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Historical documents

26 Coombs to Chifley

Letter [CANBERRA], 13 September 1948

I refer to my memorandum of 7th May, 1948 [1] with which I
forwarded you a report dealing with certain aspects of dollar
policy, and especially with the need to develop action aimed at a
long-term improvement of the dollar position.

A series of interdepartmental discussions has since been held to
consider the matters which my report raised, and an agreed
document has been drawn up in the form of a recommendation to you,
setting out the most suitable approach to the problem and the
machinery which might best be used to undertake the necessary
action. I submit herewith a copy of the agreed document for your

Briefly, the action contemplated is the influencing of Australian
economic development along dollar saving or dollar earning lines,
either for Australia itself, or for the sterling area. The action
would proceed project by project, and would mainly take the form
of hastening or extending normal development in the Australian
economy with due regard to keeping costs at economic levels. The
machinery which is recommended comprises a Sub-Committee of
Cabinet for periodic reviews of plans and achievements, and inter-
departmental committee of the permanent heads of the directly
interested Departments. (Commerce and Agriculture, Trade and
Customs, Treasury, Post-war Reconstruction, and the Division of
Industrial Development are the Departments represented. Other
Departments will be concerned from time to time, and will be
brought into discussions as necessary). The Department of Post-war
Reconstruction will provide the executive for both the Cabinet
Sub-Committee and the departmental committee. Individual
departments will retain their functions and responsibilities in
the development of the projects, but the inter-departmental
committee would be in a position to initiate, expedite and co-
ordinate action by the departments wherever desirable.

As a result of the meetings already held action is in progress in
the appropriate Departments to examine in a preliminary way a
number of possible developments. The results of the investigations
will be reported to the inter-departmental committee and the most
suitable projects will be selected and recommended to the Cabinet
Sub-Committee for endorsement. [2]

1 Document 17.

2 Chifley approved the proposed action and the setting up of the
administrative machinery. In the following year three
interdepartmental meetings were held but there were no ministerial
meetings. Bunting commented (in a letter to Wilson, 28 October
1949) that, because Australia was not in 'imminent danger' of
losing its sterling area dollar drawings, the committee did not
have a active life. 'There was a strong view that it was not
practicable for Australia to do anything to alleviate the sterling
area dollar problem other than to keep on supplying United Kingdom
with goods it would otherwise need to buy for dollars-mainly

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