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Tuesday, 22 February 1977

Mr McLEAY (Boothby) (Minister for Construction) by leave- The Australian and Papua New Guinea governments have agreed that the arrangements under which the Construction Agency of the Australian Department of Construction has been operating in Papua New Guinea should be terminated and the Agency withdrawn. The 2 governments have decided on this course of action because of the increased capacity of the Papua New Guinea works authorities and the somewhat reduced size of the current Papua New Guinea works program. The Construction Agency, which replaced the Department of Construction's regional organisation at the end of 1975, originally had a staff of approximately 200 comprising expatriate Australians and Papua New Guinea nationals. The withdrawal of staff eligible to return to positions within the Public Service within Australia has been going on for some months, and is expected to be complete early in March 1977. In the main, these staff have taken up positions with the Department of Construction. Satisfactory arrangements have also been made for the Papua New Guinea nationals to be employed with the Papua New Guinea Public Service, or in the private sector.

The staff of the Agency deserve tribute for the work they have done in Papua New Guinea. They have been involved in many aspects of infrastructure development in Papua New Guinea including the provision of transport facilities, water supplies, communication networks and power stations. Many projects such as the Nadzab airport development, the Ramu hydroelectric scheme and the Bank of Papua New Guinea building come to mind. The staff of the Agency have also undertaken a substantial training role in Papua New Guinea.

The facilities of the Department of Construction will continue to be available on request to the Government of Papua New Guinea on terms which may be agreed between the 2 Governments from time to time.

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