4 Chifley to Beasley
Cablegram 22 CANBERRA, 23 February 1948, 5.20 p.m.
Your telegram 39.  United Kingdom. Balance of Payments Position.
I fully agree with your suggestion that, as a supplement to the work of the Sterling Area Statistical Committee, it would be useful to obtain periodically a first hand review of the current balance of payments position and future prospects from the Chancellor. The Statistical Committee is, of course, essentially a fact-finding body and not concerned with policy.
As to the lines of enquiry you might pursue with the Chancellor, I do not think it would be wise at this stage to do anything more than to seek a clear summary statement of the United Kingdom Government's latest views on balance of payments prospects for 1948, and latest United Kingdom assessment of prospects of obtaining adequate relief through Marshall Aid or other means.
Discussion of means to be adopted to finance dollar deficit might perhaps lead to suggestion from United Kingdom that Australia should assist by exercising her drawing rights from the International Monetary Fund or by selling the whole or part of our gold reserve and, in asking any questions, I should be glad if you would bear in mind that we wish to avoid discussion of these issues at this stage if at all possible.
In general I suggest you use the Co[mmitte]e as a means of obtaining the maximum amount of back-ground information on the United Kingdom position and on the thinking of the United Kingdom Ministers.