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Historical documents

157 Department of External Affairs to Evatt

Memorandum CANBERRA, 7 October 1946

1. The Economic and Social Council, with the dissent of the
U.S.S.R., Ukraine and Yugoslavia, at its third meeting adopted a
revised draft constitution for the proposed I.R.O. [1]

2. The main results arising from the Council's discussions were-
(a) A scaling down of the budget estimate for the first year from
approximately $250m. to $150m.

(b) Deferment of any scale of contributions pending consideration
by the General Assembly of the Report of the Committee on
Contributions of the United Nations.

(c) An offer by the governments of the United States and United
Kingdom to contribute nearly three-quarters of the revised first
year budget of approximately $150m. (Press report of 7th October).

(d) Continuing political differences as between the countries of
origin and others concerning the definition of refugees and
displaced persons and related questions.

3. On October 2nd, prior to receipt of information as to the above
budgetary changes, an Inter-departmental Meeting of
representatives of External Affairs, Treasury, Immigration and
Post War Reconstruction agreed to submit a joint agendum to
Cabinet on the question of Australian participation in the IRO. At
this meeting differing views were expressed by the Departments of
the Treasury and External Affairs as to the merits of Australian
participation in the IRO [2] and it was agreed that these views
would be set out in the joint agendum. [3] The agendum, is now
under discussion with Treasury and it is not yet known whether
they wish, in the light of the above budgetary reductions, to
press their objections to Australian participation.

4. For your information and any directions you may wish to give a
submission concerning Australian participation in the IRO is
attached . [4]

1 Resolution 18(III), 3 October. See also Volume IX, Document 290.

2 F. H. Wheeler of the Treasury had argued that, failing any
'special considerations', Treasury could not recommend expenditure
beyond that already committed to UNRRA on a problem which was
primarily European. At the same meeting Immigration Dept
representatives stressed difficulties of settling displaced
persons, and existing Australian commitments to British migration.

3 A submission did not go to Cabinet until April 1947.

4 The External Affairs Dept view was argued in the submission:

Australia, as an active participant in the existing organisation,
had publicly promised support for the new organisation and, as a
member of the United Nations, could not ignore an accepted U.N.

responsibility; the problem affected political stability in
Europe; proposed financial contributions bad been scaled down; and
membership imposed no obligation to alter established immigration
policy. It recommended that Australia express willingness to
participate provided the organisation was established as a short-
term body minimum financial obligations upon members and that, in
the General Assembly, Australia should support the principle of
voluntary contribution and urge emphasis on repatriation.

[AA:A1838/238, 861/1, ii]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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