Evatt to Eggleston

Cablegram 69 CANBERRA, 15 January 1945


I have received your despatch dealing with question of Pacific War Council. [1] I cannot agree that Council is in any way discredited although I think you right in pointing to some of its defects. It was the only body that assured to Australia and New Zealand a regular opportunity for discussions with Pacific countries at highest political level. It dealt with both political and military matters.

The fact that it was not an executive body did not prevent important results from being achieved at Council meetings during two periods when I represented Australia. Both Churchill and Mackenzie King attended meetings then and discussions led to an important increase of Pacific supplies vitally assisting Australia.

2. The truth is that bodies like this cannot be kept active unless the opportunities they give are pursued with energy and concentration by our representatives. The very fact that the President spoke freely on these occasions proved a tremendous advantage to us and New Zealand. That the Council should be rendered active again despite its limitations therefore seems an essential course. Its transformation into a Pacific Advisory Commission may take some time to effect. I do not want the notion to be encouraged, however, that the Council which materially helped to save this country has been a failure. It achieved its first purpose from Australia’s point of view. It should be possible now to develop it into a more systematic body. But the first thing is to set the Council in motion again.

3. Although they attended regularly British and Canadian representatives at Washington did little to help the success of the Council which was established despite opposition from Whitehall. You should not be surprised to find somewhat similar opposition to any proposal to restore the Council to its former position. At same time President and Hopkins must see possibility of increasing usefulness of Council. [2] I think Berendsen should strongly support our view. I am approaching the New Zealand Government accordingly.


1 Not located. Eggleston himself was not sure what document Evatt meant. See his reply dated 22 January, on file AA: A3300/5, 1945, Post war: International World Organisation.

2 Eggleston replied that he was unable to contact Harry Hopkins, the President’s adviser and assistant. He counselled against a formal request to Roosevelt at that time for fear that the President’s heavy commitments would precipitate either an indefinite deferment or a refusal. Cablegram 75, dispatched 23 January, on file AA:A3300/2, 45/325.


[AA:A1066, H45/1014]