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Thursday, 11 October 1956


Mr MORGAN (Reid) .- The future of New Guinea must loom more and more importantly before us in Australia. It is important to us because of the obligations that we have undertaken to the indigenous peoples of Papua, not only voluntarily but also under the United Nations Charter regarding trust territories. It is important also in the light of Indonesian claims to Dutch New Guinea, or Irian, as the Indonesians call it.

The problem of the control of New Guinea is a complex one, as those who have visited the Territory realize. Viewed from afar, it may appear simple, according to one's point of view. Some say, " Let the administration carry on as it has in the past ". Others say, " Hand it over to the natives ". Still others say, " Let the European settlers manage it '". The Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) even suggested in a recent speech that it may become part of Australia. Some people have no opinion about New Guinea at all. They are ostrich-like in their attitude. It is that kind of approach that nearly lost New Guinea to us some time ago, and almost lost Australia itself during World War II. New Guinea is Australia's Achilles heel, and unless it is well shod, and developed efficiently either by ourselves, or by a friendly and democratic government, it may well prove to be our ultimate downfall. Let us not make the mistake of being lulled into a sense of indifference or complacency about it. We cannot afford to ignore the storm warnings near our own shores. Only today it was announced that Indonesia had renewed at the United Nations, its insistent claim to Dutch New Guinea - this time with the support of fifteen Afro-Asian nations which have formed a bloc favorable to the claim. Recently Dr. Soekarno, the President of Indonesia, visited the United States of America to make an unsuccessful plea for that country's support of his claim. Last week, be it marked, he was feted in Peking by the Communists. Moreover, Mao Tse-tung, who is at the head of Communist China, pledged the support of that country to Indonesia's claim to Dutch New Guinea.

Surely the indigenous people of New Guinea should have some say in the determination of their future? The memorandum submitted by Indonesia to the United Nations is as follows: -

Dutch New Guinea continues to be a cancer in Indonesian-Dutch relations. lt will continue to be an irritant in IndonesianAustralian relations also while Indonesia adopts its present attitude. Communist China is using Indonesia as a pawn in its own 'game just as Russia has been using Egypt and the Arab countries in its drive for world conquest. Only last year Mao Tse-tung said that Australia was part of Asia, and fixed 1965 as the deadline for its conversion to a Communist Chinese province. Another very significant fact is that last week, when the foundation of the Chinese Soviet Republic was being celebrated, Liu Shao-chi was advanced to second place in Communist China, behind Mao Tse-tung, and over the previous Premier Chou En-lai. It was Liu Shao-chi who was designated as the first commissar, or governor-general, of sovietized Australia!

Quite apart from the designs which Moscow and Peking may have upon us. there are in Indonesia elements which may force their Government into precipitant action, compelling the Dutch to capitulate and make a deal in regard to west New Guinea that may be inimical to the interests of Australia, and the people of that region. Honorable members will recall how only a few years ago the young military clique of Japan forced their elder statesmen to take imperialist action. I would like to quote a cable item from to-day's " Daily Telegraph ". It reads -

Three leading West Java army officer? have been arrested and questioned about a plot to overthrow the Indonesian government. Army groups have been planning to set up a military or youth junta to govern the country. Major Djhuro. Djarkata city commander tried to arrest the Foreign Minister before he left for the Sue? conference in London. In Peking last week President Soekarno said he realized that members of the Indonesian armed forces " were not yet satisfied with the results achieved up to this time ", but he warned them not to go off the rails of democracy.

Perhaps he could read the signs and portents to be seen in his own country.

Recently, when I was in Tokyo, 1 met the son of a former Japanese premier who was dragged out of his bed and assassinated one morning by members of the young military clique because he opposed aggression and the proposal to invade and rape Manchuria and China. These youn£ officers eventually succeeded in intimidating the Japanese Cabinet, and those countries were invaded. There is a striking similarity between the position in Japan then and the position in Indonesia now. Japan was coming out of a feudal and backward state with the aid of the western democracies but was politically immature and, because of certain initial successes, became cocky and arrogant, favouring aggression.

