393 Embassy in Washington to Department of External Affairs
Cablegram 1512 WASHINGTON, 14 November 1947, 1.05 p.m.
1. F.E.C. met 13th November. Plimsoll represented Australia. Made statement supporting United States proposal for division of shares and offering to return 5% to pool for redistribution on same terms as the 18% being returned by U.S.A. Stated that Australia was entitled to large share because of war effort, and this had been generally recognised by other countries in discussion. However, Australia was anxious to contribute to reconstruction and development of devastated countries of Southern and Eastern Asia and urged speedy acceptance by other countries of United States proposal. Australia like U.S.A. reserved right to withdraw offer if F.E.C. did not find proposal acceptable. Referred to claims for whaling equipment and ships. Stated that Australia still believed early peace settlement was desirable, but also wanted redistribution of reparations assets to needy countries.
2. Chairman of Commission on behalf of U.S.A. warmly welcomed Australian statement as generous and statesmanlike. French Representative asked to have recorded in minutes the appreciation of France for Australia's offer.
3. There was little discussion afterwards. Members wanted to consult their Governments in view of Australian declaration and therefore did not make any statements which might have been prepared earlier. Only other speaker was Netherlands who criticised smallness of Dutch share and felt that there should be further negotiations on actual percentage shares allotted.
4. United States State Department is elated at Australian offer, which they think may prove decisive in bringing other countries to agreement on reparations though U.S.S.R. attitude is unknown. They consider it came at right moment, and its boldness and generosity will greatly influence discussions. Chinese, Indian, and Philippines Delegates have all expressed their appreciation.
Australian prestige is very high.
5. Neither United States nor Australian offers are being made public at present, but a joint statement may be prepared in about two weeks time after other Governments have been given a further opportunity to accept the proposal.'