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Thursday, 19 February 1959

Mr HASLUCK (Curtin) (Minister for Territories) . - by leave - The House will recall that on 7th August last year I gave an assurance that certain incidents that occurred at Navuneram, in New Britain, on 4th August, 1958, when two villagers lost their lives, would be the subject of an independent inquiry. The Commission of Inquiry was set up and has now reported. The House will also recall that as the Royal Commissions Act of the Commonwealth does not apply to the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, the Government decided to ask the Administrator of the Territory to appoint Mr. Justice Mann, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Papua and New Guinea, as a Commissioner under the Commissions of Inquiry Ordinance of the Territory, with terms of reference drawn up by the Government, to give effect to the view expressed in this House that the inquiry should be as wide as possible. The papers that I will shortly present to the House will show that the Commissioner's inquiry did in fact cover a very wide range, and dealt not only with the incident at Navuneram, but also with antecedent events and the circumstances in which the incident occurred.

When the Commissioner presented his report last November, Parliament had been prorogued and an election campaign was in progress. I therefore took the decision that the report should not be published until such time as the new Parliament met. Having regard to the circumstances in which the inquiry had been initiated, I believed it was my obligation to present the report in the first instance to the Commonwealth Parliament.

As the report is a long one it may be of service to the House if I attempt to traverse its contents. First, I should express to the Chief Justice of the Territory the appreciation of the Government and, if I may say so, of this Parliament for the work he has done on our behalf. When honorable members have read his report I am sure that they will agree that he has carried out his task with the scrupulous care, diligence and impartiality that would be expected from an occupant of his high judicial office.

Secondly, I should like to dispose of what might be termed the question of culpability. An inquiry of this kind necessarily raises the question whether or not any person or persons should be called to account for actions taken or for any failure or neglect of duty. We do have to satisfy ourselves whether any officer or officers of the Territorial Administration either did what they should not have done or failed to do what they should have done. Now, while it may be possible for various persons to reach various opinions on what was the best way to handle the situation which arose at Navuneram and, while some persons who were not there on the fatal day may freely express their own confidence that they themselves would have done better, 1 find nothing in the Commissioner's report which would justify any assertion that any officer of the Administration concerned in this affair acted other than in accordance with his honest judgment of what is best to do and I find nothing in the report to justify any charge that any officer either exceeded or fell short of what might reasonably be regarded as the demands of his duty. On this point I quote the Commissioner - i do not want to be taken as expressing the view that the officers of the Administration should be held responsible for the incidents, indeed i reject such a conclusion, and think that any search for a scapegoat to take the responsibility for these events would involve serious injustice to these officers, and would deprive the Administration of the benefit which can only be derived from close attention to the causes of the trouble. All of the officers who gave evidence did so frankly, truthfully and without reserve. They are all men of outstanding ability and intgerity, and wide experience in the Territory, and they faced the very difficult problems with which they were confronted with great courage, and application to duty.

So in view of that report, the Government does not have it in mind to visit either censure or disciplinary action on any of the officers concerned in the affair and we do not think that either censure or disciplinary action would be justified by any of the findings of the Commissioner.

The paragraph of the Commissioner's report from which I have quoted, page 1475 of the typescript, gives a lead into my third point. What are the matters of real concern to us all? What are the lessons which we can profitably learn from the results of this inquiry? In the passage quoted, the Commissioner in effect says that the Administration would benefit most from giving " close attention to the causes of the trouble ". He also refers to " actions on the part of the Administration and its officers which in my view have shown weaknesses which have contributed towards the events that occurred at Navuneram ". Later he refers to the events as " the culmination of many years difficulty during which important and indeed essential policies being implemented for the benefit of the natives themselves were being held up and frustrated by small groups of natives . . ". Paraphrasing the Commissioner, I submit to the House that we have to examine every possible weakness which may have contributed to the events at Navuneram in order that those weaknesses may be repaired. We have to give close attention to the causes of the trouble so that we are better able to avoid any such trouble in the future. May I express the hope that in any debate which may follow in this House we will concentrate our minds on that aspect of the inquiry, and that we will approach these questions with care and a sense of responsibility, withholding rash judgments until we are sure that we fully understand the complicated matters before us.

