88 Evatt to Chifley

Cablegram 3746 LONDON, 24 October 1948, 10.35 p.m.


The achievements of the Prime Ministers' Conference were, I think considerable.

1. There is no substantial difference in the general approach to the Foreign Policy. While one or two Delegations emphasized opposition to Communist expansion, the majority emphasized the important positive policy of adhering to the United Nations and of pursuing improvements in economic standards and giving effect to legitimate aims of self-government. But overriding point was not this varying emphasis but the wide area of unanimous agreement.

The Official Communique expresses a real meeting of minds.

2. On economic problems there was very wide approval of my analysis which was aimed at greater safeguarding of our industries with[out] [1] prejudice to remarkable United Kingdom recovery or to recovery in Western Europe. Equally there was general approval to Western Union on security side as natural instrument of resistance against possible aggression in a form which is quite consistent with the United Nations Charter which contemplates regional agreement.

3. With regard to defence, there was general acceptance of the consistent approach of Australia in regard to the practical problem of consultation set out in E.79. [2] That Australia's policy emphasizes not only regional consultation on Ministerial, Official and Service level, but necessity for interlocking regional consultation so as to get overall Commonwealth or world consultation in defence.

4. I think that Australia's contribution to the Conference was in securing unanimous recognition of moves for improved consultation in relation to Foreign Affairs, Defence and Financial and Economic Affairs, such consultation being required at all levels and being absolutely essential to complete understanding before final commitment. This involved a fairly long struggle against Canada and South Africa. Canada did not want improvement in consultation.

Especially on economic affairs they get what they require both in London and Ottawa, and recently an Anglo-Canadian Committee has been set up. South Africa, on the other hand, wants to reduce consultation to a minimum because of local politics in South Africa. This end result has been a very substantial victory from our point of view providing no attempt to dodge the unanimous recommendation contained in the telegram on consultation. [3]

5. Above all I would say that the achievement of the Conference is to ensure that India and Pakistan will remain in the Commonwealth and associated with the King as head of the Commonwealth. Despite difference of opinion there was an excellent spirit prevailing throughout the talks. English Conservative Policy would have probably driven India out of the Commonwealth but the Labour Party's policy will prove entirely successful just as Campbell- Bannerman [4] in South Africa and Lord Durham [5] in relation to Canada. These are great events in Australia's history because our security in the future will go hand in hand with close friendship with India. In this spirit even the problem of Eire may be solved and despite Press explanations of differences, outstanding fact is Eire's desire to maintain closest practical relationship with the Commonwealth.

6. You will be pleased to read the following extract from the leading article in the 'Times' of 23rd October-

'To such a gathering each Sovereign Country of the Commonwealth brings its own problems and each speaks with its own special voice. The strength which the Commonwealth derives from its rock- like anchorage in the Pacific can't be overestimated. Mr. Fraser for New Zealand and Dr. Evatt for Australia have shown that their countries are whole-hearted in making the Imperial relationship the foundation of all their policy. At the Northern end of the Commonwealth chain the United Kingdom too has a vivid sense that its power to discharge its vast International responsibilities derives to-day more than ever from its participation in the counsels of the Commonwealth. Perhaps the most important duty falling under Mr. Attlee, and other United Kingdom Ministers, has been to satisfy their colleagues in detail that the new commitments into which this country has entered in Europe do not conflict with the prior claims of its partners. This they have unquestionably done.'

1 The cited copy reads 'with'.

2 Document 101.

3 Document 90.

4 Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, U.K. Prime Minister 1905-08, whose government began a process which resulted in the establishment of the self-governing Union of South Africa.

5 Following a short period as Governor-General of Canada in 1838, Durham wrote a report which advocated the granting of responsible government to colonial territories.

[AA: 1838/283, TS899/6]