102 Wheeler to Heyes

Cablegram 316 OTTAWA, 3 September 1946, 12.39 p.m.


Your 4744 of 20th August. [1] I.L.O. Migration Committee.

Resolutions were adopted on each agenda item. Will airmail further comments and copy of final report when received from Montreal.

Meanwhile I think you should know that the question of racial discrimination item 3 gave rise to frank discussion and India singled out the Australian policy for spirited attack. I replied in terms of your 4744 and concluded with the following:-

'Australia has no immigration statutes which specifically discriminate against any particular countries, her general policy being based on social, economic and cultural grounds and not on any assumption of racial superiority. The dictation test referred to by India is not used exclusively against non-European races, and for the purpose of preventing admission into Australia is very seldom used, for control of entry is exercised by the passport requirements and in the case of non-British subjects by the landing permit system. The sole object of discrimination in any way is merely to safeguard the interests of our own citizens which should be the paramount duty of every Government to its people.

All that we try to do is to insure as far as possible that persons admitted to Australia will readily assimilate into the national life of our country.'

But believe our position not fully understood by India and Latin American countries.

Final resolution on item 3 affirms that non discrimination is one of the fundamental conditions of progressive and orderly migration movements and continues 'having had its attention called to certain practices in connection with Migration which being based upon racial discrimination are to be condemned, believing that these practices arise from difficulties which can be more easily overcome if a broader and longer view is taken of the problem, etc.' Original draft of resolution was couched in much stronger language, but by discreet lobbying I was able to have it modified to final form. In the light of your 4744 there is a loophole for Australia in the words 'being based on racial discrimination' for we do not admit such discrimination, but the strong language and terms of the resolution were clearly the result of the Indian attack.

At the meeting commencing 16th September the Governing body is to be asked to refer resolutions and record of speeches to the Economic and Social Council with a view to the question of racial discrimination being considered by the Commission on human rights.

Wynes has been made aware of your general views. Of all countries represented Australia was the only one with a clear cut postwar immigration policy.

1 This cablegram conveyed Wheeler's instructions should the Permanent Migration Committee of the I.L.O., meeting in Montreal from 26 August, refer to Australia's dictation test.

[AA:A1067, ER46/5/16]