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Thursday, 15 October 1964


Mr LUCHETTI (Macquarie) .- The honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) has used, on behalf of the Opposition, the time honoured device of proposing an amendment to the effect that these estimates be reduced by £1, In order to draw attention to the dissatisfaction of the Opposition with what is being done in the Territories and for the people who live in them.

The amendment covered nine points and the honorable member for Fremantle made an impassioned speech. He spoke with great feeling because he has a great concern for the human beings who live in the Territories and particularly for the indigenous people of Papua-New Guinea. The honorable member for Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson) has spoken, as he usually does, with great conviction and deep understanding of the Northern Territory. He has once again made a plea for the Commonweatlh to develop the Northern Territory and, for that matter, to develop the whole of the north of Australia. I support his remarks. 1 deplore the fact that in all the Northern Territory there is not one major water undertaking. Quite recently I asked a question whether there was any major water undertaking north of the 26th Parallel, and of course the only information given was about the work going on in connection with the Ord River project in Western Australia.

It is not my intention to deal with the amendment at this stage, but I do contend that what has been said by the honorable member for Fremantle, the honorable member for the Northern Territory and the honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Brimblecombe) deserves as speedy a reply as possible from the Minister. Australia's first responsibility in its external relations is the administration of Papua-New Guinea, the advancement of 2,000,000 primitive people to a condition of competence to manage their own affairs. This is the special and exclusive responsibility of the Government of this nation. The work, for which there is no published timetable, is urgent. For this reason the estimates for the Territory of Papua-New Guinea invite the closest examination. May I say at this stage that I regard this exclusive and special responsibility as one sacred to this nation. In no circumstances do we need the meddling hands of other people to make contributions which would conflict with the general purpose and character of what we are trying to do in the Territory of Papua-New Guinea. We do not want another Congo on our doorstep. We want clarity of purpose, we want direction and we want drive. For this reason the estimates for the Territory should, as I say, bc examined very closely, just as the work of lnc Administration of the Territory should be examined with frankness and honesty and with an appreciation of the fact that we live in a very troubled part of the world and that we may be living on borrowed time.

We must ask ourselves whether we are doing enough and whether we are acting with a sufficient appreciation of the urgency of the situation. Are we doing as much as we are capable of doing? I answer this question in the negative. I believe we are not doing as much as we can do or should do. We should apply ourselves with greater drive in the future. The estimates for the current year reveal an attitude of complacency and self-satisfaction on the part of the Government. The amount of about £28.5 million provided for 1964-65 is only £2.6 million more than the vote for the previous year, and when one takes into consideration revotes and increased costs, wages and salaries, little additional work can be expected from this increased vote. Because of lack of funds, health and education programmes will not be accelerated as they should bc. The building of a viable economy will be delayed. Urgent tasks in the Territory of Papua-New Guinea do not seem to be understood by the Government. Maslyn Williams made a statement on his return from Indonesia two months ago which 1 think ought to be heeded. He is a journalist of some note. A report in the "Australian" of 21st August 1964 said-

Australia had " four years of grace " before Indonesia would take an interest in Papua-New Guinea, the Australian author Maslyn Williams said on his return from Indonesia.

Surely that is a warning that should be heeded. Surely an opinion of that kind ought to stir the Government into a more purposeful drive and into providing a larger vote. Whatever we might do under the Colombo Plan or in other directions, the development of Papua-New Guinea is our responsibility. This is our special province in world affairs. Bishop Moyes expressed himself very clearly following the handover of West New Guinea to Indonesia. He said an explosive situation existed. He went on to say much more, but I cannot repeat all his words in the limited time at my disposal. He said that areas beyond the limits of West New Guinea would be affected. These are undoubted facts.

The New Guinea " Highlands Bulletin " made a plea that we should make our position clear, lt said that New Guineans want security. I agree with Ian Downs and other writers in the " Highlands Bulletin ". In the course of his statement in that publication Downs said -

In our urgent desire to create the structure of independence we are suddenly confronted with the fact that for nearly all New Guineans independence is associated with the idea that it is us who are abandoning them, not they who are getting rid of us.

These are the sorts of things that ought to be noted by the Government, for Ian Downs is one of the practical people in that Territory. He has had administrative experience and is now doing a grand job of work in a balanced way in helping in the development of the Territory.

