Thursday, 17th October 1929

17th October, 1929


My dear Mr. Bruce,

It is quite unnecessary for me to tell you how frightfully sorry I am that you should have had so bitter an experience during the last week. [1] I feel sure, however, that you will not allow the situation to worry you, because you will feel that, having seen the right thing to do, you attempted to carry it out regardless of consequences. No man has given Australia more devoted, unsparing and sustained service than you have. The news of the result in Flinders must have been horribly disappointing. Everyone here is most upset about it. I do, however, most sincerely hope that circumstances will enable you shortly to lead an effective and constructive opposition. I feel pretty sure that, if this becomes possible, you will take the line of assuring to the Government warm cooperation as long as it is attempting sincerely to solve Australia’s present problems along lines in which it is possible to offer any measure of cooperation.

The position in regard to Imperial affairs is I think extremely urgent. I do not know what your personal relations with Mr.

Scullin are but if, as I very much hope, they are good, I cannot help thinking that it would be a most useful thing if you were to make him aware of the amazing opportunity which he can take, if he chooses, at the next Imperial Conference or Imperial Economic Conference.

So far as I can see, there will be no one effectively to state the case from an overseas point of view in regard to Empire development, unless Mr. Scullin determines to do it. Mackenzie King [2] will not be able to relieve himself of the handicap of his obsession with the questions of Canada’s status; Sir Joseph Ward [3] is not, I believe, highly effective; Hertzog [4] and Cosgrave [5] cannot and, of course, India certainly is not in a position to give any lead. I therefore feel that the opportunity for Mr. Scullin to follow the lines which you would probably have adopted is one which is much too good for him to neglect. I do not know to what extent he has studied the problems and I naturally hope that he will realise that one will be only too glad to have the opportunity of giving him whole-hearted assistance in making the very best use of the opportunities which will be created when the Conference meets.

I have, of course, no idea what the attitude of the new Government will be in regard to my work. I can only hope, both from a personal and from a public point of view, that they will be prepared to allow me to continue my work without any very substantial change, for I think I can claim, without egoism, that my work is of real and substantial significance to Australia and to the general cause of Empire development. The position in London is, I think, quite definite. If the Board of Trade, the Department of Overseas Trade, or the Economic side of the Dominions Office, want to ascertain what is likely to be the general overseas reaction to a certain line of country, they tend to consult me because they appear to find that they can get a clearer presentation of the overseas point of view than from any other Dominion representative in London. The same sort of thing occurs on the Empire Marketing Board and on the Imperial Economic Committee. In regard to the application of scientific research to Empire problems, just the same sort of position exists; then, during the last eighteen months, it has become quite clear that, at Geneva, I have been able to represent, in a way that no one else has done, the attitude of the less industrialised overseas countries and have thus been able to challenge the domination in the League’s economic activities of a European point of view and of the dangerous tendency of the League to become associated with the single economic doctrine of free trade.

I would give a great deal at the present moment for an opportunity of a discussion with you but that being impossible, I shall, probably in conjunction with Casey [6], send you a private cable at the weekend asking some advice.

In concluding this letter there are two things that I should particularly like to say. First of all, I want to thank you for the confidence that you have given me and for the opportunities of doing the work which I have found intensely interesting and which I hope you have found really useful. To me the opportunity of serving you has been a very great pleasure. The second thing I should like to say is that I shall look forward, with great eagerness, towards a time when it may be possible for me once again to serve you and, through you, Australia to the limit of my capacity.

Please give my kind regards to Mrs. Bruce and please accept yourself this expression of my most sincere regards and warm admiration.

Yours very sincerely, F. L. MCDOUGALL

_1 The Coalition lost fifteen seats in the election, including Bruce’s own seat of Flinders. Labor, holding forty-six of the seventy-five seats in the House, formed the Government, led by J.

H. Scullin.

2 W. L. Mackenzie King, Prime Minister of Canada.

3 Prime Minister of New Zealand.

4 J. B. M. Hertzog, Prime Minister of South Africa.

5 W. T. Cosgrave, President of the Executive Council of the Irish Free State.

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