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96 Submission by Dedman to Council of Defence

Supplement 1 to Agendum 1/1948 CANBERRA, 14 April 1948


In the appreciation of the Strategical Position of Australia by
the Chiefs of Staff Committee [1], which was circulated under
Agendum No. 1/1948, the Chiefs of Staff 'recommend its acceptance
as the basic document on measures necessary for the Defence of
Australia'. [2]

2. In view of this, it is necessary for me to point out in regard
to several matters, some of which extend beyond the scope of a
strategic appreciation into the political and administrative
spheres, that the information is not complete and, in the absence
of any reference to action that has been taken or views expressed
by the Government, the impression may be conveyed that nothing has
been done on these subjects, or that they are now raised for the
first time. Accordingly, for the completeness of the Council's
records, this supplementary agendum is circulated showing, in the
attached statement, my comments on passages relating to the
following subjects:-

(1) Principles of British Commonwealth Defence.

(2) Machinery for Co-ordination.

(3) Civil Defence
(4) The Necessity for an Intelligence Organisation
(5) Necessity for Co-ordinated Planning.

(6) Development of Australia as a Main Support Area.

(7) Scientific Development.

(8) Standardisation.

(9) Summary of the Measures to Achieve Security.




(A) Extract from Chiefs of Staff Appreciation:

'Proposals made by the United Kingdom at the Prime Ministers'
Conference in 1946 with reference to British Commonwealth Defence,
are set out below:-

"Each Member of the Commonwealth should-
(i) Accept
responsibility for the development and defence of their Main
Support Area and the strategic zone around it.

(ii) Accept the principle of joint responsibility between members
of the Commonwealth concerned for the protection of lines of
communication between Main Support Areas.

(iii) Agree that it is in their strategic interest to assist both
politically and militarily in maintaining our position in those
protective areas which directly affect the security of their
territory and communications."

It is observed, however, that no complete and final agreement has
yet been reached with regard to these or any other governing

(B) Observations by the Minister for Defence:

While no complete and final agreement may yet have been reached in
regard to the above proposals made at the Prime Ministers'
Conference in 1946, it is necessary for completeness to refer to
the following action taken by the Government:-

(a) A Governmental Memorandum on Co-operation in British
Commonwealth Defence dated May, 1947 [3], based on the discussions
at the Prime Ministers' Conference, was forwarded to the
Governments of the United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand, South
Africa, India and Pakistan, and a proposal made for the mutual
accreditation of representatives to the Defence Machinery of each
other for the consideration of matters of mutual interest.

Agreement to this proposal was reached with the United Kingdom and
New Zealand Governments last December.

(b) The Australian Government's views on the proposals referred to
by the Chiefs of Staff are contained in the following paragraphs
of its memorandum of May, 1947:-

(i) Responsibility for Development and Defence of Main Support
Areas and Regions of Strategic Responsibility-paragraphs 4 and 5.

(ii) Protection of lines of communication between Main Support
Areasparagraph 6.

(iii) Areas of strategic importance other than Main Support Areas-

Also the statement in the Chiefs of Staff Appreciation 'that no
complete and final agreement has yet been reached with regard to
any other governing principles' overlooks the following principles
agreed to at Imperial Conferences since 1923, which were outlined
in a memorandum approved by War Cabinet on 14th December, 1945,
for circulation to the Departments concerned for their general
information and guidance, in the consideration of Post-War Defence

Local Defence.

1. Responsibility for.

Naval Defence.

1. Maintenance of adequate seapower.

2. Maintenance of an adequate standard of strength.

3. Provision of naval bases and facilities for repair and fuel.

Air Defence.

1. Uniform development of Air Forces.

2. Creation and maintenance of air bases and fuelling stations.

3. Air Force interchanges of personnel and units.

Munitions (including Aircraft), Raw Materials and Foodstuffs.

1. Development of Empire resources for the manufacture of
munitions (including aircraft) as well as for the supply of raw
materials, with the following objects in view:-

(i) A reduction in the existing dependence of all parts of the
Commonwealth on the munitions produced in the United Kingdom.

(ii) The avoidance as far as possible of over-concentration of
resources for manufacture and supply in any area especially liable
to attack.

(iii) The possibility of a development and extension of such
resources in time of emergency.

2. Development of manufacturing self-sufficiency and arrangements
for combining facilities.

3. Planning of concerted arrangements to ensure adequate supplies
of raw materials.

4. Planning of concerted arrangements for the supply of

Co-operation in Empire Defence-General Considerations.

1. (i) The importance of standardisation in organisation, weapons
and training.

(ii) Exchange of officers.

