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Tuesday, 26 October 1971
Page: 2531


Mr Lionel Bowen (KINGSFORD-SMITH, NEW SOUTH WALES) - 1 note from the Budget itself that SI 30.7m is being allocated for specific proposals in the Territory of Papua New Guinea and that, additionally, other expenditure is proposed. This is quite a substantial sum and one would imagine that the Australian people would be pleased to think that this sort of grant in aid would be welcome to the people of Papua New Guinea. However, on a recent visit to the Territory - and such visits are available to all honourable members of the Parliament - I discovered that this is not the case. Despite the fact that we have been allegedly endeavouring to help the Territory for many years- - more particularly in the last 25 years-we find more hostility than ever before and it must be sheeted home to the Government that it apparently is not looking at the problems of the Territory in the same way as is the indigenous population of the Territory. There is great resentment of the Government. The indigenous population feels that it is being exploited. If honourable members examine the Hansard records of the House of Assembly of Papua New Guinea they will see great criticism of the Australian people. Admittedly it may be illinformed, but I would say that it is related to the system that we have endeavoured to impose on the people of the Territory. Our civilisation, in the main, seems to be whether we built a brewery or a large number of hotels and a few motels. We have a Western civilisation - a capitalistic system of making profit.

I suggest that the indigenous people of the Territory could teach us many things. They have a clan system - a tribal system - whereby they have been able to help each other. It is a system in which there is no juvenile delinquency, no poverty and no orphans and in which they have been able to have a splendid social structure. We have fragmented it on many occasions by interposing our own Western civilisation with the result that in the towns in the Territory one can see people who have been drawn away from their villages and left without that strength upon which to fall back. We have been saying that they have to learn to behave the way our children behave. If honourable members examine what members of the local population are saying they will find that time and time again reference is made to this matter. In a debate in the House of Assembly as recently as March of this year Mr Olewale said that he deplored the fact that his people were the low paid wage earners. He said that if his people go into a Burns Philp store they have to pay 50c for a can of beef which is the same as an Australian would pay for that can of beef but that 50c represented a substantial sum to his people wheras it was nothing to the Australian. By this example he suggested that there was discrimination. He continued:

I would suggest one solution. In our traditional society there are no such problems.

He mentioned what I have just said when he said:

There are no juvenile delinquents in our traditional society. In our traditional society there were and still are very strict rules by which young people live. Young people are initiated into clan life. Young people are initiated at an early age so that they change from young children to men.

He said that they still adhered to their culture. He said, in effect, that by all means there should be Western ideas for Western children but that we should not try to impose on his people, who are of a different racial origin and of a different culture, our Western civilisation. He said that children perhaps could receive some Western education but to really make them live with security and confidence ;n their own society they should have their own tradition and culture. Here again is evidence of hostility to our type of civilisation. In a later debate reference was made to what might be termed cheap labour. There is plenty of cheap labour in Papua New Guinea. 1 think it is to be deplored that in the Territory there is the houseboy system under which in a white household an unfortunate native is employed because, it is said, he cannot get a job elsewhere. Do honourable members think for one minute that this is enhancing his dignity? Do they think that he is impressed with his white overlord? Not at all! The great danger is that when independence is achieved we may have created a master and servant relationship that will be regretted. If ever we get a Belgian Congo in that situation it will be because of that boy's hatred of certain incidents. This cannot be denied. A lady in Madang said to me: 'My houseboy said to me, "Independence means I get the house, the car and I get you as well" '. This could well be the attitude of mind. This area is not far from where there was the Cargo cult on Mount Turu. The indigenees are not really impressed by Western civilisation. They could admire some of its better qualities, but do not let us fool ourselves that the money we have expended has necessarily been to their advantage, because dealing with industrial relations we see from the House of Assembly Hansard that Mr Michael Somare, talking about plantation people, says that a businessman in Wewak has been given approval by the Department of Labour to recruit labourers. He said:

This man is treating these new recruits like animals.

This is happening this year. There is not much point in anybody saying here that this does not happen. This is being said in their own House of Assembly. Honourable members should go out and talk to these people as I did. I spoke to Tammur of the Mataungan Association, and T can understand his difficulties. He said to me: 'Mr Bowen, they served 2 summonses on my people the other day. They brought 170 policemen to do it. They confronted me with the largest force possible. What am I to do? My people have been here for centuries. You talk about civilisation. We have had enough of your civilisation. We have had the German civilisation, your civilisation, the Japanese civilisation, the American civilisation and you back again. We have had a hundred years of your so-called civilisation. We have had enough of it. We can well run our own community. We want the Gazelle Peninsula for the Tolais. We want Tolais as leaders. We want a unified Papua New Guinea. That is most important. We want that. But do not insult me as a leader of my people by saying that I do not know what is good enough for them'.

Do we not see from the debates in the House of Assembly that he is not being successful? He has not the numbers. He has the numbers in the Gazelle Peninsula but he is not getting the numbers over the whole of Papua New Guinea. That does not say he is wrong. All the Tolais want to do is run their own area. This could be done if this Government were immediately to encourage self-government where the people want it now. In the Highlands they do not want it now. They want more money for schools, hospitals and roads. But we cannot run a system in Papua New Guinea whereby, because there is a multitude of representatives from the Highlands, we are going to retard the development of all these other areas. As can be seen from the Hansard reports of the House of Assembly there is already a movement for secession in Bougainville because the people there feel they can make a better fist of the arrangements in Bougainville, particularly as they pertain to the copper mine, than the Administration has been able to make.

Again in the Hansard we see criticism of the foreign domination of the Bougainville copper mine. The local people are not impressed by that. These people cover many ethnic groups and speak some 700 different dialects. Admittedly there would not be a ready-made situation where we could get unity, but let us make it clear that if we give self-government quickly in the areas that want it now, as has been established by the final report of the House of Assembly Select Committee on Constitutional Development, we will be easing' a lot of the tension. Let us not work on the basis that because they are not yet ready to run their own arrangements we will not grant them the opportunity to do so.

Government supporters should look at where the Liberal-Country Party philosophy fits into this sphere. There is a Country Party organiser in the Territory organising for the United Party - against God knows what. It is not against the Labor Party. It must be against the Pangu Party. The Government has created this division amongst the people. It did not exist before. Government supporters have a responsibility to say why they have done it. I want to submit to them that in many cases they have done it because they have some interests in the commercial developments in the Territory. The boards of directors in some cases come very close indeed to some senior members of the New South Wales Government. It would bear examination by this House as to what are the vested interests in the Territory from a commercial point of view. Who are the shareholders in commercial enterprises? Who are the people who own the land? Who are the people employing these natives on low wages? We should see whether this is not the basic problem. The Government cannot justify its actions by saying: 'We are encouraging development'. It is not. It is encouraging exploitation.

It is important that this be a nation that speaks with one voice. It is anxious to do that. It can only be done if we quickly implement this report which talks about internal self-government. That should happen now in the Gazelle Peninsula. It should happen now in Bougainville. It is important that the leaders of these areas that want self-government also be elected members of the central government. Thereby We would get some opportunity for communication across the board. At the present time we say we are allocating money and progress is being made, but I very much doubt it. I am very concerned that the Australian people are not aware of this situation. It is important that in this place there be more frequent debates on the Territory. More importantly, their elected representatives should come down here and talk to all of us, not just to the Minister for External Territories (Mr Barnes), without being disrespectful to him, to get our points of view on their problems. At the moment it is really impossible to get any report on what they want done. It is important that they get self-government.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Drury) - Order! The honourable member's time has expired.







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