As you are probably aware negotiations have been carried on at
official and Ministerial levels between representatives of your
Government and representatives of the Australian Government in
London in regard to the provision of shipping for the carriage of
migrants from the United Kingdom to Australia during 1947 under
the free and assisted passage schemes.
2. The situation in regard to the acute shortage of shipping and
the difficulty with which your Government is faced in endeavouring
to meet global demands is fully appreciated.
3. It was anticipated that following the end of the war the
shipping position would have improved and our migration planning
has been on the basis that 35,000 migrant passages would be
available for 1947. Negotiations to date between representatives
of our Governments indicate that number of berths that can be made
available for migrants may be less than 6,500 during 1947 and the
highest figure that has been mentioned is 10,000. These
negotiations are still proceeding.
4. Following upon a Conference held with the Premiers of all
States in August last the State Governments undertook a survey of
their absorptive capacity for migrants during 1947. These surveys
have been completed and show that throughout the Commonwealth
46,661 migrants could be employed over a wide range of industries
and occupations. This figure excludes dependents and also groups
of child migrants who may be introduced by child migration
organisations. The figure of 46,661 relates to jobs available and
is based conservatively. In terms of migrants it represents
upwards of 120,000 men, women and children.
5. The future development and security of Australia will very
largely depend on the augmenting of our population by immigration
and the target aimed at by the Commonwealth Government is the
introduction of 70,000 migrants per annum from all sources. I
realize that shipping and other factors will prevent this target
being achieved for some time yet and that during 1947 only a
proportion of the migrants offering in the United Kingdom can be
lifted. Incidentally migration inquiries recorded at Australia
House, London, up to the end of October cover over 156,000 men,
women and children.
6. Immigration is of great national as well as political
significance to Australia and serious repercussions will arise
unless a reasonable allocation of shipping for migrants in
relation to our requirements can be made for 1947. Knowing your
many problems it is with considerable reluctance that I feel
obliged to seek your intervention and assistance to ensure that
shipping is made available to lift a minimum of 26,000 migrants
under the free and assisted passage schemes during 1947.
7. I have referred to the national and political significance of
this problem to Australia and I feel sure that you, with me, will
also appreciate the importance from the Empire aspect of rendering
assistance to us in our desire that our migration plans for 1947
should provide for a substantial quota of our kinsfolk from the
United Kingdom. I do therefore earnestly request your interest and
efforts in securing for Australia an allocation of migrant
passages for 1947 on the basis indicated in the preceding
paragraph. After carefully weighing every consideration I feel
strongly that failure to achieve this objective will seriously
embarrass my Government's position on the question of immigration.