233 Dunk to Evatt

Cablegram A57 CANBERRA, 6 May 1946


Commerce propose establish trade representation Ceylon. In view of (a) extension local legislative autonomy recommended by Soulbury Commission [1] which will probably be followed by Dominion status and, (b) the strong separationist movement in Ceylon.

I feel that Australian Government should be represented by Commissioner as for Malaya.

Understand Ceylon Government would appreciate such a move.

McCarthy agrees and I would like your approval to joint submission from Minister, Commerce and Acting Minister, External Affairs to Cabinet seeking authority establishment representation on this basis. [2]

1 A Royal Commission, chaired by Lord Soulbury (H. Ramsbotham), appointed in July 1944 to fulfil a 1943 promise to establish full responsible government in Ceylon after the war. Its report, published 9 October 1945, recommended self-government on the British model as a step to full Dominion status, and formed the basis of a constitution accepted late in 1945 by the State Council of Ceylon.

2 On 4 June Cabinet approved expansion of the Trade Commissioner Service, including appointment of a 'joint commissioner with External Affairs' to Ceylon. No such appointment was made, however, before 19 December when Cabinet decided to appoint a separate political representative, noting the likelihood of Ceylon increasing in strategic importance and a need for separate commercial representation in view of Ceylon's significance as a market. C. W. Frost took up appointment as Australian Commissioner in 1947.

[AA:A1067, ER 46/8/15]