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280 Cabinet Submission by Dedman and Calwell

Agendum 1266A 6 December 1946,




1. In 1945, the President of the Board of Trade announced in the House of Commons that it was the British Government's policy to secure from Germany a knowledge of scientific and technical development for the benefit of the nation and to make such knowledge available to those who could use it. A similar policy was announced by U.S.A. and by Russia.

2. As part of this policy, a limited number of German key scientists and technicians who, after enquiry, are certified as politically unobjectionable are voluntarily recruited in Germany for service in Great Britain where they work under strict super- vision. In general, selection is confined to those experienced in industries new to the United Kingdom or in which German practice was ahead of British practice. In no case is a German brought in to undertake work that could equally well be performed by a British subject. The co-operation of the British Trades Union Council and the Employers Federation has been enlisted to ensure the success of the scheme which, to date, has worked very smoothly.

3. Confidential information has now come to hand from Mr. J. R.

Cochrane, Leader of the Australian Scientific and Technical Mission to Germany, that the British Board of Trade is contemplating a change of policy which will involve the employment of many more German scientists and technicians than was originally intended. A quantitative assessment of the magnitude of the problem is now hurriedly being prepared. For this purpose, the Control Office in Germany and Austria, in consultation with Departments, is, as an urgent matter, compiling a list of those German scientists and technicians whom it is considered, constitute a serious danger in the hands of others. If a new policy is adopted, it is expected as a corollary that more liberal conditions of employment may have to be offered. For instance, consideration is being given to permitting his family to join the German scientist as soon as possible after he leaves his country, and naturalisation requirements will be made easier. It is stated that these contemplated changes arise from information now in the hands of Britain and U.S.A. that the Russians are ignoring the de- Nazification policy laid down in Potsdam and are offering employment to scientific personnel on liberal terms irrespective of their political history. It is felt that a wholesale drift of German scientists and technicians eastward would increase significantly the war potentiality of Russia. Mr. J. R. Cochrane indicates that he has been informed that this whole matter will be brought officially to the notice of the Dominions at the highest level in the near future.

4. In Great Britain, there are two controlling authorities, namely (a) the Deputy Chiefs of Staff for Germans employed on Defence work, and (b) the Darwin Panel for Germans employed in civil industry. It is to the latter class that this submission relates.


5. Consideration and discussion by Australian scientists with high British personages, both in England and in Germany, reveal a consensus of opinion that from a long term point of view the utilisation in the above way of the best German scientific and technical brains may well be the most valuable form of reparations obtainable from Germany. Sir David Rivett, the Leader of the Australian Delegation to the recent London Science Conference, concurs in this view. Mr. J. R. Cochrane, the Leader of the Australian Scientific and Technical Mission to Germany, also holds the same view very strongly.

The following are some of the fields in which Australia can benefit by utilising the services of German scientists and technicians- (a) Brown coal utilisation and utilisation of other low-grade coals such as Leigh Creek and Collie types.

(b) Synthetic liquid fuels.

(c) Metallurgy, both ferrous and non-ferrous, particularly in respect of the production and utilisation of special steels and hard metals such as tungsten carbide.

(d) Production of alumina from Australian low-grade ore.

(e) Electronics.


6. A study has been made of the British system of selecting and employing German personnel. Based on this study, a plan suitable for Australia has been drawn up after consultation with the Public Service Board, the Commissioner of Taxation, the Treasurer, the Department of Munitions, the Attorney-General's Department, the immigration Department, and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. The plan proposed is attached as Appendix 'A' and its main features are- (a) Acceptance of the principle that only German personnel shall be approved for employment who can contribute knowledge and skill not possessed by an Australian citizen or a citizen of the United Kingdom who is willing to come to Australia. In addition, selected personnel to be certified as politically unobjectionable. During stay in Australia, they will be subject to strict supervision from the security point of view.

