580 Gilchrist to Department of External Affairs

Memorandum No.1007 LONDON, 24 November 1947

TOP SECRET

ANTARCTICA: HEARD ISLAND

Attached hereto are three copies of United Kingdom Government's written reply to our enquiry regarding their views regarding the title to and occupation of Heard Island. (Your memorandum Nos. 727 and 791) You should have already received our telegram No. 4204 of 22nd November summarising the attached reply. [1]

2. Within the Commonwealth Relations Office a certain amount of anxiety has been expressed regarding the tone of the Prime Minister's proposed announcement regarding the occupation of these islands by Australia. It seems that they are just a little worried lest a declamatory announcement of outright annexation within the next month or so may provoke other Powers either to make claims elsewhere in the Antarctic, or may offer a precedent for a general rush to grab land.

1 It concluded that the United Kingdom title was tenuous, but suggested that the 'inchoate or doubtful title already vested in His Majesty as a result of previous action' might be perfected by effective occupation. It also reported a Commonwealth Relations Office request to see in advance Chifley's proposed announcement of the expedition's declaration of occupation.

[AA : A1068, A47/26/11]