When a primitive and dependent people are being advanced rapidly towards civilization under the tutelage and rule of a trustee power there will always be strain and the possibility of misunderstanding, and even conflict. In Papua and New Guinea there are many unusual stresses and emotional conflicts as well as the perpetual strain of the tug-of-war between old ways and new ways. Those stresses and strains exist in the situation itself and they were neither created by the bad purposes of any one nor can they be removed by the expression of good intentions by some one else. In our attempt to understand the tasks of administration in the Territory and in any attempt to reach an opinion on the particular situation that arose at Navuneram we need to keep in mind the whole picture as well as the segment on which we are now concentrating our attention. Our present duty, however, requires us to look narrowly at the incidents at Navuneram.

In his report, the Commissioner says that the immediate background of the happenings of 4th August is found in the operation of the Personal Tax Ordinance but that the question of taxation was only incidental to a much wider dispute going back over a number of years.

Let me say something to the House about the Personal Tax Ordinance. It came into force on 1st January, 1958. It provides for the payment of a tax at a maximum rate of £2 per annum by all male persons who are not otherwise exempt, irrespective of race, in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. It sets up simple and easily accessible machinery to hear individual claims for reduction in, or exemption from, the tax payable; and provides for a variation in rates between different areas and in accordance with the varying abilities of the people to pay. Only a comparatively small percentage of the native population pays the maximum rate of £2. Figures supplied to me by the Administrator show that out of an enumerated adult male population of 476,840 in Papua and New Guinea, a total of 176,497 were automatically exempted at the beginning of the 1958 tax year and 53,999 were either totally or partially exempted by tribunals during the year, so that only half of the adult male population were in fact paying the full personal tax. The vast majority of those on whom the tax has been levied have paid willingly. They paid without protest and I think it would be no exaggeration to say that a large number of them have felt that their requirement to pay a tax was a recognition of their standing and importance in the community.

In passing, 1 should mention thai, although the tax was primarily introduced for a number of reasons advanced by tha Administrator as being valuable for our administrative purposes, the tax is also in accordance with the expressed wishes of the Trusteeship Council of the United Nations and its introduction was noted with satisfaction by the Trusteeship Council.

Inextricably linked with the question of taxation in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea is the introduction of local government among the native people. In accordance with established policy, the Administrator has created, within proclaimed areas, councils consisting of elected native members to undertake a wide range of local government activities under the supervision of officers of the Department of Native Affairs. These councils have powers of taxation for local government purposes and the Personal Tax Ordinance provides that taxes paid by individuals under the Native Local Government Councils Ordinance can be recognized as a reason for total or partial exemption from personal tax. In other words, if natives who belong to a local government council are paying tax to that council they do not pay tax under the Personal Tax Ordinance.

Local government is being promoted because it is regarded as a field in which the native people can learn to help themselves, can become familiar with democratic procedures, and can be prepared for further political advancement while at the same time they are helping in their own social and economic progress. The first Native Local Government Council - the Reimber Council in the Rabaul area of New Britain - was proclaimed on 7th August, 1950. At 22nd January, 1959, 27 councils had been established, representing 172,663 people through 749 councillors. The United Nations has encouraged the development of these councils and noted the Australian efforts over the past eight years with approval.

The findings of the Commissioner - and this is the point that we have to note carefully - give prominence to the opposition by the Navuneram people to local government councils and to the personal tax and also refer to the belief of the Navuneram people that the personal tax was a device to compel them to enter the scheme for local government councils. The Commissioner mentions the patience with which Administration officers attempted to explain matters to the natives and the unreasonable lengths to which this particular group carried their opposition to the tax and to local government.

In amplification of the Commissioner's report I would quote some figures supplied by the Administrator regarding the numerical strength of the opposition to local government councils among the Tolai people in the New Britain area. As at December, 1957, those Tolai people who were in favour of the councils totalled 35,591 and those against only 3,688. Of the dissentients, 1,112 were in Navuneram, Taviliu and adjacent village groups. In brief, over 90 per cent, of the Tolai people wanted councils and less than 10 per cent, in three groups of villages, did not want them.

I would ask honorable members to read, when the reports are tabled, not only the findings on this point but also those sections of the report in which the Commissioner discusses the behaviour of the Navuneram people. He remarks -

On some occasions when the officers had spent a great deal of time carefully answering questions and explaining matters at issue the natives seemed to close their minds to any argument based on reason and simply refused to take any notice.

