Mr F.K. Officer, Australian Counsellor at U.K. Embassy, Washington, to Mr R.G. Casey, Treasurer

Letter (extract) WASHINGTON, 22, March 1939


On Monday I sent to Hodgson [1] a short telegram on the situation here. [2] The Ambassador [3] agreed with me that it was a good thing to send it, and we are both hoping that it will encourage the Government to persist in statements of British solidarity which are given a good deal of publicity here, and have, I feel sure, a good deal of influence on public opinion.

It is just because I believe that influence can be used so much for good that my views on the proper form of our representation have changed very completely in the last year, as I indicated in my letter to you of January 25th. [4] Since I wrote to you on February 16th [5] I have had some further correspondence with Stirling [6] on this subject. As a result I put on paper my first views regarding one difficulty we might be faced with as regards our own representation abroad, for if we do decide on separate representation in this country, which would mean of course receiving a United States Minister in Canberra, we will undoubtedly in my opinion have requests from at least Japan, France and the Netherlands to take similar action, and without giving offence it would be difficult to refuse the request. Then for reasons of prestige there is the question of Germany and Italy wishing to take similar action. Although the Government might face the expense of establishing a Legation in Tokyo, I cannot see you willingly doing so in the case of The Hague and Paris, or Berlin and Rome. Moreover, I feel very doubtful whether Legations in those cities would serve at present any very useful purpose, and increase either our information or our influence. I have been wondering whether the difficulty could be got over by the High Commissioner being accredited Minister to any European countries that desired separate representation in Australia, and having as his direct representative a member of the External Affairs staff with the rank of First Secretary (or perhaps in some cases that of Counsellor, etc.) with his office in that of the British Mission. This is only a very tentative idea and may be quite impracticable.



1 Lt Col W.R. Hodgson, Secretary of Department of External Affairs.

2 This appears to refer to Officer’s cablegram 13 of 20 March 1939. No copy has been found, but the information it contained is repeated in Officer’s memorandum Was.43/39 of 22 March 1939 (on file AA: A981, U.S.A. 78, iii).

3 Sir Ronald Lindsay.

4 Document 11.

5 Document 25.

6 A.T. Stirling, External Affairs Officer in London.