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101 Chifley to Evatt

Cablegram E79 CANBERRA, 13 October 1948, 5.10 p.m.


We have had only a brief opportunity to study the United Kingdom
views put forward with regard to the world situation and its
defence aspects in the paper PMM.(48)1. [1] The following is a
summary of the statements on Australian Defence Policy relating to
the views in the United Kingdom paper:-

(1) In my directive to the Defence Department on Australian
Defence Policy and National Security of February 1946, I said

'The nature, strength and functions of the Australian Forces, and
the munitions and supply resources to be established for their
maintenance in peace and war, will be governed by the following
considerations which are blended and inter-related:-

(i) The forces to be provided in accordance with Articles 43 and
45 of the Charter, including regional arrangements under Article

(ii) The forces to be maintained by Australia under arrangements
for co-operation in Empire Defence in accordance with the inherent
right of collective self-defence under Article 51.

(iii) The forces to be maintained by Australia to provide for the
inherent right of individual self-defence under Article 51.'
(2) It was further stated that the security of Australia will rest
on a blending of these three safeguards which are complementary to
each other and none of which is exclusive of the others. The
nature and extent of the provision to be made for defence will be
influenced by the state of development that has been reached in
organising a system of collective security, and a scheme of
British Commonwealth Defence, and the degree of reliance which can
be placed on them.

(3) The Government's post-war Defence Policy, as announced to
Parliament in June 1947, was based on the foregoing.

(4) In regard to collective security, it has frequently been made
quite clear that, in its international policy, the Government has
given, and will continue to give, unwavering support to the United
Nations Organisation and its related organisations, and to the
principles and purposes declared both in the Atlantic Charter and
the United Nations Charter. The Government has consistently
endeavoured to assist in establishing a just and lasting peace
based on those principles.

(5) It has also been stated that, if an overall plan could be
prepared in accordance with the principles of the Charter, it
would indicate the nature and strength of the forces and
facilities and resources to be provided by each of the parties to
the arrangement. This would have a vital influence on our future
defence organisation and the basis of our planning. It is
essentially a long-term view, but is fundamental to any scheme for
a substantial reduction in the burden of armaments. In the
meantime, reliance must primarily be placed on co-operation in
British Commonwealth
Defence and, in the last resort, on the forces that can be raised
in an emergency to provide for the inherent right of individual
self-defence under the Charter.

(6) The stage reached in co-operation in British Commonwealth
Defence is that various Imperial Conferences over the years have
laid down principles relating to co-operation. However, the basis
of their practical application was stated by me at the 1946
Conference as follows:-

'Co-operation between members of the British Commonwealth is a
matter of bilateral or multilateral planning, according to the
strategical position of the particular part of the Empire
concerned, the views of its Government and those of the other
Governments that may be concerned.'

This means that each member of the British Commonwealth has a
primary responsibility in regard to its own problem in its
particular region which requires working out, not only with the
other members of the Empire concerned, but also with other nations
with territorial and strategic interests in that area. If these
regional arrangements are ultimately pieced together, a major
contribution to an over-all plan may have been achieved, whether
on a British Commonwealth or world basis.

(7) It was also stated by me at the Conference in London in 1946,
to be fundamental to arrangements for co-operation in defence that
appropriate machinery should be created to provide for an
effective voice by the Governments concerned in policy and in the
higher control of planning on the official level.

(8) The Australian Government's proposals for United Kingdom and
New Zealand representation in the Australian Government machinery
for matters of cooperation in British Commonwealth Defence have
been agreed to by all three Governments concerned, and the
machinery for United Kingdom and New Zealand representation in
Australia and Australian representation in the United Kingdom and
New Zealand has been set up.

(9) Finally, the importance of close co-operation with the United
States of America is fully recognised by the Australian
Government. As I stated at the Conference in 1946 in relation to
Regional Security in the Pacific, the approach to a common scheme
of defence for this area should be by agreement between the United
Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand, and thereafter with the United
States, and later with other nations with possessions in this

The following observations are made on the relationship of the
foregoing to views expressed in the United Kingdom paper:-

(1) The United Kingdom Government states that it has not been
possible to achieve collective security under the United Nations,
and that the Western Powers feel that it is of paramount
importance that all like-minded Governments should co-operate in
building up collective security from the angle of regional
security as provided for by the Charter.

The United Kingdom statement with regard to the need and urgency
for a regional plan for Western Europe, the foundation of which
was laid by the Brussels Treaty and in which the Western European
countries, United States of America and the United Kingdom should
closely co-operate, is in principle in accordance with the
Australian Government's views with regard to the Pacific region.

(2) In regard to planning between members of the British
Commonwealth, its basis and machinery for this purpose are
outlined in paragraphs 6, 7 and 8 above. This machinery is in
existence in so far as the United Kingdom, Australia and New
Zealand are concerned, and it provides a means of consultation on
the political level, and also on the official level in respect of
matters approved by the Governments concerned. It will be recalled
that our memorandum on machinery for co-operation in British
Commonwealth Defence was addressed not only to the United Kingdom
and New Zealand, but also to Canada, South Africa, India and
Pakistan. The three latter, as well as Ceylon, are mutually
interested with us in regional security in the Indian Ocean.

(3) The United Kingdom Government states that the United States,
through her
geographic position, is affected by the Soviet threat both in the
West and in the East, and that close co-operation with her is
obvious and natural.

The views of the Australian Government on co-operation with the
United States in regional security in the Pacific are stated in
paragraph 9 above. It will also be recalled that one of the basic
principles laid down at the 1946 Conference relating to the
machinery for co-operation in British Commonwealth Defence was
that it should be capable of interlocking with that of other
nations on a regional and world basis in accordance with the
Charter of the United Nations.

In so far as Australia is concerned, the development of
corresponding British Commonwealth planning to that proposed
between United Kingdom, United States and Western European
countries, would also require the linking of Australian and
British Commonwealth plans with those of the United States in the
Pacific, to cope with the Soviet threat in the Pacific as
mentioned in the United Kingdom paper. The machinery established
for co-operation in British Commonwealth Defence is capable of
interlocking with that of the United States, though the procedure
to be followed would be a matter for consideration and

(4) Finally, it can be stated generally that the proposals in the
United Kingdom paper require detailed examination by the
Government and its advisers, and we will give favourable
consideration to the matters raised therein. We would also be glad
to know the views of the other Governments of the British

1 Document 100.

[AA: A1838/283, TS899/6]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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