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Wednesday, 10 November 1976
Page: 2523

Mr SPEAKER - Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.

Mr YOUNG -The Opposition joins with the Government in welcoming the proposed agreement to replace the memorandum which was signed during the lifetime of the Labor Government. Over the years, we on this side of the House took very positive steps to see that Papua New Guinea received its political independence, and we are just as enthusiastic about Papua New Guinea receiving its economic independence. It is also pleasing for the Opposition to see that such a person as Sir Maori Kiki will sign on behalf of his Government. Over the years, we have had a lot in common with that representative of the Government of Papua New Guinea and many of us today would share his views on Governors-General. The market of Papua New Guinea is just as important to Australia as the Australian market is to Papua New Guinea. At the moment, 95 per cent of imports from Papua New Guinea enter Australia free of duty. I am sure that the figures will be rather illuminating for honourable members. According to the Minister's statement, in 1975-76 Australian producers exported approximately $170m worth of goods to Papua New Guinea. That represented 49 per cent of Papua New Guinea's total imports. So, one can see instantly the importance of Australia to that country. Papua New Guinea is also the third largest market for our manufactured goods. Of course, that position may change in the years ahead because of the development of industries in that country. Papua New Guinea will have to diversify its industries before it can reach the total economic independence which we in Australia would like to see.

The memorandum was signed during the lifetime of the Labor Government and indicated its initiatives and wish for Papua New Guinea to be put on a true economic footing. There will be difficulties about the economic relationship between our own country and Papua New Guinea. There will be difficulties in that country in its dealings with other Third World countries and other developed countries, in the building of its industries, in their protection, and perhaps in some of the concessions which are granted to the industries which will be built up in Papua New Guinea and will produce the same lines of goods as those produced in Australia. As all honourable members will realise, at the moment some industries in Australia are going through particular problems as a result of the concessions granted to developing countries and as a result of the agreement with New Zealand. Obviously we will see the same sorts of problems resulting from the agreement with Papua New Guinea. It is to be hoped that the unilateral action which can be taken by Australia and which was referred to in the Minister's statement does not have to be taken. It is to be hoped that Australia can successfully monitor the build-up of industries in Papua New Guinea and the impact they have on industries in Australia so that the period during which those industries are built up will be smooth. As I said, it is in the interests of all political parties in this country for us to encourage the build-up of industries and skills and the diversification of industry in Papua New Guinea. The Opposition welcomes the Minister's statement and looks forward to the signing of the agreement as soon as possible.

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