Cabinet Committee on Aid to South and S.E. Asia (Minutes of meeting�22nd March, 1950)
The Chairman indicated that, in consequence of Cabinet Decision No. 31,2 a Consultative Committee consisting of representatives of British Commonwealth Governments would meet in Australia on 15th May, 1950, to consider the economic requirements of countries of South and South-East Asia and examine means of co-ordinating economic assistance to that area.
The Minister for External Affairs sought a clear indication of Government policy on certain aspects to enable adequate preparation of constructive plans for submission to the Consultative Committee and to give him freedom to negotiate at the Committee with a view to achieving the policy stated.
The Committee agreed—
(1) That there should be a general directive to Departments to give constructive thought to the implementation of the policy enunciated in the House; that is, deliberately increased commercial relations with each of the countries of South-East Asia; financial assistance in co-operation with the United States of America and other countries; training and technical assistance and any other forms of assistance which will help to stabilise conditions in South-East Asia and promote Australian economic and security interests.
(2) That the Minister for External Affairs should have freedom to negotiate at the Consultative Committee with a view to carrying out the policy set out above. In so doing, he should work to an overall limit of f 13m. in 1950-51, this sum to be subject to review after the meeting of the Consultative Committee. (This sum would include any loans which might be made available on a banking basis by the Commonwealth Bank.)
(3) That the Minister for External Affairs may arrange separately, or in consultation with the Consultative Committee and the United States of America, for economic investigations by Australian technical officers, where necessary, in the countries concerned, to examine industrial and agricultural needs, technical assistance requirements and other matters relevant to the proposals and relevant to the overall objective of establishing stability in the area.
(4) That the Minister for External Affairs should separately, or in conjunction with the Consultative Committee and the United States of America, determine within the total limits set out above, the countries to which assistance should be given, and the conditions, if any, which should attach.
(5) That the Minister for External Affairs, in association with the Ministers for Commerce and Development, should take whatever steps are necessary to promote amongst Australian businessmen an interest in commercial opportunities in South-East Asia, and in particular specialised industrial production for Asian markets, and, where appropriate, the establishment of Australian industries in the area.
(6) That in addition to this sum of f 13m. for South-East Asia, a relief fund of �1m. should be provided to cover contributions to Children's Fund, Palestine Relief, or any other special relief projects arising out of Australian international obligations, contributions from this amount to be subject to approval of the Government in each instance.
(7) That the representatives of British Commonwealth Countries at the Consultative Committee and their advisers be the guests of the Government.
[NAA: A1838, 381/3/1/3 part lb]