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Wednesday, 23 November 1938

Mr HARRISON - In close proximity to the scene of the recent disturbance, near Rabaul proper.

Mr Curtin - I suppose that, it will be located on a site reasonably immune from subsequent disturbances.

Mr HARRISON - The site was selected after the most careful examination of the situation. As a matter of fact, investigations are now being made at regular intervals within the crater itself with such instruments as are available in order that precautionary measures may be taken by residents at the earliest possible moment.

Mr Curtin - I have no doubt that care will be taken to ensure that the observatory will not need to be reconstructed at a later date, and that it will be sufficiently far away for safety, yet sufficiently close to enable effective work to be done.

Mr HARRISON - Dr. Stehnexpressed the opinion that the observatory should be capable of providing warnings of impending volcanic activity sufficiently in advance of an outbreak to enable the population to remove to places of safety. Steps are now being taken to establish such an observatory as soon as the scientific instruments and specialized staff can be obtained. Other safety measures recommended by the vulcanologist, such as roads of exit from the town, the establishment of a camp in a safe area, and a periodical inspection of the volcanic areas, have been in operation for some time.

Investigations that have been made clearly demonstrate that the chief administrative centre of the mandated territory of New Guinea should be located on the mainland of the island of New Guinea. The examinations which have so far been made have not disclosed a site that possesses all the desirable attributes of a location for the chief administrative centre. The possible sites are Salamaua, Wau, Lae, and an area near Madang, but none of these, according to the information at present available, is outstanding as a suitable site.

The question of a unified control for both Papua and the Mandated Territory of New Guinea was considered before civil administration was established for New Guinea in 1921, and on several occasions since then the possibility of establishing a combined administration has been investigated. Although the plan has many advantages, "there are also many difficulties associated with it, and until now it has not been found possible to formulate a workable scheme. The Government considers that the time has arrived for the matter to be further investigated, and, therefore, it proposes to make a thorough survey of the possibilities of bringing about an amalgamation of the administration of the two territories with one administrative centre for both. Pending completion of such investigation, it is not proposed that a separate site shall be selected for the administrative headquarters of New Guinea; but realizing that such a site must be on the mainland of New Guinea, either in the Territory of Papua or in the Territory of New Guinea, it is proposed that certain functions of government which must inevitably remain at a seaport shall he removed from Rabaul to the- mainland at the earliest possible date. It has, therefore, been decided that arrangements shall be made without delay to transfer from Rabaul to Salamaua the central- staffs of the Departments of Trade and Customs, Public Works and other activities of a like nature. The staffs of the other departments of the administration will remain at Rabaul until investigations have been made as to the possibility of a unified administration for both territories.

Taking advantage of the provisions of the territorial ordinance for the establishment of an oil advisory committee in each territory, I have appointed Dr. Arthur Wade and Dr. L. Keith Ward aa members of the Oil Advisory Committee constituted under the ordinances relating to prospecting and mining for petroleum in the Territories of Papua and New Guinea.

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