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120 Department of External Affairs to Posts

Memorandum 62 CANBERRA, 17 September 1946


Overseas missions will be aware of the importance of providing, in
relation to the countries where they are established, a constant
flow of despatches on political, economic and general subjects.

Over the last several months the position in this regard has
greatly improved, but taking all posts into account, there is
still not the coverage that there might be. The volume of
administrative and other matters confronting most missions is
recognised, but it is hoped nevertheless that they will continue
to find time for the essential work of reporting fully about their
respective areas.

The subjects on which reports in despatch form are desired will
normally be of a politico-economic character, with due regard to
social trends as these affect or are likely to affect the policy
or economy of the particular country being dealt with. The
following suggestions are by no means exhaustive but will give
some broad indication of the type of subjects with which it is
desired that despatches should deal:

The various communities and/or classes
The aims, composition and state of political parties
Bases of economy; economic position; economic potentialities
Theory and practice of Government and administration Social and
cultural trends; their relation to public opinion and general
Attitude and policy towards Australia, the United Kingdom, the
other countries of the British Commonwealth and other countries
(public and private, group or party and individual)
Policy towards the United Nations and its organs; policy towards
questions before the Security Council and other organs of the
United Nations; policy towards peace treaties and post-war
settlement; policy towards other international activities whether
world wide or regional; foreign policy generally
Significant personalities-native and foreign, official and
otherwise Colonial policy; dependencies; area problems
Policy of other Powers towards the country in question.

It is important for posts to place these and other subjects before
the Minister for External Affairs and the Department in such a
setting that their significance for Australia is fully evident.

Where despatches deal with events or situations whose immediate
implications for Australia are not evident, they should provide
material from which the general course of events occurring in any
given country may be judged. The broad aim should be to build up
for Australia a mass of first-hand basic material on which
accurate judgments may be made and on which policy may be based.

In compiling despatches the emphasis should be on compression and
on factual basis of judgments. Wherever possible the sources of
any opinions expressed should be clearly stated. Where use is made
of reports, any information bearing on their reliability as well
as on the reliability of the informers or reporters should be

As regards form, despatches should be dated and numbered in a
single series of consecutive numbers beginning on the 1st January
and continuing successively until 31st December in each year. A
fresh series of numbers for despatches should be begun on the 1st
January of each year; in this connection, under the number of the
first despatch for each year there should be placed the number of
the last despatch for the previous year; thus-

No. 1/47
(Last No. 129/46)

Each despatch should be confined to one subject. Enclosures should
be listed at the foot of despatches. The contents of enclosures
should be briefly stated in the body of the despatch and attention
directed to such points contained in them as may appear to be
particularly deserving of notice.

Three carbon copies should accompany the original of every
despatch. Wherever possible copies of any enclosures attached to
the original should be sent with each of the three carbon copies.

Despatches should be typewritten on foolscap paper and should be
formally addressed to the Minister of State for External Affairs.

As regards transmission, the original along with carbon copies
should be sent to the Department by air mail.

Despatches should be marked according to their Security
classification, viz., Most Secret, Secret or Confidential.

Acting Secretary


Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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