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Thursday, 2 December 1971
Page: 4083

Mr BRYANT (Wills) - I support the amendment moved by the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley). As I see it, the Minister for External Territories (Mr Barnes) cannot possibly undertake the nomination of Ministers. First of all, I do not like the principle. I do not like the idea of nominations of this sort with one individual having power over another, particularly in an elective system which is basically a system of equality in which all the people elected to the place are basically equal with equal responsibilities. I do not even think that the Minister is acting in this situation as if he were prime minister. He is acting as if he were the Crown itself thousands of miles away handing down the clay tablets or whatever it is he is handing down, and saying 'There it is'.

How can the Minister possibly make this selection? If the Minister is not to make the selection, who is to make it? In all probability it will be the Administrator. I have no objection to the Administrator except that he is not qualified to select between members of Parliament. The Minister may say that it will be the Chairman of the Council; if it is to be the ViceChairman, we will nominate him. I would object to that. We must be able to do better than this. We do not live any longer in a world of nominations. The Minister might stand and say that it is difference of philosophy. What nonsense! There is a different look at the world between what he wants to operate and what we propose.

There are other ways of solving the problem than the ones we suggest, but at least we propose that the responsibility should lie with the members of the House of Assembly itself. Any departure from that principle is a breach of our trust with the people of Papua New Guinea and particularly the House of Assembly. I was particularly disappointed with the Minister's answer. The other thing that I cannot sea is how the original 17 Ministers are to be selected. Are they to be nominated? ?

Mr Barnes - Yes, by the House of Assembly.

Mr BRYANT - They are actually selected by election of the House of Assembly. I think that 'that is an advance. It is one which we ought to introduce into this Parliament. That stopped the Minister in his tracks. This is an interesting thing, actually. I have been here for some 32 or 33 sessions. I have seen these operations going on in Papua New Guinea with regard to the Holy Writ that we apply there or perhaps to the Legislative Council in the Northern Territory. We are likely to run things a little more democratically in some respects in Papua New Guinea. For instance the voting age in municipal council elections is 18. The electoral system designed in the first instance foi Papua New Guinea is much more democratic than the one inflicted upon us here. Perish the thought', says the Minister to the idea of a ministry elected by the members of the Parliament. He would not have a bar of it here.

Mr Barnes - It is a difference of philosophy.

Mr BRYANT - That is not philosophy; it is simply bad habit that the Government has got into. How on earth can the Minister call this a philosophy when he is the bloke choosing them?

Mr Hurford - Ask Jim Killen.

Mr BRYANT - That is right. The Minister might claim this is a leadership principle like the fuehrerprinzip of unhappy memory that was buried in the bunkers of Berlin. It is not even that. What are the Minister's qualifications to make this kind of choice?

Mr Giles - He is very good.

Mr BRYANT - Yes. He has a number of qualifications. He is very good at choosing horses. But we are concerned with people. The suggestion is that because of a long series of accidents - his selection as the candidate for Mcpherson; his election to this Parliament; and his selection, by whatever method, for the Ministry - he if suddenly endowed with the kind of wisdom that allows him to select from unknown people 2,000 miles away. Much as I respect and admire the honourable gentleman, conservative as he is - he is not quite my favourite reactionary, but I put him in the list - 1 believe that he just is not fitted to do this. So his advisers will do it. Who are his advisers? To whom do they answer directly? To nobody. I do not believe that it is a simple difference of philosophy. I think it is a failure to apply ourselves to the principles to which we ought to be applying ourselves and allowing the writ of free decision, equality and parliamentary responsibility to run in Papua New Guinea. Even if it does not run here yet, we will fix that after the next election.

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