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Thursday, 11 October 1956

Mr TURNER (Bradfield) .- I find very little in the speech of the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) with which to disagree, lt is not easy to speak in this debate, because so few of us have any profound knowledge of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. For my part, 1 must confess that my knowledge is extremely limited, and if I make some sweeping statements it is merely because, on account of limitation of time, I am not able to qualify them as I should like.

I am familiar with the terrain of this Territory, having traversed, with the 16th Brigade during World War II., the Kokoda Trail over the Owen Stanley Range. I have recently been to New Guinea and have seen what is being done in the administration of that territory. I emphasize, however, that my knowledge is limited, and what 1 have to say is very tentative. Nevertheless, one can come to some conclusions, and they should be put before the committee in this debate.

The problem of these territories is one of the most challenging problems that faces Australia, and not only Australia, but this generation of Australians. If I can do nothing else, I want to make it clear that in my view this is an urgent problem for us. The solution, T believe, involves prodigious consequences for this country, particularly concerning its safety. Gone are the days, I think, when colonization was a synonym for exploitation. Gone are the days when we could regard a territory like Papua and New Guinea as merely a fruitful field for missionaries and anthropologists. Gone also are the days when we could think that the process of bringing the people of that country from barbarism to civilization might well continue for generations, and perhaps centuries. The time, I believe, is much shorter than that; it is, indeed, very short. The reason for haste, which we might otherwise think undesirable in a time of peace, is that we are compelled, both by external forces and internal compulsion, to press on. We have seen the rise of nationalism in Asia. We know that that tide has been reinforced by communism, and we know that Asia has adopted advanced Western techniques that make the nations of the continent of Asia formidable indeed.

In particular, we are compelled to press on by the diplomatic assault of Indonesia. What may be the outcome I cannot tell, and what I have to say may be merely a chimera, a phantasma, or a hideous dream. But so many of these things have come true in recent years that one cannot dismiss the dangers of the situation, and, therefore, I emphasize them in the hope that they may not eventuate, but also in the belief that we would be foolish not to have regard to them.

Dutch West New Guinea is, if one is to believe what has been written, a povertystricken place, and a continuous sink into which is poured the money of Dutch taxpayers. One cannot tell how long the Dutch people will receive support in the United Nations for their claim to hold that territory. The whole of the Afro- Asian powers - the Bandung powers, let me remind the committee - will be ranged against them. We may hope that they will be successful in holding the territory, but they may have to relinquish it. Recently President Soekarno has been in Moscow, fraternizing with the Russian leaders, and has received a Russian loan, with all that that implies in the way of Russian technicians infiltrating his country. He has expressed opposition to all forms of imperialism, except, of course, his own - because his claim to Dutch New Guinea is nothing but the rankest imperialism. However, that propaganda against imperialism may well be turned against us, because Australia is a colonial power, and let us make no mistake about that.

Mr Joske - Is it?

Mr TURNER - My friend, the honorable member for Balaclava, asks, " Is it? " Well, it does not matter whether it is or not, because the Afro-Asian powers will represent it in precisely those terms. If we consider what would happen if the Indonesians were to gain a foothold in West New Guinea, we may well be appalled, because experts in psychological warfare would have a magnificent opportunity to operate on the people in our part of New Guinea. They are experts in the art of exploiting the fears and hopes that may linger in the dark recesses of the primitive mind, and they will use every avenue that malice can suggest, and every artifice that ingenuity can devise, to undermine the allegiance that the New Guinea people undoubtedly feel, at present, for the Australian Administration. They can play upon racial animosity, injured pride, and every grievance, real or imagined, that they can fabricate or exaggerate. That is the danger that we face. 1 am trying to shock the committee - if, indeed, a committee like this can be shocked - into some realization that the pace must be accelerated; that we cannot afford to loiter. These are the external pressures. There are also internal compulsions to be considered.

As the Minister well knows, within the next three or four years we shall see the emergence of a local New Guinean elite. Already there are a dozen New Guinea medical practitioners trained, or in training, at Suva. There are also about 60 New Guinea boys at boarding schools in Queensland, training to be teachers. These people will go back to New Guinea. How will they be received? They will be, I suggest, a people apart. They cannot, of course, go back to the squalor of their village. Will they be accepted by the Europeans in New Guinea? Will they be admitted to the clubs? I do not know what will happen. One may ponder upon what happened to educated Indians in the United Kingdom during an earlier period. From such people Nehrus are bred. I am not suggesting that anything else can be done about it. They have to be. educated, and the more who come here the better, but obviously they are people who can be worked upon by our enemies. This new phase will occur, not in a generation, or in a century, but within the next few years.

There is, also, among the New Guinea people themselves, great pressure for progress. I cannot illustrate this more vividly than by reading a letter which reveals the ferment in their minds for the knowledge and know-how which has helped Europeans to control their environment. Naturally enough, they want everything that the white man has. Here is a letter written by a New Guinean schoolboy to his teacher after visiting his village -

Dear Sir,

Please Mr. Blank. I am Yawal. speaking to you Mr. Blank. Please I am telling you that here in my village a new native society's store is opened and a feast will be held at the same time. So the village constable and higher people wanted me to spend my night here and have a conversation with them.

