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100 Cablegram from Watt to Spender

Canberra, 17 September 1950

W.90. RESTRICTED

Technical Assistance Programme�Commonwealth Consultative Committee

An interdepartmental committee has had general discussion on tentative proposals for technical assistance prepared by this Department keeping in mind the general and specific requests already received by us from India, Pakistan and Ceylon through the Standing Committee at Colombo. Following Departments were represented: Prime Minister's, Treasury, Commerce, Public Service Board, Labour and National Service, National Development, Health, Office of Education, C.S.I.R.O. and External Affairs. Trade and Customs and Immigration unable to attend.2

2. After a brief outline by me of international background against which technical assistance programme must be viewed Doig took over the chairmanship. He suggested the following types of assistance and rough estimates of possible allocations of funds among them during the current financial year were examined on the basis that our commitment would be �A600,000 in this period:

(a) Training facilities in Australia in fields of agriculture, science, education, public health, public administration, private industry etc.

(i) Fellowships, scholarships and training awards to enable Asians to study in Australia. (It is expected that we will be able to provide 150 such fellowships etc. the limits being imposed by accommodation and not by training facilities. It is hoped that the figure could be substantially increased over subsequent years.)

(ii) Visits by larger groups for short periods to undertake specially arranged courses.

(b) Provision of specialists and advisory missions from Australia for short term work in various fields, e.g. agriculture, fisheries, geological survey, education, health, engineering etc.

(c) Provision of equipment for training for use of specialists, e.g. mobile and other educational aids, laboratory surveying equipment, libraries, etc.

(d) Grants for the purpose of establishing, maintaining and assisting scientific, industrial, agricultural, health etc. research or training institutions.

(e) Extension of facilities in Australia for training or for providing specialists for work in South and South East Asia.

3. Though a few members of the Committee were conscious of (a) the urgent demands for specialists in similar fields in regard to development projects in Australia and (b) general Australian budgetary difficulties, many useful suggestions were made which should assist in implementing Australian part of the programme. On the whole views of Departments represented at meeting were helpful and sympathetic and further discussions are being held with individual Departments re specific measures.

4. Committee recognising the magnitude of the task of providing Australian share of �8 million programme considered in some detail local administrative problems and were rather strongly (particularly Public Service Board and Labour and National Service) in favour of view that External Affairs Department should take more active part and undertake somewhat wider responsibilities for the handling of the programme both in general and in detail than we had hitherto envisaged. Public Service Board is firmly of opinion that if there should be any expansion of specialist and administrative functions to handle the programme it should be in External Affairs Department.

5. First meeting was intended to be preliminary only and further meeting is being held on 20th September.

[NAA: A3320, 3/4/2/1 part 2]

1 The cablegram was addressed to Spender in New York from Watt, and repeated to Tange in London.

2 See Document 97.

Last Updated: 10 January 2017

Category: International relations

Topic: History