That comment appears at page 1439 of the report. I would also direct attention to those paragraphs of the report in which the Commissioner refers to other questions, more remote than the question of personal tax and local government, which affected the attitude of the people of Navuneram. Although I am sure that the Commissioner himself would not claim that his discussion of this aspect of the question can be more complete than the experience made available to him, his references to " conditions, pressures and loyalties operating within their own group " indicate how complex are the influences which may produce a situation such as that at Navuneram. For example, he mentions some of the past history of the Tolai people, and the fear of the Navuneram group that they may lose both their land and their identity as the result of pressure from other rival groups of natives. He speaks of that element in the concern of the Navuneram people that was " proAdministration government and anti-native government " and says -

Their experience has shown the natives that they can trust the Government, but not their fellow natives.

Hence, he says, at page 1453, they were " bewildered and alarmed at the proposal to substitute native government for the government they had known and trusted ".

The Commissioner also discusses, at another place, a variety of conditions which had effected the trust and confidence between officers and the native people. 1 think I summarize his views fairly when I say that he chiefly questions the wisdom of those officers who, having the duty of implementing the policy of local government, became somewhat impatient with those natives who stood outside the scheme. He suggests that the continued pressure on them to join local government tended to damage the confidence of the natives in the officers.

I mention these points to illustrate the way in which many influences, some near, some very remote, have a bearing on the situation and I would venture the opinion that, careful and penetrating as the report is, it has not by any means told the whole story. This is implicit in the Commissioner's own reference, on page 1478 of his report, to the need for a more thorough investigation over a considerable period of time by persons with experience and expertness in many different fields - anthropologists,

Native Affairs officers, Lands Department officers and others. I would again ask honorable members and any others who may comment on the findings of the Commissioner to read those findings with some humility about their own capacity to say the last word in the face of the complexity of the causes that produced the situation.

Against this background, may I now attempt to summarize the findings of the Commissioner. The report says that there were bad relations between Administration officers and Navuneram natives from about 1950 onwards. From about 1951 onwards the natives of the Navuneram area had been firmly and consistently refusing to carry out the stated policy of the Administration and this refusal related in its most marked form to the development of local government in the area. Despite efforts by Native Affairs officers to explain it and apply it, the Navuneram natives resisted the Personal Tax Ordinance and - carried their opposition to Government policy to such unreasonable lengths that they were prepared to refuse all Government assistance and finally resolved that if it came to a conflict with the Administration they would die rather than give in.

Out of that situation, in June, 1958, civil proceedings were taken against individuals to recover tax. Efforts on 29th July to enforce the law were not successful. I quote the Commissioner again -

There was not much real physical violence on this occasion mainly on account of the efforts of the District Officer to carry out his mission in a peaceful manner . . . This was about the fourth time that violent clashes between natives in this neighbourhood and Native Affairs officers had ended in apparent success to the natives, and as a result an attitude of arrogance was added to the already openly hostile attitude of many of them.

As a result of these events a policy decision was made at Administration headquarters and conveyed to the officers of the Administration at Rabaul through the District Commissioner to the effect that the required force should be used to uphold the law and that, inter alia, proceedings would be taken under the provisions of section 16 of the Personal Tax Ordinance which makes it an offence for a person to refuse to pay without reasonable excuse.

Dr Evatt - Where were the Administration head-quarters?

Mr HASLUCK - At Port Moresby. The Administrator made a decision at Port

Moresby and conveyed it to Rabaul. At this point may I inform the House that the Administrator reported to me that he had given this instruction of 29th July. As it was a matter normally handled by the Administrator it was not necessary for me to approve formally of what he had done, but it would have been possible for me to have countermanded his instructions. I did not do so and it was my considered opinion at the time that I should not do so. I reaffirm now my confidence in the Administrator's judgment, against the background of local knowledge, on handling a situation of this kind. It would have been improper for the Minister to have intervened when the Administrator, who knew the local circumstances, had taken a considered judgment.

Dr Evatt - Who was the Administrator?

Mr HASLUCK - The Administrator is Mr. D. M. Cleland. Returning to the report, the Commissioner's findings then record the fact that, at a conference at Rabaul on 2nd August, after the Administrator's instruction had been received, an expedition to Navuneram was planned for 4th August. He said -

The officers present were ... of the opinion that it was essential for the maintenance of law and order in the community that the expedition should succeed and that if it failed it would lead to widespread violence and bloodshed. The conference also agreed that the natives should be brought before a court convened at Navuneram and constituted by officers of the Department of Native Affairs acting as magistrates. It was also decided that a force of 80 native policemen equipped as is usual with rifles and bayonets should form part of the expedition to provide any necessary force and that 200 rounds of ammunition should be taken but kept strictly under the control of the Superintendent of Police and only be used in case of emergency.

