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Tuesday, 26 October 1971
Page: 2545

Mr JAMES (Hunter) - I take the opportunity to make a submission in this debate. I have listened with interest to the submissions made. There is one matter which concerns me and which has concerned me on the several visits I have made to New Guinea. I do not think it has been raised in this debate. It is that, although we gave the natives in New Guinea drinking rights - which I think all members of the House favour - we have overlooked the fact that in New Guinea, if not now then in the years ahead, there will be a high incidence of alcoholism, as we know exists in the European countries, and no provision is being made to create a fund by which to give treatment to the alcoholics in New Guinea when such a situation arises.

I also want to make some reference to the South Pacific Commission, which was mentioned by the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) a short time ago. Members of this Parliament and Australians generally are proud of the fact that Australia is the largest contributor to the South Pacific Commission. I believe that an argument probably exists for giving more to the South Pacific Commission. Recently I had the pleasant experience of visiting some of the countries of the South Pacific Commission as a member of a delegation led by the Minister for External Territories (Mr Barnes), who is at the table. It was quite educational and beneficial to me and I believe the other members of the delegation, in every way.

As a result of contributing to the South Pacific Commission, we also contribute to the University of the South Pacific in Fiji. I want to bring to the notice of the House what I consider to be a grave injustice perpetrated by that University on a former resident of Canberra. This man is a native of Fiji. His name is James M. Anthony. For some considerable time he was a resident of 4 Raymond Street, Ainslie. He was attending the Australian National University on a scholarship. Time will not permit me to read the whole of the contents of the correspondence, which he has authorised me to use. But, for the purpose of my submission, I quote this statement from the third paragraph of his letter:

The taxpayers of Australia alone have contributed something in the vicinity of $20,000 to my higher education. You can see very, very clearly that the Appointments Committee of the Council of the University of the South Pacific had decided not to offer me an appointment (letter dated 17 November, 1970 - enclosed). You can see also from correspondence which is enclosed that when I asked for reasons for the Appointments Committee's decision the Vice-chancellor himself refused to disclose them.

In another paragraph Mr Anthony states:

I am reliably informed and am now satisfied after a personal discussion with the Vice-chancellor at the University of the South Pacific that the reasons for the Appointments Committee's decision were based on political considerations. I am also convinced after making extensive inquiries that the Vice-chancellor himself directed that I be refused employment at the University. I believe that I am being victimised because of my political beliefs and my past association with the trade union movement in Fiji.

A number of members of this Parliament have met Mr Anthony. He is a native Fijian and an outstanding Fijian scholar. His list of qualifications is very lengthy. He won a scholarship to study at the University of Hawaii. I have had the pleasure of being in the home of his parents in Fiji. He is the eldest of 12 children. When he attained all these qualifications after years of study he applied for a position at the University of the South Pacific in his native land of Fiji, but his application was rejected. He has suggested in his letter, and I agree, that he was victimised because as a young boy he took an active interest in the trade union movement in Fiji. He led what is known in Fiji as a gentleman's strike, as a result of which the wages of the workers in Fiji were lifted from approximately $3 to $7 a week.

Mr JamesMichael Anthony was born on 6th March 1935. He is married with 4 children. He has British citizenship. He gained a Bachelor of Arts degree, with honours in political science, at the University of Hawaii in 1964 and a Master of Arts degree in political science at the University of Hawaii in 1966. At the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, in the summer session of 1965 he attended the Inter-University Consortium for Political Research. He was awarded a research scholarship for a doctorate of philosophy at the Australian National University in July 1967, and gained that doctorate early this year. His list of qualifications covers one and a half pages of foolscap paper. At a time when the Fijian Government is constantly asking the Australian Government for additional finance to overcome its economic problems and when its own university, the University of the South Pacific, victimises one of its own nationals in the manner described in the correspondence which I am prepared to show to any honourable member, I think that we have to have another look at the position. If we are going to subsidise a government and a university which defeat by victimisation the very purpose for which their nationals travel to friendly countries such as Australia, the State of Hawaii and the United States mainland in order to achieve high academic qualifications to enable them to take up positions at the university in the country in which they were reared, I believe that our Government should use its good offices to see that these sorts of things are not repeated. I do not believe that Government supporters or any decent Australian would condone the treatment that has been meted out to this brilliant scholar - this mao Anthony from Fiji. Mr Anthony wrote to the Vice-Chancellor of the University of the South Pacific, Dr Aikman, and asked him to state the names of the members of the committee that decided to reject his application for employment, the time of the meeting and who was present. Dr Aikman refused to give him the information.

I believe that Dr Aikman acted very shabbily to a national of Fiji who had high qualifications to fill the position that became vacant at that important University which we visited with the Minister. In fact, I raised the matter in the presence of the Minister at the University in Fiji when we were on this study tour of external territories with the Minister during the recent recess. I hope that my remarks tonight at least will prevent a repetition of this sort of injustice happening to nationals of the south Pacific islands when they come here and do extensive studies at the cost of the Australian taxpayers.

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