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Tuesday, 26 October 1971
Page: 2546

Mr BARNES (Mcpherson) (Minister for External Territories) - I am grateful for the contributions made in this debate by honourable members from both sides of the House. Of course it is the duty of members of the Opposition to endeavour to find weaknesses but they have found it very difficult. Some of their arguments were very weak indeed. I hope to mention a few of them at least. However, I am grateful for the contribution from various honourable members on the Government side of the House who endeavoured to show what the Government is doing in Papua and New Guinea which, I believe, is to the great credit also of the Australian people.

I was surprised at the sort of things that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) tried to bring up in this debate. Of course I should not have been surprised because he does not surprise anyone in this House.

He denigrates our economic development in Papua New Guinea. Obviously he has not studied this report entitled 'Development Programme Review' although his office asked for a copy of it. If he troubled to read it he would see the tremendous advances in all sectors of the economy. 1 will not go through all the figures contained in it as it might bore people if I read figures like this.

Mr Bryant - We have nothing better to do.

Mr BARNES - That was quite a glib remark from the honourable member for Wills but let us think back to 20 years ago when practically nothing was happening that country. This year it is expected that the Territory will generate $84m of revenue. It has developed from practically nothing 20 years ago. Is that not a substantial advance? One would think we had been developing that country for years but we have not. We started in the last war. Before the last war Australia itself was an underdeveloped country. How on earth could it then have found millions to develop Papua New Guinea? Australia was emerging from a desperate depression. The remarks of members of the Opposition are idle and they do not surprise me.

The diversity in New Guinea has been mentioned and there are differences of opinion about tribes and all the rest of it. You get differences of opinion from expatriates everywhere. There is only one thing on which they are united and that is condemnation of the Leader of the Opposition. Everywhere we find that to the expatriates he is a disaster. He has been a disaster to New Guinea.

Mr Foster - He discovered it for you.

Mr BARNES - I will not descend to answering the honourable member for Sturt but that is well known. The Leader of the Opposition has had a particular interest in the Gazelle Peninsula where the situation has been most unfortunate. I know that he counselled the people there against violence but, as I think the honourable member for North Sydney (Mr Graham) said, he encouraged them just the same and this has had disastrous results. Unfortunately, only for that encouragement I think we would have settled this trouble in the Gazelle Peninsula. The Leader of the Opposition spoke of our failure in regard to recruitment. Goodness me, after the sort of stories he tells and the attitudes that he advises I wonder that we get any recruits at all. He has amazing attitudes towards the people of Papua New Guinea.

The honourable member for Swan (Mr Bennett) mentioned the wage system in the Territory and referred to the payment of differential wages. This, of course, is the accepted view of the Opposition which refused to acknowledge that all developing countries have this type of wage structure because such countries cannot afford otherwise. If they are to be independent they must have a wage structure related to their own economy otherwise they will have a false independence and will have to depend on subsidies from outside sources. This wage structure exists in Fiji, throughout Africa and in all developing countries. We would be false in our attitude if we said that we would bring this country to independence but saddle it with a wage structure based on Australia's economy. When the Government formulated this wage structure it was based on the primary products of Papua New Guinea - copra, cocoa, coffee and similar products. These are goods produced in the equatorial belt by countries which have the lowest standards of living in the world.

I inform the Committee that the Australian Government has increased the wages in these highly intensive labour industries. The wage in the agricultural sector of Papua New Guinea are higher than in any similar country. If honourable members examine the wage structures in the newly independent African countries they will see that those countries have not improved their wages, but Papua New Guinea has to compete against those countries on the world markets. This is a problem that confronts the Territory. I will defend to the last drop of my blood our policies on the wage structure in Papua New Guinea. The honourable member for Kingsford-Smith (Mr Lionel Bowen) had some quite-

Mr Bryant - He made a good speech.

Mr BARNES - I am glad that the honourable member appreciated it, because if the honourable member for KingsfordSmith had not said that he had visited Papua New Guinea 1 would have concluded that he had gained his information from the mass media. The honourable member for Kingsford-Smith suggested that we should let the indigenous population go along with their own way of life. If I interpreted his remarks correctly he said that we should leave them to their own devices. He seemed to criticise our introducing our form of law and order.

Mr Lionel Bowen (KINGSFORD-SMITH, NEW SOUTH WALES) - 1 quoted what they said.

Mr BARNES - That is right. This was quite extraordinary because I do not think the honourable member would get any of the local people of Papua New Guinea to agree with him. One thing that they treasure is the form of law and order that Australia has introduced to Papua New Guinea. I remind the honourable member that until a few years ago in many parts of Papua New Guinea a man would be born and would live his whole life in one place, never moving more than about 5 or 6 miles from it because if he did he would be murdered in another tribal area. Today they can move from one end of Papua New Guinea to the other. I doubt whether there is any other country whose inhabitants appreciate what law and order means more than do the Papuans and New Guineans. They are jealous of this situation, so I think that the honourable member has been misinformed. 1 think he made a veiled criticism of the kiaps. This is the type of unfair criticism we hear from members of the Opposition. This body of men has made a most admirable contribution to the Territory. These few Australians brought law and order and government to Papua New Guinea. A few Australians went into that primitive and hostile country with a few policemen and native carriers and, with a minimum loss of life, brought control to the country and a better life to its people. I do not think their efforts could be equalled anywhere else. Yet these people are denigrated.

