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Wednesday, 16 August 1972
Page: 52

Senator WHEELDON (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - Has the Minister representing the Minister for External Territories seen a report in this morning's Australian' newspaper of a statement attributed to the Indonesion Army commander in West Irian that the Australian Government will assist in the celebration of Indonesia's Proclamation Day by deporting to West Irian 8 West Irianese refugees at present in Papua New Guinea? Can he comment on the accuracy of this report? Can he assure the Senate that no such deportation of refugees is planned by the Australian Government?

Senator WRIGHT - The Minister for External Territories has not yet received a record of the statement attributed to the general but as the honourable senator would know, the statement does not represent the policy of the Government of Australia or of the Papua New Guinea Ministry. We have no intention of deporting to Indonesia people who have been granted permission to reside in Papua New Guinea on grounds that they fear persecution in Indonesia. About 500 such people are living in Papua New Guinea. However, in accordance with policies that have been followed for some years, 8 persons who had applied for permissive residence in Papua New Guinea are to be returned to Indonesia today. I emphasise that these applications have been considered and rejected by the Administrator's Executive Council in Papua New Guinea and that the decision to return these persons is the decision of that Council and not of the Australian Government.

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