Attlee to Chifley

Cablegram 332 LONDON, 25 August 1945, 9.20 p.m.


I am much disturbed at the situation which appears to be arising under which the policy and actions of the United Kingdom Government are made the subject of official public comment in Australia.

I well understand and recognise Australia’s anxiety and right to be fully consulted in all matters relating to the Pacific Settlement and to participate fully as a principal in International bodies set up to discuss these matters. I agree that in the past, as indeed I said in Parliament the other day, it has not always, owing to the strains and stresses of war, been possible for us on every occasion to consult Australia in advance as completely as we should have wished.

You on your part will appreciate that Australia’s participation in International Councils is not a matter which we ourselves can decide alone. All that we can do is to support and press Australia’s claims. This will most certainly be done in every way which we consider likely to produce useful results. But our ability to do this cannot but be materially diminished if we are subjected to a constant stream of public criticism.

As regards the question of Australian representation at the formal surrender of Japan we had it in mind on receipt of Dr. Evatt’s statement of the 24th August [1] to issue a further public statement making clear the course of events and showing that we had fully supported Australia’s request and that the criticisms made were unjustified. We have however decided to refrain from this in the interests of good relations between us and I would earnestly urge you to ensure that a similar restraint from public controversy is exercised in Australia.

_1 In stressing Australian claims to a voice in the peace settlements Evatt had implied a lack of support from the Dominions Office. See Commonwealth Government, Digest of Decisions and Announcements, no. 106, pp. 6-7.