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252 Bruce to Curtin

Cablegram 118A LONDON, 21 August 1944, 8.05 p.m.


(Addressed to the Prime Minister)
Your 103 [1] and [my] [2] 115A. Before entering into discussions
with the United Kingdom Government it is desirable I should have
clearly in mind what is your intention as to the scope and
functions of the Civil Affairs Committee to be established in

In paragraph two of your telegram 103 you limit the activities of
the Committee in Australia to Civil Affairs policies and their
application to territories within the areas of the South East Asia
and South West Pacific Commands.

Sub-paragraph one of paragraph eleven also appears to contemplate
that the functions of the Committee in Australia will be limited
to matters concerning territories recovered from the Japanese.

In paragraph three, however, you stress the importance of
decisions on the administration of enemy Pacific territories
immediately after Allied occupation and indicate it is important
that we should be aware at first hand of developments in these
territories and participate in decisions. The South East Asian and
South West Pacific Commands however do not embrace any enemy
territories other than that of the Japanese satellite, Siam.

What I desire your instructions on is as to whether it is
contemplated that the Australian Civil Affairs Committee should
have jurisdiction-
(1) In respect to all territories embraced in the Far Eastern war
(2) Its activities should be confined to territories situated in
the South East Asia and South West Pacific Commands.

On these two alternatives I send you the following thoughts for
what they are worth and with regard to (2) I have considerable
doubts. The establishment of a committee in Australia with its
jurisdiction limited to the South East Asia and South West Pacific
Commands would give us no voice in respect to former Japanese
territories as and when conquered which would remain, as they are
at present, more or less an affair of the Americans. Its
establishment would also, I think, militate against our claim for
representation on any committee which may in the future be set up
to deal with civil affairs problems in regard to the Pacific war
as a whole.

With regard to (1) I have considerable doubt that the consent of
the U.S.A. could be obtained to the setting up in Australia of a
body with such far reaching powers.

An alternative to (1) or (2) might be for us to press now for the
establishment of a Civil Affairs Committee to deal with the war in
the Far East as a whole. On this Committee, we would insist on
representation but as regards its location, we would, I think,
have to fall into line with the general consensus of opinion.


1 Document 246.

2 The word in square brackets has been inserted from Bruce's copy
on file AA:M100, August 1944.

[AA:A989, 44/655/19]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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