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Tuesday, 9 May 1972
Page: 2203

Mr WHITLAM (Werriwa) (Leader of the Opposition) - by leave - My colleagues and I also look forward to meeting the Chief Minister and his colleagues, to having discussions with them and, in the near future, co-operating with them. On behalf of my Party I applaud the ready and graceful acceptance by the Minister for External Territories (Mr Peacock) of the great changes which the elections in Papua New Guinea have brought about in Our neighbour. Honourable members should recall the apprehensions and misapprehensions with which such events were anticipated and debated in this House 2 years ago and even 1 year ago. Perhaps I might refresh the memories of honourable members with what I said in Port Moresby in January 1970. 1 said:

New Guineans will have home rule as soon as a 'Labor Government can make the necessary arrangements with the House of Assembly which will also be elected in 1972.

This means that laws made by the Assembly will no longer be subject to veto by the Australian Government; that all matters affecting the welfare of the New Guinean people except defence and foreign affairs will be subject to laws made by the Assembly alone; and that those laws will be administered by a public service responsible only to the House of Assembly.

Australians who remain in the service of the New Guinea government will equally be responsible to the House of Assembly, but the Australian Government will accept responsibility for their salaries and the welfare of their families.

The House of Assembly will decide the form of the constitution New Guinea is to have after independence. lt is certain that the assumption of an increasing measure of responsibility will accelerate the desire and ability to accept total responsibility. In this sense it is true that the people of New Guinea will decide their own time-table for independence.

Later on I said:

None of these problems require colonial rule for their solution or easing. In fact, many of them will worsen if foreign techniques, methods, laws and customs continue to exclude local custom, knowledge and experience. . An outside administration cannot teach or impose unity, lt can by errors unite a people against it. This is the very situation which Australians at home will not permit, and Australians in New Guinea must most avoid.

Political evolution in Papua New Guinea since then has been gratifying in its scope and speed. I must pay tribute to the excellent Administrator of the Territory. This Administrator will be the final one; the final one will have been the finest. I pay tribute to the ready and graceful acceptance by the new Minister for External Territories of the very great changes. Those who saw and heard Chief Minister Somare on 'Monday Conference' last night will have confidence in his Ministry and express congratulations to it.

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