Please, sir, they trust me to give them some ways of controlling themselves and having a good living. Talking about some good ways of running their business and to talk with them to build a government school here. That's all. I am, YOU scholar,


Honorable members will agree that when the elders of a group are prepared to listen to a boy of fifteen or sixteen, who has been to a government school, so that they can advance their community life, they are not to be long denied. All this has been said before, but I think that it is a vivid way of bringing to the attention of the committee this internal pressure in New Guinea for progress.

I am not unaware of the immensity ot the practical difficulties. I have spoken of the difficulty of the terrain. Fortunately, those honorable members of this House who were with the 6th, 7th or 9th Australian Divisions in New Guinea, and many Australians who were comrades in arms there, are familiar with the nature of the New Guinea countryside. They know those towering mountains, up to 15,000 feet high, that make up the Owen Stanleys. They know those deep ravines, where one descends tens of thousands of steps by tortuous paths, and then must cross raging torrents at the bottom. They know the tens of thousands of steps that one must ascend on the other side of the ravine.

Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.

Mr TURNER - I had hoped to say something of the difficulties of the Australian administration due to the terrain - the segregation of the population into small isolated communities - and to pay a tribute to the heroism, devotion and ability of the Australians who have achieved so much without bloodshed, while retaining the goodwill of the indigenous people. But time forbids.

I have, in conclusion, four propositions to put forward: First, to reinforce our efforts, 1 suggest that we approach the World Bank for a substantial loan to enable us to pre:>s on with the task more massively. Secondly, if we can get young men in Australia to take up the burden, let us find them quickly. But if not. I suggest that we might be able to get education, health, and other technical officers from the United States of America to supplement oar own, and train them in our methods and outlook. 1 believe (hat the association of the United States with us in the task is of crucial importance. Thirdly. 1 suggest that we should have documentary films made - by commercial interests, if government resources are inadequate - showing the work of patrol officers, the various medical services, activities in the schools, work being done at fermentaries, the encouragement of local government, work being performed by cooperatives and research establishments, the results of extension services, and so on. lt is a stirring story, which lends itself to pictorial representation. And it is of first importance to let Australians and the world know the magnitude and nature of the problem, and the way that we are tackling it. World opinion is of vital importance to us.

Fourthly, we must study the possible nature of the political association between this country and New Guinea. The Minister made a momentous announcement when he expressed his hope that New Guinea, if the people so wish, should become the seventh State of the Commonwealth. This pronouncement, surprisingly, has caused scarcely a ripple. Yet nothing could have more profound implications. It would mean freedom of trade and business intercourse. lt is true that the products of New Guinea - copra, cocoa, coffee, timber and rubber - do not compete with the products of the mainland. But how can comparable wage rates be fixed, should competing products be produced, in order to avoid a charge of unfair competition? Freedom of intercourse means free movement of natives and Europeans between New Guinea and the mainland, with all that that would involve. But what does it mean in the political sphere? It means, that, at first, perhaps, some Europeans would represent the New Guineans in the Commonwealth Parliament. Later, New Guineans would themselves become members of this Parlia ment. Would they be entitled to vote on matters not affecting the Territory? Seeing that tariffs, taxation, wages and conditions must ultimately affect the Territory, surely in the end they must enjoy full voting rights in this Parliament. During the period of attaining political adulthood, there would be arguments about the strength of their representation and whether the New Guinea representatives should be appointed or elected. Finally, assuming that the population of the Territory increases from nearly 2,000,000 to 10,000,000, and the mainland population increases to 30,000,000 or 40,000,000, should we anticipate that one in four of the members of this Parliament will be New Guineans? What would be the resultant effect upon our national life and institutions? ls it envisaged that there will be intermarriage, miscegenation - a composite race? 1 come to no conclusion on this tremendous issue, but I suggest that much thought should now be given to the nature of the partnership that is possible, practicable and desirable when the New Guineans reach the stage where some permanent union can. if they and we so wish, be established between the Austraiian Commonwealth and the people of New Guinea.

Of two things I am sure: We should offer to the people of the Territory every educational opportunity that exists in this country, as well as trading ties and the provision of capital should be among our objectives. From these, it might reasonably be hoped that treaties of alliance for joint diplomatic action, and for defence, will stem, lt is clear that, during the next few years, much study should be devoted to the nature of the political Jinks that can be forged between the people of the mainland and those of the island Territory.

I conclude by saying that the problem of New Guinea is of major importance to us. It offers a challenge that, if we set the correct course now, can be met. It certainly offers a challenge to our statesmanship and to the young men and women of this country, lt presents a task, the discharge of which calls for the display of heroism, idealism, patience and capacity of the highest order. I believe that Australians can meet that challenge.

The CHAIRMAN - Order! The honorable member's time has expired.

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