19th November, 1925


(Due to arrive Melbourne-19.12.25)

My dear P.M.,

My very hearty congratulations. You have done a wonderful job of work, and it is fully realised in this country. [1]

The only discordant note in the press was a short leader in the 'Westminster Gazette', which I enclose, together with Sir Joseph Cook's [2] reply.

I think I have traced how this came about. When you were here at the 1923 Imperial Conference, you made a speech on Imperial Trade and Preference at some comparatively small private meeting at which Denman [3] (pronounced Liberal) was in the Chair, and (more important) his wife (daughter of Cowdray [4]) was present. The election was on at the time and apparently they took exception to your speaking on what they regarded as a controversial subject at such a time, even at a private meeting. Lady Denman is one of the very few people who has ever criticised your policy adversely to me, and she seems to nurse this particular grievance rather carefully. Lady Denman, as representative of the Cowdray interests (I understand the major financial interest in the paper), became a Director of the 'Westminster Gazette' a few months ago. This would seem to explain it. However, it is of little consequence as the paper is quite unimportant since it changed over from being an evening to a morning paper.

I hear privately that recently Amery [5] has expressed the opinion that events were shaping towards an Imperial Conference in 1926.

Previously he has never given me any hint that he was even considering a Conference before 1927. However, the Locarno Pact and Disarmament have speeded things up a good deal. Much as I would like to see you in London, I cannot see that there is sufficient important material for discussion to warrant your travelling halfway round the world. McDougall [6] tells me that the material for a useful Imperial Economic Conference will not be ready for 12 months yet.

In the Cabinet meeting the day prior to Chamberlain's [7] 'Locarno' Debate in the Commons, Amery tried to get Chamberlain to accept a form of words in which to state the attitude of the Dominions to the Pact. Chamberlain, however, very tactfully but quite firmly said that he would appreciate not being bound by any form of words but that he hoped the Cabinet would rely on him to put the matter in its proper light. He did not like being dictated to by Amery on a matter of Foreign Relations, even if affecting the Dominions.

It may interest you to know that much rumour is current as to who is to be the next High Commissioner in London. Howse [8], Pearce [9] and Sheldon [10] are all mentioned.

I heard a rather grim remark in a newspaper office lately: 'I see so-and-so is looking a bit shaky, have we got him up to date?'- meaning, as I found out afterwards, his obituary notice.

I wonder if you have ever heard the following story. Archie Strong [11] (now disguised as Sir Archibald, K.B.E.) once gave a lecture on 'Swinburne' at the Prahran Town Hall, the worthy Mayor of the day, Mr. Rupert Nicholson, being in the Chair. Strong noticed a look of great disappointment and boredom on the face of the Mayor as the lecture proceeded. He questioned him discreetly after the lecture and the Mayor admitted that it had been his understanding that the lecture was to have been about 'his old and valued friend George Swinburne'. [12]

With best wishes, I am, Yours sincerely, R. G. CASEY

1 The Coalition Government led by Bruce was returned with an increased majority after elections on 14 November 1925.

2 Australian High Commissioner.

3 Lord Denman, Governor-General of Australia 1911-14.

4 Lord Cowdray, Liberal M.P. 1895-1910 and President of the Air Board in 1917.

5 Leopold Amery, Secretary for the Colonies and for Dominion Affairs.

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

7 Austen Chamberlain, Foreign Secretary.

8 Maj Gen Sir Neville Howse, V.C., Commonwealth Minister for Defence and for Health.

9 Senator George Pearce, Commonwealth Minister for Home and Territories.

10 Sir Mark Sheldon, prominent Sydney businessman, Australian Commissioner in the United States 1919-22 and an Australian representative at the 1923 League of Nations Assembly session.

11 Professor Sir Archibald Strong held the English chair in the University of Adelaide.

12 George Swinburne, Melbourne engineer and politician.