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Wednesday, 1 November 1967

Mr WHITLAM (Werriwa) (Leader of the Opposition) - Mr Deputy Speaker, today is the twentieth anniversary of the

United Nations General Assembly giving its approval to the trusteeship agreement by Britain, New Zealand and Australia in respect of Nauru. Today represents the culmination of 20 years association between Australia, more than the other partners, and Nauru under the auspices of the United Nations. The subject of Nauru has been debated every year in the United Nations. It has been debated very rarely in the Australian Parliament. This Bill repeals the 1965 Act.

Mr Bowen - lt is prospective.

Mr WHITLAM - It provides for the repeal of the 1965 Act. Only two other Bills relating to Nauru have (Mr Barnes) who has introduced this Bill, included the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley), the honourable member for Evans (Dr Mackay), myself, the honourable member for Bowman (Dr Gibbs), the honourable member for Batman (Mr Benson), the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) and the former member for Hughes, Mr L. R. Johnson, It will be seen that honourable members devoted quite considerable attention to the problems of Nauru and in particular to the explosive issues of national independence and natural resources.

I must confess that over the years I have taken a different view of the urgency or propriety of granting independence to our island territories from that expressed and taken by the Minister for Territories or, I apprehend, some of his advisers. I want to say on this occasion that I think that the result of the activities in the United Nations between the Nauruans and the trust partners over the intervening 2 years has been fruitful and beneficial. The Nauruans had asked for independence. They insisted on independence. They will receive independence. There are some hopeful signs indeed to their independence. While Nauru will be the smallest nation in the world its people enjoy the highest educational and health services in Oceania. Nauru has had a considerable history of effective local government. The Opposition supports the Bill and supports the arrangements that the Minister has announced. The Opposition hopes that the further arrangements where suggested come about.

It will be satisfying indeed if Australia's 50 years of association with Nauru - the last 20 years being under the terms of United Nations trusteeship - come formally to an end on 30th January 1968, the day which Nauruans remember and celebrate as that upon which their people were reunited after their dispersion and occupation by the Japanese. The Opposition supports the Bill. Reading what I said on the second last day of the 1965 session, on 8th December 1965, I take some satisfaction from the attitude which my colleagues and I expressed on that occasion. We wish the people of Nauru every social, political and educational advantage in the future. We will be happy to reciprocate any arrangements which they seek with this country.

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