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Constitutional exform in Papua and New Guinea

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- . ' £ 2H S m u T I 0KilT ESF0IM pi PAPUA AND NSW GUINEA.

Statement "by The Minister for Territories, The Hon. Paul Hasluck, M.P.

Commenting on the Interim Report from the Select Committee

of the Legislative Council for the Territory of Papua and New ■

Guinea on Political development of the Territory, the Minister for

Territories, Mr. Hasluck, said that the Government would await the

consideration of the report by the Legislative Council .itself before

expressing a view. He assumed that after considering the report the

Legislative Council would pass a resolution expressing its views in

the form of a recommendation to the Government.

He was sure that the Government was receptive to proposals

for further political advancement in the Territory. The Government

had also maintained consistently the view that the wishes of the

people of the Territory should be sought before any changes were

made and that the appropriate channel for the communication of these

view's was the Legislative Council. For this reason it had encourag­

ed the setting up of the Select Committee last March. He was there­

fore also sure that the recommendations of the Legislative Council

•would be received by the Government as authoritative.

Changes in the membership and structure of the Legislative

Council would require an amendment by the Commonwealth Parliament of

the Papua and New Guinea Act, 1949$ which was virtually the Constit­

ution of the Territory. Changes in electoral'procedures would he

effected by legislation in the Legislative Council for the Territory.

It had "been planned for some time that whatever changes were adopted

would be put into legislation in 1963? so that the making of the

reforms could be followed by a period of intensive education on the

new procedures among the native people before the next elections for

the Legislative Council were held about March or April of I96U.

Experience after the reforms made in i960 and 1961 had pointed to- the

great importance of this education in electoral procedures, with the

aid of the leaders of the native people, to ensure that the new

system was properly understood and properly applied. '

The Interim Report of the Select Committee appeared to

cover bb.o major proposals for reform but it was clear that in a sub­

sequent report the Committee would need to give attention to many

details such as method of voting, size of electorates and so on.

CAN3ERRA. 16. 10. 62.