144 Hankinson to Chifley

Letter CANBERRA, 30 September 1946

SECRET

I have been asked by the Secretary of State to communicate to you, for your consideration, the following proposals arising out of the consideration which the United Kingdom authorities have given to the report of the British Defence Committee in South-East Asia on the question of co-ordination with Australia and New Zealand on all important defence matters concerning South-East Asia and the South-West Pacific. The South-East Asia Defence Committee at present consists of the Governor-General of Malaya [1], the Special Commissioner for South-East Asia (Lord Killearn), and the Supreme Allied Commander, South-East Asia. [2] When the appointment of Supreme Allied Commander is abolished, he will be replaced on the Committee by the three Commanders-in-Chief.

2. The proposals which follow have been formed in the light of the long-term strategic policy in South-East Asia, which is to make Australia in any future war the main support area in the Far East, and follows the lines of the discussions at the Prime Ministers' meetings (see particularly the document P.M.M.(46)5-Memorandum by the United Kingdom Chiefs of Staff on Responsibilities for Commonwealth Defence.

3. So far as Australia is concerned, the Commonwealth representative in Malaya [3] provides a suitable channel through which liaison may be arranged. The United Kingdom authorities have agreed that the Australian Commissioner should be invited to attend as an observer meetings of the British Defence Committee in South-East Asia when matters of concern to the Commonwealth Government are under discussion.

4. There is at present no representative of the New Zealand Government in South-East Asia. The appointment of such a representative would be warmly welcomed both on general grounds and particularly from the point of view of liaison with the Defence Committee in South-East Asia. If the New Zealand authorities agree to the appointment of such a representative it is suggested that he should, in the same way as the Australian Commissioner, attend meetings of the British Defence Committee in South-East Asia when matters of concern to his Government are under discussion.

5. The United Kingdom Government would propose to make available to the Commonwealth and New Zealand Governments all papers initiated by the British Defence Committee in South-East Asia dealing with strategic and other matters of concern to them, after these have been seen by the United Kingdom authorities. It is further proposed that visits should be arranged on a reciprocal basis between members of the British Defence Committee in South- East Asia and the Commonwealth and New Zealand authorities. This would be in addition to the attendance of Commonwealth and New Zealand observers mentioned in paragraphs 3 and 4 above. Service liaison visits between South-East Asia Service Headquarters and Australian and New Zealand Service Headquarters would also assist in achieving co-ordination in this area, and it is suggested that these should take place as soon as they can be arranged.

6. The High Commissioner [4] has been asked to ascertain whether the Dominion authorities agree with these proposals, which it is hoped they will find acceptable and in which the United Kingdom authorities will value their co-operation. If the visits of Mr.

Malcolm MacDonald and Lord Killearn mentioned in my letter of 28th September take place, the Australian and New Zealand authorities will no doubt wish to take that opportunity of first discussing with Mr. MacDonald and Lord Killearn this proposed system of consultation on defence. [5]

7. The question of permanent Dominion Representation on the British Defence Committee in South-East Asia is being left for consideration when the strategic responsibility in the area is defined.

8. A communication on the above lines is being made to the New Zealand Government by the United Kingdom High Commissioner in New Zealand. [6]

(Sgd) W. C. HANKINSON

1 Malcolm MacDonald.

2 Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten.

3 C. Massey.

4 E. J. Williams.

5 Hankinson had referred to discussions in Singapore between Evatt and MacDonald and the latter's proposal to establish 'the closest possible liaison' with Australian and New Zealand authorities through regular consultations on defence and other policy questions of common concern.

6 Sir Patrick Duff.

[AA:A1838/2, 382/8/2/1, i]