Skip to main content

Historical documents

292 Curtin to Bruce

Cablegram 146 CANBERRA, 8 October 1943


Our 144. [1]

1. The Commonwealth Government understands that the proposed talks
in London on civil aviation will be an informal and exploratory
exchange of views between members of the British Commonwealth of

2. We hope for eventual discussion between all interested parties
with a view to obtaining as large a measure of international
collaboration in civil aviation as possible. We are anxious to
contribute towards an understanding between members of British
Commonwealth. At the same time we look forward to a wider
international agreement.

3. The problem of civil aviation appears to us to be closely
linked with the problem of international security. The zone of
security for which Australia must be specially responsible
includes for instance Timor, Celebes, New Guinea, Solomons, New
Hebrides and New Caledonia. In order to discharge such
responsibility Australia should have the necessary air resources,
civil as well as military. This is a leading principle for our

4. Subject to a constitution which takes account of our special
needs and gives Australia adequate representation, we favour the
creation, of an international air transport authority.

5. The authority might be empowered to deal with such matters as-
(a) Aeronautical research, the planning of new international
services and facilities, the delimitation of international air
routes and the laying down of the broad lines on which they should
be operated.

(b) The actual operation of the declared international routes
should be under the general control of the international air
transport authority. We consider that the system should be framed
to allow the devolution by the international authority to national
authorities of the management of routes either within particular
regions or on particular services. This devolution of management
must be accompanied by safeguards to maintain the general
principle that the national authority acts as trustee for the
international authority.

6. We envisage the eventual conclusion of an international
agreement by which this international authority would be created
and in which the manner of its operations and the undertakings of
the various signatory states in respect of it would be clearly
laid down.

7. While subscribing to the general objective of international
control we also concede that certain national needs must be
recognised. So far as Australia is concerned we would require full
control not only over all our internal services but over
Commonwealth air services to contiguous territories, and the use
of Australian personnel, agencies, and materials in operating and
maintaining overseas services leading to and from Australia.

Moreover, from considerations of national defence and general
security in the South-West Pacific, the expansion of the aviation
and allied industries in all their phases is absolutely essential.

8. The principles by which we suggest these national needs can be
met include-
(a) Within its own territory or jurisdiction a nation may develop
and operate its own air lines subject only to agreed international
requirements regarding safety and its commitments in respect of
the proposed international air authority in regard to facilities,
landing and transit rights for international services, exchange of
mails etc.

(b) Arrangements for the operation of international routes should
be such as to ensure an equitable apportionment and use of the
ground staffs, meteorologists, control officers, technicians,
pilots, crews and workshops of the participating countries,
otherwise unfair preferences and discrimination may be

9. The delegation should have continually in mind the following
objective: Because of Australia's political and geographical
position as an isolated Western community close to large coloured
populations, and because of the crucial importance of aviation to
both our defence and the development of the continent, Australian
Government must ensure that the Australian production of aircraft
and of all the raw materials used in the construction of aircraft
is adequate to our requirements.

These requirements will vary-
(a) According to whether or not it is found possible, as part of
the general agreement of the international control of aviation, to
enter into arrangements ensuring a sufficient supply of up-to-date
and suitable transport aircraft to all operating countries on
reasonable terms and without discrimination on the part of the
large aircraft manufacturing countries; and-
(b) According to zoning methods adopted for obtaining
international security.

One of the outstanding lessons of this war is that Australia is a
vital area in any proper system of Pacific security.

1 Dispatched 2 October. On file AA:M100, October 1943. It
instructed Bruce to represent Australia at an informal meeting of
British and Dominion representatives convened to discuss post-war
civil aviation policy.

[AA:A989, 43/735/832/5]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
Back to top