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146 Chifley to Fraser

Cablegram 36 CANBERRA, 10 March 1949, 11.30 a.m.


Thank you for your telegram No. 35 [1]. I am in general agreement
with your point of view and any difference of agreement arises out
of the fact which you point out that Australia is more closely
linked with South East Asia than is New Zealand.

However, you will observe from the aide-memoire [2] (prepared for
Dr.Evatt before he left for India) a copy of which was sent to you
through your High Commissioner at Canberra, that we have taken
particular care to stress that our interest is in the Western
Pacific South East Asian region which we consider stretched from
New Zealand to Pakistan. We pointed out that we had no interest
from a regional point of view in the wider group which was
represented at the New Delhi conference.

I think if you will examine that aide-memoire many of your
difficulties would be overcome. Primarily the regional arrangement
we have in mind is an association of nations in this area which
would act as a regional arrangement according to the Charter, and
in particular endeavour to co-ordinate and give direction to the
activities of the regional specialised agencies such as I.L.O.,
the World Health Organization, the Economic Commission and so on.

We endeavoured to avoid the creation of any formal machinery by
merely adopting the scheme which exists between our two
administrations, that is, having an officer in each foreign office
whose primary duty would be to keep in touch with the governments
of the region.

Concerning membership, it is our present view that there are
distinct advantages in including only self-governing states and
providing for colonial areas to be represented by local
administrations. I know Nehru is keen on this as he is most
anxious to avoid the regional group becoming the ineffective group
it would be if all great powers had to be included. You will be
aware of the experiences of the Economic Commission for Asia and
the Far East. Procedural difficulties and political irrelevancies
prevent it getting on with its work. The experience of the New
Delhi Conference on the contrary was that in the absence of the
great powers, the countries directly concerned in the region were
able to get down to work without these political irrelevancies
interfering. I understand that this view was strongly supported by
the United States Government and also personally by Mr. MacDonald
at Singapore.

The question is whether we stand apart from Asia and refuse
invitations to join with them in their deliberations or whether we
endeavour to co-operate, particularly with India and Pakistan in
an endeavour to remove some of the economic and political causes
of unrest in that area. Personally I am extremely impressed by
Nehru's power of leadership and his good sense. If we can make any
contribution from an educational or technical or advisory point of
view so much the better. [3]

1 Document 145.

2 Document 149.

3 Fraser's reply, cablegram 40, dispatched is March 1949, stated
that Chifley's response did 'not cover the actual points I made
nor does it [al]lay my great uneasiness over the possible
consequences for New Zealand as a result of the proposed
Australian Membership of the South East Asia Regional
Association.' Fraser ]so urged that 'no commitment be made until
our two Government, have had an opportunity for a full exchange of

[AA:A1838, 851/18/3]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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