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Torres Strait

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Date 6/6/76



The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Andrew Peacock, tonight· made the following comments about the remarks of the Premier of Queensland today concerning the joint statement that he and Sir Maori Kiki had issued last night on the negotiations between Papua New Guinea and Australia on the question of Torres Strait.

The Premier's comments will cause needless concern and uncertainty among the Torres Strait Islanders.

As the joint statement indicates, in any agreement between Australia and Papua New Guinea, all Australian inhabited islands will remain Australian territory

Furthermore all Torres Strait Islanders will remain Australian citizens and their land, culture, and traditional way of life will be preserved.

The Premier of Queensland has been kept fully informed at each stage of the negotiations.

He is therefore aware of the Commonwealth Government's firm view that the differences now existing between Papua New Guinea and Australia must be settled for all time, in a formal agreement between the two Governments,

to prevent the emergence of a running dispute that could damage relations between the two countries well into the future.

Mr Peacock said he was confident that, with good will, an agreement can be reached in the relatively near future that will be satisfactory to all sides and that will fully preserve the existing rights of the Islanders,

The joint statement indicates that Papua New Guinea has accepted this as basic to any settlement. .