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24 Meeting of Interdepartmental Dollar Policy Committee

Extract [CANBERRA], 31 August 1948


Notes of Meeting held on 31st August, 1948


Dr. Coombs (Chairman) )
Mr. Brown )
Mr. Bunting ) Department of Post-war Reconstruction
Mr. Fethers
Mr. McCarthy )
Mr. Day ) Department of Commerce and
Mr. Carney ) Agriculture
Mr. Meere : Department of Trade and Customs
Mr. McFadyen ) Division of Industrial Development
Mr. Knott )
Mr. Wheeler ) Department of the Treasury
Mr. Nette )
Dr. Burton ) Department of External Affairs
Mr. Ward )
Professor Melville : Commonwealth Bank

The draft report to the Prime Minister prepared by the Department
of Postwar Reconstruction was considered. The report deals with
the nature of the dollar problem and the methods of approach to
its solution which Australia might adopt, and recommends the
formation of a policy committee both at Ministerial and
departmental level. The draft report was approved with amendment
of the section headed 'Forms of Action' to include a further item
as follows:

(f)Further processing of goods now exported to dollar areas as raw
materials, e.g. wool, metals.

General discussion followed regarding the precise objects of the
policy to be adopted and of the functions of the Interdepartmental
Committee. The first question which arose was whether the prime
object should be to improve Australia's individual dollar balance
or to assist the total sterling position. The place of expansion
of exports to non-dollar areas was also discussed. It was agreed
generally that the broad object would be to assist the whole
sterling area but that particular attention should be given to our
own bilateral dollar balance. Some development of non-dollar
exports would be incidental to the policy. However, it was felt
that it was impracticable to lay firm general principles, as the
emphasis between assistance to Australia itself and to the
sterling area pool would vary from project to project. The only
satisfactory method of operating would be by individual projects
and before any project was launched a number of questions
including benefit to be derived, the alternative use of resources,
and costs of production would have to be examined.

After discussion on the functions of the Committee the general
feeling was that the Committee should confine its direct interest
to major projects and be concerned in the consideration of other
projects only when the Department normally responsible desired it.

Nevertheless, it would be useful for the Committee to be kept
informed of the various types of action which individual
Departments are undertaking and to be able to suggest additional
action to the Department concerned if it thought fit.

Consideration was next given to the cables H.343 [1], 220 and 221
from the Secretary of State regarding the United Kingdom four-year
programme and the information which Australia has been asked to
supply in connection with it. Customs and Commerce representatives
stated that they were having difficulty in providing the estimates
called for under (a) and (b) in Cable 221. It was suggested a
suitable reply on the export side would be information mainly in
narrative form, though with some figures regarding the development
of the main Australian export industries and especially of goods
which European countries are at present buying for dollars. On the
import side it was felt that the only reply could be a list
showing possible quantities of short supply goods and traditional
goods which Europe may be able to export. It was agreed that
Commerce and Customs should proceed with their draft replies and
make available a copy to Treasury and Post-war Reconstruction.

1 Document 23.

[AA: A9790, 533, i]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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