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Thursday, 21 May 1970


Mr BEAZLEY (FREMANTLE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - The Minister nods. That is right. But with the interpretation placed on these things owing to taut nerves, and sometimes elaborated upon by expatriate members of the Parliament or expatriates in the community, does have an effect on the indigenes. With the greatest respect to the Minister 1 would say that he has made perfectly clear in a number of utterances that he does not approve of the Pangu Party. 1 do not think we should approve or disapprove of any political parties in Papua-New Guinea. It is a matter for them to evolve their own political parties. I think it was a pity that when the select committee visited Australia it did not sit with the Government members' territories committee or with the Opposition members' territories committee. 1 want to say one thing quite clearly: We do not agree with the Government that it is real to say to the people of Papua and New Guinea that independence will come when they ask for it. The modern world just is not like that. Nor is it right to say that in a relationship between Australia and Papua and New Guinea the only ones who will make any decisions will be the people at the Papua and New Guinea end. I do not want to hurry them or stampede them. We strongly favour continuing a treaty for 15 years after independence: to continue providing economic, financial and technical ass stance to them. There is no question of applying pressure or stampeding them. As far as the Labor Party is concerned, it is not a matter of the only factor being what the House of Assembly decides and if somebody can organise the highlands bloc efficiently never to ask for it, independence never comes or does not come for 50 or 60 years. That is nol the only factor in independence. There must also be intelligent discussions. But the idea that they can stay immovable wilh a complete veto on Australian thinking is an unwise attitude to encourage there because the modern world is nol like that.


Mr Giles - Have you not stampeded them by announcing target dates?


Mr BEAZLEY - We have announced a target date for self-government. Selfgovernment exists the moment we take the veto off the legislation of the House of Assembly. There will be no physical difference in appearance, procedures or anything else. Then in 1976, after 4 years of discussion, assuming the Labor Party had power to decide these things, you would commence your discussion about independence, lt is not a matter of pushing them off the cliff but at that time the discussions on the subject of independence might take place. They may take as long to evolve their constitution as Australia did to evolve its constitution, and we took from 1891 to 1901 - 10 years. But at some stage - we believe in 1976 - they have to start giving their minds to the question of full independence. I think an earlier part of Dr G unifier's statement is more significant than the part that has been the subject of most comment. He spoke about the situation after Sir Hugh Foot went through the Territory and said:

There was widespread fear of the United Nations and the United States of America because of its part in proposing the Bunker plan. There was a fear that Australia would be pushed and would then walk out, taking her money and know-hew with her. It is a great evil that this fear still exists amongst much of the population today and it is a sad commentary on the Australian administration and the Australian Government that they have not made every effort to repudiate completely such beliefs. 1 found that in Papua and New Guinea the United Nations was something you had to talk about darkly with bated breath. Ever since the Foot mission the United Nations has been depicted by expatriates to the indigenous community as something sinister. What is significant is nol that the United Nations as an assembly passes resolutions which are overwhelmingly in favour of independence: What is significant is that something like 100 governments of the world, having sat down and considered Papua and New Guinea, have instructed their delegates to urge the independence of Papua and New Guinea. It is not true that Australia can simply ignore the opinions of the world in this way and it is not wise to encourage the indigenous people to believe that we can.

One or two points need to be made about our policies and about the select committee. The tragedy of the select committee was that it got to Fiji, a country which is on the point of independence, when nearly all the crucial members of the Fijian Parliament had gone to London. It is rather a pity that their presence in Fiji coincided with a diminished ability to speak to their Fijian opposite numbers. After all, Fiji has moved along the road to independence and will become independent in October. We should be encouraging the people of Papua and New Guinea to think of certain specific problems. We should be encouraging them to think of their relationship with the Solomons. The British have given us Cocos Island and Christmas Island. In our attitude to the relationship of Papua and New Guinea with the Solomons we completely exclude the idea that Buka and Bougainville might go back to the Solomons. We are bound by a treaty between Lord Granville and Bismarck in 1884 - apparently a sheer accident of colonial history - which put a line through the Solomons. 1 do not think we should bc so bound. It is not right to consider, either in extension or in diminution, that there should be no change in the boundaries of New Guinea.

