200 Statement submitted by Chifley to Prime Ministers' Conference

PMM(46)7 LONDON, 20 April 1946 [1]



Statement by the Prime Minister of Australia Important Note.-This statement was prepared prior to the receipt of United Kingdom Papers P.M.M.(46) Numbers 1 to 5 [2], and does not purport to comment on same.

1. The Interim Post- War Strength of the Forces Like other members of the British Commonwealth, Australia is in a transition stage from the liquidation of post-war commitments to the determination of the strength and organisation of the Forces which should be maintained under the ultimate post-war Defence Policy to be decided.

The two primary commitments of the Australian Forces in the interim period are- (i) The surveillance and control of Japanese disarmed personnel in Australian territories.

(ii) Participation in the occupation of Japan.

In addition, forces are required on the mainland for administrative and maintenance purposes.

A governing factor in the strength of the garrisons in the islands and the strength for the Forces on the mainland for their administration and maintenance is the shipping available for the return of Japanese prisoners to their homeland. At the end of March there were 100,000 Japanese prisoners to be repatriated and, due to the allocation of additional shipping by General MacArthur, it was expected that they would all be cleared by the end of June.

The Defence Committee has proposed that the total interim strength of the Forces at the 30th June shall be 138,000, falling to 111,000 at the 31st December. The amount required in the Estimates 1946/47 for the provision of these forces would be Cio2 millions.

The Government has directed, however, that reductions to the following strengths are to be aimed at as early as possible in the interim period:-

Navy.-A maximum of 13,500 (subject to further review when certain interim commitments have been fulfilled).

Army.-A maximum of 50,000 (including 10,000 in the British Commonwealth Occupation Force).

Air Force.-15,000 (including 2,280 in the British Commonwealth Occupation Force).

The main factor governing the ultimate post-war strength of the Forces is the appropriate percentage of the National income which should be devoted to Defence.

The percentage of distribution of the British Commonwealth Occupation Force between parts of the Empire is:-

Per cent.

Australia 32 United Kingdom 28 India 27 New Zealand 13

2. Regional Security in the Pacific, including the Use of Bases by the United States As indicated in the memorandum on Regional Security in the Pacific, including the use of bases by the United States [3], the view of the Australian Government is that the question of Bases must be related to an overall plan in which the United States should be associated in the maintenance of security in the South- West Pacific.

If an arrangement can be reached with the United States, it should then be possible to prepare a strategical appreciation which would indicate the nature and strength of the forces to be provided by each of the parties to the agreement.

Planning relating to any regional arrangement will therefore be governed by the progress of political negotiations.

In regard to Co-operation in Empire Defence in accordance with the inherent right of collective self-defence under Article 51, it is apparent that co-operation between the members of the British Commonwealth in defence, in accordance with the established principles of Co-operation in Empire Defence (or such modifications as may be necessary in the light of the experience of the war and present circumstances), is consistent with the purposes and principles of the United Nations (Article 52).

Furthermore, it is only by co-operation on a basis of standardisation of organisation, arms, equipment and training, and exchange of technical and scientific information, that the satisfactory development of Dominion Forces can be provided for.

Article 51 of the Charter provides that nothing in the Charter impairs the inherent right of individual self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a member. In addition to the forces to be provided in accordance with Articles 43 and 45 of the Charter, including regional arrangements under Article 52, it is imperative that Australia should maintain such additional forces, together with a war production potential of appropriate dimensions for expansion, as are requisite until the security system is developed and firmly established. This precaution is also necessary to provide against the contingency of the general exercise of the right of veto by a permanent member of the Council under Article 27 and, in particular, by the vetoing, under Article 53, of enforcement action under regional arrangements or by regional agencies.

While planning may proceed on the basis of principles, providing for such matters as uniformity in the organisation, training and equipping of Forces, and in the co-ordination of supply, strategic planning must await the clarification of political arrangements for security, and the provision of effective Government machinery for controlling such arrangements.

On the Supply aspect the detailed procedure should be the examination of specific aspects of the problem as was done in the case of the proposals relating to:-

Guided Projectiles.

Co-operation in Development, Research, Design, &c., of Munitions.

Channels should also be laid down for the exchange of information.

In particular, the closest co-operation should be maintained on the impact of scientific development on the types of weapons and armament for the various Services, their efficacy, and the effects on future methods of warfare and organisation for it.

3. Machinery for Co-operation in Defence It was necessary, during the war, for Australia to assert a right, which should have needed no argument to support it, of being heard in the formulation and direction of Policy. Provision was made for this through the nomination of an Accredited Representative to the United Kingdom War Cabinet and the creation of the Pacific War Councils in London and Washington. The latter bodies did not fulfil their expected effectiveness, and the Australian Government came to rely mainly on the direct contact which existed between the Prime Minister and the Commander-in-Chief of the South-West Pacific Area. This arrangement worked in a highly satisfactory manner.

During the Prime Ministers' Conference in 1944, the Australian Prime Minister put forward certain proposals for improved machinery for Empire Co-operation [4], and they were referred to the Governments concerned for consideration.

It is fundamental to future arrangements for co-operation in Defence that appropriate machinery should be created to provide for an effective voice by the Governments concerned in Policy and in the higher control of planning on the official level. Whilst the set-up of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Australia has been a useful experiment, it is not considered to be the ideal machinery.

The Australian Government is of the opinion that the best basis for providing for the control of a Force such as the British Commonwealth Occupation Force is along the following lines:-

(a) The control and maintenance of the British Commonwealth Occupation Force should be placed entirely under the Australian Joint Service machinery assisted by staff representatives from each contributing country integrated into the staffs of the Australian Services or Joint Service Machinery.

(b) Each country should provide a national contingent which should be as self-contained as far as possible, Australia providing the whole maintenance set up. The Force Headquarters would need to be integrated on a scale to be decided by Australia.

