credentials to the Governor-General in Canberra on 10 March 1943 (see file AA:A989, 43/845/8/1).

[AA:A981, SOVIET RUSSIA 44]