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Historical documents

250 Dr H. V. Evatt, Minister for External Affairs, to Mr R. G. Casey, Minister to the United States

Cablegram [4] [1] CANBERRA, 3 January 1942


Your telegrams Nos. 1 [2], 8 [3], 10 [4], 13 [5], draft
Declarations. [6] 1. I hope you will agree that the method in
which the negotiations and the transactions have been carried out
has not been satisfactory to the Dominions. We hear of proposed
amendments and bits of information, but even at the last we were
without definitive information as to the full text. We do not even
know yet whether India is a party.

2. There is evidence from the cables that much of the procedure
was designed rather to bustle distant governments by telling them
that agreement must be reached within a very short time. If they
are not designed to bustle they are certainly calculated to do so,
and I look to you to try to prevent any repetition.

3. So far as I can see, the requests you have been instructed to
make on our behalf in relation to the Declaration have all been
rejected. Yet as you know they were all reasonable and
constructive in character. The present tendency is to treat the
Dominions as too subordinate.

4. With regard to your particular question in No. 13, we are
agreeable to interpret 'nations' in last paragraph as including
right of free movements to adhere to the Declaration.

5. Press here contains almost daily reports of interviews with
you, e.g. suggestion that you were advocating abandonment of
Philippines is published to-day. Of course, we have no such
policy. You are also reported as having refused to comment on
recent statement of the Prime Minister. [7] It is very desirable
that public statements or background information conform strictly
to policy of government here otherwise embarrassment must result.

Please make sure that Bailey [8] understands this at all times.

6. I wish immediate enquiry made as to nature of press comments
upon Mr. Curtin's recent statement relating to the United States
and of part played by Commonwealth Information Department in
America. In particular it should be ascertained whether criticism
was organised or inspired from this end. Some of the criticism was
calculated to obstruct the government in its plan to obtain
immediate reinforcements.

7. I must impress upon you the necessity of pressing for
information dealing specifically with every point raised in
cablegrams and of reporting to us promptly what action you have
taken in relation to each point. I do not propose to go through
the cablegrams of the last six weeks but even with regard to vital
comments on reinforcements (e.g. No. 164 [9]) the answer was not
detailed. This tends to lack of co-ordination, to conflicting
views, and to frustration of this nation's war effort.

8. I appreciate your difficulties but those of this government are
also known to you. Unfortunately in certain quarters it is
necessary to struggle all the time in order to protect our vital


1 Inserted from Casey's reply (Document 256).

2 Dispatched 1 January. On file AA:A1608, N41/1/1.

3 Dispatched 2 January (AA:A3830, 1942, 33).

4 Dispatched 2 January (AA:A3830, 1942, 43)
5 See Document 246, note 4.

6 See Documents 236, 238 and 246.

7 John Curtin's statement to the Australian people, on 27 December
1941, emphasised that Australia 'refuse[s] to accept the dictum
that the Pacific struggle must be treated as a subordinate segment
of the general conflict ... Australia looks to America, free of
any pangs as to our traditional links and kinship with Great
Britain'(Commonwealth Govt, Digest of Decisions and Announcements,
13, pp 11-13). The statement was drafted by Curtin's Press
Secretary, D. K. Rodgers, in response to an approach from the
Melbourne Herald for an end of year message from the Prime
Minister. It was framed in the light of efforts to secure
additional U.S. assistance and public apprehension in Australia
that the U.K. Govt believed that Australia might be lost and
recovered later (see letter from Mr Rodgers to Professor R. G.

Neale dated 7 May 1973, now held by Historical Section, Foreign
Affairs Dept). The statement angered Churchill, who drafted but
cancelled a stiff Winch cablegram to Curtin threatening to
broadcast an appeal over his head to the Australian people (see
draft of 29 December 1941 in PRO:PREM 4/50/15)
8 Director, Australian News and Information Bureau, New York.

9 Document 226.

[AA:A3196, 1942, 0.265]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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