288 Submission by Dedman and Calwell

Agendum 1266C CANBERRA, 10 November 1947


Promulgation and Initial Developments. As required by Cabinet in its decision on Agendum 1266A of 10th December, 1946, this report is submitted. The scheme is being administered by the Secondary Industries Division in conjunction with the Employment of Scientific and Technical Enemy Aliens (E.S.T.E.A.) Committee which has met seven times to consider the qualifications of applicants.

2. The plan has been publicised widely through the appropriate trade and business journals, the daily press, and by radio. Press comment has been favourable, and has resulted in a number of enquiries from industrialists to the Director, Secondary Industries Division, for advice on the acquisition of technicians with appropriate qualifications. The German press republished a statement made by the Prime Minister, relative to the scheme, and broadcast by Radio Australia.

3. Resulting from this and from the activities of the Australian Scientific and Technical Mission in Germany, a total of approximately eight hundred applications from scientific and technical personnel have been received at the Australian Military Mission, Berlin, Australia House, London, and various Government departments in Australia. The applications received overseas are carefully screened at Australia House and only copies of applications from outstanding scientists are forwarded to the Secondary Industries Division. The Secondary Industries Division submits copies of applications received either from London or direct from Germany to Commonwealth Government departments, State instrumentalities, and private industrialists whenever it is considered that the applicant has knowledge which would be of benefit.

4. The Secondary Industries Division has also sought from interested authorities details of the qualifications they require in any scientist or technician who would assist in the scientific and technical development of Australia. In actual practice, it has been found necessary to make direct approach to high executives in both Government departments and private enterprise to discuss with them the possibilities of the scheme before a real interest to acquire technical assistance from this source has been created.

5. In London, the Australian Scientific and Technical Mission has been kept fully occupied dealing with applications received, requests to locate scientists with certain specific qualifications, and the actual interviewing of scientists in Germany. This personal interviewing of applicants by Commonwealth officers with scientific background has contributed largely to overcoming the natural reluctance of employers, Governmental and otherwise, to engage staff without prior interview. A short personality report of the applicant, submitted with his Curriculum Vitae, gives the employer greater confidence, thus assisting him to make a decision.

6. Up to the present, the only two zones in Germany where recruitment has been possible have been those controlled by the United Kingdom and the United States. Recruitment is not possible in either the Russian or French zones. On the 15th August, 1947, Mr. J. R. Cochrane [1] advised that it was likely that no further recruiting would be permitted in the American zone, and that recruiting from the British zone was likely to be restricted within two months. The reason given is the reluctance on the part of the authorities to continue to permit the exportation of key personnel in view of the necessity of reconstructing Germany.

7. At the Australian end it is also considered unlikely that positions will be found for many more scientists, as those being brought to Australia need to be top-ranking men, and there is a limited scope for finding suitable employment for men of such capacity.

8. It has been necessary for A.S.T.M. to make special arrangements in Germany for the care of scientists' families during the period of their probationary contract. This involves security measures for retention of homes, furniture, etc., and also the supply of sufficient food and fuel rations. Should it be decided that the scientist is to be retained in Australia, arrangements have been made with the Treasurer that in approved cases the Commonwealth will bring the wives and families of these scientists to Australia.

9. Developments Leading to Broadening of Scope of Scheme. The original scheme as submitted to Cabinet had, as its main object, the acquisition of suitable German personnel for Government research and development authorities (both Commonwealth and State), Universities, etc. Thus, results accruing from the utilisation of the services of these scientists would be available to Australian secondary industries as a whole. As the scheme developed, it became obvious that there were limits to the number of men who could be employed in this way, and it was decided that it would be a valuable auxiliary service to allocate the services of a number exclusively to private industry as an alternative to Australia losing them altogether. By this time sufficient local interest had been aroused to enable this to be done. In such cases, of course, the industrialist concerned would meet the cost of travelling expenses and salary.

10. As a result of negotiations with the Control Authorities of Germany, a system has been evolved whereby a scientist brought to Australia under these conditions must be contracted as a Government employee and be available for general interrogation by all interested parties prior to being allocated exclusively to the industrialist. This is necessary as it has previously been laid down by the Control Authorities that all information obtained from German sources must be freely available. Where this proposal has been discussed with private industry, agreement to these terms has readily been obtained. A copy of the agreement to be signed by industrialists, State institutions, etc., obtaining scientists under this scheme, where reimbursement of expenses to the Commonwealth is required, is attached hereto. (Annex A.) The Director, Secondary Industries Division, reports that this service to industry has been appreciated and advantage is being taken of the facilities offered.

11. Departments and Industrialists interested in the Scheme. On Schedule B is found a list of the Government departments and the main industrialists who have shown a real interest in the acquisition of scientific and technical personnel from Germany.

These prospective employers have either asked for copies of applications which it is thought may interest them, submitted lists of types of scientists in whom they are interested, or submitted names of outstanding Germans whom they would like contracted and brought to Australia for use in their respective organisations.

12. Recruiting of German Personnel. The following details represent the present position concerning the acquisition of scientists for Australia.

(a) Number of applications received from German personnel-800 (approx.) (b) Number of applications of sufficient importance to warrant consideration by Secondary Industries Divisions-250 (approx.) (c) Number of applications approved by the E.S.T.E.A. Committee, where suitable employment had been arranged-34.

(d) Number of applications submitted to Washington for allocation to Australia -46. (Washington approval is necessary before a contract can be negotiated with any German).

(e) Number of scientists allocated by Washington to Australia-6.

(f) Number of scientists applied for to Washington and not allocated to Australia (allocated to other powers)-6.

(g) Number of applications under consideration by Washington-34.

(Results of allocations are received monthly from Washington).

(h) Number of scientists arrived in Australia-3.

(i) Attached hereto on Schedule C is a list giving details of the name, classification, and employing authority of scientists for whom application has been or is to be made.

13. General Position. The application to Washington for the allocation of a scientist to Australia was formerly not made until employment was arranged in Australia, and he had been approved by the E.S.T.E.A. Committee. Due to the severe competition between nations for scientists, it is now the practice to ask for the allocation to Australia of scientists for whom it is considered employment will be found. If employment is not available, if the E.S.T.E.A. Committee does not approve, or if for any other reason it is decided that the scientist should not come to Australia, the Australian Scientific and Technical Mission then advises Washington that the scientist is not required. The allocation to Australia does not bind either Australia or the scientist to a contract for his services. This action should result in fewer losses of scientists to other nations. Care is being exercised to ensure that our percentage of rejections after allocation by Washington is not high.

14. It appears that the main preliminary work of the scheme has now been completed. There will be some further placement of scientists, but the most important part of the scheme will now be the arrangements for the signing of contracts and the transport to Australia of the scientists who have been allocated and successfully placed here. It is expected that the next allocations will be made known during October, but that it will be late December or early January of next year before any further scientists arrive in Australia. A further report of progress will be made early in the new year. [2]

1 Leader of the Australian Scientific and Technical Mission to Germany, 1946-48.

2 Cabinet noted the contents of the agendum.

[AA : A2700, VOL. 30]