Sunday, 17th June 1928

17th June, 1928


My dear Prime Minister,

This morning Arthur Duckham [1] called to have a long preliminary talk about the Business Mission. I was very pleased to learn the way in which he and the other members of the Mission are visualizing their job. To begin with Duckham said that they all expected the ten or twelve weeks which they will spend in Australia to be as busy a period as any that they have spent in their lives. Then he strongly made the point that so far as may be they want to avoid the press and publicity, to cut out functions and to get right down to business. Duckham wants, so far as possible, to meet business men, first class agriculturalists and pastoralists, industrialists, and to get to the kernel of the many aspects of Australian production.

I told him that I felt sure such desires would be closely in harmony with your own ideas as to the Mission. [2]

Duckham told me that he had held one meeting with his colleagues [3] and that they had decided not to receive any official delegations in this country but to see carefully selected individuals. He made it dear that they proposed to do a good deal of work in mastering as much information as possible about Australia and Australian conditions before they leave but that their attitude on arrival will be that of learners.

My feeling is that Duckham and Hugo Hirst will make it certain that the Mission will take a Dynamic rather than a Static view of Australia.

Duckham is at present particularly interested in the possibilities of great improvements in the Morwell brown coal developments. He told me that he believes the Germans have, during the last few months, made further great improvements in the hydrogenation of lignite, to produce light oils. He proposes to collect all the available information on that subject before he leaves.

So far as personality goes, I think Duckham will prove a persona grata to Australians and I have little doubt that you will find him both personally pleasant and distinctly useful.

Yours sincerely,


_1 Sir Arthur Duckham, chemical engineer prominent in the coal industry; leader of the British Economic Mission to Australia 1928.

2 In a letter dated 27 August (file AA:M111, 1928), Bruce outlined plans for the visit of the Mission and emphasised that their education would be mainly achieved by personal contact.

3 Sir Hugo Hirst, Chairman and Managing Director of General Electric Co. Ltd; Dougal Malcolm, a director of British South Africa Co.; Sir Ernest Clark, company director, Secretary of the Treasury of Northern Ireland 1922-25.