218 Dedman to Chifley

Letter MELBOURNE, 12 November 1947



I refer to the Agendum dated 10th June, 1947, and Supplementary Agendum dated 10th September, 1947, submitted to members of the Ministerial Committee constituted by Cabinet to consider the detailed functions, organisation, establishments, and estimates of expenditure of the Joint Intelligence Organisation, approval in principle to which was given by Cabinet in July, 1946.

2. You will recall that consideration was given to the detailed proposals at a meeting held on 11th September, but no decisions were then reached. I am becoming very concerned about the delay that is being experienced in establishing this Organisation which has been under consideration by my Department, and the subject of consultation with the United Kingdom Authorities since August, 1945. A note on the history of the main steps is attached.

3. I am now submitting for your consideration, draft decisions which I suggest should be approved by yourself as Prime Minister and Treasurer, and Acting Minister for External Affairs, and by myself, as the Cabinet Sub-Committee on this matter.

4. Your attention is particularly invited to Part 1 relating to the vital importance of the Intelligence Organisation from the Defence aspect. Though the original concept was that this organisation might be of service to other Departments, especially External Affairs, as well as Defence, I wish to emphasise that Defence considerations are so paramount that the setting up of the organisation is fully warranted from this aspect alone, and it is desired to proceed accordingly.

5. I mention this because of queries that have been raised by the Department of External Affairs. Whilst my Department was only too glad to furnish any information required by External Affairs in order to clarify the queries, the only one of real substance from the aspect of that Department's functions was that relating to the scope of the functions of the Joint Intelligence Bureau. On this point, an assurance was given that:-

'It is not the intention that general reporting of political developments in foreign countries should be undertaken by Joint Intelligence Bureau, nor that it should independently collate and distribute political intelligence.' This has now been explicitly covered in the functions of the Bureau as defined in paragraph 9(a)(a) of the draft decisions of the Cabinet Sub-Committee:-

'Its task will be to collate, evaluate, and distribute factual Intelligence relating to the topography, communications, ports and harbours, landing beaches, aviation facilities, the defences, the economic, industrial and manpower resources, and social and constitutional organisation of countries within its area of responsibility. Intelligence relating exclusively to Naval, Army or Air Force matters will remain the province of the Service concerned. The reporting or dissemination of Political Intelligence is not a function of the Joint Intelligence Bureau, being the province of the Department of External Affairs.' 6. It was also stated to the Department of External Affairs in this connection that the senior members of the staff of both the Joint Intelligence Bureau and Signal Intelligence Centre would need to be kept informed of current political developments in other countries, as other aspects of strategic intelligence for which they are responsible must be studied against this background. Since External Affairs see 'great dangers' in this procedure, my Department is prepared to withdraw this request in order to remove any doubts that may exist on the matter.

7. It will be seen from the specimen J.I.B. Questionnaire enclosed, that the intelligence information to be furnished in accordance with it, relates to the following matters on which the required details are specified:-

Terrain Geology and Soils (Technical) Beaches Landing-Places Ports Towns Roads Railways Waterways Agriculture Fisheries Food Industries Forestry, Timber Processing Industries and Paper Textiles, Clothing, Leather and Furs Fuel and Power Minerals Metals Building Materials, Building and Contracting Ceramics and Glass Chemicals Rubber Shipbuilding Mechanical Engineering (including Armaments) Electrical Engineering Miscellaneous Industries Shipping and Shipping Lines Civil Aviation, Air Lines, Airfields and Flying Boat Bases Commerce and Finance Water Supply Sewage Disposal Defences Special Air Ministry Requirements for Anti-Aircraft Defences Telecommunications W/T Stations Military Airfields and Flying Boat Bases Medical Services and Hygiene.

All that the Department of Defence asks of External Affairs is that the Australian diplomatic and consular representatives in the area covered by the Joint Intelligence Bureau shall be instructed to supply information of this nature to the Joint Intelligence Bureau, through the Department of External Affairs.

8. I would like to point out that the establishment of the Joint Intelligence Organisation is in conformity with the sovereign control of Australian Defence Policy which has been developed since 1910, concurrently with measures for greater co-operation in British Commonwealth Defence. As you are aware, the most recent stage was that expressed by you at the Conference of Prime Ministers in 1946 that there should be assigned to the Australian Government Machinery, responsibility for the development of the defence aspect of matters relating to Regional Security in the Pacific, in which the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand are concerned, and provision should be made for the representation of the United Kingdom and New Zealand at the appropriate levels on such machinery. I would also add that the creation of the Joint Intelligence Organisation is the first step in the amalgamation of Inter-Service Organisations which would otherwise be maintained on an individual Service basis, with consequent duplication and lack of economy.

9. Apart from our own Australian needs, the delay in establishing the Organisation is becoming embarrassing to the United Kingdom Government to whom the Cabinet decision was communicated.

Following this, arrangements were made for the transfer of certain collected information from the United Kingdom Authorities at Singapore to the Joint Intelligence Bureau, but we lack the necessary staff to handle it. Also, with the United Kingdom withdrawal from India and the reduction of the United Kingdom Forces generally and especially in the Pacific, the early creation of the Intelligence Organisation is becoming a matter of greater urgency and necessity in view of the reliance that has been placed on the Australian decision being implemented within a reasonable time.

10. in view of my responsibilities as Minister for Defence, I am anxious that a decision should be reached on this subject before my departure for Havana, and I shall be glad to discuss the matter with you at your convenience. [1]

1 Chifley(then also Acting Minister for External Affairs)and Dedman approved the proposed arrangements that day, with some provisos, including recognition that reporting of political intelligence was not a function of the Joint Intelligence Bureau.

Burton promised co-operation of Australian diplomatic and consular representatives in supplying factual information through the Department of External Affairs.

[AA: A1068 T4, DL47/3/2, iii]