181 Notes for Payne

CANBERRA, [19 September 1949] [2]

PART A General Comments

[matter omitted]

2. Australia was not originally invited to this Conference by F.A.O. but representation was sought as it was considered desirable that Australia should be aware of Asian agricultural and food policies as they develop. Again, the East generally is often apt to take an exaggerated view of Australia's capacity for food production and to look to this country to provide increasing quantities of essential foods, sometimes with little regard to her other commitments. Such meetings as this can be a useful means of placing Australia's food producing capacity in its correct perspective; of assuring Asian countries, where necessary, of Australian interest in assisting them to solve their food and agricultural problems; and of explaining difficulties which might be in the way of fully meeting their requirements.

3. In these circumstances, it is appropriate that in general, Australia's part at this Conference should be governed by a watching brief designed to accomplish these ends.

4. As the conference is likely to be primarily concerned with problems of the Asian and Far Eastern countries it would seem desirable not to oppose measures proposed for the region by these countries unless they are clearly prejudicial to Australian interests. In the unlikely event that such measures are proposed you should seek instructions by telegram or abstain from voting.

It will also be noted that many of this meeting's recommendations will go to the Conference of F.A.O. where they can be re-examined in the broader light of overall F.A.O. obligations and where Australia will have a further opportunity to speak on proposals put forward.

[matter omitted]

PART C

Technical Assistance for Underdeveloped Countries (Agenda Item IV (j) of F.A.O. Regional Conference)

1. This question arises from the proposal (known as President Truman's Four Point Programme) made by President Truman in his Inaugural Address [3] that the benefit of technical knowledge etc.

should be made available to assist the economic development of underdeveloped countries; and from the United States Government's decision to seek through the machinery of the United Nations and its specialised agencies, the collaboration of other countries in carrying out these proposals.

[matter omitted]

10. When Australian Delegates have spoken on this subject [4] in E.C.O.S.O.C. or Specialised Agency meetings they have emphasised the special need for consideration being given to South East Asia and the Pacific. This may be regarded as a cardinal point in Australian policy, and we would hope that it may be possible for contributions to be directed to these areas as far as practicable.

11. The second outstanding point in the Australian policy on implementation of the programme is the emphasis on realistic projects and on the need of putting first things first. In respect of F.A.O. this is interpreted to mean projects which will, in the shortest possible time, having regard to the nature of the problem to be attacked, result in increased production of necessary foods, improved nutritional standards, reduction of avoidable loss of foodstuffs and, generally, improvement in agricultural practice and in the distribution of agricultural products. In this connection, Australia would tend to regard measures extending technical education (e.g. by means of fellowships etc.) as important elements of the F.A.O. programme.

12. Endeavours should therefore be made by the Conference to reach recommendations which will enable the November Conference of F.A.0. to formulate, as far as funds and other resources permit, a programme which will take account of the immediate practical needs of the Asian and Far Eastern Region. It is conspicuous that the widespread clamour, particularly from Asian countries, for assistance in economic development has rarely been accompanied by such concrete plans as would attract countries likely to grant assistance to consider means of helping. Countries in the region should therefore be exhorted to prepare well thought out proposals for submission to F.A.0. in such a manner that the countries contributing the bulk of the funds and the technical experts of F.A.O., will be satisfied with the practical nature of the schemes put forward.

[matter omitted]

1 J. Payne, Commercial Counsellor and Trade Commissioner in Malaya, was to be Australian, representative at the FAO's Pre- Conference Meeting on Food and Agriculture Outlook and Programs in Asia and the Far East, to be held at Singapore from 26 September 1949.

2 The document is undated but was sent to External Affairs by Commerce and Agriculture on Ns date for inclusion in the conference brief.

3 On 20 January 1949.

4 That is, on a technical assistance programme and particular projects within it.

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