183 Australian Government to Fraser

Cablegram 51 CANBERRA, 19 March 1948, 3.05 p.m.

IMMEDIATE SECRET

SOUTH PACIFIC COMMISSION

We propose with your concurrence to act on the joint behalf of our two Governments in convening the first meeting of the Commission in Sydney on 19th May. All signatory Governments have informally indicated their willingness to attend, and we feel strongly that no further time should be lost in making a start on the organisation of the Commission Secretariat and its various organs and in setting its activities in motion. Any further postponement is likely to give rise to increasing criticism through the United Nations and elsewhere especially as the signatory Governments have at various times expressed their intentions to make use of the Commission in promoting the welfare of the inhabitants of their non-self-governing territories in the South Pacific. Failure to hold the first meeting in May moreover may well involve a delay of several months because of the heavy programme of Trusteeship Council and other United Nations meetings in the latter half of the year.

2. Ratification of the agreement [1] by France is expected in the near future. The Netherlands Government while still uncertain whether the States-General will have ratified by May is prepared to take part in the meeting and has stated that ratification is 'certain and only a matter of time'. Any procedural difficulties arising from the inability of the Netherlands Government to accept decisions as binding would in our view be purely formal and could be overcome as they were by the Caribbean Commission in the appointment of a Secretary-General and other officers and the commencement of activities before ratification by all member governments.

We should be grateful for a very early indication of your agreement so that we can communicate with other Governments early next week.

1 For the agreement establishing the Commission, see Volume 12, Document 551.
[AA:A1838/2, 348/2/1]