33 Tange to Burton

Minute [CANBERRA], 28 October 1948

COMMONWEALTH ECONOMIC LIAISON

Have you given consideration to the establishment of machinery contemplated by Commonwealth Conference for economic liaison? [1]

2. Presumably there is something to be said for this Department acting promptly when Wheeler and Coombs return next week, and for participating in a Cabinet submission.

3. The main problem, as I see it, is to avoid duplicating in Canberra, Ottawa and elsewhere, discussions and exchanges of information which in the nature of things take place in London.

4. The principle ought to be that each centre will act primarily for the dissemination of information by the host government on international issues which predominantly concern that Government.

Canberra can profitably be the centre of information on the Japanese settlement, Japanese reparations, relief activity in the Far East and so forth. Confusion will result if we make it a centre for exchanging information on such matters as E.R.P. for which London is the logical centre.

5. In addition the Canberra centre could be used for circulation of Australian views on economic issues arising in the United Nations and specialised agencies, the I.T.O. and G.A.T.T., import and export policies and perhaps ad hoc questions such as the U.S.

Treaty of Friendship etc.

6. Structurally there might be (a) (Very) occasional meetings of a Liaison Committee consisting of representatives of Missions and interested departments, chaired by External Affairs.

(b) An External Affairs liaison officer who has contact with and understands economic questions under discussion in Departments.

(c) Direct contacts between Commonwealth Missions and our own Departments subject to Liaison Officer being informed.

7. The New Zealand Secretariat [2] would have to be fitted in while formally kept intact because of its origins in a treaty. [3]

1 Suggested during discussions at the British Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference.

2 The Australian - New Zealand Affairs, secretariat was established under the Australian - New Zealand Agreement (1944) to co-ordinate collaboration on matters encompassed by the agreement.

3 A handwritten notation at end reads 'Cumes is in general agreement with foregoing'. The suggestion were not realised, however, as Burton decided, on the advice of Coombs and Wheeler, to set up no additional machinery but to take the matter up with the UK High Commissioner's office.

[AA: A1838/283, TS708/5A]