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Wednesday, 4 November 1970

Senator KEEFFE (Queensland) - The Australian Labor Party is not opposing the Papua and New Guinea Loan (International Bank) Bill 1970 but I feel 1 ought to take the opportunity to pass a few remarks. The Minister for Supply (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) in his second reading speech set out the details of the Bill. He said: . . the approval of Parliament to the guarantee by the Commonwealth of . . . ($A4m) borrowing by the administration of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea from the International Bank for reconstruction arid development. The proceeds of the loan, together with the proceeds of a credit of similar amount from the International Development Association, will assist in the financing of a major highways project in the highlands of New Guinea.

Honourable senators will recall that in 1967 a report was presented from the International Bank mission making certain recommendations as to how the Territory of Papua and New Guinea should be developed. Over a long period of time the Government has been reluctant to accept many of these recommendations. Those who are familiar with the Territory will realise that because of its mountainous nature, particularly in the highland areas or the areas away from the immediate vicinity of the coast, the construction of roads is a major task. Today the people of this country do a lot of their construction work by the method we disposed of 40 or 50 years ago, that is with the aid of shovels, picks and other hand implements.

This loan is not going to cover a great deal of work but nevertheless it is a step in the right direction. We have constantly maintained over a long period of time that the moneys made available for the development of the Territory are at all times insufficient, particularly when it comes to organising transport, whether it be by ship, road or air. There is a tremendous reluc- tance on the part of the Government to face up to the real responsibilities of the development of the Territory. For this reason we have never sought to oppose any measures passed through this chamber which will help this country. We say that under these circumstances the amount probably could have been much larger but at least it is a step in the right direction. Yesterday I talked at length about many of the other problems which this country faces. I do not want to go over that ground again tonight because it is not particularly relevant to the Bill. But 1 do make this plea, that at the first available opportunity the Government should look again at the prospect of assisting the development of the Territory by granting further loans.

For a long time the Government refused to seek outside aid even for health purposes. There was a reluctance on the part of the Government to accept outside aid. The Government has to face up to reality. 1 am sure honourable senators will agree that in the future for development of all types, whether it be transport, health or other services, additional money must be found from somewhere. If long term reasonable interest loans can be obtained then this is the type of finance which the Government should be looking to for the more rapid development of the Territory. I hope that on this occasion the Minister does not adopt the same attitude as a Minister has on the last 2 occasions when we on this side of the chamber have said that we do not oppose the Bill. The Minister has got up for the sake of theatricals or something else and decided to oppose the Bill from the Government benches. We are anxious to co-operate in any way which is for the good of the Territory. Consequently I hope that the same remarks will not be passed in relation to this Bill.

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