Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Full Day's HansardDownload Full Day's Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Thursday, 9 May 1968


Mr BEAZLEY (Fremantle) - We live in an anti-colonial world, and this applies to the United States of America as much as it does to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, as the Dutch have good cause to remember in relation to West Irian. We are under pressures about our administration in Papua and New Guinea. I do not say that we are under immediate pressures to get out of the Territory tomorrow. I say that we are under international pressure clearly to formulate a policy leading to the independence of the people of Papua and New Guinea. It seems to me that independence and nationhood are always confused. Nigeria gained its independence but it is extremely doubtful that it has a sense of nationhood. The great tribes of Fulani, Hausa, Ibo and Yoruba have been in conflict with one another in what has become one of the most costly civil wars of recent times. It has not received much focus internationally, because the Communists are not involved. Therefore there is no incentive to outside intervention as there has been in other civil wars. Nevertheless, the Nigerian civil war is a terrible one that may well destroy Nigeria's chances of becoming a nation.

The question Australia faces is this: Can Australia work deliberately, intelligently and effectively for the maximum dignity of another race, belying its whole history of treatment of the Aboriginals, according to a pattern of sanity in a world that has gone conspicuously insane on race issues? I believe that it can. But the original United

Kingdom decision to withhold Queensland's annexation of what we now call Papua and New Guinea', was based on Queensland's treatment of the Aboriginal people at that time, as the report of the royal commission appointed by the House of Commons in 1884 has shown. New Guinea is moving to nationhood. Fundamentally this is a more important question than independence. I think that independence could be granted - and I am not advocating this - and, provided that Australia continued to give financial assistance and to treat the European Administration officers as a force on loan, Papua and New Guinea government, with an efficient civil service and adequate finance could carry on with a form of independence dependent on outside assistance. But this would not create nationhood in Papua and New Guinea.

Nationhood depends on a decision which the people will have to make themselves. We are constantly referring to the fact that the decision for independence is one that they will have to make themselves; but the decision for nationhood also is one that they will have to make themselves. I am not discounting the fact that independence will come by decision of the people themselves. Obviously, that is true. It cannot be said, however, that in working to create nationhood we are working through an administration that is notably enthusiastic. I have not found the Administration members that I have spoken to in Papua and New Guinea as being noticeably enthusiastic about creating a nation of Papua and New Guinea. They are more prone to tell one of the difficulties and limitations - and it is true that there are these things - than they are to show that they have a clear purpose of moving towards nationhood for those people. Yet nationhood, in the proper sense of the word, is truly what they are entitled to in their dignity, because it would mean that they would overcome all the various disabilities that stand in their way at the present time. In Papua and New Guinea, nationalism faces an enemy in tribalism. It has an enemy in 'the barriers of sea and mountain. It has an enemy in differing languages. It has an enemy in poverty, which prevents access to the world of ideas. It has an enemy in illiteracy and it has an enemy in the isolation of many of the people in numerous areas.

I think that nothing that we do should encourage tribalism. I agree with the Minister for External Territories (Mr Barnes) about the making of tribal electorates, which means not trampling on the sensibilities of the people. When it is carried to the point at which members of a tribe who migrate to Port Moresby remain part of an electorate somewhere else, we are just fostering tribalism to the point of disruption from the people amongst whom they are living. In fact, the electorate that Tony Voutas won from Horrie Niall, if one really looks at the little groups of voters in it, dotted here and there, looks like one of those German principalities of the Imperial days, like Thurn and Taxis, with a bit here and a bit there, or Lippe, with Lippe-Bielefeld over here and LippeDetmold over there. We see the effect of this in the way that Tony Voutas, having cottoned on to the fact that many of his electors were resident in Port Moresby, was able to campaign among the absentees to overthrow Mr Niall. I think that if people migrate to Port Moresby they should be part of the electorate of Port Moresby. If they are in fact detribalising themselves economically at that point, we can legitimately detribalise them politically. I think that to encourage tribalism is to foster a factor militating against nationhood.

It is very interesting to see how tribalism has virtually disappeared in the Pacific Islands Regiment. It is true that there are some people who make the next objection and say that the Regiment has become a tribe itself and is distinct from the rest of the community. But I have some doubts about the truth of this claim. I think that men of the regiment are being trained in concern for all members of the community. I think the last two commanders of the Regiment may well be amongst the most significant people in the history of Papua and New Guinea if the work that they have done has laid the foundation for the Army in the Territory to be an instrument of unification. But I say that with a query in my mind.

