WASHINGTON, 30 May 1944
At the suggestion of Mr. Beasley I submit in this paper my views
upon the manner in which the representation of Australia on the
North American continent should be organised.
The guiding principle upon which in my opinion any reorganization
should proceed is that the Minister at Washington should be the
authority to whom all Australian civilian missions and officers in
the United States should be answerable and through whom they
should communicate to any Australian authority and that in the
same way the High Commissioner in Canada should be the authority
to whom all Australian missions and officers in Canada should be
answerable and through whom they should communicate.
Adherence to this principle appears to me to be indispensable to
securing and maintaining a consistent and coordinated
administration of Australian affairs in this country, a uniform
pursuit of common policy and a harmonious and co-operative
The direct responsibility of missions or officers to separate
Departments of Government in Australia produces an independence of
action and policy from which many difficulties result. Different
and often inconsistent lines are adopted by two or more Australian
agencies. The Legation is often unaware of what is happening. The
United States Authorities are sometimes confused, sometimes they
take advantage of the inconsistency, and sometimes, being
themselves prone to an analogous failure in co-ordination, pursue
one course with one Australian agency and another course with
another such agency.
Moreover, room is left for rivalry and opposition between
Australian agencies and officers and that in turn, through the use
of a system of separate and independent communication, may then
tend to promote misunderstanding and even discord in Australia. So
in the reverse way difficulties in Australia may be reflected in
this country and indeed there may be a constant action and
reaction between them.
It is not enough to give the Minister a latent or supervisory
authority over missions to be used at his discretion. There should
be real centralization of responsibility and of direction in
This should not and in practice would not mean that work done here
in the interests of any Department in Australia would be less
effectively influenced or directed by that Department or that
agencies or officers doing the work would be less in touch with
that Department. It means that all Departments look to the
Minister as the political and administrative authority in U.S.A.
responsible for the execution of the work entrusted to the various
agencies and that under him there would exist one central
communications office. The missions and agencies at present
established in U.S.A. are the following;
(1) The Military Mission.
(2) The R.A.A.F. Mission.
In time of peace it might be considered desirable that these two
service missions (if they be continued) should be governed by the
same principle. But the Combined Chiefs of Staff and particularly
the U.S.A. Chiefs of Staff in the present war are opposed to the
interposition of civilian authority.
(3) The Scientific Liaison. This agency, the head  of which has
the diplomatic rank of Attache, is posted here by the C.S.I.R. It
is responsible to the Minister and communicates through Legation
channels precisely in the manner recommended for all agencies. The
system has I believe proved completely satisfactory.
(4) The, Australian News and Information Bureau. This agency
operates from New York independently of the Legation. It should be
responsible to the Minister as the central authority and should
have an officer in Washington.
(5) The Trade Commissioner.  The office of the Commissioner is
in New York where he acts as the Australian representative for
most purposes, purposes many of which are unconnected with trade.
The variety of the work he is called upon to do sufficiently shows
the need of an Australian office of some sort in New York, but I
do not think that it should continue to be that of Trade
Commissioner. The work of watching and promoting the commercial
and trading interests of Australia in America should be done by an
officer who forms part of the staff of the Legation. He should
rank as a Commercial Counsellor or Attache His province should,
besides, include the Supply Committee of U.N.R.R.A., the Food
Commission, the Wheat Council and the Cereals Committee, though of
course he himself would not sit upon all or perhaps any of these
bodies. It is of course possible that upon some of them Australia
might be represented by officials of higher status than the
Commercial Counsellor, but even so it should be incumbent upon
them to see that, as the officer of the Legation responsible to
the Minister in such matters, he is kept regularly advised. The
appointment of Commercial Counsellor would no doubt be made on the
advice of the Department of Commerce.
I would recommend the abolition of the office of Trade
Commissioner in U.S.A. and the substitution of consular
representation in New York.
(6) There is a Treasury Representative.  His work is done from
New York where he forms part of the organization of Australian War
Supplies Procurement. This has always appeared to me anomalous and
unsatisfactory. The Treasury Representative should be responsible
directly to the Minister and otherwise be independent in the
performance of his duties, which should extend to the finances of
all agencies in U.S.A., not excepting War Supplies Procurement.
(7) There is an Australian Shipping Representative  in
Washington. In practice he has treated himself as answerable to
the Minister. Through him he is responsible to the Department of
Supply and Shipping. For some time to come it appears that it will
be necessary to have in Washington someone who understands
shipping and can command the confidence of the B.S.M. ,
B.M.W.T.  and W.S.A. , though it may be that the importance
of his duties is diminishing and will continue to diminish.
The Assistant Secretary. of the Commerce Department who has been
in Washington for 2 1/2 years has undertaken these duties in the
past and has combined with them a great variety of other
functions, many of which have been performed at the request of the
Minister and on behalf of or for the assistance of the Legation,
there being no Commercial Counsellor.
(8) Incomparably the largest agency is Australian War Supplies
Procurement. This organization was established as entirely
independent of the Minister. it is responsible to the Department
of Trade and Customs.
In my opinion experience has shown that these arrangements should
be reconsidered. It is no part of the purpose of this paper to
deal with the difficulties which have arisen or their cause or
with the reasons which in the past may have actuated or justified
the adoption of the present form of organization in respect of
procurement. But, at the present stage and having regard to the
tendencies in relation to supplies from this continent at present
manifesting themselves, I have no doubt of the wisdom of an
uncompromising application to the procurement and supply
organization of the principle stated at the opening of this paper.
(9) There remains the Legation itself. In my opinion the Legation
is inadequately staffed. It needs at least two additional
diplomatic officers of experience, training and standing and a
chief clerk upon whom the duties of staff and office management
would rest, and another clerk.
In some measure the latter positions have been met, temporarily at
least, by officers from the. cypher room. With the appointment of
a Commercial Counsellor, the retention of the Financial Counsellor
whose importance will not diminish for some years, and the
appointment of the foregoing, the Legation should I think be
staffed sufficiently, provided that additional clerical help is
obtainable, should the increased responsibilities of the Minister
be found to make it necessary.
So far I have dealt with existing agencies. As to new agencies I
think that a Consulate should be created in New York. It should
perform all the usual duties of a Consulate and be responsible to
the Minister in Washington. A Commercial Officer should be
attached to the Consulate. In San Francisco I do not think that
there is at present any need of a Consulate. it happens that the
British Consul General (Mr. Fisher) has taken a most active,
energetic and personal interest in the care of the large volume of
Australian travellers coming through San Francisco since the
opening of the war against Japan and that he has upon his staff
officers who follow his lead and show unusual efficiency in
dealing with passport, priorities, transport and other
arrangements. It would I think serve no useful purpose to
establish a Consulate to take over these functions at present.
Subject however to considerations of expense which perhaps should
not be left altogether out of account a Consulate at San Francisco
may some time prove to be desirable. I do not think one at
Honolulu is necessary.
In respect of procurement or indeed any other matter, except
possibly shipping, I do not think that functions performed in
Canada should be carried out by an Australian agency formed or
having its headquarters in U.S.A. They are two different
countries, the problems are different and the controls should be
separated. There is no difficulty in maintaining co-ordination
through the Minister at Washington and the High Commissioner at
Ottawa and indeed through subordinate channels.