(b) Germans to be voluntarily recruited and to be employed by the Commonwealth Government under contract. If a case is established for the utilisation of their services by a State authority or a private firm, they will be loaned by the Commonwealth Government for that purpose and a contract will be made as between the Commonwealth Government and the State authority or private firm.

With a view to giving firms equal opportunities, it is to be understood that no one particular firm shall, of necessity, have the sole use of the services of any one scientist. All applications for use of a scientist would be reviewed and considered strictly on their merits by the Committee proposed in recommendation 8(d).

(c) German to be brought to Australia in the first instance on probation for nine months at the cost of the Commonwealth Government. At the end of nine months, if there is mutual satisfaction and if the German desires to stay, the contract will be renewed for a further period of six months. At the end of a further six months, it may be renewed for a further period to be mutually agreed upon.

(d) Payment of salaries to be in accordance with recognised Public Service Board scales for scientific and technical officers and to be subject to conditions in respect of hours of duty, holidays, sick and recreation leave, as applied to employees generally on the same class of work in the Public Service.

(e) To be subject to income tax and social services contributions as residents in Australia from the date of arrival until date of final departure.

(f) To receive an advance of salary before departure for Australia, cost of exchange to be borne by German. To be permitted to make allotment of salary to family in Germany and again cost of exchange to be borne by German.

(g) Establishment of a committee to consider and advise on requests from Australian sources and suggestions from the Australian Scientific and Technical Mission to Germany regarding German personnel. This committee, in particular, will certify as to the importance of the project, the technical excellence of the German and the unavailability of Australian or British personnel.

(h) The Secondary Industries Division of the Department of Post War Reconstruction to be the administrative and employing authority in Australia and approaches made overseas to be through the Australian Scientific and Technical Mission which will work in close co-operation with the British Board of Trade.

7. The admission of any Germans under this proposal would be subject to strict compliance with immigration and security requirements, and the approval of the Minister for Immigration would be sought for temporary admission under certificate of exemption for a period of nine months in the first place in each case.


8. In the event of the United Kingdom Government liberalising their present scheme and intensifying efforts to obtain German personnel for the reasons given in the opening paragraphs of this agendum, it is probable that an official request will be received by the Australian Government from the United Kingdom Government to co-operate. In that event, it may be necessary to modify some of the proposals which are summarised in paragraph (6) above, particularly in respect of requiring the German to meet cost of exchange in any advance of salary or in any allotments which he might make to his family in Germany. Other changing circumstances may compel various modifications from time to time.


9. We recommend, for the approval of the Cabinet- (a) That German scientists and technicians be brought to Australia, under voluntary agreement on terms and conditions set out in detail in the attached appendices and summarised in paragraph (6) above.

(b) That the Minister for Post War Reconstruction be authorised (in conjunction with the Treasurer where variations involve additional expenditure) to agree to modifications of the terms and conditions set out in paragraph 6 (a) to (h) where such are considered to be necessary, except where a change of policy is involved.

(c) That the Secondary Industries Division, Department of Post War Reconstruction, be the administrative and employing authority in the Commonwealth, on the understanding that this function would pass to any appropriate new Department which may result from certain contemplated amalgamations.

(d) That on the recommendation of the Employment of Scientific and Technical Enemy Aliens (ESTEA) Committee, and subject to paragraph 7 above, the Minister for Post War Reconstruction be authorised to approve the employment of German personnel and that the Director of the Secondary Industries Division shall thereupon complete the agreements required to give effect to any of the foregoing.

(e) That there be a review of the scheme half-yearly by the Minister for Post War Reconstruction and the Minister for Immigration. [1]

JOHN J. DEDMAN Minister for Post War Reconstruction ARTHUR A. CALWELL Minister for Immigration

1 Cabinet considered the matter on 10 December and approved all recommendations, altering (e) to read 'that a report be made to Cabinet half-yearly by the Ministers for Post-War Reconstruction and Immigration'.

[AA:A2700, VOL. 30]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013

Category: International relations

Topic: History