574 Defence Committee Minute without Agendum [1]

159/1947 12 May 1947

TOP SECRET

ANTARCTIC : PROPOSED ANNEXATION OF HEARD ISLAND

PREVIOUS CONSIDERATION: On the 2nd May, 1947 the Defence Committee considered a memorandum (A47/26/11) in which the Department of External Affairs had raised the question of annexation by Australia of Heard Island. After noting Report No. 14/47 by the Joint Planning Committee, the Defence Committee concluded that from the defence viewpoint, the possession of Heard Island was of no value either in the prevention of long range attack on Australia or in the protection of our Indian Ocean communications and therefore agreed with the view expressed by the Admiralty that Heard Island appears to have no strategic value whatever (Minute No. 154/1947).

2. TELEPRINTER MESSAGE No. 320 FROM DEPARTMENT OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS: The Defence Committee gave consideration to teleprinter message (No.320) [2] in which the Department of External Affairs mentioned that the report of the Defence Committee (vide Minute No. 154/1947) did not indicate having taken meteorological considerations into account, and requested, in view of the importance of that aspect whether those considerations would be likely to affect the Defence Committee's views.

3. REPORT BY JOINT PLANNING COMMITTEE: The Committee noted that the Joint Planning Committee, which had examined initially the aspect referred to (paragraph 2 above), had submitted the following observations in its Report No. 21/1947, (copy attached):

[3]

'In respect of the aspect raised by the Department of External Affairs, the Joint Planning Committee observed that the use of Heard Island as a meteorological station was considered from the Defence aspect and primarily, in relation to its usefulness in the operation of a Southern air route between Australia and South Africa should it become necessary for strategic reasons.

The Committee considered that it appeared unlikely that, in the foreseeable future, there would be a need from the Defence aspect to establish air communications along this route. The value of such a meteorological station for the use of shipping would be very limited. The establishment at Heard Island of a meteorological station would consequently not be justified on the grounds of Defence.'

4. CONCLUSION: The Defence Committee endorsed the views of the Joint Planning Committee as set out in paragraph 3 above.

H.D. PRESTON for Secretary, Defence Committee

L. HAMILTON (Admiral) Chief of the Naval Staff

G. JONES (Air Marshal) Chief of the Air Staff

S.F. ROWELL (Lieut-General) Vice-Chief of the General Staff

V. W. QUEALY Asst. Sec, Dept. of Defence

1 Also headed 'Out of Session Minute'.

2 Dispatched 9 May.

3 Not published.

[AA : A5954/1, 2311/1]