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Tuesday, 13 October 1970

Mr Whitlam asked the Minister for External Territories, upon notice:

(1)   Under what acts, ordinances and regulations have (a) boards, tribunals and committees been established and (b) courts beela empowered to hear appeals from the decisions of departments and instrumentalities in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea.

(2)   What 1) the title of each board, tribunal, committee and court.

(3)   What legal or other representation is (a) permitted and (b) provided on appeals to each board, tribunal, committee and court.

Mr Barnes - The answer to the honourable member's question as it relates to the Administration of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea is as follows:

(1)   and (2}-



(3)   The following Ordinances expressly confer a right to legal representation, namely:

Royal Papua and New Guinea Constabulary Ordinance 1965-1969- Section 104

Public Service (Papua and New Guinea) Ordinance 1963-1969- Section 73

Medical Services Ordinance 1965-1969 - Section 60 .

Veterinary Surgeons Ordinance 1966-1968 - Section 24 .

In the absence of specific provision, the question whether or not the appellant has a right tobe legally represented or a right to an oral hearing, is a matter of law to be determined in the case of each appellate body.

Legal aid in the Territory of Papua' and New Guinea is provided by the Public Solicitor and private practitioners.

Applications to the Public Solicitor for legal aid in civil cases are subject both to the means test and to the requirement thatthere appears to be a good cause of action. In addition, due to the volume of applications for such aid and the limited number of lawyers available, the Public Solicitor gives priority among such applications according to the nature of the action and the circumstances of individual cases. Broadly, all applications by impecunious " persons in matters relating to the restoration of land titles, workers' compensation, or to claims by relatives arising from death are granted. Other applications requiring action in the Supreme Court are granted if there appears to be a good cause of action and counsel are available. Legal aid by the Public Solicitor in summary cases is limited to the preparation of. complaints or defences unless special circumstances make the provision of counsel desirable.

In addition to his assistance in actual court proceedings, the Public Solicitor advises indigenous persons generally as to their legal rights and obligations and as to ways and means of enforcing their legal rights.

When the Public Solicitor is unable to act for a person otherwise entitled to legal aid from the

Public Solicitor due to possible conflicts of interests, legal aid is made available on the same principles as apply to legal aid from the Public Solicitor either through the Department of Law or through the briefing of private practitioners through that Department.

Under the Poor Persons' Legal Assistance Ordinance 1951 a person committed for trial on an indictable offence may apply to a Supreme Court Judge for legal assistance for his defence, and if the Judge consider it desirable that assistance should be provided the Administrator may arrange legal aid. Due to the availability of the services of the Public Solicitor in trials for indictable offences this Ordinance is rarely invoked.

The honourable member will appreciate that the question involves considerable detail and perhaps some problems of interpretation. An endeavour has been made to deal with the question' as broadly and completely as possible.

Defence Equipment Procurement (Question No. 1156)

Mr Keating asked the Minister for

Defence, upon notice:

What are the names of the personnel in his Department and the other Service Departments who (a) set down the criteria for aircraft performance requirements and who evaluate the various aircraft types offered to Australia's Armed Forces, (b) head the respective departmental evaluation teams dealing with aircraft procurement and (c) comprised the evaluation team that advised the Menzies Government in 1963 concerning the procurement of the General Dynamics F-111 fighter-bomber.

Mr Malcolm Fraser (WANNON, VICTORIA) - The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

The evaluation and recommendation of defence equipment procurement is not confined to any one Department in the Defence Group, but ls carried out by combined teams made up of officers from the Departments of Defence, Supply and the Services. These teams, expert in specialised areas, are delegated the task of assessing the equipment - most suited to meet the requirements of the Armed Forces. In respect of the F-11 project, a number of teams examined the various aspects of the strike aircraft proposal.

The question of specifically naming all the individuals responsible for setting the performance criteria and making recommendations would be difficult at this late stage. In any case, generally the Government does not disclose the names of all public servants involved in making recommendations to it as to do so would place them in a position where they could be subject to public criticism or query. You will appreciate that, in our system of Government, public servants cannot engage in public debate on Government decisions.

The final evaluation team that advised the Menzies Government in 1963 on the procurement of the General Dynamics F-111 fighter-bomber, however, wag headed by the then Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Sir Valston Hancock. The composition of this team was given in the House by the former Minister for Air, Mr Gordon Freeth, on 17th September 1968. (See Hansard of 17th September 1968, page 1071.)

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