Despite the double talk and propaganda of representatives of nations who deny democracy to their own nationals, we must face the fact that we are not doing enough and that we must bestir ourselves. It grieves me that we fail to do all that we could do in this situation. I think of what has taken place in the Territory, and I want to give credit where credit is due. I give credit to the public servants in New Guinea; I give credit to the people engaged in the missions; I give credit to the administrative people, patrol officers and others who are all engaged in a great work. They are dedicated people making their contribution. The selfless work of the missions in health, healing and education should be given greater consideration and respect in this country. There is evidence of devotion to duty of the highest order by doctors, nurses and others.

On my recent trip to the Territory for the opening of the Parliament there I met such people who are doing a grand job of work. I should like to pay a tribute to those who were engaged in the recent election in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. The magnitude of the task of trying to lift a primitive people to a capacity to engage in democracy was of an outstanding order in dimension and in challenge. Yet the work was undertaken and carried through with remarkable success. I think it is necessary, therefore, that we should admit that we have grand people there and that they need support. Let us admit our political shortcomings and correct our administrative mistakes - for there have been mistakes and there are mistakes. Many sins of omission and commission have been referred to in the amendments suggested by the honorable member for Fremantle. There are the problems with the police and the army, and now the problem, which can develop into a very great size, in regard to the native public servants who are to have a reduction of the salaries that they expected to receive.

Let us remember also when we are considering Papua and New Guinea - this is a regrettable and depressing thought - that most of the problems that have occurred in the Territory have been in places where we have had the longest possible association with the people of that Territory. That is one of the most disturbing things. Rabaul, Port Moresby and New Ireland are places where we, the European people, have had a long association with the people there, yet it is in these places that the greatest difficulties have occurred. The Government has decided to reduce the salaries of native public servants in the Territory to bring them to some 45 per cent, of the rates paid to expatriate public servants. This is a division based on race. There can be no excuse for this. This is the sort of thing that causes all the dissatisfaction and can be a basis from which could grow a political and social cancer in the Territory which could have most injurious effects on this country. The Melbourne "Age" of Monday, 11th May 1964, made a very pertinent comment when it said -

Genuine equality of opportunity will be impossible until the indigenous people are educated to a point where they can compete for equal salaries and equal housing with white people. But at least we have abolished the noxious signs of racial discrimination . . .

Yet this Government, with all the background of information available to it, is now prepared to bring about a state of affairs which must inevitably cause unrest and dissatisfaction. After 50 years there are still problems associated with wages, taxes and so on. These are the sorts of things that need not occur, for surely we know better.

I refer to a speech delivered by the former Minister for Territories, the Honorable Paul Hasluck, to the Annual Congress of the Public Service Association of Papua and New Guinea on 1st September 1962 in which he made the position clear and showed that these things were understood by him. He said -

In facing this task of reorganising the public service to prepare the way for an indigenous public service, we proposed first a plan for an integrated service in which the indigenous and expatriate officers would be fellow members of the same service, the expatriate receiving bis additional emoluments mainly in the form of expatriate allowances.

They are extra allowances for being away from home.

This proposal has the great merit in the eyes of the Government of avoiding what might seem to be a racial division of the public service.

The very thing that the former Minister for Territories drew attention to is the thing that is being practised in the Territory at the present time. This is a shocking state of affairs and it is the sort of thing that, placed within the knowledge of the enemies of this country, plays into their hands and destroys our cause. From every point of view, this practice of differentiation should be rejected.

I wanted to say something about health because 1 know of some progress that has been made in the building of hospitals and so on, but I also know of the shortcomings in many places, for example, at Kundiawa. 1 know of new hospitals at Madang, Port Moresby and Lae. Great work has been done and great progress has been made and great credit is due. But at Kundiawa one doctor looks after a 450-bed hospital which can accommodate 400 patients. He looks after all sorts of patients suffering from all sorts of ailments from leprosy to malnutrition and all the other ailment's that one can think of in this modern time. Doctors in that area have a feeling of frustration about which something should be done.

I conclude by saying that I think it is completely unfair that a new Minister should be placed in this onerous and responsible portfolio. This is a job for a senior Minister. I should like to say also that it is necessary for us to do promptly what we have promised to do for the people of the Territory. We should have a more forceful drive in education and health. We should develop a viable economy in the Territory. There should be equal pay for equal work, and there should be equal opportunities. There should be an avoidance of any actions or panic measures which undermine the cause of the Territorians and of ourselves.







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