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Thursday, 7 August 1930

Senator DALY (South Australia) (Vice- President of the Executive Council) . - by leave - For the information of honorable senators, I desire to make a statement regarding the business to be transacted at the forthcoming Imperial Conference. The British Government has been in consultation with the Dominion Governments respecting the preparation of an agenda for the Conference, with the result that a consider able number of matters have been listed for discussion, and the inclusion of others is under consideration. While the agenda is not yet complete, it has reached a stage which enables me to make a progress statement to the Senate. It has been agreed that the subjects for discussion shall be grouped under the following three main heads: - (1) Inter-imperial relations; (2) foreign policy and defence; and (3) economic.

When dealing with inter-imperial relations, the Conference will consider particular questions arising out of recommendations of the recent Conference on the Operation of Dominions Legislation. That body was constituted in pursuance of a resolution passed at the Imperial Conference of 1926, and consisted of a committee of experts representative of Great Britain and the dominions. The Commonwealth Government was represented by Sir Harrison Moore, and his report, together with the report of the conference itself, has already been made available to honorable senators. The report of the conference specially mentions certain matters as requiring further examination, namely, nationality, including the status of married women, and other questions arising out of the report of the InterImperial Relations Committee of the Imperial Conference of 1926. These questions will accordingly be further examined at the forthcoming Imperial Conference.

As regards foreign policy and defence, the agenda will include questions relating to the development of a general peace policy, including the reduction and limitation of armaments. Various aspects of defence, and also any special questions connected with foreign policy which may require examination will be considered.

On the economic side of the conference, a large number of subjects has been suggested for discussion. This part of the work of the conference is of special importance to the dominions because of the need for developing their external trade, and for fostering closer trade relations between the various members of the British Commonwealth of Nations.

The general question of empire trade, including capital investment, the effect of tariff changes, and the extent and effect of inter-imperial tariff preferences, and also of other factors such as cartels, &c, will form the subject of a general review and discussion.

In the desire to explore all possible means of assisting the marketing of Australian commodities, we have asked the British Government to include in the agenda the question of the bulk purchase of dominion products, and price stabilization.

Consideration will be given to the question of the development of inter-imperial trade by means of trade-commissioner services, exhibitions, and general publicity. The whole question of oversea settlement is tobe considered, and the past and future work ofthe Imperial Economic Committee, the Empire Marketing Board, and the Imperial Institute will be discussed. Questions relating to co-operation in matters of agricultural research, forestry, and minerals have also been included in the agenda.

Under the head of " Transport and Communications" there will be included a review of the work of the Imperial Shipping Committee, and the Oversea Mechanical Transport Council, a survey of the adequacy of existing steamship services, and the development of civil aviation, cables, radio, broadcasting, and postal and news services. Consideration will also be given to the recommendations contained in the report of the Conference on the Operation of Dominions Legislation in regard to merchant shipping.

It is proposed, concurrently with the Imperial Conference, to hold a subconference to deal with questions relating to industrial standardization, and to consider the report of a sub-conference of representatives of government 'departments administering research. Dr. Rivett, Chief Executive Officer of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, will 'be in London at the time, and will represent the Commonwealth at this sub-conference. It is proposed to ask the sub-conference to consider also the question of wool research. This is a matter of very great importance to Australia, and presents scope for much useful work in regard to both the productive and the manufacturing processes.

Honorable senators will observe that the proposed agenda covers a very wide range of subjects, and that those sub jects are, for the most part, of vital concern to all members of the British Commonwealth of Nations. The Government hopes that the deliberations of the conference will lead to a better understanding of the problems confronting the various parts of the Empire, and provide a valuable contribution to their solution.

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