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Documents Relating to New Zealand's Participation in the Second World War 1939–45: Volume II

243 — The Prime Minister of Australia to the Prime Minister of New Zealand

page 218

The Prime Minister of Australia to the Prime Minister of New Zealand

1 June 1943

Your High Commissioner has made known to me the decision of your Parliament regarding the retention of your Division in the Middle East. I do not presume to offer any opinion on the conclusion reached as this represents the will of the New Zealand people. It does not, however, alter the facts:


That the immediate defence of New Zealand is in the Pacific Ocean, and that the concentration of enemy strength is in the islands to the north of Australia, which is between the enemy and New Zealand. If we had not insisted on the return of the AIF, New Guinea would have been lost and we would have now been fighting on the mainland of Australia.


The place of every soldier New Zealand keeps away from the Pacific theatre has to be filled by either an Australian or an American.


Australia has given substantial material aid to increase and sustain New Zealand's war effort on the basis of our common defence in the Pacific. In effect, this has amounted to an export of our limited manpower.


It would seem to have been preferable to have had the conference which you suggested to the High Commissioner, before this important decision was taken. Having regard to the set-up which governs global strategy and operations in the respective theatres, and the machinery in Washington and London on which the various Governments are represented, it is not apparent what can be achieved by such a conference between the representatives mentioned, particularly as the Commanders of the South and South-West Pacific Areas are not directly responsible to the Governments of New Zealand or Australia.