Memorandum by Mr. R. B. Stewart of the Division of British Commonwealth Affairs

This Division does not believe that we should consult the British Government before sending the proposed message from the Secretary to the Prime Minister of Australia and New Zealand on the subject of a Southwest Pacific conference. It seems all too likely that the British may heartily support the Australian and New Zealand proposals contained in their agreement. Although we have no information regarding the attitude of the British Government, the agreement has been commented on favorably in the British press.

For some time it has been evident that the British Government is apprehensive lest Australia and New Zealand come too closely under American influence. This apprehension has found outward expression in a number of ways including the despatch of a recent mission headed by Sir Walter Layton. Although Sir Walter has come back with the report that “the feeling Australia has toward the Empire is in no way changed by what has happened in the Pacific”, the apprehension still remains. It is very likely indeed therefore that the British Government warmly welcomes this Australia–New Zealand agreement indicating as it does that these two members of the Commonwealth do not intend to be subservient to the United States.

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Thus it is believed that we should not consult the British in advance of expressing our views to Australia and New Zealand. If, despite the views put forward by this Government, Australia and New Zealand still insist on going ahead with the conference idea, we may then wish to consider what further means, including consultation with the British, should be used to stop or postpone the holding of a conference.