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Statement on constitutional development



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STATEMENT ON CONSTITUTIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Attached for background information is the statement made by Mr. Paulus Arek, Chairman of the Papua and New Guinea Select Committee on Constitutional Development, to the House of Assembly on 17 November,

1970.

CANBERRA A.C.T. 20 November 1970

D.E.T./4601

PAPUA AND NEW GUINEA

SELECT COMMITTEE ON CONSTITUTIONAL DEVELOPMENT

STATEMENT TO HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY

BY PAULUS AREK, M.H.A., (CHAIRMAN OF SELECT COMMITTEE)

ON TUESDAY, 17TH NOVEMBER, 1970

Mr. Speaker, I ask leave of the House to make a statement.

Mr. Speaker, during the September Meeting the House resolved on the motion of Mr. Pena Ou that the Select Committee on Constitutional Development should make a comprehensive tour of the Territory seeking the true consensus of opinion of the people on vital issues, especially that of self-government, before it tabled any further reports on constitutional development in the House.

As I mentioned during the debate on that motion, the Committee will make a further tour of the Territory before presenting its final report but I said then that I would make a statement in this House which would outline

the Committee's activities and thoughts on constitutional development. This statement will be publicised widely and will form the basis for questions to be put to the people during the Committee's tour in January and February next year.

Mr. Speaker, since tabling its Third Interim Report your Committee has met on four occasions and has given further consideration to the written and oral submissions made to it during its last tour of. the Territory.

On the evidence submitted to the Committee it is apparent that the majority of the people of Papua and New Guinea are opposed to early internal self-government. Your Committee proposes to again seek the opinion of the people on the question of internal self-government. This Country is on the road to self-government and during this year important steps have been taken along this road. Internal self-government is a further stage along this road. The Committee has decided to try and show what it thinks internal self-government would mean as far as this Country is concerned. Your Committee feels that by doing this the people will be better able to appreciate what is involved and better able to decide when internal self-government should be achieved.

Before outlining your Committee's understanding of the state of affairs at internal self-government I would like to emphasise that this is only intended to be an outline of the sort of arrangements which might be likely to exist during internal self-government.

2.

Basically the Committee feels that it could be assumed that External Affairs and Defence would remain the responsibility of the Australian Government and that as far as the other areas of government are concerned arrangements would be negotiated between the Territory Government and

the Australian Government at the time. Assuming that attitudes and relationships between the two Governments remain very much as they do today then your Committee sees the following as the sort of arrangements which might be anticipated during the period of internal self-government in the Territory.

The Committee feels that internal self-government for the Territory of Papua and New Guinea would mean that the executive authority and responsibility for the internal affairs of government of the Territory would be transferred from the Commonwealth of Australia to Ministers of the House of Assembly. Australia would not intervene in the

Territory's internal executive government and the Administrator (who would then possibly be called Governor or High Commissioner) would act on the advice of the Ministers as the Territory's Head of State.

The Government (Ministers) of the Territory would be responsible to the House of Assembly, that is, it would be able to be dismissed-by the House of Assembly and would only remain in power if it had the support of the House.

While Australia would remain responsible for the Territory's Defence and External Affairs, arrangements might be made for a sharing of some :Police and Internal Security matters between the Governments of the Territory and Australia

and some sharing arrangements might also be made regarding the Public Service, Judiciary, Trade, Banking and perhaps some areas of Civil Aviation, The Committee feels that it is important that consideration be given to the sort of arrangements which might be negotiated between the two Governments regarding these matters as internal self-government approaches. Your committee would expect that internal functions of government carried out at the moment by other Commonwealth Departments or Instrumentalities would be taken over and financed by the Territory Government,

The Territory might have a new name, but Papua and New Guinea would continue as two separate Territories, the Territory's Constitution would remain in a Commonwealth Act and the United Nations Trusteeship Agreement would continue

in force for New Guinea.

As the Right Honourable the Prime Minister indicated in July this year, the present arrangements under which Australia provides financial aid to the Territory would be likely to continue, that is, the Australian and Territory Governments would negotiate aid for development purposes, a Grant to assist the Territory to meet recurrent expenses and loans for various purposes.

3.

As far as the Australian Grant to assist recurrent expenditure is concerned your Committee notes that the Right Honourable the Prime Minister said, in part, in his statement on 6 July, 1970 -

11 ...but I emphasise again that the total sum

available for recurrent and minor works will be a total sum, only able to be added to, if the House of Assembly wishes to find some new

avenue of expenditure, by imposing taxation to raise the revenue for that new expenditure because as the Territory progresses towards

the ability to exercise greater power, so it must accept the greater responsibility for financing the decisions which it makes.

Even when in the future self-government comes or independence comes, there will be continuing Australian assistance for this Territory, but the amount of recurrent assistance provided will, to a great extent depend on the amount

of self-help which the Territory is prepared to impose upon itself..."

The Committee believes that the above will be the situation during the period of internal self-government for Papua and New Guinea. The Committee feels that if the people are made aware of the sort of situation which will exist during internal self-government then they will be better able to give their views on when this situation should come about.

Mr. Speaker, the Committee has directed its attention to a number of matters regarding the structure of the Legislature and the Executive. The measures it has considered are short of internal self-government but are intended to shape the Government of our Country in a way which reflects the thinking of the majority of our people.. The evidence gained by the Committee on its tour of the

Territory earlier this year has been used by the Committee in considering its proposals and your Committee intends to place its suggestions before the people again to seek their approval.