(iii) Consultation on all matters of mutual defence.


(A) Extract from Chiefs of Staff Appreciation:

'the question of the institution of machinery, to enable planning
to take place on a British Commonwealth basis was discussed at the
Prime Ministers' Conference in London in 1946, but as yet, no
machinery is in existence.'

(B) Observations by the Minister for Defence:

As indicated in sub-paragraph (1)(B)(a) above, Australian
proposals relating to Machinery for Co-operation in British
Commonwealth Defence were included in the Governmental Memorandum
of May, 1947, and communicated to the United Kingdom and other
Dominions. Agreement has been reached with the United Kingdom and
New Zealand Governments and the machinery established. As
subsequently stated by the Chiefs of Staff, without the co-
operation of all the other Governments concerned, machinery for
planning on a British Commonwealth basis is not possible. As
mentioned in the Government's Policy Statement of June, 1947 [4],
the position has been stated by the Prime Minister as follows:-

'Co-operation between members of the British Comnonwealth 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.'

The views of the South African Government on the development of
machinery for British Commonwealth Co-operation as recently
proposed by Lord Bruce in the House of Lords [5], and which
largely correspond with those made by Mr. Curtin in 1944, were
recently expressed by General Smuts as follows:-

'I feel that if this question should be raised at an Imperial
Conference, at a conference of Prime Ministers, the feeling which
existed in the past against any steps such as the one now proposed
by Lord Bruce will be much stronger still. I believe that the
influence of new members on such a conference will be still more
to the effect that it is best to leave the matter there and not
touch upon it ... it would mean a retrogressive step. The greater
the attempt to create a closer union in order to knit more firmly
together the loosely connected entities, the greater will be the
friction, the more pronounced will be the disunity, the stronger
will become the tendency towards secession.'


(A) Extracts from Chiefs of Staff Appreciation:

'It is clear that the use of scientific weapons of mass
destruction would have a great effect on the civil population and
on the measures which should be taken for civil defence, and
dispersal of population, industry and resources. This is of
particular significance to a nation, which is situated adjacent to
the territory of a potential enemy, but is not so in the case of
Australia.' (Paragraph 67.)

'To minimise the effect of raids, a Civil Defence Organisation,
dispersal of resources and duplication of vital industries to the
economic limit, are necessary. '(Paragraph 95.)

(B) Observations of the Minister for Defence:

The measures for the defence of the civil community come within
the scope of the Commonwealth War Book, the detailed plans being
embodied in the Departmental War Book of the Department which will
handle this matter in war. The Commonwealth War Book Officer was
recently appointed and is at present gathering information
relating to United Kingdom Civil Defence planning for defence
against new types of weapons.

The following reference to the new problems in relation to civil
defence presented by atomic and biological weapons was made in the
Government's Statement of 4th June, 1947, on Post-War Defence

'Important new aspects of Civil Defence have been under
consideration for some time. Adequate measures for the defence of
the civil community against attack by atomic and biological
weapons must be based on proper scientific investigation which has
not yet reached a stage to enable planning and other measures to
be soundly developed.

When this stage has been reached, it will be possible for the
Defence Committee and the Defence Scientific Advisory Committee,
which has liaison with overseas sources of information, to advise
on this matter. It will then be possible to establish a Committee
on Civil Defence, representative of the Commonwealth and State
authorities concerned, to recommend the plans and measures that
should be taken.'


(A) Extract from Chiefs of Staff Appreciation:

'An effective intelligence organisation is a basic requirement in
war, and is also essential in peace to provide the information
necessary for strategic planning. The Australian intelligence
organisation should, therefore, be an integral part of the world-
wide British system, and permit of affiliation with those of the
United States of America and other likely Allies. The organisation
should be firmly established and functioning in peace if it is to
be of real value in war.'

(B) Observations of the Minister for Defence:

The original Defence Committee proposals for the formation of an
Joint Intelligence Organisation were not acceptable to the Council
of Defence when submitted in April, 1946.

After consultations in London at the time of the Prime Ministers'
Conference in 1946, the establishment of the organisation was
approved in principle by the Government in July, 1946, subject to
the approval of the detailed proposals.

Following visit by United Kingdom representatives for
consultations early in 1947, detailed proposals were formulated
and recommended by the Defence Committee. These proposals were
finally approved by the Cabinet Committee in November last and
action is now proceeding to set up the organisation. The
Controller of Joint Intelligence, and the Directors of the Joint
Intelligence Bureau, and the Signals Bureau, have been appointed,
also a number of the staff together with others who have been
seconded from the Services.

