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Historical documents

115 Burton to Kennedy [1]

Memorandum CANBERRA, 21 January 1948


As a result of approaches by oversea Governments with a view to
obtaining arms and warlike stores from Australia, careful
consideration has been given to the policy which should be adopted
in regard to such requests. [2]

2. New situations have arisen, particularly in the Indian sub-
continent [3], which make it imperative that no arms or warlike
stores should be permitted to leave Australia, unless the
circumstances are fully investigated beforehand by the Department
for External Affairs in the light of political conditions existing
at the time. In this manner the application of the Government
decision at the beginning of the Netherlands-Indonesian dispute to
prohibit the sale of warlike stores to foreign Governments unless
with the prior permission of this Department win be extended to
all oversea Governments, whether members of the British
Commonwealth or not.

3. It is desired that reference should be made to this Department,
not only in the case of material for which application may be made
direct to any Government instrumentality by any representative or
agent of an oversea Government, but Aso in the case of any
material which may be in private hands as a result of normal
commercial arrangements (e.g. explosives, small arms and
munitions) or as a result of disposals purchases (e.g. ex service
aircraft, vehicles or personal military equipment).

4. A definition of warlike equipment and stores is annexed. It
will be appreciated if you will apply strictly this definition and
refer to this Department any doubtful matters in connection with
the supply of goods to any troubled area.

5. Attention is drawn to the fact that this document is classified
as 'Top Secret'. It is accordingly requested that its circulation
should be restricted as far as possible and that adequate
arrangements should be made for its safekeeping.

1 Also sent to Departments of Defence, Treasury, Navy, Amy, Air,
Commerce and Agriculture, Supply and Shipping, Munitions, the
Disposals Commission, Civil Aviation and Postwar Reconstruction.

2 External Affairs had consulted Defence about a draft of this
memorandum and the matter had be. examined by the Defence
Committee. See Shedden's submission to Chifley, dated 15 January
1948, which recommended that the Defence Commitee's observations
be forwarded to External Affairs as . statement of Service views
without comment. Chifley concurred.

3 India and Pakistan were in dispute over the accession of Kashmir
to India.

[AA:A1068/7, DL47/7/7]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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