Documents Relating to New Zealand's Participation in the Second World War 1939–45: Volume III
171 — The Prime Minister of New Zealand to the Prime Minister of Australia
The Prime Minister of New Zealand to the Prime Minister of Australia
Your telegram of 25 March. We agree and will postpone the visit of the delegation accordingly. We assume that the arrangements recently agreed upon between Australia and New Zealand remain the basis of the policy of our two Governments. We gather from the New Zealand Minister at Washington that a suggestion is being made to separate the Australian and New Zealand areas. We are definitely opposed to this, and the following extract from a telegram addressed to Nash today indicates our views:page 190
‘Our reflections are that while we must, of course, attach the utmost weight to American views, and especially to those of President Roosevelt and Admiral King, we are most definitely against the carving-up of the Pacific into any unnecessary areas and, in particular, we are opposed to any degree of separation from Australia. Australia and New Zealand are inevitably one strategical whole, in which already a substantial degree of co-operation, both military and economic, has been achieved which should not be jeopardised. The proposal that New Zealand and the Islands should be regarded as an entirely separate area seems to us to be impracticable and dangerous. Numerous practical difficulties, for example, as to the division of naval forces, the co-operation of the air forces, etc., would we fear arise. If the Anzac area recently agreed upon between the Australian and New Zealand Governments could be retained under an Anzac Commander subordinate to the Supreme Commander of the whole Pacific area, we would have no objection; indeed, I think we would prefer this course. If an Anzac area is not to be created, then we consider it essential that there should be no separation between Australia and New Zealand, which should continue to be regarded as integral parts of one area for purposes of offence and defence. This could no doubt be effectively achieved if the Supreme Commander of the Pacific were located in Australia. If, however, he were not so located or ceased to be so for any lengthy period, then we think that a separate commander (located in Australia or New Zealand) of the whole Anzac area as proposed, including both Australia and New Zealand, becomes essential.
‘There are very many loose strings about the proposed arrangements so far as we have been informed of them, and at the appropriate time it is intended to send a delegation to Australia, consisting of a Minister and the Chiefs of Staff, with a view to a clarification with the Australians of the position in the Anzac area.
‘We are, as you will have gathered from our telegrams repeated to you, prepared to waive all questions of detail if only we can get a combined Pacific command operating without any further delay, but we do regard it as absolutely essential that Australia and New Zealand should be treated as one for all purposes in this connection.’1
If your concur, you might consider requesting Evatt to co-operate with Nash in this connection.
1 The above extract from this telegram to Mr Nash was also sent to Mr Churchill on 26 March.