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525 Mr John Curtin, Prime Minister, to Dr H. V. Evatt, Minister for External Affairs (in Washington)

Cablegram PM87 [1] CANBERRA, 12 June 1942


I. Reference your E.S. 65. [2] I had a further discussion with
General MacArthur [3] yesterday as a result of which the draft
cablegram referred to in P.M. 76 [4] will not be despatched in its
present form because of the changed strategical situation.

2. You may be interested in one aspect which had been put forward
at some length by our Australian advisers and is summarised as
follows in the covering letter [5] to General MacArthur:-

'The Government feels that the next best manner in which it can
support you in your policy and aims is to strive, through its
representatives on the Pacific War Councils in London and
Washington, to obtain acceptance in the grand strategy of the view
that the southwest Pacific area can make a positive contribution
in 1942 towards winning the war, and that this is to be achieved
by securing the adoption of a plan for offensive action against
limited objectives as soon as the requisite forces and supplies
are available. The planning and preparations for such a step would
take some months, but if agreement to such an objective can be
secured from those responsible for the grand strategy, a
commitment on their part would be established. The forces in
Australia will then have a positive offensive concept before them
which it is hoped with adequate strength will enable you to wrest
the initiative from the enemy in this theatre.'
3. General MacArthur advises that he has not taken this aspect up
with General Marshall [6] in the light of the results of the Coral
Sea and Midway Island actions which have resulted in such a large
reduction in Japan's aircraft carrier strength. He considers it
necessary to make a new assessment of the strategical situation in
the light of further information still to be obtained and he does
not advise any further representations at the moment through
Governmental channels. He added that in his view the defensive
position of Australia was now assured.

4. I therefore agree to you adhering to the arrangements made for
your return. Your presence is also required as Attorney-General in
connection with the impending High Court action. [7] Best wishes
for a pleasant journey home.



1 Repeated to the High Commissioner in the United Kingdom as no.

2 Document 523.

3 Allied Supreme Commander in the South-West Pacific Area. See
AA:A2682, vol. 5, minute 960.

4 Document 506.

5 Dispatched 4 June. On file Defence : Special Collection II,
bundle 5, Strategical Policy-S.W.P.A. File No. 2.

6 Chief of Staff, U.S. Army.

7 On the Commonwealth Govt's uniform taxation legislation.

Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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