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Thursday, 4 April 1957


Mr Ward d asked the Minister for Territories, upon notice -

1.   ls it a fact that although the former Director of Health in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, Dr. J. Gunther, now Acting Administrator, had urgently applied to Canberra for replacements for doctors on leave, he had received no answer, and no applicants for the posts had been sought by newspaper advertisement?

2.   Was Lae, with a population of 1,200 Europeans and thousands of natives, for months without a medical practitioner or surgeon and did patients needing urgent surgery have to be flown to Port Moresby for attention?

3.   Did the Territory's sole eye specialist leave the country many months ago, and, because of lbc Government's failure to secure the services of another specialist, can no person in the Territory now receive treatment for eye injuries, no matter how urgent his need may be?

4.   Has the appointment of a tuberculosis specialist been delayed for three years, resulting in failure to carry out an anti-tuberculosis vaccination drive amongst natives and many deaths?

5.   ls it a fact that although applications had been invited throughout the world by advertisement, the position of tuberculosis specialist in the Territory remained unfilled because the salary offered was insufficient to attract a man of the required standard and ability?

6.   If the position is as stated, has the result been that hundreds of natives are dying and European lives are in jeopardy?

7.   Will he make a statement regarding these matters?


Mr Hasluck (CURTIN, WESTERN AUSTRALIA) (Minister for Territories) - The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows: -

I.   Dr. J.T. Gunther, formerly Director of Health in the Public Service of Papua and New

Guinea was recently appointed Assistant Administrator and not Acting Administrator, in that service. Towards the end of November, 1956, requests were received in my department from the Public Service Commissioner, Port Moresby, for the temporary engagement, from Australia, of a Specialist Medical Officer (Surgery) and a Specialist Medical Officer (Ophthalmology) to relieve officers due to proceed on leave at an early date. Because of the short notice given, the Department of Territories first tried to make arrangements through the Commonwealth Department of Health and the Repatriation Commission for the desired relief, with the result that a Specialist Medical Officer (Surgery), who was previously with the Repatriation Commission, recently took up a temporary engagement with the Papuan and New Guinea Administration and it is hoped that another surgeon from the same source will do so in the near future. As no assistance was forthcoming in regard to an ophthalmologist, an advertisement was placed in the " Australian Medical Journal " but brought forth no response. However, an interested specialist has since been located and will, it is hoped, be proceeding to the Territory at an early date.

2.   Lae was never without the services of a medical practitioner but may have been without a specialist surgeon for a short period between the departure of the previous surgeon on leave and the arrival of his relief. My department has no knowledge of any cases which had to be flown to Port Moresby for surgical treatment.

3.   See answer to question No. 1. 4 and 5. Repealed endeavours have been made, both in Australia and overseas, during the past three years, to recruit a Specialist Medical Officer (Tuberculosis). It is not known why there were no suitable applications following the advertisements but a Specialist Medical Officer (Tuberculosis) who had carried out a short-term specialist job has now taken up permanent appointment with the Papua and New Guinea Public Service at the current equivalent of the previously advertised salary.

6.   No.

7.   I hope at an early date to be in a position to make a general statement on public health policy for Papua and New Guinea.







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