74 Minute From Durie To Menzies

30th September, 1954

Import Licensing on Japan Today's submission by Customs [1] represents a complete about face on this topic.

Whereas previously Customs urged a cautious step-by-step process of assimilation to the non-dollar regime, their view now is that it could take place completely and immediately without detriment to Australian industry.

This goes further than I have been advocating.

I suggest that while complete assimilation might be practicable there may be advantages in adopting recommendation 16(b) on page 7-if only to forestall a charge of jumping from one extreme to another. There is also the point that there is more advantage in being later in the position of making a further relaxation on the items that may now appear difficult than in having to tighten up if those items do in fact become difficult.

There was some question earlier of what this move might mean to our total import bill. If the Customs basis of assimilation is followed there should be no change in the total. Any gains by Japan would be at the expense of other non-dollar countries.

I repeat my earlier suggestion that we should aim at complete assimilation on the general run of Japanese items with generous quotas for items which might be dangerous. The new basis should operate from 1st October but as with other licensing controls the new regime should first be worked out by officials and cleared with you (as Prime Minister and Acting Treasurer) by Senator Spooner before being put into effect. This will mean an announcement in about two weeks time.

In the meantime we can carry out the intention of clearing the principles of the new basis with Mr McEwen.

1 Document 73.

[AA : A4906, VOLUME 5]