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Thursday, 11 November 1948


Mr WHITE (BALACLAVA, VICTORIA) - In the absence of th« Minister for External Territories, 1 address a question to the Prime Minister. In June last the Minister for ExternaTerritories introduced a bill relating to Papua and New Guinea. The principal purpose of the measure which was of some importance was to merge the administrations of Papua and New Guinea. I asked the Minister at the time whether there had been any opposition to the proposal at the meeting of the Trusteeship Council of the United Nations, particularly by Russia, as had been stated in this House. The honorable gentleman replied -

The Soviet view was that it would be impossible to envisage independence when all aspects of administration were refused and the plan would in practice inevitably prevent New Guinea attaining self-government or independence.

I observe that the bill has been withdrawn from the notice-paper. As the Russian representative at the meeting of the Security Council of the United Nations was so 'well informed, will the Prime Minister state whether representations were made to him by the Minister for External Affairs to drop or to postpone the bill? Were any representations made by the Soviet Embassy in Australia in relation to the bill? If not, what is the reason for not proceeding with the measure? Will the measure be reintroduced?


Mr CHIFLEY - The bill was not dropped because of representations made by any outside country. Before the bill was introduced I examined its conditions carefully with the Minister for External Affairs. It was intended to proceed with the measure during the present sittings of the Parliament but in the meantime some charges were made at the meeting of the Trusteeship Council for which there was no justification.


Mr White - By Russia?


Mr CHIFLEY - I believe that they were made by other representatives as well as by the representative of Russia. It was suggested that the proposal might be referred to the International Court of Justice. The Australian representatives made a strong protest against any such appeal. The Minister for External Affairs discussed these protests with me personally, and not with the Minister for External Territories - I do not think he was here then - and I decided that in view of what had been said it would be far better for the Minister for External Affairs to deal with the objections at a later meeting of the Trusteeship Council. The right honorable gentleman agreed to do so. I am satisfied that the objections voiced at the meeting of the Council were made by people who were completely uninformed about the position; and I considered that it would be best to allow the matter to be settled in the Council. It is the intention .of the Government to bring down a bill during the next session* »f the Parliament.







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