212

8th August, 1929

PERSONAL AND CONFIDENTIAL

(Due to arrive Canberra 7.9.29)

My dear P.M.,

I referred in a recent letter to the apparently malignant efforts of the 'Financial Times' Correspondent in Australia (Myers) to disparage our condition. [1] I spoke to W. S. Robinson [2] about it lately, who is a friend of the Berrys [3], who own the 'Financial Times'. He had not noticed it, but said that if we could make out a case for 'persecution' by the 'Financial Times', he was sure that the Berrys would have it stopped. I subsequently arranged with him that Collins [4] (Financial Adviser) and I were to lunch with R. J. Barrett (Editor and Director of the 'Financial Times')-which took place yesterday. Collins had meanwhile made out a 'case' on paper which we handed to them after lunch. The net result is that the 'Financial Times' is to publish an article (and give special prominence to it) by Collins, designed to put Australia in better perspective and as a corrective to Myers' damaging articles over the last several months. They are also cabling to Myers about the tone of his articles.

Barrett astonished me by saying that Myers was on terms of intimacy with you and was in the confidence of the Commonwealth Government-which I feel sure is untrue-and about which I telegraphed you. I will use your reply with discretion-it will, I am sure, be most useful as a corrective to their views about Myers. [5]

The general line we took was that Myers was picking out all the damaging statements and reports, most of which were meant for local consumption in Australia and which did us great harm when published in London, where the background and other relevant facts were not known. In addition to which, we were about to face a difficult year in 1930, which, of course, would be surmounted, but for which we wanted all the help we could get from our friends-and not carping and biting criticism. Barrett saw the point and responded well, and I think considerable good will come from the meeting.

W.S. Robinson was at the lunch and was most helpful.

During lunch there was a good deal of talk about the spectacular fight now going on in Newcastle for the supremacy of the local press-being waged between Rothermere [6] and the Berrys. The latter have had an old established paper there for many years and recently Rothermere bought a small rival paper and started out to get increased circulation by the almost incredible means of giving a free half-crown meal and tickets for local entertainments to anyone who would place an order for his paper for six weeks! The circulation immediately went up to about 160,000, whereupon Rothermere published his circulation figures and challenged the Berrys to publish theirs! The latter replied that Rothermere's circulation was not genuine and lasting-and a somewhat bitter controversy is proceeding.

W.S. Robinson says that Rothermere is, in his opinion, showing signs of going a little 'queer'-in support of which he told me many stories, which time stops me from repeating.

On receiving your telegram re Mark Sheldon's son [7], I got in touch with his elder brother who is here. He said that efforts were being made to get his brother into any one of several colleges at Cambridge, and that he hoped they would be successful without bothering us about it. I left it that if their own efforts failed, I would be glad to do what I could and said that, in this event, I had your authority to use your name-which I will do, if necessary, with discretion. I have heard no more, so I imagine he has got in.

There is not much to say about the Reparations Conference.

Everyone is very intrigued about it and there is much speculation about the result. [8]

The Latin countries are obviously sticking together in an unholy alliance against Germany on the one side and Great Britain on the other. Obviously the French agreed to back the Italians at the Experts Conference, otherwise it would have been impossible for the Experts Conference to have recommended that the Italians get the considerable concessions that were made to them. In return, quite obviously, the Italians and other Latins have agreed to back the French at this International Conference.

The situation is quite delicate because, on the one hand, Arthur Henderson (Foreign Secretary) very much wants to get a general settlement on the Reparations question-on the other hand, Snowden [9] wants to snatch every penny he can out of the fire. Henderson will have to curb Snowden's enthusiasm in order to stop the Conference breaking down. One of the few advantages is that France has now ratified the U.S. Debt Funding Agreement and she will want a general settlement in order to ensure her receipts from Germany in future to meet her outgoings to America.

France is obviously going to fight to get the last comma of the Young Report-the Paris Press for several weeks has been labouring the point of view that the Young Plan must be adhered to to the letter.

The British Delegation is strong on the Treasury side, but weak on the diplomatic side.

Actually Australia is not very much concerned, because, as you know, this country has practically agreed that even if the Young Plan is adhered to to the letter Great Britain will bear the brunt of the sacrifices. And they hope to get a little better than the Young Plan.

I will not deal with Egypt in this letter other than briefly. The Australian press reaction has been prompt, and has been cabled back to London. The enclosed cutting from this afternoon's paper will have a good effect. The whole negotiation has been a negation of the 1926 Imperial Conference resolution with regard to consultation-the first really important example of a subject of real Imperial concern being dealt with as a local matter by this Government. I have tried to 'expose' the attitude of the Labour Government to you in indiscreet (but recyphered!) telegrams-which, in order to preserve the spirit of the arrangement here, I have shown both to the High Commissioner [10] and General Bruche [11] before sending off-and with which they have both been in agreement.

I have not made mention to you in these letters of the Empire Free Trade campaign that the 'Daily Mail' is waging here. It seems rather a lot of nonsense that will fall down on its own weight. I expect McDougall [12] is keeping you informed.

I am, Yours sincerely, R.G. CASEY

1 See Letter 206.

2 Joint Mananaging Director of Broken Hill Associated Smelters Pty Ltd and director of several British and Australian companies.

3 Sir Gomer Berry and his brother Sir William Berry.

4 J.R. Collins, Financial Adviser to the Australian High Commissioner.

5 Bruce, in a cable of 13 August (on file AA:A1420), perhaps only partly satisfied Casey. He described Myers as very able but difficult and concluded that 'my personal relations satisfactory but hardly cordial, and certainly not in confidence of government'.

6 Lord Rothermere, proprietor of the Daily Mail, the Daily Mirror and the London Evening News.

7 Sir Mark Sheldon, a Sydney businessman, had been Australian Commissioner in the United States 1919-22 and President of the Sydney Chamber of Commerce 1923-25. Bruce cabled Casey on 2 July saying that Sheldon had sought his good offices in seeking a place for one of his sons at Cambridge and that Casey could use his name to this end. Bruce's cable is on file AA:A1420.

8 At the League of Nations Assembly session in late 1928, Germany and the major reparation powers decided that a committee of experts should prepare a final reparations settlement. Chaired by a United States representative, Owen D. Young, the committee met in Paris from February to June 1929. Its report, known as the Young Plan, recommended thirty-seven annual payments by Germany averaging 100 million, followed by smaller payments over the subsequent twentytwo years. A revised version was accepted by an international conference at The Hague later in 1929. In the event the Young Plan only Listed until 1932, when Germany announced that she could not and would not resume the payment of reparations interrupted by the one-year moratorium on inter-government debt payments instituted by U.S. President Hoover in Mid-1931. See also Letter 208.

9 Philip Snowden, Chancellor of the Exchequer.

10 Sir Granville Ryrie.

11 Maj Gen Julius Bruche, Australian representative on the Imperial General Staff.

12 F.L. McDougall, Economic Adviser to the Australian High Commissioner.