747.47H/4: Telegram

The Minister in Australia ( Johnson ) to the Secretary of State

14. My 12, January 22. Conference opened 17th in utmost secrecy and at no time were we officially informed of agenda or intentions although we had easy access to superficial knowledge of some of the general subjects. I was informed by the Netherlands Minister, who showed his resentment of the whole procedure by refusing to attend [Page 176] the public signing ceremony, that he had not been informed or consulted on any point although he knew or felt that they were discussing territory and peoples over which the Netherlands claimed complete sovereignty. British representative apparently also not consulted.

The agreement can be described as the Anzac Monroe Doctrine. In his final speech Curtin9 said “in substance the two nations have declared a Pacific charter of permanent collaboration and cooperation” to which like-minded powers might adhere when Australia (not the Anzac consortium) calls together “representatives of the other governments in the Pacific and the territories north of Australia with a view to extending the scope of regional collaboration”. The South Seas Regional Commission mentioned in Department’s telegram 9, January 20,10 has to do only with welfare of natives (clauses 28 to 31). The implications of this section of the agreement cover also the natives in territories outside Anzac jurisdiction and we have been told that the reason for concern of welfare of natives outside their jurisdiction is that the improvement of welfare of natives everywhere in the Pacific would render them “fitter components” in the outer defense bastions.

Both Prime Ministers in their final speeches averred emphatically that the agreement was not aimed at any other power and various officials have tried to reassure members of my staff of this. However, articles 26 and 27 serve notice on powers not now sovereign in certain territories that cession to them, even of former enemy territory, would be subject to Anzac concurrence.

By the wording of the agreement itself and by explanatory public statements of official spokesmen the two governments virtually served notice that no non-British aviation line shall operate to and through the two countries except international trunk routes managed by an international air transport authority whose construction is agreeable to them. Failing the establishment and use of international trunk routes they will support a system of air trunk routes controlled and operated by the Government of the British Commonwealth under Government ownership. The agreement did not overlook the much mooted aircraft manufacturing industry.

We are told that clause 16 is a direct result of statements published in the United States including those of members of Congress and such people as McCormick.11 In an official statement issued last night Curtin stated:

“Absurd claims have sometimes been advanced in connection with war time construction of naval, military and air installations. Both Governments accept the undoubted principle of international practice that such construction does not in itself afford any basis whatever for [Page 177] territorial claims after hostilities have been concluded. Obvious illustrations of such general practice occur in the cases of Iceland and the Azores.”

  1. John Curtin, Australian Prime Minister.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Presumably Robert R. McCormick, editor and publisher of the Chicago Tribune.