211 Melville to Commonwealth Government

Cablegram Financial 5 [1] BRETTON WOODS, 1 July 1944, 1.43 a.m.


1. At the conclusion of the Bretton Woods Conference representatives probably will be asked to sign a final act, the form and nature of which will depend upon the extent of agreement reached. It will probably record the holding of the Conference, the nature of discussions and will include resolutions agreed to by representatives. It is desired that one of the resolutions will be recommendation to the Governments [2] that they accept a draft agreement for the establishment of a monetary fund (and possibly an investment bank).

2. The signing by representatives of the document will not in any way formally commit the respective Governments. Signature will merely signify the assent of representatives to the accuracy of the record of the discussions and the resolutions passed and we shall be able to make any reservations which you may consider necessary in the light of the course of discussions.

3. From the technical point of view the Government will have retained complete freedom to accept or reject the proposed agreement in the light of its consideration at the time of presentation to it. However, there is always the possibility that the signature of a document of this nature would be publicly misinterpreted to indicate commitment on the part of the Australian representatives.

4. On the other hand refusal to sign might also result in a misinterpretation of our attitude both officially and publicly.

The press is to be strongly represented at Bretton Woods.

5. The position is necessarily still obscure and it is possible that it will not be clarified until the closing stages of the discussions. However the foregoing is forwarded in view of the Cabinet direction [3] that there is to be no commitment even at official level. We shall of course keep you fully advised.

1 The United Nations Monetary and Financial Conference was held at Bretton Woods from 1-22 July. The Australian Delegation, led by Melville, also included Brigden, Tange (temporarily attached to External Affairs Dept) and Wheeler.

The prefix 'Financial' was used by Melville for the cables he dispatched from Bretton Woods to the Commonwealth Govt. With the exception of this cable the series was addressed to Evatt and Chifley.

2 A sign here indicated 'mutilated'.

3 Document 194.

[AA:A989, 44/735/56/10, i]