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127 Beasley to Perkins

Letter PHILADELPHIA, 3 May 1944

It is a great disappointment to me that our two Governments have not been able to work together at this Conference [1] towards an international agreement on domestic policies. Your statement [2] to the Full Conference recognising domestic policies were of international concern, gave encouragement to all small nations;

but now it seems we are to be disappointed.

The facts as I see them are as follows:

1. You made your statement enunciating the general principle that domestic policies were of international concern.

2. I made a statement and made reference to a draft agreement on employment policies which would have implemented your general principle, and then made the suggestion of a further conference to consider this draft. [3]

3. Your Delegation then worked on an alternative draft employment agreement, and after a few days made available a copy to us. [4] This draft admitted the principle that domestic policies were of international concern; but committed no government to any binding obligation to maintain employment or consult if unemployment became severe.

4. Dr. Burton of my Delegation suggested to Mr. Hinrichs [5] of your Delegation that our two drafts might be brought closer together before submission to the Conference, and my understanding obtained informally from Mr. Goodrich was to that effect. It was suggested further that agreement might be obtained between British Empire and some European countries before submission to the Conference.

5. Without prior warning you submitted your draft to the Committee on Items One and Two [6], even though your Delegation was aware that the draft was unsatisfactory to us.

6. You gave a press interview or press statement outlining this draft, and implying that some government obligation was involved.

7. In these circumstances we found it necessary to circulate our draft to the Committee on Items One and Two as an amendment to yours.

I have been in close touch with my Government on this matter, and in direct communication with the Foreign Minister, Dr. Evatt, who some years ago was the first to put forward the principle you enunciated and the idea of an international agreement. My Government is quite emphatic that obligations such as we included in our draft are an essential part of the obligation implied in Article VII of the Mutual Aid Agreement. We regard an employment agreement as vital in the context of the whole Article VII discussions.

I am approaching you direct on this matter because I feel certain that the facts of the case cannot be known to you. We had put forward a draft. We are now presented with a much weaker draft, and so far a refusal to consider our suggestions which were before the Conference from the beginning. Our only conclusion is, if this has been done with your full knowledge, that the United States Government is not prepared to carry out the obligations which appear to us to be absolutely essential to the implementation of Article VII and which you admitted in your own statement as being reasonable.

In these circumstances I feel forced to put quite definitely the position of my Government, and I intend to do this at the first opportunity along the lines of the statement which I now attach for your information.[7] I am most eager to evolve some way in which we may co-operate to further the aims of our two Governments in relation to Article VII and post-war economic collaboration generally, and to avoid any situation which might in any way prejudice post-war economic collaboration amongst the United Nations. I shall be happy to be free at any time you may wish to discuss these matters with me, and to consider with you ways in which the desires of our two Governments can be met.

In order that you may know how very serious the matter of an employment agreement is to us, I am attaching also a document which will show you at a glance how dependent the Australian economy is on world trade. [8]


1 See Document 115, note 2.

2 See Document 117, note 2.

3 See Document 117, note 3.

4 See Document 121, note 2.

5 Albert F. Hinrichs, Acting Commissioner for Labor Statistics, U.S. Dept of Labor, and U.S. Govt Adviser at the 26th I.L.O.


6 See Document 123, note 3. Item 2 of the agenda read:

'Recommendations to the United Nations for present and post-war social policy'.

7 A published version of this statement is in 'International Labour Organization of the League of Nations. Twenty-sixth conference, held at Philadelphia, 20th April to 13th May, 1944.

Reports of the Australian Delegates', appendix D, Commonwealth Parliamentary Papers 1943-44 and 1944-45, vol. II, p. 1523.

8 Not located.

[AA:A989, 44/1320/13/3]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013

Category: International relations

Topic: History