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298 Mr John Curtin, Prime Minister, to Lord Cranborne, U.K. Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs

Cablegram 74 CANBERRA, 24 January 1942


Following for the Prime Minister [1] from the Prime Minister. [2]

1. Reference your 93. [3]

Paragraph 1. At the point which will be decisive we do not
consider there is real as distinct from nominal equality of voice.

Paragraph 2. Your agreement to our request is noted. Sir Earle
Page will continue in London for time being as accredited
Australian Representative. We regard this arrangement as
complementary to Pacific War Council and ask that no public
statement be made until arrangements for Council are also

Paragraph 3. It is desired, as this machinery was evolved between
the President [4] and yourself, that in the first instance our
views be submitted by you to the President for his consideration.

2. Page has communicated a note on the Council which he has
received from the Dominions Secretary [5], on which we make the
following comments:-

(i) Instructions to the Commander-in-Chief, South-west Pacific
Area, are issued by the President who will be advised by the
Combined Chiefs of Staff Committee in Washington. Australia, New
Zealand and the Netherlands East Indies are not represented on
this body. It is a more logical and expeditious arrangement to
have the Pacific Council in Washington alongside the President and
the Combined Staff, than in London.

(ii) With a Pacific Council in Washington relying for its advice
on the Allied Joint Staff there is less possibility of conflicting
advice arising from the technical advisers than if it is in London
consulting another set of officers on the United Kingdom and
Dominions joint Staffs. If the views of the members are
irreconcilable and cannot be 'focussed', a satisfactory solution
is more likely at Washington, the seat of the final authority,
than in London.

(iii) It is stated that the Combined Chiefs of Staff Committee
will 'receive the opinion of the Council'. As the Council is a
political body on the governmental plane, this procedure indicates
that the functions of the Council are of an advisory and not
executive nature.

(iv) In the event of differing views on the Council, the
Australian Representative in London might be in agreement with the
United States Representative on the Combined Chiefs of Staff in
Washington, but the Australian viewpoint might not reach the
President, who is the final arbiter. With the Council at
Washington the points of difference could be discussed with the
Combined Staffs and the President or his representative on the
Council would obtain first-hand knowledge of the Australian
member's viewpoint.

(v) As the President is the final authority, and as the President
and the Prime Minister are to discuss points that are in dispute
or matters of great urgency, this also indicates that the proposed
Council will be advisory as it will certainly not possess any
final executive authority in London. Furthermore, the views of the
London Council are to be represented to the Joint Staff in
Washington by the Prime Minister, who is also to report to them
any differences of view between the four members of the Council
and in the last resort to reach a settlement with the President.

The presence of the Council in Washington would facilitate a
conclusion if the Prime Minister and President are unable to

(vi) In short, we strongly urge a Pacific Council at Washington,
its jurisdiction not to be limited to the A.B.D.A. Area and its
personnel to be representative of the United Kingdom, United
States of America, Australia, China, Netherlands and New Zealand.

1 Winston Churchill.

2 See editorial note before Document 294.

3 Dispatched 22 January (on file AA:A2680, 14/1942). It referred
to Curtin's cablegram published as Document 289, and stated that
the proposed Far Eastern Council in London would not be purely
advisory and that Australia's voice on it would be equal to the
United Kingdom's.

4 Franklin D. Roosevelt.

5 See cablegram P30 of 22 January on the file cited in note 3.

[AA:A2680, 14/1942]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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