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Tuesday, 16 February 1971

Senator WRIGHT - The Minister for External Territories has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(I)   The Madang Branch of the Pangu Pati has not been told by the District Commissioner or by any person in authority that the District Commissioner's permission must be obtained before a meeting can be conducted.

The Minister is aware that there was an erroneous report that the District Commissioner had required permission. The facts are:

In October the District Commissioner was telephoned by a person who informed him that Mr Michael Somare. M.H.A., was coming to Madang and that he was arranging a Pangu Pati meeting at which Mr Somare would speak. The enquirer asked whether it would be in order to place notices of the meeting around the town on posts, trees etc. The District Commissioner said that only a few weeks earlier he had circularised all associations and clubs (viz Lions Club. Apex Club. Rotaty Club. Horticultural Society. Musical Society. CWA. Yacht Club, Gun Club. Small Bore and Rifle Club.

Soccer Club, Rugby League Club, Motor Cycle Club, Sports and Social Club) in Madang saying that, before notices were exhibited around the town, permission should be obtained and that notices should be removed when the event was over. The District Commissioner then said that he preferred notices not to be placed indiscriminately on trees and posts as there were public notice boards on which notices could be placed.He did not, however, forbid the posting of notices. The enquirer told the District Commissioner that he would have the notices put on the notice boards. At no time was the District Commissioner asked for permission to hold the meeting and at no time did he state that the holding of the meeting required his permission.

It is relevant that shortly before sending out the circular the District Commissioner had been asked by the President of the Madang Local Government Council to take action with respect to the indiscriminate notices. Public notices are controlled by the Police Offences Ordinance and the Building Board Regulations.

(2)   Not applicable.

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