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Tuesday, 25 September 1973
Page: 1438

Mr GRAHAM (North Sydney) - Like the honourable member for Lyne (Mr Lucock) I should like to support the measures that are before the House this afternoon. As has been said by previous speakers these Bills are historic and important. They take the territory of Papua New Guinea towards the date of December 1973 when self-government will be formally established there. The House of Assembly and the Government there within will then assume the responsibility for the internal direction and control of the people who live within that country. We in Australia will retain responsibility for the external security and the foreign relations of the people who live within the Territory.

It was my privilege, under the leadership of the honourable member for Banks (Mr Martin), and accompanied by the honourable member for Macarthur (Mr Kerin), the honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Innes), the honourable member for Diamond Valley (Mr McKenzie), the honourable member for Wimmera (Mr King) and Senator Durack of Western Australia, to constitute the first Australian parliamentary delegation to Papua New Guinea during June of this year. I should like to congratulate the honourable member for Banks and the other members of that delegation on the work that was done during that visit, upon the understanding that was established and upon the goodwill that was fostered during that period by all of the members of the parties who represented this Parliament of Australia in the Territory.

Many times on previous occasions groups of members from both sides of the House have been within the Territory for a variety of reasons - political, personal, commercial, etc. But this was the first occasion during which there had been a parliamentary delegation in the historic sense. I feel that the honourable member for Banks and the other members of the delegation from both Houses of the Parliament did a splendid job in fostering goodwill, particularly with the local government councils, so many of which we saw in so many widespread parts of that great Territory. The honourable member for Diamond Valley has spoken about Bougainville.

The honourable member for Macarthur, who made a fine speech just prior to the suspension of the sitting for lunch has told of the local government councils to which we spoke and of some of the social problems that will inevitably occur in the Territory. As the honourable member for Macarthur pointed out, even at the d:te of self government - an historic occasion on which there will be ratification of the control of a function that has virtually been controlled for at least 12 months because self government has virtually been operating within Papua New Guinea for this period of time - there will be a certain amount of turbulence and enthusiasm that will probably lead to a number of social problems. Whilst that may be the case, I feel that his expressions in relation to this matter were accurate and that he showed wisdom when he said that it must be upon the local authorities and the local police - the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary - that we should rely for the maintenance of law and order.

That brings me to a significant point. I am sure that the Minister for External Territories (Mr Morrison), who has had a lifetime career in the service of our country overseas and who has had many experiences not only in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and Asia but also in other countries, will be prepared to accept the fact that humanity may not react in quite the ordered way that one would hope it would react once the first experience of self government is appreciated within the Territory. Be that as it may, if the Government of Papua New Guinea reacts in a strong manner we ought not to be the first to rush in and criticise it because of its stern intentions to maintain law and order and its international reputation. I beg leave to suggest that if it errs at all it may be rather more on the strong side than on the weak side.

Having said that, I wish to turn to a number of the problems that will arise in the future. I recognise in the first place that the Bills are very important because they deal with communications, civil aviation - a vital component of the developing economy of the Territory - and the progress of the economy. In this respect the Papua New Guinea Loans Guarantee Bill is vitally important. The Commonwealth of Australia will sustain the Government of Papua New Guinea into the future by guaranteeing the loans that have already been underwritten from the Asian

Development Bank and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. I have no doubt that it will be our responsibility well into the future to stand beside the people of Papua New Guinea and help them convince the international banking authorities that their proposals for the future and their projects for development are in fact banking propositions in the international sense. Here again not only the Minister for External Territories but also some of us in this Parliament who have had experience of the operations of international financial bodies are aware of the fact that almost all of the qualities of native wit and ingenuity will be called upon for demonstration by Ministers in the Government of Papua New Guinea.

I wish to deal with that part of the Minister's second reading speech on ;he Papua New Guinea Bill (No. 2) in which he said:

By agreement with Papua New Guinea, defence and foreign relations will remain reserved to Australia until independence.

I have given this matter a lot of consideration and thought, and as it is 31 years since I and the honourable member for Wimmera first i"t foot on to Papua New Guinea it will be readily understood that we have a degree of emotional association with the Territory. During the visit to the Territory by the delegation from the Australian Parliament we took some of the younger members of the delegation to the war cemeteries in Papua New Guinea. They were profoundly impressed by the atmosphere at those war cemeteries, the way in which they were maintained and the reverence and dignity with which the people of the Territory - the political leaders in particular - regarded them. They have established for us a liaison between Australia and the Territory which is a little different from the type of liaison that we have with other countries. The Minister might ponder, for example, the relationship between Nigeria and the United Kingdom and bear in mind not only that London is a long way from Lagos but also the subsequent development within Nigeria which led to the terrifying circumstances of a few years ago and the possible emergence of Biafra until the final defeat of Colonel Oiukwu's forces by General Gowon. We in Australia ought to be able to avoid circumstances of that nature if we are prepared to enter into contractual arrangements with Papua New Guinea at the time of independence. I believe that this will be something we will have to face up to and it will have to be done in the interests not only of the Territory for the first decade of its independence but also in the interests of the Commonwealth of Australia for that period.

I hold the view that it will be a terrible shame if the people living in the Territory have to spend a single dollar on military hardware or that sort of equipment which can be provided readily by the Commonwealth of Australia. Papua New Guinea needs every bawbee', every dollar, it has for spending on roads, schools, hospitals and education. In our own interests we ought to encourage Papua New Guinea to do that to the utmost. I notice, as the honourable member for Kooyong (Mr Peacock) said that no pattern has been laid down for the future relations between the Papua New Guinea defence force and the Commonwealth of Australia. I am not at all concerned about that situation because it encourages me to believe that the Government of Papua New Guinea, during the year or so prior to independence and in the years following independence, will be loath to spend money on military equipment and also to believe that the Australian people prefer to be in the position where they are able to recognise, in some way or another - perhaps by some mutual defence treaty or agreement - that we will be prepared to look after the external relations of Papua New Guinea conjointly in the future. This proposition is by no means impossible. There are many instances of similar activity between countries. It is my hope that this is the sort of thing that will develop within the relations between Papua New Guinea and Australia.

I was delighted that the Japan-Australia negotiations were accompanied by visits to Japan by the Chief Minister of Papua New Guinea, Mr Somare, and other members of the Papua New Guinea Government. It is quite clear to everybody that Japan will be one country in Asia which will be vitally interested in the future development of the Papua New Guinea nation. Japan will be the country that will be economically capable of providing a great deal of assistance. Whilst other countries may be interested in Papua New Guinea, I believe that a great deal of developmental assistance will come from Japan. As we have promised to keep our remarks short, I will merely congratulate the Minister for External Territories again upon the decision to have a parliamentary delegation visit Papua New Guinea. I repeat my thanks to the honourable member for Banks (Mr Martin) for the work that he did and I congratulate the other members of the parliamentary delegation who made their contribution towards the fostering of goodwill between Australia and the Territory. I hope that it will not be the last parliamentary delegation to Papua New Guinea.

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