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

245 — The High Commissioner for New Zealand (Canberra) to the Prime Minister of New Zealand

page 219

The High Commissioner for New Zealand (Canberra) to the Prime Minister of New Zealand

3 June 1943

Your telegram of 2 June.

Curtin is in Sydney. I was informed yesterday by the External Affairs Department that a telegram, of which I was to receive a copy, had been despatched to you, and was given the gist of it and have received the copy this morning.

I cannot see that any useful purpose would be served by entering into an argument on this matter, particularly at present.

As I see it, the plain fact is that after most careful and painstaking examination two Dominions have come to separate decisions which are fundamentally divergent (from one point of view though perhaps not from others). Both Dominions have made their decisions and are irrevocably bound by them, and my feeling is that the only course is for each of us now to make the best of the situation. If you reply to the Prime Minister's statements one by one, then the probability is that an argument will develop, and as the decisions cannot be altered now this could not possibly do good and would probably do harm.

I am bound to say that I cannot see how any useful purpose is likely to be achieved in this matter (whatever it might be in other respects) by the proposed conference, even if it could be brought about, which might not be easy in view of the fact that Halsey and MacArthur have just concluded conversations.

Shortly, I think we have got to agree to differ on this important matter; that we must make the best of the situation; that in time a pretty good best can be made of it; and that it would be useless and definitely unwise to argue now that the decision has been made.

My suggestion, for what it is worth, is that you reply to Mr. Curtin somewhat on these lines:

Fully appreciate and understand his point of view; that your decision, like Australia's, was taken after most anxious thought and after attaching the fullest weight to every possible consideration, including the known views and policy of Australia; that they were both completely honest decisions on facts as each saw them; that New Zealand deplores any divergency in policy of the two Dominions just as Australia does; that we must both endeavour to keep such divergencies to the minimum; and that you hope it will be still possible with this object for us to continue to collaborate and, within the limits of our respective policies, to co-ordinate our war activities to the utmost degree that this is possible.