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Thursday, 5 March 1970

Mr BARNES (MCPHERSON, QUEENSLAND) (Minister for External Territories) - Yes, there have been very considerable steps taken in providing land for the local people of the Gazelle Peninsula. As no doubt most people realize there has been a great increase in population in that area. I think the population has increased by about 50% over the last 10 years. There are two stages in the process of providing land. First of all, the Development Bank has acquired two plantations in the Kokopo area amounting to about 1,600 acres. This land will be provided on a commercial basis to the people in that area. Provisions have been made by the New Guinea House of Assembly to enable the Bank to undertake this type of scheme.

The second area to be provided for local people comprises about 9,000 acres and this land is situated pretty well in the Gazelle Peninsula. Here again, this land was acquired some years ago by the Administration. I think that about 302 blocks will be provided for local people and the apportionment will be made by a land board on which there will be one expatriate and five local people. I might say that the Tolai people of the Gazelle Peninsula seem to be reluctant to move away from their traditional areas. Last year over 300 blocks were thrown open in the New Britain area at Cape Hoskins, which is not so many miles away. Unfortunately, only about 6 Tolais applied for these blocks. So it would appear that they are reluctant to move away from that area. As to the last part of the honourable member's question dealing with the statement made by the Leader of the Opposition that our stewardship in New Guinea compared unfavourably with that of the Germans, or words to that effect, I would say, as I have said before on several occasions, that the Leader of the Opposition is prone to make some irresponsible and misleading statements. He has not substantiated this statement, and 1 would say that it is not true.

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