282 Calwell to Chifley

Cablegram 2508 LONDON, 18 July 1947, 5.50 p.m.


Dictated by phone from Berlin.

Have concluded highly satisfactory talks with British Control Authorities and I.R.O. Officials on the question of Balts for Australia. Lt.-General Brownjohn, Deputy Chief of Staff, British Army on the Rhine and Brigadier Thicknesse in Charge of Prisoners of War and displaced persons were principal British Representatives. I was accompanied by Armstrong, Beilby and other Members of my party.

I have agreed to take 12,000 Baltic peoples per year subject to I.R.O. providing five ships. Each ship make minimum of three and possibly four voyages annually with Fremantle used as Australian terminal port and with capacity of 862 persons per vessel. Male group will consist of artisans and manual labourers. Nurses, hospital domestics, typists who have worked for British and Americans and who speak fluent English and domestic help for Australian mothers with young families will constitute female group.

It may not be possible for shipping to be found for the number stated. In practice it may be that only a proportion will reach Australia in the first year.

In order to provide for medical and security checks and enable authorities to satisfactorily handle the situation, I seek approval for authority to be given Dr. Redshaw, Commonwealth Medical Officer, Australia House, employ temporarily and for short period Australian doctors studying England for post graduate degrees to make all medical inspections of intending migrants under his direction. I also desire that Lt.-Col. Sellars of Australian Military Mission be loaned by Department of the Army to the Department of Immigration for organising and security work for a period of two years. Will post you by airmail copy of report by Sellars on local conditions from Security angle. I am satisfied from reading his report that appointment of Australian Military Officer to carry out security check is absolutely essential.

Brigadier White [1] shares this view and strongly supports my recommendation. May I ask you to request Dunk to give Public Service Board approval to these suggestions as matter of urgency.

Also want Senator Armstrong to see that additional staff sent London immediately to cope with Migration work and desire two officials be flown to London immediately even if this means temporary depletion of staff in Canberra. [2]

So many countries are now alive to the possibility of displaced persons as a source of manpower that we must act quickly otherwise we will be left with their rejects. Many missions are already operating on behalf of other countries particularly from North and South America. Australia is so much further removed from Europe than these countries that we must tackle the task now if we are to successfully compete with them.

I have had equally warm cooperation from the American authorities here in Berlin and am leaving for Frankfurt in the American Zone at 0900 hours 19th July to discuss with them and I.R.O. officials terms of agreement which I hope to sign in Geneva on Monday next and which you have already authorised.

I am going full out all the time and will have a most interesting story to tell you and observations in England and on the Continent on matters of political, economic, industrial and social importance.

I send you and all our colleagues my kindest regards. I have not so far met Ward or Dedman but saw fellow-exiles Amour [3] and Bob King [4] at Gare du Nord Monday morning.

1 Brigadier T.W. White, Chief of the Australian Military Mission, Berlin.

2 Chifley replied in cablegram 3099, dispatched 24 July, approving all proposals.

3 Senator S.K. Amour, Labor, NSW.

4 R.A. King, Labor MLC and Secretary of the NSW Branch of the ACTU.

[AA : A6980/4, 250104]