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Historical documents

374 Shedden to Gray

Letter, [LONDON], 30 June 1949


I am forwarding herewith an official letter enclosing a progress report on the brief relating to security measures in Australia which was submitted by me in Washington.[1]

2. I very much hope that you can now see your way to lift the embargo on the transmission of classified information. In expressing this hope, I am writing this personal letter on the basis of that mutual frankness and confidence which we were able to establish. At your discretion you may discuss or disclose it to Mr. Louis Johnson and Mr. Dean Acheson if you wish.

3. It was mentioned to me both in Australia and Washington, that I was not likely to get a decision on this matter, as the United States Authorities intended to await the results of the next election in Australia in the likelihood that the Labor Government would be defeated. As the Permanent Head of a Department, politics have nothing to do with me, and I have served Governments from all three Parties. If there is any substance in the view expressed, I would repeat what I said in Washington that this classified information is transmitted on the official level, and that it does not concern Ministers, whatever Party may be in Office. Also, if the present Government is returned to power at the next elections, the continuance of the embargo in the likelihood of their defeat, will have done more harm than good to Australian-American relations.

4. Following my discussions in London, I am afraid, as stated to Mr. Louis Johnson at the time, that if opportunity is not taken to settle this matter on the level of these personal discussions, where it now stands, a greater problem will be created, as between Governments. This would not be helpful to that greater co-operation between the British Commonwealth and the United States which it is the aim of all to promote.

5. It has come to my notice in London that discussions are proceeding between the United Kingdom and United States Authorities on the general question of disclosure of United States technical information. The relation of Australia's special position has been mentioned to me. I understand that Dr. Compton, Chairman of the United States Research and Development Board, has asked the United Kingdom Authorities informally for assurances relating to the security of the Long Range Weapons Organization in Australia. While progress on any particular aspect of the Australian problem is all to the good, I hope that we are going to settle the whole question relating to all classified information and that we are going to do it on the basis of the Australian case that has been presented. I am sure that the Australian Government expects a full settlement and not a partial one on a particular aspect.

6. If it is not anticipating too much to refer to the question of procedure, I realize that you will no doubt have to lay down a series of rules for observance according to the category of the information to be released and no doubt instructions as to channels of transmission and guarantees about its control and use. As stated in Washington, I am prepared to give any personal guarantees where it is desired to use the Defence Department as a channel of transmission and distribution. You will also recall my invitation for you to accredit United States representatives to the Defence Department, the Security Organization, the Long Range Weapons Organization and the Joint Intelligence Organization or any other establishments desired.

[matter omitted]

[1] Document 369.

[AA : A5954, 1795/3]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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