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Self-Government for Papua New Guinea

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30 November 1973


The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Willesee,

today welcomed the formal transfer of self-government to

Papua New Guinea on 1 December as an important the

steady evolution of Papua New Guinea towards full nationhood»

' Senator Willesee emphasised that there would be no

sharp break with Australia when Papua New Guinea became

fully self-governing, nor any diminution in Australian

interest in or concern for Papua New Guinea» Nevertheless

Papua New Guinea would itself wish to find its Own place,

as a country with full legal control over its own internal

affairs, in the international community on the basis of ■

its own national interests»

To reflect this step in the evolution of

relations between Papua New Guinea and Australia,

Senator Willesee said, the Australian Government had decided

to transfer Ministerial responsibility for Papua New Guinea

matters to the Minister for Foreign Affairs and to

establish an Australian Office in Port Moresby»

Senator Willesee said that as Foreign Minister

he would be assisted by a Minister assisting him in

Papua New Guinea matters» He was pleased that the

Hon. W=L= Morrison, formerly Minister for External

Territories, had agreed to continue his association with

Papua New Guinea by accepting that role in addition to his

duties as Minister for Science.

Senator Willesee said that the Minister for

Foreign Affairs and his Department would make preparations

during self-government to take on their full responsibilities

for dealing with Papua New Guinea when that country became



To this end an Australian Office administered by the

Department of Foreign Affairs would be opened in Port

Moresby on 1 December,

The Australian Office, which had evolved from

the offices of the Departments of External Territories and

Foreign Affairs in Port Moresby, would be responsible for

communications between the Australian and Papua New Guinea

Governments, co-ordinating the work of all representatives

of Australian Government Departments in.Papua New Guinea.

The Office would operate as an embryonic diplomatic mission

and would be raised to full diplomatic status on independence.

The Australian Office'would'be headed by the High

Commissioner of Papua New Guinea, Mr l.W, Johnson, in his

capacity as senior Australian Government representative. A

senior Foreign Affairs Officer, Mr M.E. Lyon, would serve as

the Deputy Head of the Office, They'would be assisted by a

staff from the Department of Foreign Affairs and officers

attached from the Papua New Guinea: Office in Canberra,· the

Office of the Australian Development Assistance Agency, and

a number of Australian Government Departments including

Defence, Overseas Trade, Immigration, and the Australian

Information Service. ·

Senator Willesee said that ah Australian chancery

was being built in the Waigana town "centre area of Port

Moresby, which would be the location of key Papua New Guinea

Government Departments. The Chancery building was expected

to be completed in late 1974. ’ >

Senator Willesee also noted that his Department

was providing assistance to the Papua New Guinea Government

in establishing an independent foreign service and had"

already trained 23 Papua New Guinea officers of the

Department of Foreign Relations and Trade.

Note: The address of the Australian -Office in Papua New Guinea is

Post Office Box 2123, Konedobu, ,

Papua New Guinea. >

Telephone: Port Moresby 44661 c- t