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Historical documents

88 Evatt to Chifley

Cablegram 3746 LONDON, 24 October 1948, 10.35 p.m.


The achievements of the Prime Ministers' Conference were, I think

1. There is no substantial difference in the general approach to
the Foreign Policy. While one or two Delegations emphasized
opposition to Communist expansion, the majority emphasized the
important positive policy of adhering to the United Nations and of
pursuing improvements in economic standards and giving effect to
legitimate aims of self-government. But overriding point was not
this varying emphasis but the wide area of unanimous agreement.

The Official Communique expresses a real meeting of minds.

2. On economic problems there was very wide approval of my
analysis which was aimed at greater safeguarding of our industries
with[out] [1] prejudice to remarkable United Kingdom recovery or
to recovery in Western Europe. Equally there was general approval
to Western Union on security side as natural instrument of
resistance against possible aggression in a form which is quite
consistent with the United Nations Charter which contemplates
regional agreement.

3. With regard to defence, there was general acceptance of the
consistent approach of Australia in regard to the practical
problem of consultation set out in E.79. [2] That Australia's
policy emphasizes not only regional consultation on Ministerial,
Official and Service level, but necessity for interlocking
regional consultation so as to get overall Commonwealth or world
consultation in defence.

4. I think that Australia's contribution to the Conference was in
securing unanimous recognition of moves for improved consultation
in relation to Foreign Affairs, Defence and Financial and Economic
Affairs, such consultation being required at all levels and being
absolutely essential to complete understanding before final
commitment. This involved a fairly long struggle against Canada
and South Africa. Canada did not want improvement in consultation.

Especially on economic affairs they get what they require both in
London and Ottawa, and recently an Anglo-Canadian Committee has
been set up. South Africa, on the other hand, wants to reduce
consultation to a minimum because of local politics in South
Africa. This end result has been a very substantial victory from
our point of view providing no attempt to dodge the unanimous
recommendation contained in the telegram on consultation. [3]

5. Above all I would say that the achievement of the Conference is
to ensure that India and Pakistan will remain in the Commonwealth
and associated with the King as head of the Commonwealth. Despite
difference of opinion there was an excellent spirit prevailing
throughout the talks. English Conservative Policy would have
probably driven India out of the Commonwealth but the Labour
Party's policy will prove entirely successful just as Campbell-
Bannerman [4] in South Africa and Lord Durham [5] in relation to
Canada. These are great events in Australia's history because our
security in the future will go hand in hand with close friendship
with India. In this spirit even the problem of Eire may be solved
and despite Press explanations of differences, outstanding fact is
Eire's desire to maintain closest practical relationship with the

6. You will be pleased to read the following extract from the
leading article in the 'Times' of 23rd October-

'To such a gathering each Sovereign Country of the Commonwealth
brings its own problems and each speaks with its own special
voice. The strength which the Commonwealth derives from its rock-
like anchorage in the Pacific can't be overestimated. Mr. Fraser
for New Zealand and Dr. Evatt for Australia have shown that their
countries are whole-hearted in making the Imperial relationship
the foundation of all their policy. At the Northern end of the
Commonwealth chain the United Kingdom too has a vivid sense that
its power to discharge its vast International responsibilities
derives to-day more than ever from its participation in the
counsels of the Commonwealth. Perhaps the most important duty
falling under Mr. Attlee, and other United Kingdom Ministers, has
been to satisfy their colleagues in detail that the new
commitments into which this country has entered in Europe do not
conflict with the prior claims of its partners. This they have
unquestionably done.'

1 The cited copy reads 'with'.

2 Document 101.

3 Document 90.

4 Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, U.K. Prime Minister 1905-08, whose
government began a process which resulted in the establishment of
the self-governing Union of South Africa.

5 Following a short period as Governor-General of Canada in 1838,
Durham wrote a report which advocated the granting of responsible
government to colonial territories.

[AA: 1838/283, TS899/6]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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