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Wednesday, 24 May 1972
Page: 2959

Mr BROWN (DIAMOND VALLEY, VICTORIA) - My question, which I direct to the Minister for External Territories, relates to the Gazelle Local Government Council which in the past has been a focal point for dissension on the Gazelle Peninsula. Can the Minister confirm reports that that Council has been disbanded? If that is so, why has it come about? What, if anything, does the Government intend to do about it?

Mr PEACOCK (KOOYONG, VICTORIA) (Minister for External Territories) - The honourable member is correct in describing the Gazelle Peninsula as a focal point of controversies, disturbances and difficulties that have been encountered. This was a major contributing factor in my decision to seek out both the members of the House of Assembly who represent the area and members of the Gazelle Local Government Council when I went to Rabaul some months ago. I was able to hold discussions with them and the future of the Gazelle Local Government Council was discussed. Of course, this is not primarily within my jurisdiction. It comes within the jurisdiction of the Papua New Guinea Local Government Minister, but I felt that it was a matter of such importance that I ought to raise it with the members and councillors concerned. Subsequently the Administrator's Executive Council discussed the matter and resolved that the parties involved, namely the Gazelle Local Government Council, the Warbete villagers and in particular the Mataungan Association, should be brought together for discussions, if possible. In fact that has eventuated.

Discussions were held between the 3 groups and it was decided by them that the Gazelle Local Government Council ought to be suspended and replaced by a management body. I understand this has taken the form of a recommendation to the Administrator's Executive Council which, I am advised, will consider the matter next Tuesday, 30th May and then recommend what future action should be taken. Naturally, we welcome these decisions that have been taken and the discussions that will eventuate.

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