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Thursday, 31 May 1984
Page: 2314

Senator HARRADINE(11.43) —It is not my wont to speak on the adjournment debate. I have done so perhaps once in three or four years. The time now is a quarter to midnight, but I feel, after having heard Senator Missen's contribution, that something must be said in order to place matters in a little perspective. I consider that there is some confusion in respect of this matter. The confusion arises because of some person's desire to heighten anti-Indonesian feeling by using the very real refugee problem. They are two separate and distinct matters. I am concerned, as I believe are the Indonesians and the Papua New Guinea Government, with the problems on the Irian Jaya-Papua New Guinea border. I happen to be quite familiar with the problems that are involved therein.

I am concerned about the future of the bona fide refugees among those who have crossed the border from Irian Jaya to Papua New Guinea. It should be borne in mind that all governments have a responsibility to respect the integrity of refugees so defined. Or course the definition of a refugee is: Owing to a well- founded fear of being persecuted for reason of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear is unwilling, to avail himself of the protection of that country or, who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence, is unable, or owing to such fear is unwilling, to return to it. All countries, including Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and indeed Australia, have an international responsibility to uphold the integrity of refugees as so defined. The question in the instant case is to define who falls within that category and who does not-who, as Senator Missen says could, when things settle down, be able to cross back into the province of Irian Jaya. I am sure we would get a degree of agreement with that. But I am concerned about the article that was written by Kenneth Davidson in the Age this morning. It is symptomatic of the Alice-in- Wonderland approach that some people take to the very real problems confronting Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and the whole of this area.

Let us realise that Indonesia does have very substantial problems. Rather than criticising Indonesia we should be assisting it with the resolution of those problems. One of the problems is, of course, the need to develop the province of Irian Jaya-unless people take the attitude that somehow or other we can turn back the clock and take away from Indonesia its province in Irian Jaya. Does anybody suggest that that can take place? Of course not, but it appears that the type of argument that is being advanced, not necessarily in this place but in some areas of Australia, is that somehow we can go back to a situation of a west New Guinea. The fact of life is that Irian Jaya is a province of Indonesia and if Irian Jaya falls, the integrity of Indonesia will be under attack. I imagine that the Government of Indonesia, whichever government it may be, would be concerned about that prospect. There is a very real need to develop Irian Jaya. It has enormous potential-not only mineral potential but, if developed in the agricultural sense a potential to lift substantially the standards of living of the persons in the whole of that area, including some of the other provinces of Indonesia.

For a person such as Kenneth Davidson to take the attitude that he does in the article in the Age this morning is totally irresponsible. He says:

The relevant fact is that Australia is two or three times richer than Indonesia , and our military is bigger and better than the relevant modern segment of the Indonesian military.

He goes on to say and this a non-sequitur:

It might take about 40,000 fighting troops and another 200,000 back-up soldiers to police the PNG border, but this is Maginot Line thinking.

Before that he had said:

The bottom line is force. While this opens up the unspeakable abyss in terms of the debate, it has to be looked at, and policies decided on, even before transmigration is opposed within IGGI.

I think its time that in this Senate we had a more mature debate about Indonesia . Over a period I have listened to some absolute nonsense spoken about Indonesia and its relationships with Australia and with Papua New Guinea. I believe that there are wise heads looking at this matter, within our own Government, within the Papua New Guinea Government and within the Indonesian Government. I do not regard it as appeasement at all. But, having said that, I repeat that I believe Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Australia have a responsibility to uphold the integrity of our international commitment to the principle of assistance to refugees as defined and also to uphold the integrity of the countries concerned, including Indonesia.