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Historical documents

105 Chifley to Attlee

Letter CANBERRA, 10 December 1948


Thank you for Paper PMM(48)1-The World Situation and its Defence
Aspects [1]-which I received just before the recent Conference of
Commonwealth Prime Ministers in London. The Defence Committee has
considered the information and suggestions contained in your paper
and I am enclosing a copy of their report [2] for your

2. You will recall that, on 24th May 1948 [3], I forwarded for

(i) Council of Defence Agendum No. 1/1948 [4] and Supplement No. 1
[5]-The Strategic Position of Australia-Review by the Chiefs of
Staff Committee.

(ii) Council of Defence observations and conclusions of 20th April
1948 [6] on the above Agenda.

In their conclusions, the Council of Defence authorised the
development of strategic planning on an official level within the
limits of a zone which had been recommended by the Chiefs of
Staff. [7] The arrangements for linking with New Zealand were to
be discussed on an official level.

3. In extension of the conclusions of the Council of Defence of
20th April 1948, I have authorised an examination by the Defence
Committee, in conjunction with the United Kingdom and New Zealand
Liaison Staffs, of the following:-

(a) The basic objectives of British Commonwealth Defence policy
and general strategy;

(b) A suitable basis for the distribution of strategic
responsibility and war effort.

4. When Government consideration has been given to the conclusions
in official level discussions under paragraph 3(a) and (b) above,
the next step would be the authorisation by Governments of the
preparation of general outline plans to meet immediate and long
term dangers.

5. The Defence Committee consider that 'it is an essential pre-
requisite to a study of these subjects in Australia for the United
Kingdom views to be made available', and it is suggested that
these problems might be discussed in the first instance in London
by your Defence Advisers with the Australian Defence
Representative, Major-General A.J. Boase. When advice received
through General Boase is available for consideration by our
Defence Committee, we would, of course, invite your Chief Liaison
Officer and the New Zealand Joint Services Liaison Officer to
attend meetings of appropriate Committees.

6. It is considered that the liaison arrangements in existence
between Australia, the United Kingdom and New Zealand are
suitable, and that they should be used whenever possible for such

7. The considerations which I mentioned in paragraph 7 of my
letter of 24th May 1948 would apply also to the approved extension
of authority for planning, viz:-

(i) That the strategic planning authorised is to proceed strictly
on an official level.

(ii) That it does not involve any commitment in regard to
Government policy, except where approval is specifically sought
and obtained.

(iii) That the development of planning is subject to
considerations mentioned in sub-paragraph 3(iii) of the
conclusions of the Council of Defence of 20th April.

8. I am sending a copy of the Defence Committee's Report on your
PMM(48) 1-The World Situation and its Defence Aspects-to the Prime
Minister of New Zealand. Copies of this letter and enclosure are
being forwarded for information to the Australian Defence
Representative, London, and to your Chief Liaison Officer in
Melbourne. It is also proposed to send copies of the Defence
Committee's Report for the information of the other Commonwealth
Governments which were represented at the recent Conference in
London, and it is desired to know whether there are any views you
may wish to offer on this course.

1 Document 100.

2 Document 104
3 Document 98.

4 Agendum 1948, dated 12 March 1948, comprised (a) the Chiefs of
Staff Minute 3/1947 which was published in Volume 12, Document
161, and (b) part V of the Chiefs of Staff Appreciation, dated
September 1947, which was published in the Attachment to Document

5 Document 96.

6 Document 97.

7 The zone is described in Document 97, pact (3) in reference to
'paragraph 92'.

[AA: A816/52, 14/301/353]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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