I am enclosing herewith, for your information, a copy of a letter I have today despatched to the Minister for External Affairs on the question of the contribution to be made by Australia to the United Nations Technical Assistance Programme.
LETTER FROM FADDEN TO SPENDER
I refer to your letter1 of 4th May, 1950, seeking my comments on your proposals for contributing to the United Nations Technical Assistance Programme.
In considering what contribution Australia is in a position to make to the United Nations Programme we must, of course, take into account the heavy demands on available resources which are involved in carrying out our own immigration and developmental plans both in relation to Australia and to the Territory of Papua-New Guinea. When there is added to this the contribution which Australia is to make to the British Commonwealth Scheme of technical assistance to South-South East Asia in accordance with the plans being developed at the Sydney Conference, it is clear that our capacity to participate in the United Nations programme will necessarily be limited.
Nevertheless, I recognise that implementation of a United Nations Programme along the lines contemplated in President Truman's 4th Point is important from the broad policy point of view and I should not wish to raise any objection on financial grounds to a reasonable contribution by Australia provided the scheme is adequately supported by the United States and other countries.
I note that you propose instructing the. Australian representative at the Lake Success Conference to offer an Australian contribution of up to �A200,000 for the first twelve months of the programme with a proportionate increase if the Conference should decide that the first period of operation should be eighteen rather than twelve months. My understanding is that this would be regarded as the upper limit and that you propose fixing the precise figure within that ceiling after consideration of reports on the attitude of other countries represented at the Conference.
The amount you suggest as an upper limit is in accordance with the proposals considered by Cabinet Committee on 22nd March which were approved in principle as a basis for negotiation. In fixing the precise figure for any Australian contribution within this upper limit it would be my view that we should limit our offer to an amount roughly proportionate to the share normally contributed by Australia to the annual administrative budgets of the United Nations Specialized Agencies which will be responsible for carrying out the major part of the programme i.e. our contribution should not exceed roughly 8 per cent of aggregate actual expenditure under the United Nations Programme.
I understand from your letter that you feel physical limitations may well preclude the spending of the whole of the Australian contribution in Australia and that, for that reason, you propose provision be made to allow the Australian contribution, which will initially be made in Australian currency, to be made available for expenditure in other soft currency areas subject to specific Australian Government approval at the time the transfer is proposed.
I shall be glad to consider with you the possibility of such transfers should the occasion arise. There is, of course, the difficulty that contributions by Australiana in currencies other than our own are liable, either directly or indirectly, to add to the pressures on United Kingdom resources which are already very heavily committed. My specific proposals will, however, require consideration on their merits in the light of all the surrounding circumstances at the time they are put forward and there may well be found to be scope for applying a portion of the Australian contribution in the way you suggest.
I am in general agreement with the administrative arrangements set out in your letter for controlling and co-ordinating the carrying-out of the proposed programme. I also share your view that Australia itself should not seek aid under the United Nations scheme and that no approach should be made for aid for Australian Territories, at least until the policy implications of any such approach had been fully considered by the Government.
I presume you have sent the Prime Minister a letter in similar terms to your letter to me and I am sending him a copy of this letter for his information.
[NAA: A 1209, 1957/5406]