53 Evatt to Burton

Cablegram unnumbered SS DOMINION MONARCH, 8 January 1949, 6.20


Received 9 January 1949, 9 a.m.


1. I am extremely concerned your projected absence Australia at time when there should be daily consultations and reviews between us preparatory to Cabinet Meeting and also to Special Foreign Affairs Session.

2. It was definitely arranged between us that you would meet me in Western Australia for above purposes.

3. In reply to your telegram [1] I supported idea of South East Asia regional conference because that has always been my objective covering security and welfare arrangements in long term interests of Australia.

4. Now, however, I learn invitations from India do not proceed on basis of South East Asia region and that even Arab States who have no connection with region and who were so defiant of United Nations decisions on Palestine were invited. Siam from region has refused. My objective seems hindered not helped.

5. Your own message today [2] reinforces my view. In your judgment 'conference has been hastily called and cannot achieve any positive result' and will 'adjourn after a few meetings'. That will be very bad for Australia and might easily discredit regionalism in South East Asia.

6. I am satisfied that in changed circumstances you should remain in Australia and that Gollan or Critchley or McIntyre or in view of your objections a fourth officer could suitably represent Australia without prejudicing later conference.

7. In addition there should be immediate and urgent request by Australia for postponement of conference for a period of at least one month in view of uncertainty as to Security Council action.

8. I appreciate your interest in Indonesia but that can be best exercised from Australia in daily consultation with myself. I can understand your considering going but matter was never suggested to me and your obvious persistence in it is wrong having regard to my position as responsible Minister.

9. I am certain the Prime Minister would assent above point of view providing you yourself showed readiness and willingness.

10. I any event I desire you should meet me in Fremantle on arrival of ship 12th January. That would still give you time to be present at conference in India if you persist in going, at present, from every point of view including your own, such definite consultation with me prior to your leaving is absolutely essential. Obviously you cannot have free hand at Conference and overall responsibility must be mine.

11. Please reply immediately.

1 Document 505 in Volume XIII.

2 Document 39.

[AA : A9420, 6]