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Wednesday, 25 November 1959

Dr EVATT - by leave - In supporting the right honorable gentleman's statement, I should like to recall for the benefit of honorable members the basis of the Fulbright agreement and the subsequent arrangements. I think that the Australian Government alone, of all the allied governments which received substantial lend-lease assistance from the United States, made a comparable contribution in return by way of what was called reverse lend-lease. For instance, we supplied large quantities of equipment, including clothing, to the United States and other allied forces. Australia contributed so much that, when the accounts came to be looked at after the end of the fighting, there was almost a complete balance. Many other nations which had received great benefits from the United States of America were not in a position to make such a return, but Australia was. It was suggested by Mr. Chifley, who was then Prime Minister, that we would not ask the United States to forego the amount of the surplus funds held here. I think it was something like 5,000,000 dollars, although I cannot be sure of the exact amount. It was agreed that we would not ask the United States to forgive us that amount, although the contributions by the two countries were almost the same. There were tremendous contributions by Australia and tremendous contributions - greater, of course - by the United States.

Then came the agreement which Mr. Chifley himself negotiated - I think with Dean Acheson - under which the balance which we owed was to be made available for purposes like this and for other purposes such as the construction in Australia at Australia's expense of buildings for the United States Government - as something that would help to confirm the ties of friendship which had been established during the war. Those are the facts. It was an arrangement of that kind. As the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) correctly says, it was completely negotiated by the Chifley Government. Mr. Jarman, who was then United States Ambassador in Australia, and I signed the agreement.

I want to mention another matter - not by way of complaint, but in order to point out that there has been an oversight. There is a board of directors which allocates these scholarships. On it, Australia and the United States are represented. But throughout the long period of its existence, not one representative of the present Opposition in this Parliament has sat on that board as an Australian representative, although the present Opposition party, when in office, negotiated the original agreement. I ask the Minister, not to decide immediately, but to look at the matter afresh and see whether it is possible to include a representative of the Opposition. It should be, because this scheme owes so much to the initiative of Mr. Chifley. If this were done, the administration of the scheme would be helped, and I think it would be strengthened in certain respects. I entirely agree that this is a great scheme. Senator Fulbright, Dean Acheson, various United States Ambassadors and others from the United States have done a great deal to make it successful. I just want to add the proposition which I have just put for the Minister to consider at his leisure.

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