98 Department of External Affairs to Legation in Paris

Cablegram P15 CANBERRA, 20 February 1946

IMMEDIATE SECRET

Reparations.

The question of German reparations has been before Cabinet [1] which directed further enquiry into- (a) The position regarding the acquisition by the Australian Government or Australian citizens of the rights to patents registered in Germany.

(b) German patents, the rights to which in Australia have already been secured by Australians.

(c) The expropriation of enemy property in Australia.

I understand that discussion in Cabinet was directed to the very small Australian share and whether under the circumstances it was of much value to us to come into the reparations scheme.

Doubts also existed on- (i) Whether the value of patents and industrial processes would be taken into account as part of our share of reparations, and (ii) Whether the value of expropriated enemy property in Australia (estimated at 600,000) would have to be brought into the general reparations scheme and be deducted from the Australian share.

The matter is to be submitted to Cabinet again and it is doubtful whether they can give a decision in time to permit signing by the 28th. [2]

Please advise quickly- (a) All the information you have available on the points raised above.

(b) If the value of patents, processes and expropriated property is brought in what is likely to be the residual Australian share.

(c) Is our right to share in processes and patents limited in any way by our signing the agreement.

(d) Whether delay of a few days in signing will exclude us from participation in the reparations plan.

(e) Is a signature absolutely essential to participation in the early stages of the Brussels Conference.

1 See Document 65.

2 The date set for a meeting of the Reparations Agency. In a submission to Chifley on 19 February Dunk recommended signing the agreement, fearing that, if the Australian representative was not authorised to sign, and therefore not entitled to attend, Australian rights might lapse.

[AA:A1067, ER46/19/5/2]