The Minister in Australia ( Johnson ) to the Secretary of State
[Received February 16—9:45 a.m.]
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To sum up the reasons for the Commonwealth Government’s present decision as elucidated in my despatch no. 66854 and in this despatch:
- pressure by the Army for and final agreement of the Commonwealth Government to the feeding of American troops in the South Pacific as well as the Southwest Pacific;
- firm belief by the Australians that they have given more proportionately, if not actually, than they have been getting under direct Lend Lease;
- confirmation of the foregoing by the demobilization of Lend Lease while at the same time asking for additional items under Reverse Lend Lease, namely the present public procurement program;
- deep-seated resentment at forcing them to get all of their oil supplies from Persia;
- discriminatory treatment of the machine tool question;
- belief that we have asked for more than we need; reluctance of United States officials to be as conscientious in giving reasons for our requests as we require them to be in connection with their requests;
- the removal of tobacco which they claim is an essential product for civilian, munitions worker and soldier morale.
I do not say that any of the foregoing reasons are valid. My staff and I have tried to refute them and to influence a more reasonable view. I do not know that there is anything I can recommend which would cause a change of attitude, since I cannot conscientiously suggest a change of general policy to meet this particular situation. I do hope, however, that this present refusal will not be taken as a cue by officials at Washington to treat Australian requests rather more harshly. I am certain that such would be the beginning of a vicious circle of at first hidden and then open reprisals which could only end in bitterness.
I do have one recommendation to make but not in connection with appeasement. I wish to suggest that the Department instruct me to address a communication to the Commonwealth Government having reference to its note of January 28, 1944—a communication which, after expressing regret that the Commonwealth Government does not see fit to take over the contracts for the public procurement program [Page 207] for 1944, could then ask for the assurances of the Commonwealth Government that it will not tolerate any obstruction in the carrying out of that program. I think that such a communication, under instructions from the Department, might influence the Cabinet to direct all supply officials to operate in the fulfillment of contracts, not to mention that such communication might serve to keep the present question open.
- Dated January 19, 1944; not printed.↩