Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Full Day's HansardDownload Full Day's Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Thursday, 11 October 1956

Mr IAN ALLAN (Gwydir) . - I wish to say a few words on the general administration of our territories. I have some strong feelings on this subject, but I shall condense what T have to say to-night into a few sentences, ft is ironic that Australians, who have always been the champions of White Australia and the preservation of the highest standards for the Western races, should be laying the foundations of racial conflict in their own territories. Yet, I am convinced that that is exactly what we are doing under the policies being pursued at the present time. On the pretext of lifting the standards of the Melanesians and aborigines in our care, we are busily destroying all their ancient culture, standards and ideals. We are giving them in return only a sense of inferiority to the white man. 1 believe that this inevitably will lead to conflict such as we see at the present time in South Africa and the United States of America.

There is much evidence of opposition to the policies being pursued by this Government. We have only to read the periodicals published in the islands, or to consult unbiased authorities there, to find that thai is so. By " unbiased " I mean, of course, people who are not employed by the administrations of the territories. In order to achieve a balanced policy for the territories we must pay urgent heed to the voice of the opposition. We must listen to their criticisms of the policies that have been adopted. I believe that the Government will profit much from doing so. The " Pacific Islands Monthly " of September last summarized a large section of the opposition when it criticized a speech made by the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) in Perth recently, on the occasion of the Roy Milne memorial lecture. The editorial of the publication stated that the Minister claimed that the end result of the policies being pursued in New Guinea would be that -

Scores of different groups, knowing no relationship with each other, may gradually become a Papuan . . . people, joined by a common language, living at a common standard of material wellbeing, and with a common culture, strongly influenced by Christian teaching, and by Australian social, economic and political practice, but preserving and enriching all that is best in their native cultural heritage.

The editorial goes on to say -

This might be possible in a different kind of planet. But in this world in this incalculable century, it is sheer dreaming. There is neither time, nor the money, nor the administration, to carry out the task that Mr. Hasluck has outlined. 1 believe that those sentiments will be widely shared throughout the Territories and throughout any colonial administration. 1 was recently in the Northern Territory, and I was shocked to find money being spent there on something that might happen in the future and which might produce results in the future, while urgent jobs were crying out to he done in the present. There was no lywire ffor example, on hospitals. Yet, we were told that, in the future, the natives would be given marvellous institutions. 1 believe that that is an example of the idealism which is proving fatal to the policies in our Territories.

We should clear our minds as to our objectives in the Territories. In New Guinea, for example, the population is increasing at a very fast rate. There is not a vast area of arable land in that country. We cannot alienate very much more than we have already alienated in the course of our settlement. It will all be needed for the indigenous people themselves. The Minister has estimated that the future population of our section of New Guinea will be 10,000,000 people and, if they are to have a rising standard of living, they will need every inch of that country to develop themselves.

But, we cannot retreat entirely from the Territory, for obvious reasons. Those people will always need to be cared for. They will always need our protection. Here is where the difference between my view and that Administration's view comes in. My view is that the people will never be capable of self-administration. They will never be capable of looking after themselves. I say that with some sense of proportion. The Chinese, we understand, can colonize and settle in these countries and administer their colonies very well. But I cannot find one example of a race such as the Melanesian people who inhabit New Guinea ever in history having been able to fend for themselves. I think it is highly unlikely that something that has never occurred in the past will occur in the measurable future.

I believe that these people will need to be looked after for ever and a day. No matter how we raise their standards of living, they will still need the protection of a strong and virile people such as the Australians who are administering them now. Those are my views. I should like my views to be heard along with the views of all the other opponents of the policies that are being carried out in these Territories. I believe, in short, that they should be heard and that we should take some note of them.

Suggest corrections