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Wednesday, 16 August 1972
Page: 133


Senator KEEFFE asked the Minister representing the Minister for External Territories upon notice:

(1)   ls the Minister aware that one of the contributing factors to cost of living increases in Port Moresby is a recent increase of 12c a trip in bus charges, and an increase of 10 per cent in the price of bread;

(2)   Is the Minister aware that the total wage of the urban worker is only $8.50 per week.

(3)   Can the Minister inform the Parliament of the reasons for galloping inflation in the Territory, particularly in view of the fact that the Australian Government still has almost complete control over the economy of the Territory.


Senator WRIGHT The Minister for External Territories has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

The matter referred to is one which falls within the authority of the Ministerial Member for Internal Finance in the Papua New Guinea House of Assembly. The Minister for Internal Finance has provided the following information:

(1)   The increase in bus fares was 2c only per trip and not 12c. This increase is the first since February, 1966. Similarly the increase in bread prices is the first since 1966. These recent increases in bus fares and bread prices have had only a small effect on the 'cost of living' in Port Moresby to the extent that it is measured by changes in the Papua New Guinea retail price index.

(2)   It is not correct to say that the total wage of the urban worker is only $8.50 per week. In Port Moresby in the year ended 30lh June 1970 the average wage of indigenous workers was $13.13 per week and the average in all urban centres combined was $11.44 per week.

(3)   To the extent that it is measured by changes in the Papua New Guinea retail price index, inflation occurred at the rate of 8.2 per cent during the 12 months from 1st April 1971. Main contributing factors have been increases in overseas and local shipping freight rates and increases in import prices. Increased taxes on beer, spirits and tobacco products have also been a contributing factor.

The Minister for External Territories also remarks that, in view of the substantial powers now exercised by Ministers of the House of Assembly, including those of internal finance, it is not correct to say that the Australian Government still has almost complete control of the economy of Papua New Guinea.







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