Following on from its Third Interim Report the Committee is going to ask the people whether they feel that the system of government of the Territory should be a unitary one, that is, a single central government, as is

the case at the moment. Your Committee has already recommended the establishment of Local Governing Authorities in the Districts to exercise delegated responsibilities. These Authorities will assist in the control of District and Local activities and a single central government will be able to maintain overall control of the Government of the Country.

im

On its last tour the Committee asked the people about the number of Houses in the Legislature. On the views submitted to the Committee the Committee will ask the people whether the Legislature of the Central Government of the

Territory should comprise one House of Parliament, that is, a unicameral system. One House of Parliament - as at the present - ensures the best use of the Country's manpower and economic resources. However, the Committee recognises that an Upper House can serve a useful purpose - it can provide a House to which people representing special or minority groups can be nominated or elected, and it can provide a House to which members representing regional interests may be appointed to protect those interests.

The Committee feels, however, that a system of two Houses of Parliament would not be warranted at this stage of the Country's economic development and your Committee has previously recommended a means by which persons representing special groups may be nominated to the House. An Upper House could be expensive and although it might be set up to protect regional interests it may in time only become an extension of the Lower House.

Mr. Speaker, turning to the structure of the 1972 House of Assembly, the Committee will ask the people what they think about the following structure:

17 persons elected by the people to represent Regional Electorates, that is, an increase of 2 Regional Electorates,

77 persons elected by the people to represent Open Electorates that is, an increase of 8 Open Electorates,

6 Nominated Members, that is, 6 new positions,

4 Official Members, that is, a decrease of 6 Official Members,

This structure would provide a House of 100 Members elected by the people and nominated by'the Legislature and 4 Official Members who would represent the Australian Government's interests in the House.

Mr. Speaker, the people will be asked their views about the retention and increase in the number of Regional Electorates. It is evident that the Areas of the Western and Gulf Districts and West and East New Britain Districts are too large for one Regional Member for each and the suggested increase to 17 is intended to allow for a reduction in area of these electorates. Your Committee will ask the people whether the educational qualifications for candidates nominating for Regional Electorates should remain as at present, that is, the Intermediate Certificate or an

educational qualification equivalent thereto.

5.

An increase of 8 in Open Electorates from 69 to 77 would mean that each Open Member would represent approximately 28,500 people. The Committee feels, however, that the present system of Open Electorates being continued wholly within Districts should be continued and this would mean that in some cases a Member may represent more or less people than the average.

In its Third Interim Report the Committee recommended the provision of Nominated Members in the House of Assembly, but did not suggest how many Members should be so nominated. A majority of the Committee suggests that there should be six Nominated Members to be nominated by the House and four Official Members. The Committee suggests that the six Members to be nominated by the House be chosen by a Committee of the House in consultation with the Administrator in the same way as the present Ministerial Nominations Committee selects Ministerial Office Holders and that the membership of this Nominated Members Selection Committee be seven. The people will be asked what they feel about the Committee's suggestions.

The Committee also suggests that to be eligible for selection as a Nominated Member a person must have 'lived in the Territory continuously for not less than five years. A majority of the Committee suggest that a defeated

candidate at the Geneeal Elections for the House to which Members are to be nominated should not be eligible for nomination and that should a Nominated Member selected by the Nominated Members Selection Committee be a public servant he must resign his public service position to accept nomination. Once a person has been nominated to the House

then he should hold office on the same basis as if he was an Elected Member of the House.

Mr. Speaker, turning now to the structure of the Executive, the Committee will ask the people whether the composition of the Administrator's Executive Council should be changed at the commencement of the 1972 House of Assembly.

In its previous report

that not less than seven nor more be Members of the Administrator's majority of the Committee feels t Administrator's Executive Council House of Assembly should be

the Committee recommended than ten Ministers should Executive Council. A aat the composition of the at the start of the 1972

Administrator

3 Official Members 7-10 Ministers

The Committee feels that the Ministry should be chosen wholly from the Legislature (which will comprise Elected as well as Nominated Members) but that not more than three Nominated Members should be appointed as Ministers and not more than two of these should be Members of the

6.

Administrator's Executive Council, The Committee suggests that following nomination of the 17 Ministers in the 1972 House of Assembly, the Ministers should choose from one of their number a Spokesman whose selection must then be approved by the House of Assembly. If the selection was approved, then the Spokesman should automatically become a Member of the Administrator's Executive Council and act as

Spokesman for that body. The Committee also suggests that the composition of the 1972-76 Ministerial Nominations Committee be increased to seven members. The people will be asked what they feel about the Committee's suggestions.

The Committee believes that the people of Papua and New Guinea are one people with one common goal, a common goal to develop to one nation and take our place with other nations of the World. As a nation we shall play a great part in the Asian and Pacific Areas of the World.

A single name for our Country together with a Flag and a Coat-of-Arms will focus attention on our Nation.

The Committee will be seeking the people's views on the name Pagini for our Country and Paginians for our people.

The Committee will also seek the people's views on a Flag and a Crest. The Flag and the Crest do not represent the ideas of one single person but rather have been designed taking into account the overwhelmingly popular colours, designs and ideas submitted by the people

to your Committee.

Mr.. Speaker, with your approval I would like to show Members of the House of Assembly the Flag and Crest the Committee proposes to show the people.

Mr. Speaker, your Committee proposes to make an intensive tour of the Territory in January and February 1971. The people will be shortly notified when the Committee will be visiting their areas and will be provided with sufficient time to think about and prepare answers to

the Committee's proposals, the main ones of which I have outlined in this statement,