279 Calwell to Chifley

Cablegram 2237 LONDON, 30 June 1947, 6.30 p.m.


1. Arrived Friday and on Saturday morning had a conference with International Refugee Organisation representatives on the possibility of shipping displaced person migrants to Australia.

These representatives say organisation has purchased three vessels for migration of Europeans largely to South America, and ships can be made available to us for any migrants we may select from Europe. Our discussions disclosed that other countries are keen competitors for best migrant types, and that unless we act quickly we may lose only opportunity of securing migrants principally[by] ballots on selective basis.

2. I am sending two Officers to make preliminary selection in displaced persons amps of those classes of workers who can best assist our manpower shortages. We would select types specially suited for Rural work, nursing and domestic work in hospitals, labour for our reconstruction programmes and developmental projects. Selection will be on general suitability for work to be performed after International Refugee Organisation and British security have satisfied our medical and security requirements. I propose advise I.R.O. we will admit them in first instance under certificate of exemption for a period one year as safe-guard against any tendency to seek employment outside of Industry and locality for which they have been specially selected. This will also serve as probationary period to determine fitness for permanent residence.

3. I.R.O. have to date paid all fares for displaced persons as far as South America. In view of increased distance to Australia there may be some reluctance to provide all shipping we require to Australia. In order therefore to get maximum number of ships as soon as possible I have indicated that if I.R.O. will agree pay all pre-embarkation expenses and fare equivalent to that to South America, I will recommend without prejudice that an ex gratia payment be made to I.R.O. funds of sum not exceeding 10 per adult.

Consider this by far most speedy and economical method of securing best type of migrants required for Australia's economic rehabilitation from non-British sources in shortest possible time.

4. I propose visit Germany next week and will thereafter consult with I.R.O. authorities and Allied Military Missions in charge of displaced persons camps.

5. Suggest that time is psychologically ripe to arrange agreement on suggested lines in view our contribution 165.934 sterling forwarded last week to Preparatory Commission I.R.O. and would be glad your confirmation of proposals in paragraph 3.

If you approve I will also go to Geneva and sign agreement with I.R.O. on behalf of Australia. Ships will then start moving. [1]

1 Chifley approved the proposals in both paragraph 3 and the penultimate sentence of the cablegram.

[AA : A1068, ER47/3/9]