Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Full Day's HansardDownload Full Day's Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Tuesday, 26 October 1971
Page: 2525


Mr GRAHAM (North Sydney) - I have listened with a great deal of interest and a certain amount of surprise -to the criticism by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam). He came into this debate critical of what the Government has done. He made no reference at all to the contributions which his Party has made to the circumstances that have developed in recent years in Papua New Guinea. It is fair and reasonable to say that there are many people in the Territory who have given dedicated service to the Administration and who believe that the honourable gentleman has personally, and with his col leagues, created many of those problems and exacerbated the problems of the people who have been seeking to take the Territory of Papua New Guinea along the progressive road to democracy. In my opinion he has shown a dedication to policies designed to induce approval from critics in the United Nations of Australian policy, a sort of sheer political expediency aimed at what might be described as a form of international exhibitionism, a tragic irresponsibility and a gross neglect of the reality of the problems facing the Territory.

It is only within the last 3 years that the ultimatum was thrown down to the people in the Territory of self government by 1972 and independence by 1976. With all the blandness possible the Leader of the Opposition said only this evening that even the most critical people would not deny that there must be independence by the end of this decade. I do not accept that there is a burden upon the Commonwealth Government to accede to international pressures however proper they may appear to be. I believe that it is reasonable for the Government of Australia to satisfy itself that the maximum amount of effort and development and the optimum amount of progress have been achieved in the Territory so that at a given moment if the people in the Territory are reasonably ready to accept responsibilities for self government they can at least try their hands in that field to begin with. The expression 'whether you want it or not* that was used by the Leader of the Opposition at Kavieng on New Ireland was, to my mind, most unfortunate and has contributed to and exacerbated the problems of those who are doing the job in the Territory.

There has been a gradual growth of political awareness resulting from Government policy throughout the years. The focal councils, the House of Assembly and the ministerial members are an essential part of the Administration. There has been a real development of responsibility. The structure of the University of Papua New Guinea, for example, has developed soundly. The University has a spirit. The Commonwealth of Australia has given it great assistance. It has been said, as if it were something to be ashamed of, that the

Department of External Territories has followed paternalistic policies. I regard this as the most unctuous hypocricy because when World War II finished and the people of Australia, in a national sense, were conscious of the existence of the Territory of Papua New Guinea their attitude towards the Territory was in fact paternalistic. They wished, with all the good feeling and humanity in the world, to develop that Territory. Why on earth anybody should disapprove of such a description is something [ will never understand.

The encouragement of investment in the Territory by the present Minister for External Territories (Mr Barnes) has been a remarkable achievement. Over the years Australian banks have been developed in the Territory and have provided large sums. The Minister has assured the Australians in the service of the Administration that their future will be protected. The fearful legacy of irresponsible speed in forcing self government onto people not equipped for responsibility is to be seen in Africa. Heaven only knows, perhaps it may be seen in East Pakistan today. I would remind this House that a Labour government in England might inherit a degree of historical responsibility from posterity in due course. Yet the Australian Labor Party exhibits a slavish regard for those international manipulators who will prosper from anarchy and from revolution. In the immediate post-war period the ALP Government of that time accepted what 1 will describe as paternalistic responsibility. That government would have rejected confusion and anarchy as the Labor Prime Minister in 1949 rejected anarchy in the coal fields of New South Wales with the aid of Australian soldiers in military uniform. Then we had a change of government in 1949 and what I will describe as the Hasluck period in the Territory. There was growth, progress, humane interest and dedication to the creation of a nation. Those of us who took part in that development, if only in the most minor sense in the technical fields of communications, transport and so forth, saw the development taking place. We know full well that the progress that has been made in the Territory - at least I can say this from my own knowledge in the field of aviation - has been remarkable over the last 15 to 20 years. When the Minister took over from the former Minister, who is now His Excellency the Governor-General, we had - and I have described this as the Barnes period - a greater acceleration of progress towards democracy and a political tolerance which I regard in a British Parliament as being quite remarkable. I believe that the Minister has withstood all sorts of assaults, in terms of fair play, upon his own dignity in such a manner as to earn the utmost respect of those people who recognise that with dignity and forbearance ail sorts of insults can be tolerated.

The problems of the people 1 have referred to, exacerbated by our Australian Labor Party visitors from Australia, are seen, for example, in the reference that was made by the Leader of the Opposition to the Mataungans and the other Tolai people who are residents of the Gazelle Peninsula on New Britain. The Mataungans by no means represent the mass of the people living in that area, and that they were encouraged by the ALP visitors cannot be denied, lt is absolutely true that they were encouraged. Of course, it has to be admitted that they were requested to avoid violence, but I cannot help feeling that this House should recognise that there was a certain measure of naivete in such a recommendation in the light of those circumstances. The Leader of the Opposition used terms such as 'Uncle Tom'. I say to him that one cannot use terms like that to people who are struggling for their own progress and development without insulting them, without undermining them and without destroying their integrity amongst their own people. That is an expression that he applied to one of the gentlemen who is now a Ministerial Member of the Government of the Territory.

In the last few moments that I have available to me I wish to point out that the work of the Development Bank has been remarkable. The Investment Corporation will assist greatly in the future development of the export trade capacity of the Territory, and after all, whatever happens in that Territory it will be Australian support that will be most significant in the movement towards its economic viability. It will be the people of the Territory, with their intelligence, their forbearance and their innate dignity, who will best handle the problems of government. They will not be helped by those people who by misrepresentation and assertions of 'When I am Prime Minister, when 1 am this and when I am that', seek to encourage them to adopt an arrogant attitude towards law and order and proper decisions. What was done by those people who broke the law would not be tolerated by their own government when they were independent and in command of their own destiny, be it in Bougainville, on the Gazelle Peninsula, in Port Moresby or in the highlands of Papua New Guinea. I congratulate the Government and the Minister on excellent work well done. I hope that with forbearance and with good sense those manipulators throughout this world who would destroy that good work will not succeed if the most important thing to defeat them is the moral courage of the people in this Parliament.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Hallett) - Order! The honourable member's time has expired.







Suggest corrections