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103 Evatt to Curtin

Letter CANBERRA, 29 March 1944


I refer to your letter of 13th March [1] in which you asked to be
furnished with a memorandum on Post-War Shipping policy for your
use whilst in London.

In the first place, I would like to point out that the Labor
Party's policy in this matter is as follows:-

(1) Having regard to the serious shortage of shipping, and the
necessity for the provision and maintenance of adequate shipping
facilities from and to Tasmania, this Federal Conference of the
Australian Labor Party urges the Commonwealth Government to-
Expedite the construction of ships wherever possible of either
wood, steel or composite materials.

(2) The institution of a Commonwealth Shipping Service for the
purpose of securing cheaper freights on the carriage of products,
both interstate and overseas.

In addition to the foregoing a memorandum has been prepared by
Departmental officers and two copies are attached hereto. This
memorandum might be read in conjunction with the above-mentioned
decisions of the Party.


Attachment (extract)



Under the following headings are indicated what are regarded as
the most important aspects of Australian shipping policy in the
postwar period and Section II of the Report amplifies Items 1, 2,
3 and 4 of Section I.

1. Maintenance of an adequate Australian mercantile marine,
including the continuance of the Navigation Act for the purpose of
preserving to Australian ships the coastal trade of this country.

2. Adoption of a policy which will ensure that Australia secures
an increasing share of the shipping services between Australia and
the adjacent islands in the Pacific and the East Indian and
Malayan areas.

3. Continuation of shipbuilding in Australia as an ancillary to
the maintenance of an Australian Mercantile Marine, and as a
measure of National self-protection.

4. As an island remote from the largest manufacturing centres of
the world and in preparation for the emergency of war, Australia
must be self-reliant to as great an extent as practicable in
regard particularly to the maintenance of ship repair and
shipbuilding facilities.

5. Maintenance of British shipping, particularly in the Pacific
and Far Eastern areas.

6. Maintenance of shipping between Empire countries at the lowest
possible rates.

7. Improvement of the speed of communications between United
Kingdom and distant Dominions including particularly the provision
of fast passenger and mail ships.

8. Continuance of the existing policy of no discrimination against
the flag of any country which does not discriminate against the
British flag. Australia is a signatory to the 'Convention and
Statute on the International Regime of Maritime Ports' which was
drawn up at Geneva on 9/12/23 and which is designed to ensure the
fullest measures possible of freedom of communications by
guaranteeing in ports equality of treatment between ships of all
contracting states, their cargoes and passengers.

9. Co-operation with the International Labour Office on maritime
labour questions. In expansion of this, it should be stated,
unless the provisions of the Immigration Act apply, a coloured
seaman can be employed on Australian registered ships so long as
he is paid Australian rates. There is, however, a danger possibly
that an indiscriminate acceptance of conclusions of International
bodies such as have been mentioned, may result in admission of the
principle of unrestricted admission to the Australian Maritime

10. Continuance of the Imperial Shipping Committee. This body,
which was formed after the last war, reports on matters of
importance to British shipping such as Marine Insurance, Shipping
Rebates, Legal Conditions of Sea Carriage, maintenance of British
shipping in various parts of the world, etc. The Australian
Government contributes to its expenses. The Imperial Shipping
Committee is available for advice and to summon Conventions,
conferences, etc. when necessity arises.

11. in company with the United Kingdom Government, to collaborate
with other like-minded Governments in establishing conditions in
which the shipping of the world can be efficiently and
economically carried on having particular regard to the attainment
of the best possible conditions of employment.

[matter omitted]

1 On file AA:A5954, box 646. Evatt was Acting Minister for Supply
and Shipping.

[AA:A5954, BOX 658]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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