Skip to main content

Historical documents

133 Cablegram From Department of External Affairs to Embassy in Washington, High Commission in London and High Commission in Wellington[1]

Cablegram, Canberra, 29 April 1952

Casey's statement
[Begins.] It is a notable occasion in the life of any nation where it joins its fate with that of other countries by the conclusion of a political treaty. The Tripartite Pacific Security Treaty which has just entered into force following the deposit of formal instruments of ratification by the United States, New Zealand and Australia is indeed a significant event for us all. It is not of course a military alliance of the old type. It is a defensive, and purely defensive, agreement, designed to give a formal character to those understandings of mutual support which have so long existed between three Pacific neighbours. It is an agreement squarely within the framework of the United Nations, to assist in the maintenance of international peace and security in the Pacific.

Like any agreement of its type the Tripartite Security Treaty contains mutual obligations. The signatories accept certain defined responsibilities and in return receive the assurance of support through the reciprocal obligations undertaken by their partners. The precise action to be taken by each party in the event of an armed attack is not specified. There is no obligation on Australia or New Zealand to make any immediate formal declaration of war. The United States for its part, could not constitutionally accept such a binding obligation. However, the obligations, though not specified in detail are none the less real. There is a duty to consult together whenever a threat develops and there is a duty to act to meet the common danger if an armed attack occurs.

As in the case of the North Atlantic Treaty it is not so much the wording of the obligation which matters as the determination of the parties to resist aggression and, through self-help and mutual aid, to be prepared for such resistance.

In order to enable planning and preparation to proceed, the Treaty provides for the establishment of a Council consisting of the Foreign Ministers or their deputies. We ourselves have been giving a good deal of thought to the way in which this Council should be organised and to the scope of its work.

I regard it as of great importance that thorough preparations should be made for the first meeting of the Council, on which the detailed implementation of the Treaty will depend.

I need hardly say that the entry into force of the Tripartite Treaty will not in any way weaken or diminish the close ties of kinship and co-operation which bind Australia to the other members of the British Commonwealth. My hope is rather that to our intimate association in the British Commonwealth we may add an important and intimate association with our Pacific ally, the United States of America. Ends.

Byrd's statement
[Begins.] This Treaty is indeed a formal statement, conforming to the principles of the United Nations Charter, of a realisation which has existed for some time that co-operation between the United States, Australia and New Zealand is necessary for the peace of the Pacific area.

I like to think of this Treaty, however, not while looking back to the past but while looking forward into the future. I like to think of it, not so much as a formal record of old realisations, but, rather, as evidence of an ever-increasing friendship and co-operation between these three countries, which cannot fail to help promote international understanding and peace, not only in the Pacific but in the whole world.

I think it is well to emphasise what the Minister has said about the effect of this treaty on Australian relations within the British Commonwealth. There will be an effect but it will not be any weakening whatever of those Commonwealth relations. On the contrary, we Americans think of this Treaty, and of our other arrangements with other members of the Commonwealth, as complementary to the Commonwealth relationship, not contradictory to it, and consequently as extending and strengthening the Commonwealth influence.

From that point of view, I like to think of this Treaty as having in it the seed of a quite wide significance as being a step leading, ultimately, to a cultural and economic relationship which will improve the material welfare and happiness of our three peoples and of others, as well, who are in close relations with one or another of us.

It has been a great pleasure and privilege to deposit with the Australian Government the United States instrument of ratification of this Treaty. Ends.

Alderton's statement
Begins. I feel it indeed an honour to represent my country on an occasion which I am sure will prove to be significant landmark in its history. This formal act, in which we join today, is the happy outcome of a series of discussions and exchanges, the keynote of which has been warm and friendly understanding and mutual confidence.

Fundamentally, perhaps, this Treaty does not represent any change in the substance of the happy inter-relationship which exists between our three countries. Rather does it give formal expression to our close identity of interests, our warm friendship, our common hatred of war, and that firm determination jointly to resist aggression which has already inspired an effective and realistic association between like-minded peoples in the North Atlantic area.

The Treaty itself, of course, constitutes a threat to no one. No one, except in malice or ignorance, can label it as being remotely provocative. Like its North Atlantic counterpart, it is an agreement between free and independent countries which have always shown themselves ready to defend their basic liberties and to meet the common danger when peace is threatened.

I shall say frankly that the guarantee of mutual support which this Treaty provides enables the people of New Zealand to contemplate with rather less concern the possibility of any resurgence of militarism in the Pacific area.

I feel it would not be inappropriate, Sir, - although I am sure it is quite unnecessary to the understanding of either my American colleague or yourself - for me to re-affirm that this understanding which we now formally ratify, far from cutting across our ties within the British Commonwealth, and with the United Kingdom in particular, in reality strengthens these ties by enabling New Zealand to make the fullest possible contribution to the defence of the free world. This important principle, and the obligations which flow from it, have merited special mention in the Preamble to the Treaty itself. Similar emphasis also attaches to our firm alliance with the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter, with which the Treaty is in full accord.

I venture to suggest in conclusion, Sir, that if this moment closes a page in our history, it is only that we turn to a new page, which, although we face it with a new hope and confidence, is nevertheless full of challenge for us. It is only if we abide honestly and faithfully by the duties and obligations which we now undertake that we shall be able to meet that challenge fairly and squarely. On behalf of my Government, Sir, I solemnly, sincerely and wholeheartedly subscribe to these obligations. Ends.

1 Cablegram 430 (29 April) advised that the Security Treaty came into force at 1.30 p.m. Eastern Australian time on 29 April and Cablegram 434 (29 April) advised that a short ceremony was held in Canberra when the Counsellor, United States Embassy and High Commissioner for New Zealand deposited instruments of ratification of the Treaty.

[NAA : A1838, TS532/11]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
Back to top