The Commissioner believes that the conclusions reached at this conference at Rabaul were partly but not wholly justified by the circumstances. His first criticism is that, on the assumption that the views of the officers of the Administration that violence and bloodshed were inevitable were justified, then the forces employed to carry out the expedition were dangerously inadequate. His second criticism is based on his view that his inquiry revealed that it was an erroneous conclusion that the natives were seeking to reject the authority of the Administration or the rejection of law and order. At the same time he added that if his own view of the matter is correct, he was satisfied that -

The officers of the Administration who formed what 1 regard as an erroneous view cannot reasonably be blamed in the circumstances for having done so, nor do I think that having regard to established departmental procedures it was reasonably open to any of these officers to undertake any independent inquiry which might have led him to the correct view. Moreover this is the first occasion in the history of the Territory on which this kind of opposition to Government action has been carried out with such a high degree of organization, or carried so far and with such determination, in spite of great efforts on the part of the officers of the Administration to explain the scope and effect of the action involved.

The Commissioner also believes that the conference of 2nd August gave too little weight to legal considerations involved in the actions which were proposed. He is critical of the way in which officers of the Department of Native Affairs set up the court and says that the Department's " zeal in undertaking conflicting duties in regard to natives was being carried beyond the limits of prudence or reason ".

Dr Evatt - What is the court referred to?

Mr HASLUCK - That was the court that was set up at Navuneram to hear the cases of alleged refusal to pay tax. May I pause here again in my summary of the Commissioner's findings to comment. The paragraphs of his report dealing with the conference of 2nd August at Rabaul presided over by the District Commissioner seem to me to be one of the main points requiring our attention. This was a critical stage in the proceedings that culminated in the clash at Navuneram.

Dr Evatt - The District Commissioner was not Mr. Cleland?

Mr HASLUCK - No, Mr. Foldi is the District Commissioner at Rabaul. I cannot attempt to resist the validity of the Commissioner's proposition that when a question of enforcement of law is being considered, as it was being considered at this conference, full weight has to be given to the legal questions involved and that a legal officer should have been present at the conference. Nor can I dispute the argument that it was highly undesirable to attempt to constitute a court from Native

Affairs officers whose recent or prospective duties unavoidably made them parties to the conflict which was to be resolved. While we have to recognize that a number of local and temporary factors limited the courses open to our officers, we in the Government admit the mistake and express regret for it. The Administrator has already taken up these matters in order to correct this particular weakness.

In his general discussion of the case in another part of the report, pages 1456 to 1463, the Commissioner also examines at some length the general problem of the relationship between the Department of Native Affairs and the administration of the law. What he says is in keeping with views repeatedly expressed by the Government to the Administrator. Care will be taken in future that policy is strictly observed in this regard.

The more critical point raised by the Commissioner is whether the judgment of the conference on the nature of the situation was erroneous and consequently whether the action was wrongly planned. If there were an error of judgment it was an honest error in judgment and the Commissioner himself lays no blame on the officers. He recognizes, as we, I suggest, must recognize, that these officers had been involved in various incidents over a long period which convinced them that the native villagers were defiant. It is a matter of opinion whether the officers correctly assessed the situation but we can all agree that the officers reached their opinion carefully, after long consideration and after weighing all the information available to them; and we have to give weight to their opinions as those persons who had been most closely in touch with the events.

Returning now to the Commissioner's findings, we have to examine the circumstances in which the two natives lost their lives at Navuneram on 4th August. The Commissioner makes some conjectures about what the villagers intended to do after they had been told to come down to meet the Administration officers on that morning, but concludes that the purpose of the villagers was to present a united front to the Administration officers and flatly refuse to pay the tax. He adds that whatever pre-arranged plan they may have made miscarried when the unexpected appearance of a large police force took them by surprise. Although at the time the officers of the Administration took the view that the natives had planned to make an attack on the official party and had prepared for it, the Commissioner believes that this view was not justified.

After the natives had assembled at Navuneram in " substantial numbers ", two officers addressed them and called upon them to pay their tax. The Commissioner continues -

The natives were very unresponsive and gave a general impression of determined hostility. . . Both [officers] showed a great deal of patience in addressing the natives for almost two hours in spite of abusive and offensive retorts and wild behaviour calculated to exasperate anybody who had not had the same experience at exercising patience and forbearance.

