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Wednesday, 4 December 1974
Page: 3102

Senator MURPHY (New South WalesAttorneyGeneral and Minister for Customs and Excise) - I move:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

I seek leave to have the second reading speech incorporated in Hansard.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The speech read as follows)--

By arrangement with the Minister for Foreign Affairs I am introducing this Bill and a Bill dealing with Judges' pensions together, so that the two may be considered at the same time. The purpose of this Bill is to amend the Papua New Guinea Act 1949-1974 to enable Australia to transfer to Papua New Guinea responsibility for those matters which at present remain reserved to Australia, as soon as their transfer is requested by the Papua New Guinea Government. This is in line with Australia's policy of ensuring that Papua New Guinea exercises final responsibility in all matters of government before assuming full independence.

Clause 3 of the Papua New Guinea Bill (No. 2) amends section 5 (1a) of the Papua New Guinea Act. That section deals with reserved matters. The matters presently reserved to Australia are defence, foreign relations and certain matters specified by proclamation under the

Papua New Guinea Act (No. 2) 1973. The matters so specified are: the Supreme Court of Papua New Guinea and all other courts established by Papua New Guinea enactment; authority in relation to legal aid; responsibility for instituting prosecutions; House of Assembly and electoral policy matters. Honourable senators will recall that authority over those matters was reserved to Australia at self-government at the specific request of the Papua New Guinea Government. Clause 3 of the Bill provides for the omission of paragraphs (a) and (b) of sub-section 5 ( 1a) of the Papua New Guinea Act. These paragraphs reserve to Australia the matters of defence and foreign relations. When Papua New Guinea requests the transfer of authority over these two matters the repeal of those paragraphs will in effect be proclaimed. The reservation of the remaining matters can also be brought to an end by proclamation on request by Papua New Guinea.

Papua New Guinea has already introduced its defence legislation in the House of Assembly and when this has been enacted Australian defence legislation will need to be amended to enable the completion of the transfer of authority. The exercise of responsibility by the Government of Papua New Guinea in the areas of defence and foreign relations until formal independence must be subject to Australia's treaty obligations and responsibilities in international law and to the United Nations under the Charter and the Trusteeship Agreement. However the transfer of final control to Papua New Guinea within this framework will allow Papua New Guinea to give effect to its own policies and priorities in these matters, policies and priorities which in fact it is already formulating. As I have said, Australian policy is to enable Papua New Guinea to exercise authority in all matters of government before the formal step to independence, and these amendments are designed to give effect to this.

Clauses 4 to 9 of the Bill relate to Part VI of the Papua New Guinea Act- the judicial system. Part VI of the Act is amended by the Bill to provide for the functions now assigned to and powers held by the Governor-General under sections 58 to 61 of the Act to be conferred on and exercised by the High Commissioner of Papua New Guinea. The High Commissioner will have responsibility for the appointment of the Chief Justice and such other judges and acting judges as are required and for other matters relating to the qualifications of judges and to the tenure of judges' appointments. In line with these amendments the Governor-General 's instructions to the High Commissioner will require him to act on the advice of the Papua New Guinea Government in exercising his functions under Part VI of the Act.

Sub-section 62a (6) of the Papua New Guinea Act at present authorises the Governor-General to disallow rules of court. The Bill by Clause 8 amends the Act to make provision for such rules of court in future to be laid before the House of Assembly within 1 5 sitting days after their making. Disallowance, if considered necessary, will be by resolution of the House of Assembly. The Papua New Guinea Government has requested that when the transfer of authority over judicial matters takes place section 64 of the Act should be repealed. Section 64 of the Act provides that the Australian High Court has jurisdiction to hear and determine appeals from all judgments, decrees, orders and sentences of a Full Court of the Supreme Court of Papua New Guinea. Clause 9 of the Bill repeals section 64.

Clause 10 of the Bill amends section 73 (2) of the Act to empower the High Commissioner to grant pardon, remission, commutation or respite of sentence to an offender sentenced to death by a court exercising criminal jurisdiction in Papua New Guinea. Clause 1 1 of the Bill provides for transitional provisions made necessary by the other provisions of the Bill. Paragraph (1) reserves proposed laws passed but not assented to by the Governor-General before the commencement of Clause 3. The remaining paragraphs relate to judges of the Supreme Court; the preservation of proceedings commenced in that Court before transfer; preservation of rules of court; preservation of certain rights of appeal to the High Court and the preservation of warrants given by the Governor-General under Section 73 (2) in respect of persons sentenced to death. I commend the Bill to the Senate.

Debate (on motion by Senator Cotton) adjourned.

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