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Wednesday, 7 August 1946


Mr CHIFLEY (Macquarie) (Prime Minister and Treasurer) . - by leave - On the 17th January, 1946, the Australian Government declared its intention of placing the Territory of New Guinea under the international trusteeship system established by the United Nations. Similar declarations were made by the governments of the United Kingdom and New Zealand concerning their mandated territories in Africa and Western Samoa respectively.

The United Nations Charter provides that the terms of trusteeship for each territory to be placed under the trusteeship system shall be agreed upon by the " States directly concerned ", including the mandatory power, and approved by the General Assembly of the United Nations.

In his statement to the House on the 13th March, 1946, the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) indicated that the House would be informed of the Government's proposals for bringing New Guinea within the trusteeship system. Consultation with other States which may be regarded as directly concerned is now taking place, and. as yet there is no definitive text which can be placed before the House.. A draft agreement, however, has been prepared as a basis for our discussions with other governments. I shall read the articles of this agreement to honorable members at the. conclusion of this statement, thus affording an opportunity for expression of views on the principles which the Government will be following in the negotiation of the agreement.

There are two fundamental considerations on which the Government bases its attitude in the negotiation of the trusteeship agreement, namely, the fact that Australia will have complete and exclusive power in controlling the administration of New Guinea and that the only limitation upon this control is the obligation to carry out the duties imposed by the Charter.

The Commonwealth of Australia, as the administering authority, must have full powers of legislation, administration and jurisdiction over the territory. This was the position tinder the mandate, and the Government is resolved that it must continue. The Territory of New Guinea, in which so many of our men died in battle against the Japanese, is of such importance to the safety of this country that nothing but absolute control could be accepted by any Australian government. Moreover, the welfare of the native peoples demands such control.

The Minister for External Affairs made this point very clear in his statement to the House on the 13th March of this year, when he declared that " in order to be acceptable to Australia the new agreement must, like the present mandate, designate the Government of Australia as the exclusive administering authority in the territory. Like the present mandate it must also permit the territory to be administered as an integral portion of the territory of Australia and under Australian laws, subject, of course, to the general duty laid down in the Charter and also contained in the mandate to promote the welfare .and advancement of the inhabitants."

Furthermore, under the provisions of the United Nations Charter, to which this country is a signatory, the administration may make use of volunteer forces, facilities and assistance from the territory in providing for the defence of New Guinea. We could not do this under the old C mandate terms. The Government, moreover, intends to go farther and to ensure that its complete administrative authority will be utilized to the full in providing, where necessary, 'for naval, military and air bases in New Guinea and for the erection of fortifications. No agreement would be considered by us which restricted in any way our right to provide for the defence of New Guinea and consequently for the safety of Australia. I must emphasize that such comprehensive defence measures were not possible under the old mandate. By bringing the mandated territory under the trusteeship system we are permitted to plan and carry out measures directly relevant to the security, of Australia- itself.

The second consideration of fundamental importance is that we shall recognize and gladly accept the general duty, laid down in the Charter, to promote the welfare and advancement of the inhabitants of New Guinea. This obligation to advance the social, economic and political development of the inhabitants is not new. A similar duty was imposed by the mandate. The Charter has simply redefined, clarified and elaborated that obligation. There are clearly set ont in Chapter XII. of the Charter the basic objectives- of the trusteeship system. At San Francisco last year our delegation was prominent in securing recognition of the principle that all members of .the United Nations responsible for the administration of dependent territories recognize in relation to them the principle of trusteeship, that is, that the main purpose of administration is the welfare of the dependent peoples and their economic, social and political development.

It is our responsibility to ensure thar. the. welfare of the inhabitants shall be the motive inspiring all such administrative acts. That duty we have discharged in the past as the mandatory power. Under the trusteeship system we shall likewise be faced with the necessity for advancing native welfare, and we must be prepared to discharge whatever responsibilities fall upon us in the execution of our obligations. The Charter, furthermore, require.Australia, in return for its full control, to give an account of its stewardship in the form of an annual report drawn upon, the basis of a questionnaire formulated by the Trusteeship Council.

The initiative in drafting the terms of the trusteeship agreement rests with Australia. Until the agreement is approved by the United Nations Assembly the right,? existing under the mandate continue in being. Before any trusteeship agreement in respect of New Guinea can be approved by the General Assembly and enter into force, Australia must, under the terms , of the Charter, be a -consenting party to it.

Eventually, Australian legislation will be required to give effect to the trusteeship agreement and to make the appropriate amendments in the New Guinea Act. As the General Assembly will not meet until. September, at the earliest, it will not be possible to bring the necessary measures before the House during the present session.

In conclusion, I should like to read to ' honorable members the draft terms which we propose to use as a basis for our discussions with other governments. These terms commence with the following preamble : -

The Territory of New Guinea has been administered in accordance with article 22 of the Covenant of the League 'of Nations and in pursuance of a mandate conferred upon His Britannic Majesty and exercised on- His behalf by the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia.

The Charter of the United Nations, signed at S.m Francisco on the 26th June, 1945. provides by article 75 for the establishment of an international trusteeship system for the administration and supervision of such territories as may be placed thereunder by subsequent individual agreements.

The Government of the Commonwealth of Australia now undertakes to place the Territory of New, Guinea under the trusteeship, system, on the terms set forth in the present Trusteeship Agreement.

Therefore the General Assembly of the United Nations, acting in pursuance of article 85 of the Charter, approves the- following terms of trusteeship for the Territory of New Guinea, in substitution for the terms of the Mandate under which the Territory lias been administered :







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