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272 Press Statement by Curtin

CANBERRA, 6 September 1943


Gratifying and encouraging interest has been shown, particularly
in Britain, in the proposal I put forward on August 14, 1943, for
a new approach to Empire government after the war. [1]

Machinery to give effect to what I am sure will be recognised as
an inevitable post-war development would appear to be easy to
devise. There is ample evidence of the ability of Britain and the
Dominions to collaborate on matters of policy in war. Surely, when
the pressing problems of peace are to be met, the same
collaboration can be achieved.

I visualise a council with a structure similar to the present
Pacific War Council, on which representatives of the Dominions
could consult regularly with representatives of the British
Government. Dominion representatives could be the respective High
Commissioners, and they could be replaced at appropriate intervals
by a special representative who would be a Minister.

The Empire Council could be a permanent body and its meetings held
regularly. Because of everything that is inherent in Dominion
status, I consider that meetings should on occasions be held in
Ottawa, Canberra, Pretoria and Wellington as well as London.

Agreement upon a movable venue for the Empire Council would do
much towards obtaining the greatest benefits to constituent
members of the British Commonwealth.

The Empire Council should have a permanent secretariat of men as
expert in the problems of peace as those who are expert in war
advising the councils of the Empire and the United Nations to-day.

The place Australia will occupy in the Pacific after the war can
never be the same as it was up to 1939 and she must have available
the advantage of concerted Empire policy if she is to be a Power
to stand for democracy in the South Pacific. Similarly, the power
of Britain as a force for peace in the future will be strengthened
in the world if the firm voice against potential aggressors comes
from the Empire, and not merely London.

The economic war in the post-war years will be fierce and marked
by many complex angles. Australia cannot allow her economic
position to be not known or misunderstood with a Pacific studded
by bases occupied by half a dozen nations shut out behind tariff
walls. Australia's voice in these matters must be heard equally as
it is heard now in matters of war.

All these phases of Empire government after the war call for the
constant association of the best minds of Britain and the
Dominions. Anything less is fraught with dangers, both in terms of
defensive security and economy, too apparent to be ignored.

1 Curtin was quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald of 15 August (p.

2) as having said: 'Some imperial authority had to be evolved so
that the British Commonwealth of Nations would have, if not an
executive body, at least a standing consultative body. With modern
facilities for communication and meetings, these consultations
should have a quick and immediate exchange of views if the urgency
arose. Unless a decision were made quickly, delays would produce
inertia or complete inaction, and when the decisions were
ultimately reached they would be too late to be fully effective.'

[AA:A989, 43/735/150/2]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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