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Rabaul situation



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DEPARTMENT OF IE XTERNAL TERRITORUES Ak FOR PRESS 69/93

RABAUL SITUATION

(Statement by the Minister for External Territories, the Hon. C. E. Barnes, T.I.P.)

The Pllnister for External Territories, Mr. C. E. Barnes, this morning received in Sydney a first hand report on events in Rabaul from the Administrator of Papua and New Guinea.

Mr. Barnes said that the deplorable outbreak of violence had taken place at a time when there was every prospect of a second meeting between representatives of the Gazelle Peninsula Council and the lataungan Associa-

tion in order to find a solution by discussion to their differences on the best form of local government for the Gazelle Peninsula.

Administration officers had been discussing possible ways of reconstructing the Council to ensure, for example, that no wards would have.-a majority of non-Tolai voters.

Such a r econstruction could have led to an early election in which all parties might havearticipated and through which a solution might have been round by a democratic process.

The violent attacks an d threats by the Mataungan Association members against leading Tolais associated with the Council has set back these constructive efforts.

The Administration has now had to give first priority to re-establishing law and order and to recreating further confidence amongst the Tolai people themselves. Additional patrol posts were being set up, manned by experienced officers with previous service in the Gazelle.

The vigorous attack on land problems recommended by the Gazelle Committee of Enquiry would be pursued. The Development Bank had now been empowered by the House of Assembly to purchase development properties for resettlement

by indigenes in areas of critical land shortage.The House had also empowered the Administrator to acquire areas of undeveloped freehold land for the same purpose.

Hr. Barnes said that he had sent a special message to the Territory Police Corgis ioner, Mr. Jhitrod, commending the discipline efficiency and high morale of the police detachments in Rabaul. He had aoked the Ad ailistrator to pass on his co m enda — 'U- oii also to field staff n the East New

Britain District.

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2.

]Ir. Barnes said that the recent events in Gazelle

were of serious concern to Papua-New Guinea as a whole. In order to gauge Territory feeling himself, he had decided to visit Port i4oresby t for consultations with elected members of the Administrators ERecutive Council in the coming week.

The Council was due to meet on 17 December, 1969.

CANBERRA, A. C T .

PORT MORE3BY, T.P.ITT.G.

12 December, 1969