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Tuesday, 11 April 1961

Mr Ward d asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice -

1.   When was the Pacific Islands Regiment first formed in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea?

2.   What was the original scale of pay to the respective ranks to which native personnel were eligible for appointment?

3.   What are the details of any alterations in the pay rates of native personnel which have since been made?

4.   What has 'been the percentage increase in the cost of living in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea since the regiment was formed?

Mr Cramer (BENNELONG, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for the Army) - The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows: -

1.   The Pacific Islands Regiment was raised in 1944 and included the Papuan Infantry Battalion which was raised in 1940, and the 1st New Guinea Infantry Battalion. It was disbanded late in 1946 by which time five native infantry battalions had been raised. The regiment was raised again in May-June, 1951, on a permanent basis.

2.   The first post-war pay scale for native soldiers was issued on 14th March, 1951, and is shown in Table 1 appended. In accordance with Government policy, the rates were based on the pay and allowances of the native constabulary as promulgated in the " Territory of Papua and New Guinea Gazette ", No. 50, of 23rd December, 1950. It is emphasized that pay rates for native soldiers are assessed on an " all found " basis; that is, in addition to pay they receive free accommodation, rations, clothing, tobacco, soap and transport and, in certain circumstances, free rations and accommodation for their families.

3.   The first pay increase became effective from 1st June, 1955, the date on which similar increases were provided for the native constabulary. At the same time, because the original native pay system was 'becoming unwieldy with the expansion of the regiment and the introduction of additional trades, a group classification system was adopted. The increased rates for the respective groups are set out in Table 2 appended. During 1959 it became evident that certain anomalies existed in the native pay system, and a complete review of native conditions of service was carried out. This resulted in a recommendation being made for a revised pay structure, including the addition of a new, higher pay group. A rise in pay was effected by the member moving from the grouping held under the old pay structure to the next higher grouping in the new system, subject to qualification in his particular skill. The new pay scales, which are appended as Table 4, were approved by the 'Executive Council on 10th January, 1961, with retrospective effect to 1st July, 1960. Following agreement between employers and employees under which the wages of natives employed in private enterprise in the Territory were increased from 2nd January, 1961, a complete review is being made by the Papua and New Guinea Administration of pay and conditions of service for natives employed by the Administration, including members of the Royal Papuan and New Guinea Constabulary. Pending completion of the review, interim adjustments were made to the rates of pay of the natives with effect from 2nd January, 1961. Similar interim increases were made to the rates of pay of native soldiers of the Pacific Islands Regiment, effective from 2nd January, 1961, hut their rates of pay are also being reviewed simultaneously with natives of the Administration. The interim pay rates for the Pacific Islands Regiment are appended as Table 6.

4.   As I understood the situation, it is only recently that any natives have been placed on a complete monetary wage, and even then only those in urban areas. In the past, natives have derived their living mainly through the provision by employers of rations, accommodation and other services in kind, augmented by a varying cash wage according to the nature of employment. In these circumstances statistics on living costs of natives have not been kept





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