197 Officer to Makin

Dispatch 06 (extract) SINGAPORE, 18 April 1946

CONFIDENTIAL

[matter omitted] [1]

11. The avoidance of famine or near famine in South East Asia with its possible effects on health and law and order must be a matter of concern to Australia, a near neighbour of the area. We can do good work by emphasising in the proper quarters the seriousness of the question and that it should not be treated, for political or other reasons, less adequately than other areas. But we can do little directly to relieve the situation. Our supplies of rice already are disposed of and our supplies of wheat and flour allotted. The Conference realised this but still hoped that some small assistance could be afforded by the immediate supply of any dehydrated or other substitute foods available in Australia. I understand that Mr. Nash, when in Singapore on 16th April, promised Lord Killearn to see what New Zealand can do in this respect. The speedy provision of inducement goods is most important if rice is to be obtained now from stock on hand and the next crop is to be of the maximum quantity. Low grade cotton textiles are urgently needed and, if any are available in Australia, they would be a valuable contribution. I urge that both these matters be given most urgent consideration and that Mr. Massey should be advised of the possibilities as quickly as possible because time and the speedy shipment is the essence of the matter. I have reported accordingly in my telegram No. 088. [2]

12. At the Conference in March some reference was made to the possibility of financial aid from Australia in the shape of credits. Although the question was referred to again at this Conference, it seems unlikely that any participant will ask for such assistance. The question of a credit for Siam is altogether apart from this Conference.

[matter omitted]

KEITH OFFICER

1 The dispatch reported the attendance of Officer and Massey at the conference referred to in Document 193.

2 Dispatched 17 April. officer returned to Australia about 2.

April. On 24 April he advised Massey (cablegram 191) of the availability, quantities and prices of dehydrated goods and textiles that could be shipped from Australia.

[AA:A1067, ER46/7/5, i]