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Wednesday, 16 August 1972
Page: 198

Mr BEAZLEY - I ask the Minister for External Territories: Are the reports that West Irianese have been deported from Papua New Guinea to West Irian correct? If these reports are correct, is this an action of the new Government of Papua New Guinea or is it an action by the Australian authorities, as it is reported to be? If it is an action by the Australian authorities, why is it that jurisdiction in this matter has not been transferred to the Government of Papua New Guinea?

Mr PEACOCK (KOOYONG, VICTORIA) (Minister for External Territories) - I have not yet received a record of the statement attributed to an Indonesian general in the 'Australian' newspaper today. But the statement that was attributed to him, I can say, does not reflect the policy of either the Government of Australia or the Papua New Guinea Ministry. To say it does not reflect it is probably the most honest and certainly the most charitable thing one can say about the statement as reported. We have no intention of deporting to Indonesia people who have been granted permission to reside in Papua New Guinea on grounds that they fear persecution in Indonesia. The honourable member is correct in questioning whether there has been a transfer of power in this area. In fact, 8 persons have applied for permissive residence and this has been refused. But it has been refused by the national coalition Government of Papua New Guinea. The power, as it is exercised and has been for some years, is that application is made to the Papua New Guinea Government by persons who may come from another country. The Papua New Guinea Government considers each application and if it believes that there is a prima facie case for acceptance of an application it is referred to Australia. If an application is rejected, it is rejected by that Government and not by the Australian Government and, after all, this is a decision that should reside within the power of the Papua New Guinea Government. On this occasion the applications were considered by the Government of Papua New Guinea and were rejected for reasons based on the normal line of the policy it adopts. The applications were considered in accordance with the normal guidelines and principles of the United Nations Convention on Refugees. The decision was one for the Papua New Guinea Government and that Government alone. It was supported, I understand, by a statement by the Chief Minister of Papua New Guinea this afternoon.

Whether the actual words attributed to the general are correct or not certainly the inference, indeed the headline, that it was a decision by the Australian Government is incorrect. It was a decision by the Government of Papua New Guinea taken after full consultation with the Administrator's Executive Council and it is in keeping with the powers vested in the Government of Papua New Guinea. After all, Papua New Guinea is that Government's country and that Government is entitled to determine who resides therein and whether people have entered illegally or not. If a person is seeking political asylum that is a different matter. If he is basing an application on the grounds that he fears persecution from the Government of West Irian that is another matter. But the decision taken in this instance is a decision that we can support. It is a decision taken by the Government of Papua New Guinea as it ought to be.

Another point I might add in conclusion is that, as I understand it, the Australian Government is not aware of any proposal, as referred to in the statement contained in the newspaper this morning, for a joint patrolling of the Papua New Guinea-West Irian border. There are, of course, some patrols by the Administration and by the Pacific Islands Regiment along the border. Also, of course, there are patrols on the other side of the border by the Indonesian Army and the authorities of West Irian. The proposition, as stated in the newspaper, of a joint patrol of the Papua New Guinea-West Irian border has not been considered. Such a proposal would, of course, involve a departure from our present policy and would require consideration by both the Australian Government and the Papua New Guinea Ministers.

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