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496 Note by Mr S. M. Bruce, High Commissioner in the United Kingdom, of Conversation with Dr H. V. Evatt, Minister for External Affairs

I saw Evatt about 5.30 p.m. to-day. This was the first time I had
had any conversation with him since Monday the 18th May although I
had telephoned each day suggesting I should come and see him but
he was always too pressed.

Evatt first asked me whether I had straightened things out with
the Dutch Prime Minister [1] with regard to his not having come to
my lunch for the Netherlands Government and I told him that I had.

He explained the reason why he could not come was that the Prime
Minister [2] had had a lunch for Molotov. [3] He said that he had
had some conversation with Molotov with regard to the exchange of
diplomatic representatives. Molotov had expressed himself as
personally most sympathetic but that the matter had to be referred
to Moscow. Evatt said that his impression was that the Russians
were 'stalling'.

I asked Evatt whether there had been any conversation about the
'Boundary' Treaty and he said there had not. I also asked him
whether he had obtained any information as to the line the United
Kingdom were taking in the discussion, but to this he also replied
in the negative. I failed to arouse any interest in him on this
subject and he appears to have gone remarkably cold with regard to
Russia notwithstanding his previous attitude.

I then told him of the reply which Winant [4] had sent in from the
U.S.A. with regard to the Russian Economic Memorandum. I said that
I understood that it had been up at the Cabinet the night before
and I asked him what line he had taken as presumably some telegram
would be sent by him to the Prime Minister [5] as the Dominions
Office were sending nothing but leaving it to the High
Commissioners to communicate with their Governments. Evatt said
that he had taken the line at the Cabinet that Australia must have
a representative on the Executive. [6] This was somewhat startling
as Attlee [7] had just told me in reply to a similar question that
Evatt had said nothing on the subject and he, Attlee, understood
that he, Evatt, was quite in accord with the United Kingdom
Government's attitude. Evatt also added that Eden [8] had agreed
that Australia should have representation. I replied that if Eden
had so agreed the boy had better have his head read as such
agreement would destroy the whole basis of the American proposal
which was designed to keep all the smaller European and South
American Nations out of the Executive by limiting it to the four
great Powers-the U.S.A., the United Kingdom, Russia and China.

Evatt's reply to this somewhat crisp comment of mine was not very

We then had a very rambling discussion about the principle
involved, namely, our having representation on the Executive.

I said that I was emphatically in favour of maintaining
Australia's right to representation whenever we had a reasonable
case for doing so. In the present instance I told him frankly I
did not think we had such a reasonable claim.

There is little use in recording the conversation as it showed, to
my mind, the most astounding lack of clear thinking on the part of
a man who has a legal mind and who has held high judicial office.

We left the matter on the basis that we would discuss the point of
representation with Eden when we met him at lunch on Tuesday next,
and in the meantime I would send a merely factual cable to the
Prime Minister. [9] We had to leave the matter at this point and
discussed nothing else as Evatt appeared to have absorbed the
point of my note to him of this morning to the effect that he had
to attend my cocktail party from the beginning to the end, and
said that he would have to leave in order to be in time.


[AA:M100, MAY 1942]

1 Dr P. S. Gerbrandy.

2 Winston Churchill.

3 U.S.S.R. Foreign Minister, who had come to London to negotiate
the Anglo-Russian treaty signed on 26 May. The treaty as finally
negotiated did not include an agreement on the postwar boundaries
of the U.S.S.R.

4 U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom. See Document 491, notes 5
and 6.

5 John Curtin.

6 Of the proposed organisation to direct post-war relief and

7 U.K. Dominions Secretary.

8 U.K. Foreign Secretary.

9 See cablegram S23 cited in Document 491, note 5. Evatt
subsequently decided not to press the question of Australian
representation on the Executive and on 28 May Bruce informed
Curtin that he and Evatt recommended that the Commonwealth Govt
should agree to the U.S. proposals. See Bruce's letter to Evatt
and his cablegram S25 to Curtin (both dated 28 May) On file
AA:A2937, Post War-Relief.

[LONDON], 22 May 1942
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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