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319 Department of External Affairs to Knowles Cablegram 86 CANBERRA, 13 December 1946, 4.15 p.m.


Your 107. [1]

We were not satisfied by the facts presented to us with the
treatment of Indians in South Africa. Our policy was to ask for an
investigation. This is the general Australian policy in such
situations and it was followed by the Delegation in this case. We
consider that even the question of whether the matter was one of
domestic jurisdiction could only be determined by an enquiry into
the facts as well as law. We were, however, denied this enquiry by
the refusal of South Africa.

We went to the limit in support of South Africa both within and
without the conference and, in fact, voted for the South African
amendment referring certain aspects of the problem to the
International Court. We were not prepared, however, to vote
against the French-Mexican resolution [2] which though not in our
opinion extremely satisfactory we thought reasonable in the
circumstances, particularly as our vote would have been construed
as a definite censure of India. In the circumstances, and having
supported South Africa up to this point, the Delegation abstained.

On the question of the mandate, Australia again went to the limit
in supporting South Africa, though at the Prime Ministers'
Conference and since we made it clear that we would have preferred
the placing of South West Africa under trusteeship leaving to some
subsequent action incorporation with the Union.

Incidentally, we have not complained at continuous lack of support
at international conferences from South Africa. They have always
been opposed to every progressive move and at San Francisco they
were the one nation which prevented the unanimous vote on the
Australian proposal for full employment. At Paris, where we were
fighting hard for democratic principles, we received no South
African support.

1 Knowles had reported from Pretoria a marked resentment at what
South African officials took to be a lack of Australian support.

2 See Document 268, note 2.

[AA:A1067, M46/21/7, ii]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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