41 Note by Watt
Note, Canberra, 3 February 1951
On 2nd February, Marjoribanks saw me at his request and sought information about the Dulles talks. He told me the United Kingdom had had information from Franks to the effect that there was some proposal to set up a Pacific Council on which the United Kingdom might not be a full member, if a member at all. He said that the United Kingdom was naturally interested in any such matters and he hoped we would be able to keep him informed as to developments.
I made the following points. The acceptance by Dulles of the invitation to visit Australia was received only on 26th or 28th January. The talks themselves were to be exploratory. The only information we had as to the possible proposals which Dulles would put forward were somewhat hypothetical proposals mentioned by Allison. Although there was some suggestion that the United Kingdom might only be involved in a consultative capacity, information received by New Zealand, on the other hand, suggested that she might be asked to be a party. Australian policy was still in the stage of being formulated as regards any concrete proposals. Nevertheless, Australia regarded the Dulles visit as of the first importance, particularly in the light of the United Kingdom attitude towards re-armament of Japan and United Kingdom preoccupations with Europe and the Middle East. We were getting in touch with New Zealand, whose interests were more or less the same as ours, but it was still uncertain as to whether any New Zealanders might come to Canberra for private talks with us or join talks with Dulles. I had been in touch with Byrd of the American Embassy, who had told me that Dulles had accepted an invitation to stay with Jarman - which seemed to imply that he would be in Canberra during the talks. Byrd was enquiring by telegram as to Dulles' length of stay and other matters of detail.
Subsequently, I spoke to the Minister by telephone and told him about Marjoribanks' enquiry. I asked the Minister for a lead as regards consultation with the United Kingdom. The Minister authorised me to use my discretion in keeping United Kingdom informed, but on the assumption that the interest of the United Kingdom was not limited to 'spragging' the talks. Later I gave Marjoribanks a pretty broad hint along these lines.
After discussion with Hutchens on 1st February, I suggested that the Minister might be wise if he telephoned Mr. Doidge so as to make contact and to discuss possible consultation with New Zealand. The Minister told me he did this and that, while Mr. Doidge did not commit himself, he seemed to have in mind the possibility of a ministerial delegation coming from New Zealand before Dulles arrived in Australia. There was to be a further telephone conversation between Mr. Spender and Mr. Doidge.
Hutchens told me that New Zealand had given the United Kingdom representative in Wellington a copy of the telegram they had given us. I thought it wise to raise some slight doubt in Hutchens' mind as to whether United Kingdom interests in this matter were identical with those of Australia and New Zealand, and I suggested that both Australia and New Zealand might have to give some thought as to the extent and kind of consultation with the United Kingdom on this subject.
On 3rd February, the Minister informed me that he had again spoken to Mr. Doidge, who said that he would be coming over to Australia with two advisers on Saturday, 10th February, for preliminary talks beginning on 12th. I informed Gabites, Byrd and Marjoribanks.
[NAA : A6768, EATS 77, i]