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2 Cablegram from Department of External Affairs to Posts[1]

Cablegram, Canberra, 18 May 1949

Following is text of Prime Minister's broadcast on 15th May.

Defence and regional security are important to the Australian people. I feel that the fundamental basis of peace and security is -
(A) Co-operation as a member of the United Nations, in accordance with the provisions of the Charter, to make collective security effective,
(B) Co-operation with other members of the British Commonwealth in accordance with the right of collective self-defence under Article 51[2] of the Charter of the United Nations.

2. We have seen the United Nations in operation for over three years. Although it has much good work to its credit, especially through its economic and social agencies, it has not yet established overall collective security. The democracies of Western Europe and North America have, therefore, built up collective security from another angle - namely, regional security.

3. This is expressly provided for in Articles 51 and 52[3] of the United Nations Charter which refer to the development of security on a regional basis and to the right of self-defence.

4. In the North Atlantic Pact, which was recently signed, the preamble states that the parties 'seek to promote stability and well-being in the North Atlantic area, and are resolved to unite their efforts for collective defence and for the preservation of peace and security'.

5. This regional arrangement for the North Atlantic is in harmony with the views expressed from time to time by the Australian Government on the development of security on a regional basis.

6. I pointed out at the Prime Ministers' Conference at London in 1946 that each member of the British Commonwealth has a primary responsibility in regard to defence and its particular region which requires working out, not only with other members of the British Commonwealth concerned, but also with other nations with territorial and strategic interests in that area.

7. If these regional arrangements are ultimately pieced together a major contribution to an overall plan may have been achieved, whether on a British Commonwealth or world basis. The approach to a common scheme of defence for the Pacific area should be by agreement between Britain, Australia and New Zealand, and thereafter with the United States, and later with other nations with possessions in this area.

8. In co-operation with British and New Zealand Governments, Australia has made appropriate arrangements whereby Britain and New Zealand are represented in the Australian Government machinery and Australia is correspondingly represented in Britain and New Zealand.

9. Planning for the Pacific area is, therefore, proceeding parallel with corresponding planning for the North Atlantic area, in which Britain is a major participant, and with whom we have the closest links as the predominant partner in British Commonwealth defence.

10. The problems of British Commonwealth co-operation are extensive and varied. They relate not only to strategic plans and forces to carry them out, but also to plans for the development and distribution of the resources of the British Commonwealth by measures such as the expansion of Australian secondary industries and increasing the population by a sound immigration policy. The Australian five year defence programme is essentially based on co-operation in British Commonwealth defence.

11. The fact that it has not been possible, so far, to build an effective system of world security to ensure permanent peace should strengthen our resolution and determination to co-operate with other peaceful and like-minded peoples in defence of our common interests and democratic way of life, which offer the maximum human development in economic and social welfare.

1 Cablegram 284 to Washington, 2073 to London, 192 to New Delhi, 270 to Singapore, 94 to Wellington, 130 to Tokyo.

2 Article 51 of the UN Charter affirms that UN members have an inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if armed attacks occur against them, 'until the Security Council has taken measures to maintain international peace and security'.

3 Article 52 of the UN Charter states that nothing 'in the present Charter precludes the existence of regional arrangements or agencies for dealing with such matters relating to the maintenance of international peace and security as are appropriate for regional action, provided that such arrangements or agencies and their activities are consistent with the Purposes and Principles of the United Nations'.

[NAA : A3094, 217/6]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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