It is intended that the organisation be developed in stages, and
financial provision has been made in the current Estimates
(1947/8) for the implementation of the first stages of
development. The Australian Organisation will be closely
integrated with a world-wide British Commonwealth system and, if
circumstances demand, is capable of affiliation in war with
similar organisations of Allied countries.


(A) Extract from Chiefs of Staff Appreciation:

'To ensure that each member of the British Commonwealth can,
without delay, take that action which will be most effective in
meeting a threat, it is essential that the joint strategic plans
for the defence of the British Commonwealth should be formulated
and coordinated in time of peace. In such plans, provision should
also be made for probable participation by the United States of
America, in particular, and by any other prospective Allies. An
overall strategic plan cannot be developed, however, until
political arrangements between the nations concerned have been
made and effective machinery for the co-ordination of British
Commonwealth defence measures has been introduced.'

(B) Observations of the Minister for Defence:

As indicated in sub-paragraph (2)(B) above, it has only been
possible to obtain the agreement of the United Kingdom and New
Zealand Governments to participation in Machinery for Co-operation
in British Commonwealth Defence. Accordingly, it is not possible
to formulate joint strategic plans for the defence of the British
Commonwealth as mentioned in the above extract.

In regard to the statement that provision should also be made for
probable participation by the United States in particular and by
any other prospective Allies, the Australian Government Memorandum
of May 1947 refers to the following principle arising from the
discussions at the Prime Ministers' Conference in 1946 relating to
Machinery for Co-operation in British Commonwealth Defence:-

'Be capable of interlocking with that of the United States and
possibly other potential Allies.'

Also, as stated by the Prime Minister in his review to Parliament
in June 1946:-

'The approach to a common scheme of defence for this area (the
Pacific) 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 area.'


(A) Extract from Chiefs of Staff Appreciation:

'If Australia is to become an effective Main Support Area for the
forces of the British Commonwealth engaged in hostilities in the
Indian and Pacific Oceans and in South West Asia, it will be
essential to:

(a) establish potential for the production of equipment, supplies,
etc., essential to the prosecution of a war. This potential
includes shipbuilding, ship repair and aircraft production;

(b) make concerted arrangements for adequate supplies of raw

(c) provide the manpower essential to give effect to (a) and (b)

(d) establish capacity for scientific research and development;

(e) establish an organisation responsible for the survey of
national resources, and for the planning, in peace, of the
allocation and development of the industrial economic and manpower
resources of the country, to meet the requirements of war

(f) make provision for training and maintenance facilities
required both by Australian Forces and any other British
Commonwealth Forces which may be based on this country.'

(B) Observations of Minister for Defence:

in sub-paragraph (1)(B)(b), reference was made to the principles
which have been agreed to at Imperial Conferences relating to the
development of Empire resources for the manufacture of munitions
(including aircraft) as well as for the supply of raw materials.

In the Australian Government's memorandum of May, 1947, the views
of the Government on the requirements of a Main Support Area, as
expressed by the Prime Minister to the Prime Ministers'
Conference, were stated as follows:-

(a) Industrial Facilities: In regard to the development of an
industrial potential for war purposes in Dominions, it would be
seen from the statement on Australian Defence Policy, that this is
a Policy which Australia has been pursuing... It would be prepared
to co-operate in this to the greatest extent possible.

(b) Manpower. The proposal for a more even spread of manpower was
in harmony with the Commonwealth's Immigration Policy and, as
indicated in the statement on Australian Defence Policy, the
question of transfer of people and production units in industries
had been raised during the war...

(c) Accumulation of Materials and Supplies: The proposal for
accumulation of materials and supplies in the Dominions was in
keeping with the general view on dispersion of resources...

Arrangements such as those suggested for the production and
storage of stocks were a matter for examination in regard to the
details of specific proposals.

(d) Training Facilities: The extent to which training facilities
could be established or maintained for expansion and use for
Empire purposes was a matter for consideration in relation to
other Defence requirements and for examination in regard to the
basis on which any such arrangements would be made.

(e) Research and Development: The question of co-operation in
research and development had been referred to in the statement on
Australian Defence Policy ... (Note: The Australian Government has
since endorsed the recommendations of the British Commonwealth
Defence Science Conference and agreed to participate in the Guided
Missiles Project).

(f)Intelligence: As mentioned in the statement on Australian
Defence Policy, the Government is at present considering the
establishment of a Joint Intelligence Bureau for the Pacific
Area... (Note: The Australian Government has since approved of the
establishment of the Joint Intelligence Bureau and a Defence
Signals Bureau in Australia).

