12th September, 1929


(Due to arrive Canberra 11.10.29)

My dear P.M.,

I have let it be known privately to senior officials in the Departments with which I come in contact that the fact has not passed our notice that, since the advent of this Government, but little regard has been given to the wishes of Australia in international or inter-imperial affairs. They all realise this, and deplore it-but, as they say, it comes about through the members of this Government having had practically no previous experience of the working of the imperial machine-and at the same time being feverishly anxious to make the several international gestures that their party platform demands. It is thought that their period of office will have the good effect of teaching them the stage at which imperial affairs have arrived. One of the benefits of the holding of an Imperial Economic Conference at Ottawa is that it will also further this desirable end.

I am generally of the opinion that specialised international lawyers are not the best conductors of government business-but rather that they should be introduced, as technicians, at appropriate moments to deal with technical matters. By sticking as closely as they are obliged to do to their particular and intricate job, they lose the general touch and fail to develop-or possibly they disregard-the political touch-which I interpret as being an appreciation of the damnability of matter and of men, but which the precise legal mind probably calls the insidious habit of compromise. However, I started this involved sentence with the decision to qualify it, and I do so gladly in favour of Harrison Moore [1] who I think has done very well indeed for us at Geneva.

What this year's delegation would have done without him, I tremble to think. He is a charming person to work with, and has a degree of commonsense which is very refreshing.

Should it so happen that Australia achieves a seat on the Council of the League in September 1930, it seems to me that we cannot avoid maintaining in London an Australian representative of proper weight, in order to attend League Council meetings and at the same time do other League business for us. In this event it seems to me that Harrison Moore is indicated. He is free of definite ties and I have reason to believe he would accept the position-although he would not seek it, as his wife would (other things being equal) rather spend her time in Australia. He is respected in London and in Geneva, and Australian prestige (for what that is worth) would undoubtedly be increased by his representation. [2]

I am told by Collins [3] (Financial Adviser) that Dickinson [4] (British Phosphate Commissioner) was given �50,000 on the sale of the Pacific Phosphate Company to the three Governments after the War, as compensation for the loss of his job of (I think) Managing Director. This, notwithstanding the fact that he was immediately given the job of British Phosphate Commissioner. Collins says he is quite certain of the above.

Madigan's [5] recent Central Australian investigations by air attracted some attention here-but I think solely by reason of his flippant remark that these large unoccupied areas were the best repository of old safety razor blades that he knew!

I am, Yours sincerely, R.G. CASEY

Faced with a deteriorating economy and irritated by continuing strikes and lockouts, the coalition led by Bruce in August 1929 brought down a Bill whereby Commonwealth arbitration machinery would largely have been dismantled, leaving the industrial relations field to the States. W.M. Hughes led several coalition and independent members to the Labor lobby, the Speaker (Sir Littleton Groom) refused to give a casting vote to the Government in committee, and the Government was defeated. The Government was defeated at elections on 12 October (Bruce losing his own seat) and a Labor Government led by James Scullin took office on 22 October. A month later Bruce concluded his political correspondence with Casey, though Casey for a time continued to keep him informed of British and international developments.

1 See note 6 to Letter 213.

2 In the event, Australia did not obtain a seat on the League Council until 1933.

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

4 See note 6 to Letter 25 and Letter 210.

5 Cecil Madigan, explorer and geologist, had led an expedition to Lake Eyre and had explored parts of Central Australia by plane earlier in 1929.