If one considers the question of the physical apparatus of unity - by that I mean transport and communications - the Territory has quite difficult problems. Roads are expensive to cut in jungle and mountain country. Air transport is expensive and is not suited to the carriage of heavy items. Sea communications involve heavy capital outlay for shipping. Not only must we create a nation through an administration not notably enthusiastic about doing so, but we wish to create a sound economy; and we can see this happening only on the basis of foreign ownership. We cannot see a future at the present time for manufacturing industries. The only sort of industries that we can foresee at the moment are the extractive industries - those involving, the removal of minerals, metals and oil. It is unfortunate that throughout the world, and especially in primitive countries, the extractive industries are those which arouse most resentment. The present situation on Bougainville Island is perhaps the first swallow of summer - the first sign that the extraction of minerals can provoke resentment. Not that in my opinion, the local people are sufficiently advanced or sufficiently interested to imagine that they can exploit minerals that lie deep beneath the surface. But somehow or other they believe that what they own is being removed, leaving them only with holes in the ground.

What is more, the tropical agriculture by means of which we can envisage an economy developing for Papua and New Guinea is at the mercy of world markets almost more than any other activity. Lord Boyd Orr, in his memoirs, wrote about his close association with Lord Bruce of Melbourne, a former Prime Minister of Australia. He wrote of how, at international conferences, they worked very hard for a world food plan but suddenly realised that they were up against the steel opposition of Great Britain. Both men were predisposed to regard Britain as the great humanitarian power and they wondered for a long time why they were constantly barking their shins. Then they realised that the Conservatives, Liberals, Labour men, Communists, anarchists and Totskyites in Britain all had one thing in common: They stood for cheap food and cheap raw materials for the United Kingdom. Anything that militated against that common purpose in respect to food planning had the total opposition of Great Britain - and it was very effective and skilful opposition.

If one looks at the cases of Nigeria and Ghana and their dependence on commodities such as Papua and New Guinea produces, one realises an interesting fact: Ghana and Nigeria, within a decade, quadrupled their production of cocoa but received less for it at the end of the decade than at the beginning. They had to run very hard to stand still. I suspect that the cocoa, tea, coffee, rubber and copra produced in Papua and New Guinea will be subject to influences similar to those of which neighbouring Malaysia is complaining in relation to its rubber. The Territory may well find that if it is dependent on crops of this sort it will have to run very hard to stand still.

I think far too much fuss is made about the Pangu Pati. I am not interested in scoring points by saying that those who think most in terms of the coming independence of Papua and New Guinea do not represent the village people or do not represent the highland people. Let us not indulge in the sort of talk that the Belgians used about the Belgian Congo or that the British used at certain stages in history. I doubt whether the Nigerian villagers worked for independence in the same way as did the majority of the Nigerian intellectuals, or those who had an education. This is true of all colonial territories. But the stars in their courses fight on the side of those who work for independence, and at a later stage the inland primitives, as in Nigeria, might make mince meat of their own intellectual leaders. This happened in the Congo where quite a number of the backwoodsmen hated the Lumumbas.

It seems to me that the Pangu Pati is the fine flower of our training. I am not saying this with moral commendation or moral condemnation. Through the parliament of Papua and New Guinea we are training the people in the language of demand. They are demanding more education; they are demanding more health services. When one watches their parliamentary sessions one sees that they are trained in the language of demand. That is what the parliamentary process is about. Its purpose is to put the people's requests. In a sense, these men are the most articulate in the language of demand and they take it further than the others insofar as they are moving towards independence - although they do not say 'independence'; they say a form of home rule' under which they would administer many questions and the big questions of defence and foreign affairs would be left to Australia.

But we cannot complain if they start being critical. If nobody in the Parliament of Papua and New Guinea was critical the whole work of the Australian administration would be highly suspect. I have seen some of the backwoodsmen stand up and speak the praises of Australia, just as it was the conventional thing in this country in the very early days to speak the praises of Britain. But the whole life and future of the community cannot turn on that sort of dependent thinking. The people who are thinking in terms of independence up to that point should be encouraged.

In my opinion the trouble with the Pangu Pati and with Mr Oala-Rarua, for instance, is that it and he do no thinking whatever about how they can create a self-subsisting economy in Papua and New Guinea or how to create a nation. The fallacy in the thinking of members of the Pangu Pati is that they presuppose that somehow or other, even after independence, there always will be 'over there' an Australian administration on which they can make demands. The trouble with most of them is that they are not making demands on themselves. The very essence of our personal independence as we grow up, as of our national independence, is that we can make demands on ourselves and not on other people. But in many ways we have encouraged these people, by scholarships and all sorts of other schemes of inducement, to make demands for education, health services and housing.

