File No. 763.72119/2546

The Consul General at London ( Skinner ) to the Secretary of State


Prime Minister of Australia, W. M. Hughes, sends letter to Times protesting that the peace terms were settled at Versailles without consultation with Dominions. He continues:

My Government are of opinion that certain of President Wilson’s fourteen points are not satisfactory. It specifically objects, inter alia, to point 3 which deals with the post-war economic policy and limits right of Commonwealth to make such tariff distinctions between one nation and another as it may think proper; and to point 5 relating to colonies in Pacific formerly held by Germany, retention of which my Government deems vital to national safety of Australia.

I have remained here at my Government’s request for purpose of setting forth its views, with which I need hardly say I agree, before any terms of peace were definitely settled, but no opportunity has been given me to do so. I was not even informed that peace terms were being discussed at the Versailles conference, which I had presumed was engaged in settling the terms of the armistice with Germany as it had done in the case of Austria. The first intimation I received that terms of peace had been discussed at Versailles was conveyed in the document which notified me that they had been definitely settled.

That is the position. I venture to say it is one which fully justifies my expression of regret that Australia was not asked to express its opinions on these terms before they were settled. It is quite true that representatives of Dominions have during sittings of Imperial Cabinet discussed at large questions of peace. But most certainly Doctor Wilson’s fourteen points were never agreed to, they were not even specifically discussed. We were told Dominions would be given an opportunity of discussing actual terms of peace before they were settled. This has not been done.

I know of no reason why not only views of myself as the representative of Australia but of those of other Dominions also should not have been ascertained or at least sought. Had conditions of peace as set out left no room for criticism, the mode of their settlement would still be quite incompatible with relations which ought to exist between the self-governing Dominions and Britain. But the [Page 491] clauses to which I have referred are most certainly not satisfactory to Australia and protest on her behalf is my clear duty.