2nd August, 1928


My dear P.M.,

Officer [1] has arrived here and is working with me in this office for the month prior to his going to Geneva with Senator McLachlan.

[2] I have introduced him all round and he is rapidly familiarising himself with the people and with the work at this end. He has been well received and even in the ten days that he has been working with me here I have seen enough to be able to say that he could do the work here quite satisfactorily and well.

He tells me that, prior to leaving Australia, he was interviewed by the Public Service Board and everything is apparently in order for him to apply for a permanent position in the External Affairs Department even if such applications are called for while he is away.

On the assumption that you arc willing for him to do the work at this end, it seems to me rather a waste of time and opportunity for him to go back to Australia after the League Assembly. I gather from your telegram that if your Government is returned to power after the next election, your present intention is to make the American appointment soon afterwards. [3] If Officer goes back in the ordinary course of events, it would be three months at least before you could send him or somebody else home here to take over from me in order to release me to go to Washington. [4] The League Assembly will be over in early October and if Officer were to wait here it would give him the few months with me that would be necessary to put him completely in touch with everything here.

The above is not inspired by Officer-on the contrary, for personal and other reasons, he would find it most convenient to go back to Australia before the end of the year, but is willing to waive this if it is decided best for him to remain here. I particularly do not want either you or Henderson [5] to think that this suggestion of mine was prompted by him.

Apart from the advisability of his being with me here for a few months in order to take up the work, it would be of the greatest assistance for me to have him here, if only for these few months, as it would increase the value and usefulness of this post, the work of which has become considerably more arduous in this year on account of the wider range that it is attempting to cover.

I am, Yours sincerely, R.G. CASEY

1 F. K. Officer, recruited to the staff of the Department of External Affairs by Casey while he was in Australia in 1927.

2 Senator Alexander McLachlan, an Honorary Minister, led the Australian delegation to the 1928 session of the League of Nations Assembly in Geneva. For his account of the Geneva experience see his memoirs, An F.A.Q. Australian, Lothian, Melbourne, 1948.

3 On 18 June 1928 Bruce cabled Casey to inform him that the Government had decided to appoint an Australian Counsellor to the British Embassy in Washington, maintaining a Commissioner in New York to handle customs, trade and consular matters. An appointment to Washington would nor be made until after the next federal election. In the meantime, two additional appointments would be created for the External Affairs Department in Canberra, one of the appointees being intended to replace Casey in London. Casey replied by cable on 19 June that he was prepared to carry on in London, but in terms suggesting that he hoped for the Washington appointment. However, the Bruce Government lost office in 1929 before the new positions could be filled. No appointment to Washington was made until May 1937. Both cables are on file AA:A1420.

4 Casey was assuming that Officer would secure one of the new Canberra appointments and would then replace him in London. Bruce did not see Officer as an early replacement for Casey and he returned to Australia after the League Assembly session. Indeed, because of his age (he was then 38) he was denied a permanent appointment for some years.

5 Dr Walter Henderson, Head of the External Affairs Branch.