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Historical documents

273 Minute from Shaw to Casey

Canberra, 21 July 1954

Colombo Plan: Indo-China

The military and political events of the past few months, rapidly changing the situation of the Associated States of Indo-China, lead to the conclusion that we should re-orient our Colombo Plan approach to that area.

2. In March, 1953, during the visit to Australia of M. Letourneau, we agreed to make an initial Colombo Plan contribution to Indo-China of �250,000.1 This action was simply a political fashion of encouragement and it was not in mind that we could attempt to make any real impact on an economic development programme even if one had been prepared.

3. Subsequently, it was decided that we would make a firm offer to supply Vietnam with goods to the value of �100,000 as a beginning. These goods were to be selected from request lists which the Vietnam authorities had provided to the Australian Legation at Saigon. The total value of the items listed which we could supply is approximately �1,500,000, so that much delay has ensued while presumably the Vietnamese authorities are deciding exactly how they would like the �100,000 apportioned over priority items. It seems that our domestic problem arises form their desire to spread our grant over as many Ministries as possible. We tried unsuccessfully to end what seemed to be a deadlock by making selections from the lists ourselves with ready availability and quick supply as our guiding principle but our selection was not acceptable because we had concentrated attention on one aspect only of their requests.

4. In the case of Cambodia and Laos it was decided in principle that we should make similar, though less substantial, offers to each of those States but it was later thought that we should not press assistance on them as at that time (January, 1954) Vietnam was regarded as considerably more important than the other two States. We were influenced also by the reasoning that we needed to exercise economy in the use of Colombo Plan funds.

5. It appears now that Cambodia and Laos must figure more prominently in our Colombo Plan activities as at least equal if not superior to the remaining half of Vietnam. In the light of the future as far as it can be foreseen now it would seem also that our aid should be more than a token gesture and directed towards positive economic development. This altered concept could be satisfied perhaps if we were to plan immediately to make a contribution to each of the three components of Indo-China of, say, �350,000.


6.We have shopping lists from Vietnam to at total value of approximately �1,500,000 from which there should be no difficulty in selecting goods valued at �350,000 for delivery this financial year; in fact, it will be easier to deal with that figure than with the earlier idea of �100,000. Details of the lists of requests are attached.


7. We have a request list from Cambodia covering items which we can supply to a value of about �400,000. Details of these requests are attached. Given the condition of vigorous follow-up by our representatives in the area on matters of specification and so on, we should be able to supply a substantial proportion of a �350,000 allocation in the current financial year.


8. We have no indication as yet of requirements for this area. It is felt, however, that the need should be for items similar to those already notified by Vietnam and Cambodia. If this is so, the preliminary work on matter of supply detail would be mostly covered by our present investigations on availabilities, prices and specifications so that some of the normal time lags in procurement will be eliminated.

8. The items set out in the Vietnam and Cambodian requests, in so far as we are able to supply from Australian resources, are appropriate for provision under the Colombo Plan and are calculated to make a useful contribution to the economic development of the area.

10. It is recommended that you approve:–

(i) the provision of Colombo Plan aid to Vietnam to a value of �350,000 in items to be selected from the attached list 'A';

(ii) the provision of Colombo Plan aid to Cambodia to a value of �350,000 in items to be selected from the attached list 'B';

(iii) the offer in principle to Laos of Colombo Plan aid to a value of �350,000 subject to requests being made by that country for items which we can provide from Australian resources and which are appropriate for supply under the Colombo Plan.

11. Before any actual deliveries of goods or equipment are made, full details would be submitted for your consideration in the light of the situation at the time.

12. We have allowed for an amount of only �200,000 in this year's estimates for aid to Indo-China. However, if Cabinet should approve the total sum asked for (�6,254,000) we shall be able to rearrange the timing of the overall long-range programme so as to enable the Indo-China requirements to be fitted as necessary and desirable into the procurement programme for the present financial year.

Appendix A



Road Rollers �170,000 �550,000
Telecommunications Equipment 140,000
Agricultural Equipment 65,000
Animal Husbandry Equipment 100,000
Bulls 2,000
Cows 20,000
Pigs 36,000
Poultry 8,000
Horses 24,000
Locomotives 250,000
Rail Wagons 120,000
Rails 70.000
�1,105,000 �1,485,000
Plus freight and handling, say 275.000 300.000
�1.380.000 �1.785.000

Appendix B



Municipal Works-Section


A. Making of streets in new town Refugees' City and dykes for protection of same:

2 tractors on wheels or rubber tracks, type caterpillar D7 with
2 bulldozers, straight blades, cable control and 2 scrapers, both to fit tractors mentioned above.

B. Macadamising, filling and asphalting of streets in town:

1 Diesel roller, 10–12 ton, with digger,
2 lorries with sweeper and watering tank for cleaning of roadways prior to asphalting;
2 blowers, with compressors, or trailers, for cleaning of roadways prior to asphalting;
2 asphalte spreaders, 1000 litres, or trailer with melters to match (asphaltes used 40/50 or 80/100);
2 tip lorries for mechanical gravelling.

C. General Department Municipal Works:

1 service station for working and greasing all vehicles;
2 Jeep type vehicles of which:
1 for fire service
1 for inspection streets and perimeter dykes protecting the town;
1 tank lorry of about 4000 litres capacity with compressor and suction pump for emptying septic tanks.

Public Works Department


5,000 metres Decauville track 60 cm gauge;
100 Decauville waggons;
3 locomotives for Decauville track (diesel railway motor tractors);
10 five-ton tip trucks (if unavailable 31-ton);
10 five-ton towing buckets (remorque bennes);
10 transport lorries.


2 pylon cranes, fixed, height-60 feet, luff 15–24 feet, lift 1 1/2 tons;
3 pile drivers;
5 concrete mixers, 600–900 litres;
3 shaker tables and various moulds for manufacture of parpens.


1 screw rectifier – length between points 3000 millimetres;
1 generator set – diesel alternator, 40-50 KW triple phase 110–220 volts;
1 generator set 10 KW, diesel motor, alternator 110–220 V triple phase.


50 double conical buoys, diameter 1.43 metres, height 1.61 metres;
1,500 metres chain 14 and 12 millimetres.


50 covered waggons, capacity 20-25 tons;
30 open waggons with high stanchions for transport fuel wood;
10 fiat trucks for transport of timber;
15 ballast waggons, capacity 10 tons.

Equipment required for the workshops of an apprentices school of the Cambodian Railways

A. i>Workshop

Assorted tools consists of milling cutters of various standard sizes, drills, reamers, turning lathes, screw taps, etc.

2 turning lathes (HDP) 150 m/m thickness 1 m. 50
2 turning lathes (HDP) 250 m/m thickness 1 m. 50
1 machine for grinding tools
1 Universal cutter:–
Longitudinal710 m/m
Transverse250 m/m
size of table 1,200 x 300
1 shaping machine, 400 m/m
1 boring–drilling machine, capacity 25 m/m
1 bench boring–drilling machine, capacity 12 m/m assorted tools.

B. Electrical Workshop

1 winding machine
Assorted electrical apparatus

c. Foundry

1 low frequency induction furnace for bronze, hourly production 80 kgs;
1 Planchard type rotary furnace with oil-bumer for steel, capacity 1000 kgs.

[NAA: A1838, 2020/6/5 part 1]

1 See Document 256.

Last Updated: 10 January 2017
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