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Thursday, 21 May 1970


Mr GILES (Angas) - 1 think it is right that someone from this side of the House should follow the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam), particularly in view of one or two comments that he has made. My comments will be in the highest possible vein, so I hope that 1 heard what he said accurately. My note is that he said the last Select Committee - in other words, the previous one - did not talk about ultimate arrangements. This is quite contrary to my understanding of the work of the previous Select Committee. With respect, I think this point wants questioning if I am not in a position to refute it. Nevertheless, I think it can be refuted on the evidence of the statement just made by the Minister for External Territories (Mr Barnes). I would like to start by commenting on that point.

The Minister's statement largely deals with the job of the Select Committee on Constitutional Development. 1 want to say briefly that I had the opportunuity while in New Guinea with the delegation on Anzac Day of attending a meeting of the Select Committee at one of the points where it took evidence in the Gazelle Peninsula. It was a most enlightening experience. Views were put forward by a wide variety of Tolais, I should imagine. They were put over in a most erudite and sensible fashion. There are other lessons that 1 think one can absorb by sitting in for an hour or two, as the honourable member for Hunter (Mr James) and I did on that occasion. I think the first attitude of importance that was conveyed to me was that in many cases it is not only the members of this House who do not know precisely what is meant by the Westminster system. The indigenous people of the Territory when attempting to refer to it and to criticise it are also in that position. Views were put forward in relation to the Westminster system. Views were put forward concerning the presidential system, as it was termed on this occasion. These views, as examples of commonsense and logic, were first-class and must be commended. Again I make the comment that their views on the presidential system, frankly, are not in accord with my own understanding of the presidential system, for what that proves.

The debate then went on and, for the sake of the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron), I must say it continued without any interruptions or any influence being exerted. It was a thoroughly good example of proper tapping of people's feelings. People put their views. The speakers were then subjected to questioning by members of the committee who were in attendance on that occasion. But where they really got into deep water, if ] may use that term with respect, was when they got into a composite of a federal and 2- House system or bicameral system. One can only sit back and wonder whether in fact this is not a form of completely mythical thinking that has no reality in relation to a society of the Territories of Papua and New Guinea. 1 saw fit to comment to one or two people afterwards that coming from a State Upper House in a Federal system and going to a Lower House in the central government - the Commonwealth Government of the country - I thought I was in a pretty fair position to say that the majority of the people of Australia do not know the difference, even in our sophisticated society, between one House and another. Views were put forward on this occasion that an attempt should be made to transform the Federal system with a bicameral system in order to satisfy their aspirations for localised control. But that can so obviously be carried out in innumerable other ways without wishing to take the worst features of the Australian Constitutional system to the Territories of Papua and New Guinea. I make those comments in good faith.I was tremendously intrigued by the views put forward. They were put forward wonderfully well and remarkably concisely within the limits of their understanding of the position. However,I would also add those reservations which I have mentioned as to the evidence that was received by this Select Committee at that part of the Territory.

If I may, I would like to deny as best I can the contention of the Leader of the Opposition that in some way force is being used to stop the formation of the party structure in the Territory of Papua and New

Guinea. I do not believe this is true. I have had first hand evidence of 2 moves to form parties in the last 6 months in the Territory. We all know that a party of some consequences has already been formed. I refer to the Pangu Party. I am quite sure this is a trend that will evolve. I would like to make the point that, when we consider the remarkable and successful exercise in lifting a people without much training and certainly without an infrastructure at all from the stage they were at immediately after the last war to the peak that they have reached today sociologically, in terms of political awareness and in terms of economic growth, we should have a little more perspective in this Parliament in relation to this exercise, if 1 may use that term. It is no earthly use picking out isolated fields and attempting to damage the structure and the success that has been achieved. I think in many ways people such as the Leader of the Opposition will have a lot to answer for in the future. I expect it is not worth mentioning in any detail the fact that some shipping proprietary company-

Sitting suspended from 1 to 2 p.m.


Mr GILES - Before the suspension of the sitting 1 was pointing out that 1 had made several visits to Papua and New Guinea in recent months and that as leader of a delegation last Anzac Day I was able to listen for a time to evidence that was given to the Select Committee on Constituti onal Reform. I made some comments in relation to that. This Parliament has a great responsibility that it would do well to remember in relation to the future economic and sociological progress of the Territory. I was referring rather regretfully, to demonstrate the sort of problem that exists, to a Press report. I am assuming that the Press statement represents the true facts. It may well be that it does not, so I make that qualification. But according to a Brisbane newspaper of 20th May the Steamships Trading Company, through its legal officer, Mr J. K. Smith, reports that it intends to build a 150-bed modern international hotel in Port Moresby. Mr Smith said that the company was ready to begin construction but the money was pulled out after the violence on the Gazelle Peninsula, which is some distance from Port Moresby, and the visit to the Territory by the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Gough Whitlam. Mr Smith did not name the source of the money. He said that the company had sought other investors from Australia and elsewhere, but all had refused to invest because of the unrest on the Gazelle Peninsula and because of statements by Territory and Australian politicians. One must regard the latter as an objective remark concerning the paucity of capital for this particular project. I have quoted this report intentionally because it seems to me that the Minister, the Government and the Parliament have a proper role to play constructively in the development of Papua and New Guinea in all phases, lt does not help the Territory's progress one bit for any honourable member to go there and make wrong, inaccurate or unfortunate statements. It is just as well that we be aware of this.

