Skip to main content

Historical documents

298 Mr M. J. Savage, N.Z. Prime Minister, to Mr J. A. Lyons, Prime Minister

Letter WELLINGTON, 23 September 1938

SECRET

I have to inform you that the New Zealand Council of Defence at a
recent meeting discussed the question of co-operation in Defence
matters between Australia and New Zealand. It appeared to the
Council that while our liaison with the United Kingdom is
completely satisfactory, the liaison with Australia, except on
certain matters dealt with by individual services, is not as good
as is desirable.

As an instance of the state of affairs, I would refer you to two
papers of the Committee of Imperial Defence, numbered 440C,
Defence of Australian Ports, and 473C, Defence of New Zealand
Ports. [2] In the case of the first paper, the document
originating the paper was drawn up in Australia, was referred to
the Committee of Imperial Defence, and subsequently reached New
Zealand as a British paper. In the second case, the paper was
originated in New Zealand and by this time has presumably reached
Australia as a British paper.

Other similar instances could be quoted. While we will both agree
that consultation with the United Kingdom is essential, I would
suggest that consultation with each other direct is of some value
also. Our problems, both in peace and war, resemble each other's
even more than they resemble those of the United Kingdom.

I suggest for your consideration that we establish the principle
of ,complete mutual interchange of information between Governments
as opposed to between individual services. Presumably the details
could be worked out in further correspondence, but in the meantime
I suggest the following as some possible methods to adopt:-

(i) Exchange of brief summaries of decisions on defence policy;

(ii) Furnishing each other with copies of any communications to
the United Kingdom which might be of interest to the other side
(e.g. the recent Pacific Islands scheme sent to you under cover of
my memorandum of 19th May, 1938 [3]).

(iii) Exchange of copies of what I believe you know as 'War Book
Papers' but which we know as papers of the Organization for
National Security, the local equivalent of the Committee of
Imperial Defence.

(iv) Exchange of copies of Government War Books or of particulars
regarding compilation.

(v) An understanding that in time of war the fullest possible
information, both of enemy and own activities should be mutually
exchanged, e.g. copies of our replies to the telegrams set out in
C.I.D. paper 664 M (Notification of Precautionary and War
Measures) [4] might well be exchanged between us.

I should be glad if in due course you could let me have your
remarks.

M.J.SAVAGE

1 A copy of this letter was sent to Department of Defence on 3
October 1938 (see AA : A816, 14/301/110).

2 Not printed.

3 Not printed.

4 Not printed.


[AA : A981, PACIFIC 1]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
Back to top