35 Hodgson to McFarlane

Letter CANBERRA, 28 January 1944

Arising out of the forthcoming visit of Commonwealth officials to London [1], to take part in talks on international economic collaboration, there are certain aspects to which I am directed to invite your attention.

The Minister for External Affairs is responsible to Cabinet for all matters related to foreign affairs including international agreements and international conferences.

At the same time, it is fully recognised that topics dealt with by international arrangements are of direct concern to other Ministers and other Departments. It is therefore the function of the Minister for External Affairs and always subject to Full Cabinet's authority, to consult with the particular Minister or Ministers who are concerned with the particular topics; for example, the Treasurer in relation to international financial commitments, the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture in relation to international commerce arrangements, and the Minister for Trade and Customs in relation to many aspects of international commercial policy.

The object of all such consultations is to make sure that the international agreement finally entered into accords with the views of Cabinet as a whole.

Similarly, while the appointment of all representatives abroad is normally a matter for Cabinet to determine, it is essential that the general super-vision of such representatives in relation to negotiations on any international matter should be exercised by the Minister for External Affairs.

It is necessary that the above principles be fully appreciated in order that the responsibilities of my Department in the appointment of representatives of Australia at talks like the present can be fully discharged.

The Minister for External Affairs considers it desirable that in view of his responsibility in these matters, Mr. Melville should be temporarily attached to the Department of External Affairs for the purpose of this Conference and the work relating thereto. He does not think it right that an officer of a separate instrumentality should represent Australia while retaining that character. He should be brought under the authority of the responsible Commonwealth Minister.

I would be glad, therefore, if you would be good enough to make arrangements with the Commonwealth Bank to this effect.

1 The discussions were held from 23 February to 21 March. L. G.

Melville led the Delegation which included N. G. Butlin (Assistant Economic Adviser, High Commissioner's Office, London), V. A. Clark and J. Fletcher (Officers of the Trade and Customs Department), F.

L. McDougall, F. H. Wheeler and E. McCarthy (Assistant Secretary (Marketing), Commerce and Agriculture Dept and, until September, Commonwealth Govt Shipping Representative in Washington).

[AA:A989, 44/735/55/3/1]