Commonwealth Government to N.Z. Government and to Sir Thomas Inskip, U.K. Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs

Cablegram unnumbered/18 15 February 1939,


(2) No. 18. Following telegram has been sent to the New Zealand Government- Full consideration has been given to the proposals contained in your telegram of 24th January. [1] While being in full agreement concerning the holding of a Conference it would appear that the proposed agenda implies a full scale Conference. Past experience has shown that many of the matters listed could be properly discussed only in London at an Imperial Conference where British Cabinet and Chiefs of Staff are located. It is also observed that some of the subjects were discussed at the 1937 Imperial Conference and that on most of the questions Committee of Imperial Defence Papers or Reports of the Chiefs of Staff Sub-Committee of recent date are available. In such a wide range of important subjects I am sure you will agree with me that difficulty will be experienced in achieving any great progress without the presence of the United Kingdom Ministers and Chiefs of Staff. You will be aware that the Senior Defence Officers in Australia are hard pressed with work on their programme and we should like to have a fuller understanding of what is proposed than the list of items for discussion. It would be inconvenient to lose the services of these officers while they were preparing extensive data in addition to the time spent travelling to and from New Zealand.

As the success of the Conference is dependent upon adequate preliminary examination of the proposals, may I suggest that as a first stage you circulate the documentation and proposals for the information of the United Kingdom and Australian Governments. As you know the principle of documentation and its prior circulation is observed by the United Kingdom Government. The date of the Conference could be fixed after the documents have been examined by all concerned. [2]

(1) A copy of this cablegram is being despatched to the United Kingdom Government.


1 Document 9.

2 This cablegram was drafted in the Defence Department (see letter from G. A. Street, Minister for Defence, to J. A. Lyons, 14 February 1939, on file Defence: Special Collection 1, SR 1/1, box 96).