The honourable member for Chifley (Mr Armitage) made a most extraordinary statement. He said that he went up there recently for the first time in 8 years and the only change he noticed was a change in the racial problem. He did not notice that since we was last up there a university had been built. He did not notice that an institute of higher technology, a forestry school and an agricultural school had been established. He did not notice that a road had been built from Mount Hagen to Lae. He did not notice the improvements which have been made to the ports. He did not notice that this area has probably the most efficient telecommunications system of any underdeveloped country in the world.

Mr McLeay - He must have eye trouble.

Mr BARNES - I do not think I need elaborate any further on what he did not notice because, as the honourable member for Boothby said, myopia is his problem.

Mr Bryant - He is a good romantic.

Mr BARNES - There is no doubt about the fact that he makes up a good story.

Mr Bryant - I am talking about you.

Mr BARNES - I think it is proper to apply it to the honourable member for Chifley.

Mr Foster - 1 rise on a point of order, Mr Deputy Chairman. You pull up honourable members on this side of the chamber when they only whisper but during the time the Minister has been on his feet Government supporters have been bellowing out and you have not said anything.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Drury) - Order! All interjections, interruptions and comments are out of order. The honourable member for Sturt will resume his seat.

Mr BARNES - 1 support the remarks of the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley) about the problems of unity, which is a critical matter to the Territory. I support his remarks that every effort should be made to bring unity to the Territory. The divisions among the people are extraordinary. Human factors are involved. Logic and reason do not come into the matter. It is a matter of emotions, which is a difficult problems to combat. The honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) seemed very concerned about the Government having disregarded the House of Assembly. That is quite an extraordinary statement from a member of the Opposition. I think a great achievement of this

Government has been to give a representative House of Assembly to Papua New Guinea. The House of Assembly has been elected by the people of Papua New Guinea to express their views.

Mention has been made of self government and independence. The policy of this Government is to give self government and independence to the Territory whenever its people want them. But the Leader of the Opposition - this great democracy - has said that this decision will be made in Canberra and not in Port Moresby. He has said that the people of the Territory will have self government by 1972, which is next year, and independence by 1975. The honourable member for Wills said that the Government does not respect the wishes of the House of Assembly.

Mr Bryant - What about the request for an all-party committee?

Mr BARNES - I will reply to that interjection. But honourable members opposite should not forget what I have just said about the Opposition's attitude. The Government is trying to bring democracy to Papua New Guinea but the Labor Party has said that the views of the people should be disregarded. The Labor Party says: 'It does not matter what they say about self government and independence; it is what we say'. This is paternalism. It is quite ridiculous. The honourable member for Wills is very disappointed because the Government did not accept the request by the House of Assembly for an all-party committee to look at self government. That would have been a great thing if we could have accepted it. But how could we have done so? We do not have a bi-partisan policy. How could the Government appoint an all-party committee when the Opposition has shown such disregard for democratic principles in Papua New Guinea? It could not be done. One group would be going at a tangent from the other group. We have had a most successful meeting with a group of ministerial members. I believe we will be able to ameliorate the problems that exist in the underdeveloped areas. But that is past history now. They have gone back and statements have been issued.

MrLIONEL BOWEN (Kingsford-Smith) - I wish to make a personal explanation.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Drury) - Order! Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented.

Mr Lionel Bowen (KINGSFORD-SMITH, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Yes, I do. I have been misrepresented in 2 comments that have just been made by the Minister for External Territories (Mr Barnes). He was condescending enough in his own selfimportance to think that I should have known more than I did on the basis that I said certain things. He said - this is not true - that I said we should leave the people of the Territory of Papua New Guinea as they are. I did not say that. I quoted the House of Assembly Hansard report of what Mr Olewale said. He said he would like to retain most of their culture. Secondly, the Minister said I made a veiled threat as to the kiaps. I did no such thing. I quoted Mr Tammur. whom I met personally. I might say that I met Mr To Liman as well, and they both agreed that it was improper that 2 summonses should by served by 170 policemen. I think that is a fair comment. I have the great respect for the kiaps. 1 made no criticism of them at all. I think it has been one of the great and interesting facets of Australian administration that the Australian kiap has done so much for the Territory. It is a pity that his views are not being implemented by this Government.

Mr Bryant - Mr Deputy Chairman, there was just a point that the Minister made-

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order! Does the honourable member wish to make a personal explanation?

Mr Bryant - Can I not speak again? I want to raise again the question of the committee that I raised with the Minister.

Progress reported.

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