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Friday, 15 May 1970

Mr BARNES (MCPHERSON, QUEENSLAND) (Minister for External Territories) - In answer to the question of the Leader of the Opposition about the reported statement of Dr Gunther at the Waigani seminar, yes, I will be very happy to make a statement next week provided that I have the permission of the House to do so. I have a full recollection of the first time I met that first select committee. [ think it was in 1965, at a preliminary meeting at which Dr Gunther was present. Mr Guise was chairman. The first thing the chairman asked me was: What form of constitutional advancement or procedure would the Commonwealth accept? My answer was: 'It is not for the Commonwealth to say what form of constitutional development you require but for you to tell us what you want'. My recollection of the reaction of the committee was: 'Well, we would like you to give us some sort of guide lines as to what you feel would be a satisfactory operation'. I would refer the Leader of the Opposition to a statement made in this House on 21st April 1966 following the preliminary meeting and after I had made a submission to Cabinet on possible guide lines for the proceedings. That statement is probably available in the Library or wherever these statements are kept. It shows that Ministers of the Government met and discussed with the committee the various aspects of future constitutional change. Yes, Mr Speaker, I will be very happy to make a statement when I get the full facts of the case.

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