In the 1 880s the Government of Queensland look islands within a few hundred yards of the coast of Papua and New Guinea. I wish the House would understand what underlies the statement of a man like Ebia Olewale when he says: 'Papuans are Australian citizens. Why are we not entitled to social services, unemployment benefits and so on?' We have confused the indigenous people. Papuans are not Australian citizens. There are no Australian citizens under the Australian Constitution. The Australian Constitution acknowledges a person only as the subject of the Queen - a British subject. In our modern terminology we choose to call these 'Australian citizens'. When Papuans were called British subjects it was not assumed that the British subjects of Papua had rights in Australia any more than the British subjects of India but we changed the terminology for the sake of international window dressing and we called them 'Australian citizens'. They have no rights of residence in Australia.

In the area which Ebia Olewale represents there are families, some living in Australia, on those islands which Queensland outrageously took in the 1880s within 200 or 300 yards of the Papuan coast and the mainland people speak the same language. The Australian citizens on the islands receive child endowment and other social service benefits as residents of Australia. They say that they receive those benefits because they are Australian citizens. The people opposite, who may be represented by Ebia Olewale, cannot understand why they do not get those benefits when they also are called Australian citizens. Who is confusing the indigenous people? It is we who are confusing them with impossible concepts of such creatures as Australian citizens who do not even have the right of residence in Australia. This is impossible terminology and we make it extremely difficult for them to think accurately of their problems. This is why a thoroughly intelligent man like Ebia Olewale is campaigning for social services, child endowment and what not for the people of Papua and New Guinea.

I believe that the unwarranted pushing of Queenland's borders into Papua's territorial waters - to within 200 yards of the Papuan coast - is something that must be revised. In this respect the territories of Papua and New Guinea may well be expanded. As far as Buka and Bougainville are concerned, they became the German Solomons and then part of Papua and New Guinea. Buka and Bougainville are being pushed towards complete secession -which is what they would probably vote for, union of the British Solomons which might be an intelligent settlement, or federation.

Having had an experience of the House of Assembly being used as an instrument to deprive them of their land there is a sentiment among them that they would not mind having provincial or State Governments with power over land just as Australian State Governments have, so that never again would Port Moresby authorise seizures of their land. In that respect they are very Australian.

Honourable members opposite have advocated these decentralisations of power. We have this inability of the central government to nationalise, and these definitions of the relationships between the central Government and the States to protect property which is the conviction now of the people of Bougainville. Yet we stand deploring their very accurate imitation of fundamental attitudes in the Australian body politic. The honourable member has twitted the Opposition with not realising what influence it has. I suppose investors are more attracted to a Papua and New Guinea controlled by Australia than they are to one not controlled by Australia. The honourable member knows, if he has any sense as an investor, that nobody with the alternatives of investing in Papua and New Guinea or investing in Australia would invest in Papua and New Guinea except in very rare circumstances. Certainly that is the position with the construction of hotels, if one has $4m to construct a hotel. Perth recently was regarded as not a good enough risk for the Chevron group, so I am not at all surprised if somebody has decided, after 2 good modern hotels have been built in Porth Moresby, that the Territory is not sufficiently attractive. The decision that investors should wait until they see what independence means is very intelligent on their part.

It is quite obvious that some of the Ministerial Members read statements prepared for them by expatriates. I think it is a tragedy that the people of Papua and New Guinea are being further confused by these statements. One statement that has undue influence was recently made by the Ministerial Member for Labour. After the Leader of the Opposition's criticisms of the wage levels in Papua and New Guinea, he said that New Guinea cannot afford a higher level of wages. New Guinea is not paying anybody any wages. Burns Philp and Co. Ltd, W. R. Carpenter and Co. Ltd, Conzinc Riotinto of Aust. Ltd and the planters are. The wages that they can afford is a matter for arbitration and there should be an arbitration system to determine the level of wages. It is just another form of confusing the people, like an Australian citizen does when he says that New Guinea, whoever that is, in the future cannot afford to pay wages. The question is whether the expatriate employers or any of the employers can afford to pay wages. It is a tragedy of influences and terminology which the indigenous members do not yet understand being used as instruments to entrench vested interests in the Territory. I think this is why there is some value in Dr Gunther's statement. It should at least remind us all to keep undue influence, especially influence in the direction of confusion, out of the affairs of Papua and New Guinea.

Question resolved in the affirmative.







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