Prior to the suspension of the sitting 1 sa d that I was satisfied that the rapid development of the Territory probably had no analogy. It is probably the greatest developmental exercise ever undertaken by any one country, big or small. However, one thing does concern me. 1 know that the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley) is due to follow me in this debate. He is not altogether bereft of philosophical ability nor does he neglect research. On occasions he is very good. So 1 pose to him this question: How do we tell what can motivate indigenous people to rise above their environment and to take proper jobs and acquire higher qualifications? I will get back to this point in a moment. I think frequently of the remarks of several of my friends who are indigenous politicians and who have had the opportunity on occasions to go to the United Nations. But what do they see there? They see what is tantamount to a cement jungle - a sterile environment - with hardly a blade of grass, a tree or a living plant. They see this and they wonder: Is this the sort of progress that people seek to impose on us? Is this the way that people are trying to convince us the Territory should progress?

On a recent visit I made to Papua and New Guinea a responsible Minister in the Territory Parliament said to me: 'Is it not a fact that the average Australian would like to retire and go fishing, hunting and swimming when he is 40 or 45?' 1 suppose this is true, and the indigenous people feel that this is what they can do now. Even in the Chimbu Valley, which is not famous for its development and where one of the consumer commodities that the indigenes can purchase from the local store is tinned pork, instead of the traditional pig, an average of H days' work a week on a relatively established coffee plantation is sufficient to enable the indigenes to satisfy their requirements of consumer non-durables.

One of the matters on which the more thoughtful members of this Parliament should be concentrating their attention, is trying to find out what docs motivate or could motivate the indigenous population. How can we sell them the idea that there is a requirement in any newly developing society for people to do something about qualifying themselves and having a wish to do something for their country? Much of this is related to national aspirations, lt is not easy, as I have found out to my cost over some period of time, to go to the Territory and try to discover what national aspirations the people have or would wish to have. This Government, I think, found ohe answer to the national aspiration problem when not many years ago it took the worthwhile risk of permitting, within stated limits and qualifications, a total vote in the Territory. This was a great experiment and something which, at that stage of development, met their feelings of national aspiration. 1 think that members from both sides would agree, to some degree or another, that the Government has attempted to encourage, by a step by step process, the subsequent fulfilment of national aspirations. I say this very seriously because not only is there probably some merit in the statement made on behalf of the Steamships Trading Co. but because unless this national aspiration can be pinpointed and satisfied investment obtained, the Territory will become a questionable commodity regarding economic expansion.

There is good reason to suppose that there will be advantage to the Territory of Papua and New Guinea if all races are enabled to exist side by side and to work together towards an economic plan and in, what is probably slightly more difficult, a sociological fashion, and towards more political awareness. I am not one of those people who believe that no progress has been made in terms of political awareness. I find - and 1 have no doubt that other honourable members would back up my point of view - that there is a tremendous awakening in political awareness in the Territory. The fact of the matter is that it is largely involved in the people's own local government and their own environmental circumstances. I think that this is understandable in a territory where mass communications are still not good. In terms of the very rugged terrain tremendous progress is being made by telecommunications and by light aircraft covering the areas, and development is occurring at a very rapid rate. I think we are stuck with the problem that in many of those areas politics or political awareness is something they know about through their own locality and this is of course particularly true in terms of the Gazelle Peninsula.

I return to the point that 1 think we must always keep in mind. We must consistently inquire into what can motivate the people to accept greater responsibility. We must consistently inquire and talk and commute wilh them as to what their national aspirations are and meet those in as com.monsense a fashion as is possible. I do not mean to say, for instance, that if one or two half-trained academics are loose in the environment up there and hold the view that kiaps must get out or that we must lop the heads off the while people, that is a national aspiration of which we need take much note. A week or two ago I was at long lust able to get to a place called Cape Hosking which 1 had not seen since there were 150-odd Japanese planes on it many years ago. When I got there I found that not only is it the centre of the palm oil industry but also - more importantly to the issue I am trying to get to - there was a Papuan district officer on the north coast of New Britain. 1 said to him: What motivated you to go through years of training to reach this very responsible position you hold?' As so often happens when talking to these people on a personal issue, the answer you get back is not simple. One feels, as one feels in Asian countries sometimes, that there is a natural embarrassment and a reticence to try to analyse their own feelings. But it is the job of the responsible members of this Parliament to try to reach an understanding on these issues. I hope that in future there will be a little less loose talking.







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