There is no point in evading the fact that as time goes on there is sharpening discrimination in Papua and New Guinea. That is not to say that we are making a bigger barrier between ourselves and the native people; it is to say that they are becoming more conscious of the differences in economic status. I do not think there is the slightest doubt that many natives are far better off today than they were in 1939. I do not think there is the slightest doubt that today many more natives are conscious of the disparity between their status and income and those of the Europeans than were similarly conscious in 1939. There is no doubt whatever that European housing in Papua and New Guinea is very fine. The homes into which one goes are very gracious. As Port Moresby develops it becomes a magnet for workers and the shanty towns become bigger and bigger and, in my opinion, worse and worse alongside European housing. When I was last in Papua and New Guinea I was housed very graciously at a mess in Konedobu. But I would have to delude myself to think that the people padding past, quietly going to a shanty town that was above that mess, did not look in enviously on the young Australians who were in the very fine dining room in that very fine housing establishment. I do not belittle that; I merely say that there is a growing disparity. I do not think there is the least doubt that there is a growing discontent about that.

Another thing that I wish to say is that surely independence will not necessarily end the Australian involvement. I would hope that for a time independence would make very little difference to the size of our grant or the availability of the Australian labour force in the administration, which is so important for the people of Papua and New Guinea. Just a little while ago the statement was made that we should not make the bureaucrats of the country the privileged people. Let us have a look at our native policy inside Australia in relation to the Aboriginals and the bureaucracy. Will any honourable member here say that he will have the influence on native policy that Harry Giese has? Will any honourable member here say that he will have the influence on native policy that Dr Coombs will have? Let us not kid ourselves. If we can create in Papua and New Guinea an efficient administration that can really administer, then we will have created one of the most important things in national unity.

I am not interested in deriding bureaucrats. I do not kid myself that we in this place are the real government of the country. Periodically the Parliament may overturn a Ministry or the people in an election may overturn a Ministry and thus affect the administration. But surely France was one of the classic examples of a country whose economy was able to advance for a long period while the average life of a government was about 10 weeks. The bureaucracy or administration carried on during a succession of messieurs les ministres who came and went with astonishing rapidity for many years. So I say that if we can create a thoroughly efficient administration in Papua and New Guinea we will have done much towards cementing national unity and making independence possible.

If high salaries induced highly skilled people to go into the administration and really learn the techniques of administration, then I would be all for them. I believe that it is a mistake, under the present policy, to make such a difference between European and native salaries. Whatever Papua and New Guinea can afford in the future is its affair. But as long as we are associated with it, I believe that we should use salaries as an inducement to get the best people into the administration.

I wish to make another comment about the administration of Papua and New Guinea - not about the higher echelons. Let us consider an organisation such as the Post Office. I should very much like to see 200 or 300 young New Guineans and Papuans working in the Post Office in Australia and really getting a proficiency in the English language, which we believe will be the unifying language of an independent Papua and New Guinea, as it is the unifying language of a non-independent Papua and New Guinea. If they worked here for 2 or 3 years in order to gain standards of proficiency, that would be important.

It is also very important to let some of the people of Papua and New Guinea see white men working. I remember that the Lutheran missionaries developed a policy of bringing some of their young men to South Australia to make tours of factories. South Australian Lutherans were running missions in the Territory. The cargo cults arise because the people believe that somehow or other the produce and wealth that the white man commands in the form of goods come about through shuffling paper orthrough administration. Some of the cargo cults have even gone through the ceremonial of pulling up a flag and having a man sitting at a table as a patrol officer does, with people standing on either side of him and saluting. Quite logically from their background of experience, they think that this produces the goods because they see the goods that are associated with Europeans. I believe that these people need to see the actual physical processes of manufacture. It does them no harm to come to Australia and to see that Europeans do "work as well as administer and write. It might be a wise policy in the administration of Papua and New Guinea, especially in services such as the Post Office, for men to come to Australia and have a long period of experience and training.

I have the private view that the Australian administration in Papua and New Guinea should be part of the Commonwealth Public Service. That would stop it getting that expatriate mentality. It would mean that if we wanted technically to transform the telephone system of Papua and New Guinea, shall we say - heaven knows it needs transformation - we would send technicians to the Territory for 3 months or 6 months to do the job, and then they would come back. They would not have to go to the Territory and be part of an expatriate community. Surely there are many, many positions that would be susceptible of this sort of transfer. The only exceptions that I can think of are in the Native Affairs Administration, with people like patrol officers. We do not have officers patrolling Canberra in the way that patrol officers patrol the mountains of Papua and New Guinea, but almost every other occupation there has its equivalent in Australia. We should discourage any idea of the creation of an expatriate community within the Papua and New Guinea civil service.

After independence, sections of the Commonwealth civil service - if the people of Papua and New Guinea want them, and I have not the least doubt that they will - could continue as a force on loan while the Australian administration tapers off. I think that the previously tremendous pressure of outside criticism is diminishing. I know that at the United Nations the representative from Nigeria, for instance, who could not go to many parts of his own country if he were to go back to his homeland, goes through the form of talking about the need for independence, but privately he says, 'For God's sake do not make the mistakes that we made in our country'. As the experience of independence in many countries has proved disastrous, a much more reasonable attitude is beginning to show itself in many places. Representatives of some nations still use certain forms of words at the United Nations to show the world their radical credentials, but the content behind these words is diminishing.