The court was then set up, after the two hours spent in explanation, and the natives asked to come before it. After they had again been addressed by the officers for a long time without success, a conference was held between senior officers and it was decided that the only course was to go out among the natives, arrest the alleged offenders and bring them before the court. The Commissioner says -

This proposed course met with the approval of all the senior officers present who saw no alternative course which they could honorably pursue since in their view the maintenance of law and order was directly at stake and had to be vindicated.

Up to this point of time there had been no attack on the Administration party, and the Commissioner believes that, at this stage, the natives did not intend to initiate an attack, although individual natives were shouting out threats and challenges and words of provocation. The Commissioner continues -

The decision to take the first step which would directly involve physical conflict was taken by the officers of the Administration for the reason which I have indicated. I think that the evidence shows that the forces available to the Administration at that time were inadequate to ensure that the course proposed could be safely carried out, and I do not think that the decision should have been made or carried out.

The Commissioner describes the way in which a melee developed after the police went into the crowd in an attempt to make arrests. He also describes the turning point, when the natives, who, in his view, had hitherto been on the defensive, became the attackers and pressed their attack on the Administration party " with grim determination and ferocity ". Later he uses the phrase " a frenzied rage ". Many of the European officers and native policemen were then placed in a position of considerable danger in the face of this frenzied attack. The situation became " most serious ". In these circumstances orders were given to issue ammunition to the reserve squad of police. Two hundred rounds, which was all the ammunition carried by the expedition, were distributed. As the outlook worsened, the order was given to fire over the heads of the natives, and the reserve squad opened fire. The first burst was aimed high in the air, and the village natives thought that blank cartridges were being used; but even when some of the bullets started to knock fronds and coconuts from the trees, and it was clear to some of the attacking natives that blanks were not being used, this did not have much effect on them at first. The natives gave up the attack only when bullets were going through the trees in among them at a low level, at which stage Tovatuna and Tovurete, the two natives killed, were shot. As soon as the attack abated the order to cease fire was given and all firing ceased.

The Commissioner says -

In all, fifty-four bullets were fired, and I think that the fairest conclusion is that something between one-quarter and one-third of all those bullets entered the trees amongst which the attacking natives were moving at a height which would endanger their lives. I am satisfied on the evidence that it was not intended by the officers in charge of the police reserve squad that any of the bullets fired should be fired at such a low height and that the officers took special care to prevent this from occurring.

But it did occur. The Commissioner continues -

I am satisfied on the evidence that it was as a direct result of this contravention of orders and of the killing and wounding of the three natives in question that the attacking natives were put to flight and widespread bloodshed on both sides narrowly averted. I am satisfied that as from the time . . . just before the reserve squad opened fire every step taken by the officers of the Administration was unavoidable in the circumstances which then existed and was intended to save rather than to cause loss of life and injury. Accepting the situation as it stood at the commencement of the firing, I think that the Police Commissioner would have been justified if he had ordered some of hu reserve squad to fire at the attacking natives.

At an earlier part of his report, discussing the matter more fully, the Commissioner says (page 1476) -

The deaths of the two natives who were killed and the injuries suffered by the others were unfortunate, but were suffered during a stage at which the officers had no means of exercising better control over the situation.

The real tragedy of Navuneram lies in the inevitability with which events marched with accelerating pace to their sad conclusion. Once a course of action had been commenced it could not be checked. The officers concerned, described by the Commissioner as " all men of outstanding ability and integrity ", were faced with a situation of unusual difficulty. They made decisions which, from their experience and their knowledge, seemed to be best, and they carried out those decisions with moderation, patience, a high sense of duty and a constant attempt to avoid bloodshed. It is easy enough, after the event, to question the rightness of the decision. Opinions among people entitled by experience to speak on these 'matters may differ widely concerning the expedition to Navuneram on 4th August, but I suggest that there is nothing in the record that will entitle any one anywhere in the world to say that the decision was not made with careful thought, responsibility and in good faith with the purpose of doing what would bring the best outcome for the people of the Territory.

The lessons that have to be learned from these events and from the report I now propose to table are lessons for all of us. First is the lesson of the need for constant, patient and penetrating effort to understand more clearly the complex situations with which we are dealing. Second is the lesson of trying to come closer to the indigenous people, to enter more intimately into their minds, and to gain and to retain their trust and confidence. The wisdom of what we do will grow with our understanding. Third is the lesson of the need for administrative arrangements and leadership to ensure that all the officers engaged in the task of administration on behalf of Australia will know their task clearly, and will have the opportunity of doing it to their full ability. A task of administration of this kind calls for constant alertness and intelligent analysis of changing situations by every officer in the field, in all departments.

