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Wednesday, 21 October 1964


Senator CORMACK (Victoria) .- Mr. Chairman,I listened to Senator Cohen with some interest but, as I indicated to the Senate before, I am getting rather tired of these itinerant carpet baggers from the United Nations-


The CHAIRMAN - Order! To which division is the honorable senator referring?


Senator CORMACK - 1 am referring to Division No. 896 - Miscellaneous Services, which provides for a total expenditure of £28,130,500 - a substantial sum of money which is engrossing the attention of the Committee at the present moment. I said that I was becoming tired of these itinerant visitors from United Nations organisations who come to the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, make reports, and go back and criticise. The essence of their criticism is that the Australian taxpayers should assume ever-increasing burdens in relation to the Territory. The Senate is indebted to Senator Gorton for providing a paper on this subject which we can equate to the estimate of £28,130,500. We are discussing what may be the capacity of Papua and New Guinea to become an economic and viable Territory in, say, the next 10 years. I want to express my personal thanks to the Minister, Senator Gorton, for making these figures available. On Appendix A of these papers which the Minister has kindly placed at the disposal of the Senate honorable senators will see the sum of money expended in the Territory. In 1952 the grant towards the administrative expenses of Papua and New Guinea was £5,470,000. For 1964-65 it will be £28 -million. I have drawn on a piece of graph paper - very roughly it is true - a curve to see whether I can project into the future and illustrate the expenditure in which we are involved in Papua and New Guinea. It is all very well for Senator Cohen to talk about building universities. What the Parliament has to decide, I suggest, when the Government comes to its Appropriation Bill, is what sort of financial escalator the United Nations has put the Commonwealth on in relation to Papua and New Guinea. This curve I have drawn to try to project into the next 10 years shows that the amount of money that will be required as a contribution to the maintenance of the Territory seems to be in the vicinity of £50 million or £60 million. On this graph, also, I have attempted to project a curve which would illustrate the capacity of the Territory itself to make contributions towards the financing of its own development and the maintenance of its own government services. These curves, as one might expect, tend to diverge. So we have the situation in relation to this escalating policy on which we are embarked, that the Parliament itself cannot know the expenditure in which it will be finally involved for the maintenance of the Territory. That is what I mean when I say we are on art escalator in relation to Papua and New Guinea.

The policy of the Government, as announced from time to time, is to see that these people have their independence when they desire it. But when are they going to desire it? Have we for ever and ever to find vast sums of money to keep the Territory of Papua and New Guinea going and to be constantly needled by the United Nations which contributes nothing towards the development of these Territories? This illustrates the worst of all worlds - the right of criticism without any sense of responsibility. I would like the Minister, if he would be agreeable to doing this, to give some indication to the Senate as to what we might expect to be asked to appropriate for the maintenance of the Territory by the year 1975. My estimate is - as I indicated - that it will be well over £60 million a year on the papers that have been made available to us. When wc look at some of the target figures that have been laid down at the behest of the people in Committee No. 4 - in New York on the East River - in the United Nations then we can see that that figure is not far off the mark. I was in Papua and New Guinea last year and to the limits of my capacity and to the limit of the discretion of the public servants in Port Moresby I went into this subject of education. On the present scale, it seems that within ten years the demands made on this Parliament to appropriate money for education will be somewhere in the vicinity of £25 million a year.

Finally, 1 would like to deal with this subject of reports on which Senator Cohen has been making great play. I suggest in relation to this report of the Currie Commission that no government is bound to accept the advice of any commission that may be appointed. A commission, acting as a rapporteur, has to obtain evidence on which a government can base its decisions. There is no need to claim that because Sir George Currie is an eminent academic - the is a man whom 1 have had the honour to meet and for whom I have immense admiration - the Government is bound to accept the timetable he suggests. The timetable has to be related to the economic capacity to pay, both of the people of Papua and New Guinea and the people of Australia.

I suggest that the Minister might satisfy the heart flutterings I have about the finances of Papua and New Guinea and the palpitations I get every time I see the sums of money that are being spent in that Territory. Just what sort of top stair can we expect in the next ten years? Are we going to be saddled with these increasing sums of money? Will this country be able to sustain the level of administration and the level of services that we are already establishing?







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