Thursday, 16th August 1928

16th August, 1928


My dear Prime Minister,


Since I last wrote to you it occurred to me that, as there are 27 members of various Empire Parliaments in London waiting to proceed to Canada, it would be a happy idea if the Empire Marketing Board entertained them to lunch in order to give them an opportunity of getting some knowledge of the work of the Board. I had a little difficulty in persuading Ministers that this was desirable, because there will be no Minister available in London to take the Chair. To my mind, this is one of the main attractions because J.

H. Thomas [1] will take the Chair and we shall have a firstclass demonstration of the interest of Labour in the Empire and of the entirely non-party nature of the Board itself. The lunch is, therefore, taking place on Friday and the delegates will obtain their impressions of the work of the Board from Thomas himself, from Sir Thomas Allen, of the Co-operative Wholesale Society, who will describe the Board’s work on marketing and publicity and in a very brief statement from myself on research matters.


On Friday last I had a long talk with Sir Arthur Salter, the Director of the Financial and Economic Organisation of the League, who happened to be in London. I have prepared a note of this conversation, a copy of which I enclose. I have also arranged to discuss the position of the attitude which the Australian Delegation should take up with Casey [2] and Officer [3] this evening. I shall then decide, as a result of that discussion, whether or not it is necessary to worry you with a cable.


The Tobacco Report of the Imperial Economic Committee was published last Friday. [4] You will, of course, receive copies direct from the Empire Marketing Board. In case there should be any delay, I am enclosing a copy herewith.

You will probably remember that, with our earlier reports, I used to forward you the final typescript directly it had been signed.

Now that I am in direct communication with the D. & M. Commission, the C.C.S.I.R. and the Minister for Markets [5], I am not forwarding these reports to you until they are fully printed as I do not want to waste your time with suggestions that you should read reports under unnecessarily difficult conditions.

The Tobacco Report obtained quite good publicity and I am enclosing a selection of cuttings which you might just glance at.

The Timber Report [6] has been published to-day and I have been asked by Chadwick [7] to inform you that, as it was desirable that the members of the Empire Forestry Conference should receive copies of this report at the time when they commence their Plenary Sessions at Canberra, the Commonwealth Government will be receiving the printed report simultaneously with Members of the Conference. Chadwick recognises that it would have been better had the report been in your hands and in those of Julius [8], Gepp [9] and Rivett [10] before they reached the Conference but, under these circumstances, he feels sure that you will have no objection. As it happens I forwarded, about a fortnight ago, the typescript of the report to Rivett and to Gepp.

Last Sunday’s ‘Observer’ published a cable from its Sydney Correspondent stating that the date of Commonwealth General Election had definitely been fixed for November 17th and in fact giving details that the date had been postponed for a week in order to avoid clashing with one of the Melbourne Race Meetings.

There has been no confirmation of this rumour and I therefore presume that the matter is still undecided. [11]

Mr. D. S. Jackson, M.H. R., of the Bass Division of Tasmania, called on me yesterday and seemed extremely confident as to the electoral prospects. We had quite an interesting talk about Australian development and I promised to get him out some information about the possibilities of an export industry in mutton and lamb and in pig products from Northern Tasmania.


From various communications which the London Agency of the Australian Dried Fruit Board have received, I have gathered that the Commonwealth Government has not definitely made up its mind to continue the for contribution towards the joint Publicity Scheme. [12] This may not be the case but if there is any hesitation on behalf of the Cabinet, I certainly think that it is most important that the work which has been so effectively started here should be continued.

There is probably in the mind of the public and perhaps even of Ministers some confusion of thought on the respective provinces of the Empire Marketing Board and the Australian Publicity Scheme in regard to publicity. The situation was set out pretty clearly in the Second Annual Report of the Empire Marketing Board [13], on page 36, of which a copy has been forwarded to you. There can be no doubt that Hyland [14] has done very good painstaking work over here and he is now working with the closest harmony with the staff of the E.M.B.

The Board itself feels, and I think rightly, that it cannot undertake a series of large scale campaigns for the particular products of particular Dominions or Colonies but it is prepared to continue its general campaign of background advertising illustrating its point by constant references to particular Empire commodities. This provides a background within which, for a quite reasonable expenditure, Australia is able to make a really firstclass case for her own products. Since your Government decided on the joint Publicity Scheme, your example has been followed, with some variations, by Canada, Southern Rhodesia is about to follow suit in regard to Tobacco and other Dominion Governments, such as the Irish Free State, are very interested and closely studying the Australian example.

I do not think it really at all likely that the Commonwealth Government is reconsidering its attitude in this matter and confidently expect to find that the scheme will be gone ahead with.

Yours sincerely, F. L. MCDOUGALL

_1 Labour M.P.; Colonial Secretary 1924.

2 R. G. Casey, Commonwealth Government’s Liaison Officer in London.

3 Keith Officer, of the External Affairs Branch, Prime Minister’s Department, Canberra; adviser to the Australian delegation to the League of Nations General Assembly 1928.

4 Reports of the Imperial Economic Committee, Ninth Report, Tobacco, Cruel. 3168.

5 Thomas Paterson.

6 Reports of the Imperial Economic Committee, Tenth Report, Timber, Cmd. 3175.

7 Sir David Chadwick, Secretary to the Imperial Economic Committee.

8 George Julius, Chairman of the Commonwealth Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.

9 H. W. Gepp, Chairman of the Commonwealth Development and Migration Commission.

10 David Rivett, Deputy Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Commonwealth Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.

11 The election was in fact held on 17 November.

12 See note 11 to Letter 80.

13 Empire Marketing Board, May 1927 to May 1928, E.M.B. 9, 1928.

14 A. E. Hyland, Director of Trade Publicity in London for the joint Publicity Committee.