Following the submission of the Commissioner's report, the Government and the Administration are already giving attention to some of the matters raised. I will review them quickly.

The Taxation Ordinance, and1 the associated administrative instructions, are being examined to guard against the possibility of any repetition of such errors in approach and administration by the officers concerned as the Commissioner believes to have occurred.

The problem of land shortage has been receiving close attention for some years. Land has been made available for native occupancy through native local government councils, and two separate, though small, resettlement schemes are developing in the Gazelle Peninsula. A full examination of the land position is being made. The Government has always been conscious that land policy is a fundamental key to native welfare and has tried to evolve a land policy designed to safeguard the rights of natives in their land and to prevent the occurrence in New Guinea of land problems of the kind which have arisen in dependent territories elsewhere in the world.

Additional measures to bring closer contact with the natives are to be developed and a review of the Local Government Councils Ordinance is being made to determine at what points it may require revision and to foster the development of area councils to give the natives an increasing control over matters of local concern to them and a wider experience in political management.

The Administration is taking steps to ensure that immediately an officer of the Department of Native Affairs assumes his magisterial function he is completely free from and independent of his department. The system of appointing stipendiary magistrates will be extended so that in the main centres Native Affairs officers should not exercise magisterial powers. Legislation is also being drafted to divorce Native Affairs officers from their police powers when they are serving in developed areas.

Recognizing the force of the Commissioner's remarks regarding the too frequent transfer of officers, steps are being taken to ensure that continuity of service by appropriate officers in particular areas shall be maintained1 to the utmost administrative possibility. As part of the same process arrangements are being made to enable officers to become fluent in native languages. Measures to improve communication between the Administration and the people are being examined.

Apart from the Navuneram inquiry, a fundamental review of the structure and functions of the Department of Native Affairs has been in progress for some time past with a view to making adjustments to suit changing circumstances in the Territory and, in continuing this review, we will take account of the points made by the Commissioner. This basic review of the whole function and structure of the Department of Native Affairs is incomplete, but I would regard it myself as being one of the fundamental measures to be taken on the administrative side. At the same time we have to appreciate that many other departments of Administration - health, education, land's, agriculture and so on - are touching the lives of the people at many points. We have to take greater care that the understanding and co-operation between departments is complete and that they are all pulling in the same direction. We must appreciate that in New Guinea we are dealing with a rapidly changing situation, and we must adjust our methods and practices in accordance with those changes.

The Administrator is taking steps for the fuller and closer examination of the local position in the Gazelle Peninsula. Last December I had the opportunity of discussing with him in person at Rabaul the measures he is taking and also took advantage of the occasion to discuss with the District Commissioner and other officers, with leaders of the native people themselves, and with missionaries and citizens in close touch with them the state of affairs following Navuneram. While such talks, which were prolonged, would certainly not entitle me to try to say the last word on the subject, I feel that I can assure this House that the lessons have been taken to heart and that trust and confidence are being repaired.

After we have considered the situation at Navuneram and the immediate measures that are being taken to overcome some of the weaknesses revealed there, we still have before us the broader problems of our Territorial administration. The situation is not static. It is perpetually changing and we have to make sure that our thinking about the problem and the methods we use are also being perpetually adjusted to meet newly emerging needs. Behind all we do is the constant need for better communication between us and the people on whose behalf we are exercising trusteeship so that we will understand them better and they will understand us. We have to deserve and they have to give us their respect and their trust if our partnership with them is to work for the good of all. That is the ideal set before all our Australian officers in the Territory. It is true we have reason to be watchful, careful and wise; but we have no reason as Australians to be ashamed of our record in the Territory, which, on the whole, is one of beneficence and of great achievement.

May I express the hope that any public discussion on Navuneram will take place in the context of this wider concern for the future of the Territory and its peoples and their relationship with Australia, so that we may have a constructive discussion on the great creative task in which Australia is honorably engaged.

I lay on the table the following paper: -

Navuneram Incident, New Britain - Report of the Commission of Inquiry.

Motion (by Mr. Freeth) proposed -

That the paper be printed.

Dr Evatt - I ask for leave to make a statement.

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