I hope that the ministerial members will get real experience. I know that they have not asked for experience in budgeting, but surely honourable members of the Cabinet here must know 'that one of their most delicate tasks is determining priorities. Fm instance, how much money is the MinisterinCharge of Aboriginal Affairs to get for activities in that field? How much money is to be allocated to health, to education, to the needs of defence, and to the Vietnam war? Surely the most delicate problem in budgeting is determining priorities and I hope that the ministerial members will be given the maximum experience of real authority in this field, including experience of barking their shins and actually finding that if they want an expanded education programme they will have to accept a reduced health programme, and so on. This seems to me to be essential training for them.

It is a fascinating experiment that is to be carried out, with a Ministry that really does not represent a party. I sometimes wonder whether a situation might develop in which the whole of the House of Assembly would be against the Ministry. If honourable members opposite were not under a party discipline, and if we on this side were not under a party discipline, backbenchers on both sides might say many things about Ministers. I am inclined to think that, in the absence of party discipline, members of the House of Assembly of Papua and New Guinea will say such things. The Under-Secretaries in that Parliament had rather a sad experience. I think, because many people thought that when they became Under-Secretaries they could produce all the goods required in their own localities. It may well be that with the absence of a developed party system the Parliament of Papua and New Guinea will become very critical of the Ministry, especially if it is given real power.

Another thing that we have to do in Papua and New Guinea is move towards equal electorates. I know that at the present time fears are entertained because the highlands have a large population and the coastal people may be more sophisticated in their demands, but I think all this has to be ignored to some extent, and that we must move away as quickly as possible from the concept of tribal electorates and towards the concept of equal electoral districts. This is part of the process of education in nationhood.

The electoral system, too, is very unsatisfactory. I do not know why we do not go flat out for the system of first past the post, because this is the system that seems to suit the people; the exercise of preferences seems relatively rare. After all, preferential voting is one of our own Australian obsessions. If we had a House full of independents, which in essence is what Papua and New Guinea has, I doubt that we would ever have adopted preferential voting. If honourable members read the original debates of 1920 they will find that people said: 'Well, preferential voting is the means of eliminating the Labor Party. It means that the Nationalists and the Country Party can combine with one another and leave the Labor Party locked out.' Surely there is no such motive in Papua and New Guinea. The people there can scarcely be said to represent parties. Even the Pangu Pati can scarcely be called a political party with a mass voice. Its members stand for election essentially as individuals. I suspect that many of them are elected simply as favourite tribal sons, and even the Pangu fellows of most militant character took the precaution of standing for election in their own tribal areas, knowing they would get a tribal vote. In those circumstances I wonder whether we need to thrust on them the complication of preferential voting, which the United Kingdom, the United States of America and New Zealand all regard as too complicated for their people.

The measure before us is a step in the right direction, but I wish there were not so many members of the House eager to prove that the people of Papua and New Guinea do not want independence, and that instead they were anxious to find the means of creating a spirit of nationhood in Papua and New Guinea.

Mr DOBIE(Hughes) r5.42T- Those honourable members who have listened to the speeches of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) and the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley) must realise the distress that is felt in the Labor Party as its members try to decide which way they should go with respect to Papua and

New Guinea. We have heard the honourable member for Fremantle give a very fine and deeply considered talk on the problems facing the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. Unfortunately, we did not hear such an address from the Leader of the Opposition. Instead, we listened to an uninformed recitation of quotations from other people. I noted that of the many quotations he made he saw fit to cite only one member of his own Party, and that was not the honourable member for Fremantle. At the conclusion of this debate the people of Papua and New Guinea and of Australia could well consider what unity remains in the Labor Party regarding its policy towards the independence of the northern territories. We heard the Leader of the Opposition, with his quaint ability to use cliches, say: What do they know of Papua who only Papua know?' Well, after listening to the honourable member for 45 minutes perhaps I am permitted to ask: 'What do they know of Papua whom Papua does not know?'

Today we have heard a speech advocating a progress towards nationhood. There would not be one person in this House who has a concern for the Territory who did not agree with all that the honourable member for Fremantle has said about that. Nationhood, indeed, is a decision which the people of the Territory must make themselves, but I disagree with the honourable member for Fremantle when he describes the lack of enthusiasm which he found in the Territory. This may, indeed, be a relative thing but it is a very important matter when one comes to decide what is dedication, what is enthusiasm and what is sincerity. We would do well to decide whether these three qualities are to be found, and I think we would come out and say that the members of the civil service in the Territory are sincere, are dedicated, and are enthusiastic, within the bounds of its terms of reference.


Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Some are.







Suggest corrections