The above covers items (a) to (d) and (f) in the extract from the
Chiefs of Staff Appreciation. In regard to item (e) relative to
National Planning for an Emergency, the following is an extract
from the Government's statement of June 1947 on PostWar Defence

'To achieve a balanced Defence Policy, it is necessary to ensure
proper coordination of the Navy, Army and Air Force, the Supply
Organisation and the civil economy which supports the direct
military effort. The Defence Machinery must provide for the co-
ordination of these as integral parts of the National Defence
Policy. In peace, it is a question of funds and manpower and
material resources that should be allocated for Defence. In war,
it is a matter of how the aggregate national financial, manpower
and material resources can be allotted to maintain the most
effective and balanced war effort. The preparations in peace must
embrace the planning for an emergency.

The basis of these plans is the Commonwealth War Book and
Departmental War Books, and the time is approaching for their
revision in the light of the experience of war-time policy and
administration and likely contingencies. It is proposed shortly to
constitute the machinery to deal with the wide range of subjects
covered by the War Books.'

As already mentioned, the Commonwealth War Book Officer was
recently appointed, and is at present gathering information on
United Kingdom planning. When he returns to Australia, the
necessary machinery will be established to enable planning to


(A) Extract from Chiefs of Staff Appreciation:

'Australia is relatively weak in conventional war potential, and
it is therefore important that she should seek to gain every
advantage which the possession of scientific weapons would bestow.

just as co-ordination of British Commonwealth strategic effort
will be necessary in future wars, it is equally important that the
British Commonwealth's scientific effort in the research and
development necessary for the production of such weapons, should
be coordinated in peace and war.'

(B) Observations of the Minister for Defence:

The Council will be aware of the following action which was taken
upon the approval of Cabinet in April 1946:-

(i) The appointment of a Defence Scientific Adviser.

(ii) The establishment of the Defence Scientific Advisory

(iii) The establishment of the New Weapons and Equipment
Development Committee.

The Long Range Weapons Project is the first important step in the
widening of Australia's responsibility in Defence Research and
Development in accordance with the policy of the strategic
development and distribution of resources of the British
Commonwealth. Consultations are proceeding with the United Kingdom
Government as to the manner in which Australia can further assist
in this direction.

Also, a British Commonwealth Advisory Committee on Defence
Science, representative of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia,
New Zealand and South Africa, has been formed with the following
terms of reference:-

(a) To consider and review major items of the defence research
programme of the Commonwealth countries and to make

(b) To keep under review machinery for Commonwealth liaison in
defence science, including methods of exchange of scientific
information and interchange of scientific staff.


(A) Extract from Chiefs of Staff Appreciation:

'The Australian Forces should be standardised in their
organisation, equipment and training with those of other nations
of the British Commonwealth and, as far as possible, with those of
allies with whom a permanent association is likely to be achieved.

This would permit flexibility of employment in accordance with a
coordinated plan, and facilitate co-operation with the forces of
those nations and allies.'

(B) Observations of the Minister for Defence:

The principle of standardisation of organisation, equipment and
training by British Commonwealth countries was laid down in the
following resolution of the 1926 Imperial Conference:-

'Co-operation and Consultation on Matters of Mutual Defence: The
Conference observes that steady progress has been made in the
direction of organising military formations in the various parts
of the Empire, in general on similar lines; in the adoption of
similar patterns of weapons; and in the interchange of officers
between different parts; it invites the Governments represented at
the Conference to do everything possible to extend these forms of
co-operation, and to promote further consultation between the
respective General Staffs on all matters of mutual defence.'

In regard to standardisation with potential allies, the Chiefs of
Staff are aware of

this aspect.

The following are the items mentioned in Part V of the
Appreciation which have been referred to earlier in this

(3) The necessity for co-ordinated planning : See paragraph (5)

(7) Civil Defence : See paragraph (3) above.

(8) Development of Australia as a Main Support Area : See
paragraph (6) above.

(9) Scientific Development : See paragraph (7) above.

(11) Standardisation : See paragraph (8) above.

(12) Intelligence Organisation : See paragraph (4) above.

1 See Volume 12, Document 161, Attachment thereto.

2 Volume 12, Document 161.

3 See Volume 12, Document 172, Attachment thereto.

4 See Commonwealth Parliamentary Debates, vol. 192, PP. 3335-46.

5 On 17 February 1948; Bruce had proposed the formation of a
Council of British Nations comprising the self-governing members
of the British Commonwealth. There would be a secretariat and
monthly meetings would be held attended by High Commissioners
representing the Dominions with the UK Prime Minister presiding.

visiting Ministers would also attend. Plenary sessions of all the
Prime Ministers would be held as required and these would replace
the old Imperial Conferences.

[AA: A5954, 1628/3]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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