(c) On a Governmental level, each contributing country should provide a representative to deal with broad policy affecting their forces, and they could be co-opted as members of a body such as the Australian Council of Defence.

Failing agreement with these views, the Australian Government considers that a scaling down of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Australia is essential. It is considered that one senior representative from each country is the maximum that should sit on the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Australia. He should represent the Army, Navy and Air components supplied from his country.

Consideration might be given to changing over to the form of direction suggested in (a), (b) and (c) above, and also assigning to this machinery responsibility for the development of the defence aspect of matters relating to Regional Security in the Pacific, in which United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand are concerned.

Corresponding provision would also be necessary for Dominion representation on any parallel body on the Governmental level created in the United Kingdom. On the official level, the Australian Government contemplates the strengthening of its Joint Service Staff in London, as a counterpart to the Defence Committee in Australia, and to provide an agency for advice to the Resident Minister in London on Defence matters.

Consideration is also being given to the Australian Joint Service Staff requirements in Washington and at the seat of the United Nations. Development in this direction would depend on any arrangement reached with the United States and machinery which may be created for the purposes of implementing any agreement. A related aspect is the progress of the work of the Military Staff Committee of the Security Council, and whether it might create a regional Sub-Committee for the Pacific.

In more detailed but nevertheless important directions of improved machinery for Empire Co-operation, the Australian Government is considering the proposal for the establishment of a Joint Intelligence Bureau for the Pacific Area, and it despatched to London some time ago a delegation to participate in a conference relating to the British Commonwealth Signal Intelligence Organisation.

4. Approach to the Problem of Future Organisation and Armament of the Forces The position in regard to the future organisation and armament of the Forces was expressed by the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in his statement to Parliament last February:-

'This is not the time to come to decisions about the eventual shape of our post-war forces. The great strides made in the realm of science and technology, including the production of atomic bombs, cannot fail to affect the make-up of our forces. Time is wanted for the full effects of these startling developments to be assessed. But in the meanwhile, and for the year 1946, the question of fundamental reorganisation does not arise.'

We have established in the Higher Defence Organisation a Defence Scientific Advisory Committee whose function is to maintain a general survey of the scientific field and bring before the Defence Committee, the Chiefs of Staff Committee, or through the Council of Defence to the notice of the Government, scientific developments having either direct or indirect bearing upon national defence. We are also creating a New Weapons and Equipment Development Committee. Australia is also sending to the Defence Science Conference in London in June a strong delegation of service and scientific advisers.

We have been glad to welcome to Australia a Mission from the Ministry of Supply, and have approved in principle proposals for Empire Co-operation in the exchange of personnel and information on matters of research, design and development of munitions and production and inspection methods.

Before I left Australia I was glad to welcome General Evetts who is making investigations regarding the location of testing and research facilities in Australia for the full-scale development and testing of guided projectiles. Subject to the arrangement of an agreement mutually satisfactory to both Governments, Australia is prepared to participate in this important project.

The question of post-war Munitions Policy is related to the ultimate nature and strength of the post-war Defence Forces, and must be determined by their requirements and the nucleus production required for expansion in a future emergency. As the future nature and strength of the Force cannot yet be resolved, essential factories are being maintained on current requirements of the Services and repair work.

In regard to Aircraft Production, the position may be expressed as follows:-

(i) It is essential for Australia to maintain in peace time a nucleus production of training and operational aircraft.

(ii) The scale of this nucleus production would have to be determined by reference to the following considerations:-

(1) The approved post-war strength of the R.A.A.F.

(2) The requirements of the R.A.A.F. for expanded production in time of war and the capacity of Australia to meet such requirements.

(3) Any plan that might be agreed upon for the coordinated production of military aircraft throughout the British Commonwealth.

(iii) Any more detailed examination of the proposals cannot be made in advance of a determination of the post-war strength of the R.A.A.F. as part of the balanced forces for the defence of Australia.

The Resident Minister in London has been authorised to confer with the principals of the British Companies concerned, with a view to their sending representatives to Australia for consultation in the formulation of a definite plan for an affiliation between Australia and British sources of aircraft production. This project has received the blessing of the United Kingdom Government.

In regard to naval shipbuilding, the position is as follows:-

(a) The Australian Naval Shipbuilding Programme is being developed for the time being by building destroyers.

(b) When provision has been made to satisfy Australian destroyer requirements, it is proposed that the possibility of building destroyers for Britain in exchange for larger ships should be considered by both Governments.

(c) An investigation is being made into the preparation that would be necessary for efficiently building large ships when the Australian Shipbuilding industry has been further developed.

Finally, it is the policy of the Government to develop in peace, resources for the manufacture of munitions as well as the supply of raw material, in order to make the Commonwealth as self- supporting as possible in armaments and munitions of war, including aircraft and shipbuilding. Parallel with the development of Government factories, the Government is fostering commercial industries, and thereby seeking to provide the widest possible base for a supply structure for the needs of the Empire in the Pacific.

At the Imperial Conference in 1937 important principles were laid down regarding the decentralised development of productive capacity throughout the British Commonwealth, and, in 1941, the Australian Government again urged the importance of the transfer to Australia of people and production units in industries associated with war production.


1 The statement was circulated at the Conference on 23 April.

2 These ere a report by the U.K. Chiefs of Staff on the 'Strategic Position of the British Commonwealth note on Smuts' view on Mediterranean strategy, a note on Anglo-American and Dominion discussions on U.S. requests for bases, a memorandum by Addison on 'Organisation for Commonwealth Defence', and a memorandum by the U.K. Chiefs of Staff on 'Responsibilities for Commonwealth Defence'.

3 Document 207.

4 See Volume VII, Document 152.

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