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Tuesday, 3 April 1973
Page: 959

Mr WHITTORN (BALACLAVA, VICTORIA) - 1 address a question to the Prime Minister. Why is the present Australian Government forcing Papua New Guinea to borrow its loan funds from overseas and limiting Australia's contribution to a miserly $10m - that is, United States dollars, the currency of one of the hill-billy group? What is causing this lack of confidence by the Government in Papua New Guinea which apparently started after the Prime Minister visited that country this year? Why are the Prime Minister and the Government flying in the face of popular opinion in Australia and Papua New Guinea by forcing that country into world markets and forcing independence on it, especially when it has previously accepted help, guidance, assistance and advice from previous Australian governments?

Mr WHITLAM - I ask the Minister for External Territories to answer the question.

Mr MORRISON (ST GEORGE, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Science) - Self-government and independence are really a 2-phase operation. No country can be compelled to rule another country. We in the Australian Labor Party are not casting ourselves as rulers, and we have a perfect right to insist on that position. The United Nations has laid down and has asked Australia to lay down a timetable for both self-government and independence for Papua New Guinea. The previous Government made a decision that self-government would be introduced on 1st December 1973. When the statement announcing that decision was made by my predecessor the Labor Party fully supported the proposition of the previous Government. We are now required to lay down a timetable for independence for Papua New Guinea. We are doing this in consultation with the Government of Papua New Guinea and, following this consultation, a statement will be made available to the General Assembly of the United Nations and to this House.

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