Skip to main content

Historical documents

26 Cablegram from Embassy in Washington to Department of External Affairs

Cablegram, Washington, 8 November 1950


Draft of Statement to be Made to the Australian Parliament by Mr. P. C. Spender K.C. M.P., Minister for External Affairs after Arrival in Australia
After an introductory reference to Australian policy in relation to the desirability of a Pacific Pact the statement would continue as follows:

'The House will naturally desire to know how far this matter has been carried forward during my discussions in the United States of America.

In a short discussion with the President of the United States I put the views of the Australian Government before Mr. Truman. I pointed out that whilst machinery had been established under the North Atlantic Treaty which permitted each member nation to discuss and influence those important questions of policy which have global effects, there was no comparable organisation in the Pacific, an area of constantly increasing importance in world affairs where Australian interests were deeply involved. There was in fact no organic body dealing with security and related questions to which Australia was a party. As a consequence, Australia, which had never sought to escape its international responsibilities was not able to play more than a relatively minor part in influencing policies and events which condition world peace and world security - events which inevitably involve Australia. This being Australia's position it was reasonable to point to Australia's record in the discharge of our international responsibilities and our contribution to the maintenance of world security, in comparison with some of the nations which are afforded facilities of membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

At the same time the capacity of Australia to accept military commitments for the preservation of global security would be greatly conditioned by the existence of firm collective security arrangements in the Pacific region. In short, it was Australia's view that the interests of world peace and stability, and Australia's capacity to work with other like-minded nations towards these objectives, would be greatly served by some form of regional pact.

The President, who gave me a most cordial hearing and recorded the warm friendship which exists between our two peoples and his admiration for Australia's conduct in coming so quickly to the aid of the United Nations in Korea, requested me to take up the problem with the Secretary of State, Mr. Dean Acheson. This I did and I also had subsequent talks with Mr. Averell Harriman, Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs, and, later, just prior to my departure from the United States had a long discussion with Mr. Dean Rusk, Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs and Mr. John Foster Dulles, Consultant to the Secretary of State. On these occasions I elaborated in some detail the views which I had briefly put before the President.

It has never been considered by Australia that the arrangement of such a pact would be an easy matter. Such questions as the area it should cover, the countries which would be parties to it, the contingencies against which it should support, and other related questions, do not admit of quick or easy answers. But such difficulties only condition the form of the end result; they should not, in Australia's considered view, prevent the achievement of the essential purpose.

I found in the United States that a most genuine friendship exists towards Australia and Australians, which I need hardly say is warmly reciprocated. The association between our two countries has never, at any time, been more intimate and the discussions I have had could not have been on a more cordial or understanding basis. It might be said that there is no doubt at this moment that this warm-hearted nation would immediately and effectively come to our aid in the event of an act of aggression against Australia. But it is not one-way traffic in obligations with which Australia is concerned. What we seek is an effective way of contributing to the fashioning and maintenance of world peace. What we desire is a permanent regional basis of collective security, constructed in accordance with the United Nations Charter, which has as its pivotal point some obligation comparable to that set forth in Article C[1] of the North Atlantic Treaty - namely that an armed attack upon one shall be deemed an armed attack upon all. We desire to see formal machinery set up to which, amongst others, the United States of America and ourselves are parties, which will enable us effectively to plan the use of our resources and military power in the interests of peace in the geographical area of the world in which we live. But world security problems cannot be dealt with in geographical compartments. We desire therefore to see established a political liaison between whatever Pacific regional security arrangement may be accomplished, and the existing North Atlantic and Western European organisation, so that Australia shall not be denied its right to have an appropriate voice in the determination of policy and the shaping of events which deeply affect Australia wherever they may take place.

It would be inappropriate for me to say at this moment what will be the outcome of my discussions in the United States of America. I shall content myself with saying I am not without hope that at a comparatively early date it will be found possible to embody into the form[al][2] machinery an acceptable solution of this important problem. The matter is presently being explored by the United States of America and as soon as I am in a position so to do, I shall make a further statement to the House'.

The Minister has requested that the following question also be put to Mr. Rusk:

Would there be any objection to my stating in conclusion that, as an indication of our close association, agreement has already been reached that there should be reciprocal use by ships and aircraft of each country's bases as and when the occasion arises? This would be along the lines of the State Department's communication to me in response to the offer I made. Alternatively some more general reference to this arrangement might be made.

1 The letter 'C' should presumably read '5'.

2 A handwritten correction was made to the original word 'former'.

[NAA : A1838, 532/11, i]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
Back to top