Indonesia, at the instigation of a young military clique, may make the same tragic mistake as Japan, and over-reach itself. Whether that attempt is successful or noi it will be a very costly business for the people of Australia. In the light ot previous experience, and the changed situation in Asia, we must assume that these claims to West New Guinea and Australia are made in earnest - that these people are not just fooling. To be forewarned is to be forearmed. We must bear in mind that Japan, although denied a military victory, succeeded in its plan for a coprosperity sphere and for " Asia for the Asians". Only would-be collaborators and potential Quislings, and people who have no interest in this country, would urge us to ignore the ominous signs on our own horizon. Our own defence, and that of New Guinea, must go hand in hand. We have a sacred responsibility to the humble native of that country. We must carry out the humane policy laid down by the late Sir Hubert Murray, and past and present Commonwealth administrations, and honour our obligation under the United Nations Charter, ultimately to bring these people to the point of self-government.

Having visited the area, I can say that a great job is being done there. I echo the sentiments expressed recently by the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck), who said that Australia had no apology or excuse to offer for its administration of New Guinea and was working steadily and purposefully for the social, economic and political advancement of the indigenous people of that country. Any impartial observer will admit that our administration of the Territory redounds to the credit of all concerned. It is a credit, first, to the forebears of the present native population, who settled there under great difficulties; secondly, to the missionaries who went there and cared for the natives despite great hardships; thirdly, to the European settlers who help to develop the natural resources of New Guinea; and, fourthly, to the Administration, which has protected the natives and planned for their future.

The missions that have come to the region from the United Nations organization have made eulogistic comments about Australia's administration and have been agreeably surprised at what has been described as the greatest and most successful humanitarian experiment in history. However, the most recent mission said that a deadline for the development of New Guinea to the stage of self-government should be fixed. I quite agree, because I believe that there is scope for improvement, and for the speeding up of the programme. We should accept this constructive criticism and do something about it. 1 was most impressed by the potential of the Territory, particularly in the highland regions, which are suitable for agricultural, and even industrial, development. The Administration itself should be moved there. It would overcome difficulties of staffing and, because of the more refreshing climate, would result in more efficient administration. As I have said, certain areas away from the humid atmosphere of coastal centres such as Port Moresby, Lae, and Rabaul are suitable for industrial pursuits. Undoubtedly, the natives are capable of acquiring skill. I had the privilege, in company with the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell), who is the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, of inspecting the new technical college buildings that were under construction at Rabaul, and I must say that the workmanship displayed by the natives under the tutelage of the Administration officials was of a very high order.


Mr Chambers - That was true, also, of work being carried out at the Kokopo mission station.


Mr MORGAN - That is right. I think that there should be a new approach to this subject. We should reverse the policy of maintaining the indigenous people in their villages. They should be concentrated in larger settlements, so that modern amenities can be provided for them. Apart from the fact that it is uneconomic for the natives to live in huts as at present, their concentration in modern settlements, properly planned, would hasten the industrialization of the Territory.

There are more than 100 allied trades associated with the building industry. Ample man-power exists in the Territory, which has a population of 1,750,000 natives. Furthermore, it is rich in timber, including some that is being made into the best plywood in the world. I consider that, from the point of view of moral uplift, it would be far better to concentrate the natives in the way that I suggest than to continue to uproot them from their native villages, take them away for training, and afterwards send them back again. I heard some alarming stories about natives who were, taken away from their villages, and who subsequently went back. There is no doubt whatever that the natives have a high degree of intelligence, and that they are eager to learn and become self-reliant. It did my heart good to see how the natives control their own educational settlement at Rogeia. By a show of hands. 80 per cent, of the children there indicated that they would like to become teachers. I believe that, in due course, the natives could undertake self-government and that, as the Minister has suggested, the Territory could become the seventh State of Australia. But I submit that that is solely a matter for the natives themselves to decide. We cannot have it both ways. Acceptance of the proposal would involve all sorts of complications in relation to citizenship; it would need to be carefully considered. There is no doubt that the natives in the Territory are very grateful for what has been done for them by the Australian Government. Particularly are they grateful to the servicemen who helped to save their country during the war. The natives are very favorably disposed towards Australia, and I am sure that they want to continue in that way.







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