333 Cabinet Submission by Makin

Agendum 728A [CANBERRA, 28 June 1946]


The Food and Agriculture Organization is now becoming effectively established as an integral part of the new international machinery of the United Nations. The First Conference, to which Australia sent a delegation, was held in Quebec in the latter half of 1945.

Following the Conference, steps have been taken to build up a permanent secretariat to carry out its functions.

2. A request has been received from the Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization that an Australian F.A.0.

Committee be set up to provide an effective liaison between the appropriate agencies in Australia and the Secretariat of the Organization for the fulfilment of the purposes of F.A.O. [1] (See Appendix 'A'). Following this, a further letter has been received from F.A.O. [2] indicating the type of action which is being taken in other countries, particularly the United States (See Appendix 'B').

3. In view of the Director-General's letter and the further development of F.A.O., it has become necessary to reconsider the arrangements for handling F.A.0. affairs in Australia. In approving on 12th September, 1944, that a Bill be presented to Parliament for Australia to adopt the Constitution of F.A.O., Cabinet also decided that an inter-departmental committee comprising representatives of the Departments of External Affairs, Treasury, Postwar Reconstruction, Commerce & Agriculture and Health, should be appointed generally to consider matters associated with this subject as they arose and to report to the Minister for External Affairs. [3]

4. The present inter-departmental committee established at that time has considered the Director-General's letter in relation to the future work involved. Participation in F.A.0. will involve regular preparation of reports on various subjects, the continuous collection and presentation of statistics and making available the services of expert personnel. It will be necessary to formulate Government policy on a number of issues and to make known widely the work and objectives of F.A.0. From time to time, certain action to be taken by member governments in pursuance of its objectives is likely to be recommended, which will require advice and initiative from the appropriate Australian instrumentalities.

It is suggested by the present inter-departmental committee that it should be replaced by a larger Australian F.A.0. Committee as suggested by the Director-General of F.A.0. which would include representation of all the main Commonwealth agencies concerned. It proposes that the new Australian F.A.0. Committee should be responsible, through its members, for making appropriate arrangements in these matters, and for tendering advice to Cabinet as necessary.

5. As strictly agricultural matters are handled mainly by State Governments and agencies, it is thought that effective liaison with them will be most important for the success of F.A.0.

purposes, and that the most appropriate channel would be through the Department of Commerce & Agriculture and the Australian Agricultural Council.

6. It is proposed by the Committee that the Chairman should be nominated by the Secretary of the Department of Commerce and Agriculture, and that it should be served by a joint secretariat provided by the Departments of Commerce & Agriculture and External Affairs, to ensure close contact with the Chairman, with the work of other international bodies, and with international channels of communication.

7. The present Inter-departmental committee also examined the suggestion of the Director-General of F.A.0. to include outside non-governmental representatives, and the possibility of setting up a second committee consisting largely of outside persons whose function would be mainly that of public relations. The importance of building up the widest possible public interest and participation in the work of F.A.0. was recognized. It was decided, however, that this question should be deferred until the F.A.0. Secretariat had been developed further and the exact nature of its work had become clear. Only then would it be possible to define the functions of a second committee with the degree of exactitude necessary for effective action. The matter should, therefore, be considered later in the light of further development. In the meantime, it was thought that the facilities of the Department of Information would be sufficient to provide all the publicity required.

8. It is probable that F.A.0. Secretariat will be functioning fairly fully towards the end of this year. A number of vacancies on its staff have been notified which are open to subjects of all member countries who possess the requisite qualifications.

Necessary steps have been taken to advertise these vacancies in the Australian press, and to make provision for appropriate recommendations to the Director-General of F.A.0. regarding the applications received.


9. The other Ministers concerned have concurred in these proposals, and it is recommended that:-

(a) The present Inter-departmental Committee be replaced by an Australian Food and Agriculture Organization Committee to be set up in conformity with the request of the Director-General of F.A.O., comprising representatives of the following Commonwealth departments and agencies:-

Commerce & Agriculture Bureau of Agricultural External Affairs Economics (now with Treasury Department of Postwar Health Reconstruction) Information Council for Scientific and Labour & National Service Industrial Research Commonwealth Statistician Forestry and Timber Bureau (b) The Australian F.A.0. Committee have the following duties and responsibilities:-

(i) Advising the Government on policy questions in regard to F.A.0.

(ii) Collecting the information and statistics required by F.A.0.

Secretariat from Australia and approving such matter prior to despatch.

(iii) Disseminating information provided by F.A.0.

(iv) Bringing to the notice of appropriate authorities any action required on their part to carry out the purposes of F.A.0.

(v) Preparing the draft brief for Australian representatives attending the Conferences and other meetings of F.A.0.

(vi) Furnishing a quarterly progress report to Cabinet and reporting at other times as circumstances require.

(vii) Arranging suitable publicity for F.A.0. activities through the Department of Information; and (viii) co-operating with State authorities through the Department of Commerce & Agriculture and the Australian Agricultural Council.

(c) The Committee's Chairman be nominated by the Department of Commerce and Agriculture and its Secretariat be provided jointly by the Departments of Commerce & Agriculture and External Affairs.

(d) The question of including non-governmental representatives or of establishing a second committee be deferred for later consideration when F.A.0. is fully established.

(e) That the Director-General of F.A.0. be informed of the action being taken by the Australian Government. [4]

N. J. 0. MAKIN Acting Minister for External Affairs

1 Orr's letter to Eggleston, dated 7 February, proposed a national liation F.A.O. commitee in each member country, comprising representatives relevant government departments and of non- governmental bodies such as agricultural organisations.

2 Dated 2 April and requesting information on the composition and terms of reference of Australia's national F.A.0. committee.

3 Agendum 728. See Volume VII, Document 272.

4 Cabinet approved the recommendation on 3 July, stipulating that the Dept of the Interior be included on the committee in place of the Dept of Labour and National Service.

[AA:A2700, VOL. 12, i]