Thursday, 20th June 1929

20th June, 1929


My dear Prime Minister,

It was a pleasant surprise to receive your letter of the 5th May [1] which you wrote directly after receiving my letter of the 25th March. [2] As you say I must not, and in fact do not, anticipate the maintenance of ‘such an atmosphere of rectitude’.

I was glad to find the interest that you are personally taking in the Australian National Travel Organization. [3] I think this movement is distinctly along right lines.

The small group that I have formed here, consisting of Frank Pick [4], Dougal Malcolm [5], Gervas Huxley [6], T. Tallents [7] and myself, will be only too glad to advise in any way in which our services may be helpful.

I am taking up with Trumble [8] and Duffy [9] the question of the deplorable use which is at present made of the windows at Australia House. They are, I think without exception, the worst in London and the publicity value of the island site is at present completely lost. I am rather hoping that the powers that be here will think it a good plan to offer these windows to the Australian National Travel Organization but it would probably be best for any suggestions in that direction to come officially from the High Commissioner [10] rather than from me.

In the latter part of your letter you refer to the feeling that some propaganda should be carried on in the Dominions advocating the purchase of Empire goods. I quite understand and agree with your reply to Amery [11] on this subject but you have not told him what you thought about my quite modest suggestion that the Empire Marketing Board Poster campaign might be carried into the Dominions at the cost of the Dominions themselves. You may remember that I worked out some figures shewing that it would cost Australia a very small sum to do something of this sort. Perhaps you would be good enough to look at that matter again. I would not for a moment suggest that we should take any action along those lines prior to the Imperial Conference but it might be a useful gesture to be able to make on that occasion if we found the British people were really prepared to cooperate as heartily as they can in schemes in which Australia is interested.


The publicity in the British press in regard to this speech has been quite a curious record. The day after the speech was delivered, several papers made quite small allusions to it. These interested me greatly but I was unable to discover what you had really said. Then on Tuesday the ‘Telegraph’ published, as one of their major features, a long telegram giving considerable detail in regard to your speech. [12] That night I was dining with Niall [13] who had among his guests Duckham [14], Hugo Hirst [15], Alan Anderson [16], Sir Frank Clarke [17] and Andrew Williamson. [18] Duckham and Hirst were both extremely interested in the ‘Telegraph’s’ report of your speech and Duckham told me that he was having copies sent to the Federation of British Industries, the Association of Chambers of Commerce and in several other directions. I also heard that the new President of the Board of Trade [19] was greatly struck by what you are reported to have said but I shall know more about this tonight, because Graham has asked me to come and see him, probably to discuss the matter.

The report of your speech, coming just at the moment when it did, was very happy and should reinforce, in a marked way, the efforts which I am making to induce the Labour people to see their opportunities. On this point I enclose a copy of my article, of which I forwarded the typescript by last mail. I was very glad to see that the daily edition of the ‘Times’ published an excellent summary of this article. It has been well received and caused a good deal of comment.


The first meeting of the Committee to carry on the work of the Business Mission was held on Tuesday last at Duckham’s office.

Duckham was in the Chair and no other members of the Mission were present on this preliminary occasion but Henderson [20], of the Board of Trade, a man from the Department of Overseas Trade, and myself discussed with Duckham a number of points. As I think I have already told you, a whole time secretary has been appointed by means of a small grant from the Empire Marketing Board funds.

It was decided to hold a second meeting with all the members of the Mission present in the course of the next week or fortnight and to invite Oscar Thompson [21] to attend. Meetings are also to be arranged, one of which is to be attended by a representative of the Federation of British Industries and another at which a deputation from the Association of British Chambers of Commerce is to come and discuss the position. I particularly asked that arrangements should be made for Arthur Balfour [22] to be present with the Delegation from the Chamber of Commerce. He is far in a way the best man connected with that show.

I hope that, following on my conversation this evening with the President of the Board of Trade, I shall, before next mail, have been in touch with other members of the Labour Government and that I shall then be able to give you a more adequate impression of the way in which things are tending here.

Yours sincerely, F. L. MCDOUGALL

_1 The letter is on file AA:M111, 1929.

2 Letter 220.

3 A committee established by H. W. Gepp, Chairman of the Commonwealth Development and Migration Commission, and H. W.

Clapp, Chairman of the Victorian Railways Commissioners, ‘to attract people with some means to visit Australia’.

4 Managing Director of the Underground Group of Companies; member of the Publicity Committee of the Empire Marketing Board.

5 A director of British South Africa Co., Rhodesian Railway Trust and other companies; member of the British Economic Mission to Australia 1928.

6 Secretary to the Publicity Committee of the Empire Marketing Board.

7 Secretary of the Orient Line.

8 Thomas Trumble, Official Secretary to the High Commissioner.

9 V. C. Duffy, Secretary of the Commonwealth Military Board. Duffy was frequently seconded to positions in the Prime Minister’s Department and at Australia House.

10 Sir Granville Ryrie.

11 Leopold Amery, Conservative M.P.; Secretary for the Colonies 1924-29 and for Dominion Affairs 1925-29; Chairman of the Empire Marketing Board 1926-29. Amery had suggested the establishment of an equivalent to the Empire Marketing Board in Australia. Bruce doubted the political practicability of a dominion government supplying funds for the promotion of British goods.

12 Daily Telegraph, 18 June; Bruce emphasised that Australia was willing to co-operate in trade with ‘any Government which may be in power in Britain at any time’ to help solve Britain’s economic difficulties.

13 J. M. Niall, Managing Director of Goldsbrough, Mort and Co.


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

15 Chairman and Managing Director of General Electric Co. Ltd;

member of the British Economic Mission to Australia.

16 Of Anderson, Green and Co. Ltd, managers of the Orient Line.

17 President of the Victorian Legislative Council; a director of the National Bank of Australasia and of Goldsbrough, Mort and Co.


18 Chairman of the English, Scottish and Australian Bank Ltd, of Australian Estates and Mortgage Co. Ltd and of the London Board of Mt Lyell Mining and Railway Co. Ltd.

19 William Graham.

20 J. G. Henderson, one of the secretaries to the British Economic Mission.

21 Of the Aberdeen and Commonwealth Line.

22 Sir Arthur Balfour, industrialist; Chairman of the Committee on Industry and Trade; VicePresident of the International Chamber of Commerce.