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Tuesday, 26 October 1971
Page: 2529


Mr WHITTORN (Balaclava) - In this debate we are discussing Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 1971-72, and more particularly we are referring to the Department of External Territories. The total estimate that we are being asked to approve is $111,495,000, of which the major portion is allocated under Division 266. In other words, $106,582,000 is allocated under Division 266 which relates only to the Territory of Papua New Guinea. I suggest that the Department of External Territories, has as its main function, the administration and the bringing into the 1970s and 1980s of this great Territory north of Australia. In other words, the main job of the Department is to deal with the problems of government and to bring the people in the Territory into the 20th century. I believe that to the $106m which I have mentioned should also be added expenditure by the Department of Works, the Department of Civil Aviation, the Postmaster-General's Department and probably other departments. Whilst I have looked at the Appropriation Bill and the legislation from front to back, I have found it impossible to find any expenditure associated with these Australian Government departments which is spent in Papua New Guinea. I believe that some effort should be made by the Minister for Externa] Territories (Mr Barnes) and by these departments, too, to ensure that information relating to this additional expenditure is added to that incurred by the Department of External Territories. Thus we would be able to obtain information about the total amount of money which the Australian taxpayer sends to Papua New Guinea each year.

The local budget for Papua New Guinea, as submitted by the Administration, amounted to $197. 6m, whereas the internal revenue of the Territory is shown as amounting to only $84. 3m. I suggest that the Territory is living at a pace which it can ill afford. In other words, there is a deficiency of at least $113m in the Territory's budget, which is more than the total amount of revenue brought into the Territory. So for a number of years the Territory of Papua New Guinea has been running at an increasing deficiency, so far as income or revenue is concerned, and I appreciate that this position will continue for a considerable time. However, I believe that the Minister, the Department and the territories should be looking not only at the possibility of decreasing - not increasing - the aid given by Australia in the form of finance and in the form of loans which are raised, in Australia and elsewhere, by the Administration through the House of Assembly and loans raised but also at endeavourng to become selfsufficient. I say this because the figures available to me indicate that imports last year, that is for 1970-71, were valued at $260m, which was an increase of 18 per cent over the previous year, whereas exports from the Territory were valued at $99m, which was an increase of only 9 per cent Over the previous year. Here again we see that imports are increasing at double the irate of exports.

Obviously the Territory cannot be selfsufficient whilst this set of conditions applies. 1 believe that the Territory must be trained in self-sufficiency particularly now that the Bougainville Copper Co. is to begin operations at Bougainville. It is quite evident from the reports that are available to all of us that this company will be in operation in 1973 and that a good deal of revenue will be available to the Administration as a result not only of the company's granting 20 per cent pf its dividends to the Administration to be used for the benefit of the people but also from the taxation imposed on the company. In fact, my information indicates that because of the long range prosperity of the Bougainville Copper Co., a total of $276m will be available to the Administration over the next 10 years - an average of $27m per year. In other words the revenue figure of $82m, which I have mentioned, will be augmented by dividends from the company, taxation by the Administration on the company and by other means, royalties and the like.

A good look must be had by the Minister, by his Department and by the Administration itself at the self-sufficiency of the Territory. We all know that income lax - personal exertion taxation - is considerably lower in the Territory than it is in Australia. We know, too, that many companies are not paying the same quantum of company tax as they pay in Australia. This is a good thing in the initial stages but I think that those people in the Territory who earn equivalent to what can be earned in Australia should be paying the same proportion of personal exertion tax and (hose companies, which have been established in the Territory for a given time - say 10 or 15 years - should also be paying taxation almost to the same extent, if not to the same extent, as they would pay in Australia. After all, it must be conceded that foreign companies are being established in the Territory and the subsidiaries of foreign concerns are producing goods and paying less tax than they would pay in their own countries and certainly less than they would pay in Australia.

I believe there are 3 real dilemmas facing the Territory of Papua New Guinea. 1 have only a limited time in which to men tion these. The first dilemma centres around unity within the Territory itself. This is not my own thinking because the United Nations has sent delegations repeatedly to the Territory and one of the points the delegations have emphasised is the lack of unity in the different ethnic groups in the ' Territory itself. There is no need for me to amplify what has been said before and what may be said again. It is a problem for the local people. This is illustrated by the way the people in Bougainville regard the rest of the Territory and the people of Port Moresby, Rabaul and Lae. It is not necessary tor me to emphasise the problems that are still associated with the Gazelle Peninsula. This has been mentioned by the honourable member for North Sydney (Mr Graham). But there must be some way by which we who have the trust responsibility for bringing these people into the latter part of the twentieth century can do more than we have done hitherto. The idea seems to have impinged on the minds of the people from the United Nations, and on my mind also from newspaper reports, that instead of unity getting closer in the Territory it is spreading further away.

The second dilemma is associated with the economic situation. I see grounds for. being more positive about future possibilities because the Bougainville copper company will be in production by 1973 and it has long range projects which will help the revenue of the Territory. The third dilemma is associated with diplomatic relations - with foreign affairs. Little is being done by our Government, by our Minister or by the Administration to enable the local inhabitants to undertake diplomatic relations with other countries. I know that a start has been made and that an international relations branch has been set up, no doubt in the Administration, but I feel that there should be a nucleus of people who can conduct on their own behalf, the same as our people can conduct for Australia, discussions with their neighbours in South East Asia and in the South Pacific region. These would be discussions associated with their Territory and the associated countries with which they are talking.

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







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