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Thursday, 11 May 1972
Page: 1598

Senator MURPHY (New South WalesLeader of the Opposition) - The Opposition supports the Papua New Guinea Loan (Asian Development Bank) Bill 1972. I rise to say a few words on our relationship with Papua New Guinea. That relationship is undergoing rapid change. The policy of my Party is in accordance with that rapidly changing relationship. If elected in the forthcoming elections as the government of Australia, the Australian Labor Party will take steps to ensure the orderly and secure transfer of Papua New Guinea to self-government and independence in its first term of office.

The changing relationships will bring many problems. Some of those are already manifest. In the new relationships which will develop we will have to find solutions, for example, to the problem of currency. At the moment, the currency of Papua New Guinea is the Australian currency. Obviously, we will have to make arrangements about that.

Facilities of the Australian Government are operating in Papua New Guinea. We have many services which are common services. It is clear that solutions will need to be found to the problems of separation of common facilities, such as air facilities, other communications facilities and many other facilities which so far have presented no problem because of the relationship which has existed.

Senator Webster - The honourable senator quoted from his Party's policy. Does that policy state that his Party hopes to see independence in the first term of office of the new government?

Senator MURPHY - Yes.

Senator Webster - Is that against the will of Mr Somare, as expressed by him recently?

Senator MURPHY - I stated the policy of our Party. I do not propose to enter into any question or to accept any statement from the honourable senator as to what might be the policy of the Chief Minister of Papua New Guinea. The problems which will confront Australia will be many. The problems which will confront Papua New Guinea will be many. We may have our observations on affairs in Papua New Guinea. We are entitled to make those observations at this stage of our relationship. For example, I think that there is a great deal of force in the reflections of the economist who recently doubted the policy of the development of a cash crop economy in the way it is being done in Papua New Guinea.

Of course, in the future, questions such as that will be entirely for the new nation and not for us to consider or debate in the Senate. There will be other questions of the same nature. For some little time at any rate, there will be questions which will be of joint interest. One of those is the question of the army in Papua New Guinea. I am aware that on this subject matter in the new nation, through its Chief Minister and, as I understand it from my discussions on my recent trip to Papua New Guinea, through the representatives of the other parties, there is a concordance that they do not want a third battalion in the armed services of Papua New Guinea. On a subject such as that, where the wishes are so clearly expressed, the policy of the Australian Labor Party would be. of course, to defer entirely to the wishes of those who represent the new nation. There would be no thought whatever that an Australian government should do other than act in accordance with the wishes of the new nation.

Many other matters may require discussion and resolution. The policy of a Labor government clearly would be to negotiate on matters which needed resolution. Such negotiations should take place between equals. Indeed, it may be necessary that the negotiations on some matters should await independence in order that they be between equals and that there be fair dealing between the nations of Australia and Papua New Guinea. It is curious that Australia is going through the process, which might seem legally impossible, of seeing that there emerges a Papua New Guinea which is free and independent, and independent to a higher degree than Australia is. It is contemplated that the new Papua New Guinea will be truly independent. There will be a free and independent Papua New Guinea, yet Australia will remain with a degree of dependence upon Great Britain. That should not bc tolerated in the modern world. We will still have a Constitution which provides for appeals to the Privy Council. A day or two ago I noticed a Press report that the Privy Council had given leave to hear an appeal from the High Court of Australia on a State tax matter. We know that under the provisions of the Statute of Westminster Act it is still possible for the imperial Parliament to pass laws affecting our nation. This has been done. We know that there is a peculiar area in the Executive field in which it is claimed that a kind of prerogative still resides in the British authorities instead of in the Australian authorities. That astonishing result will be reached when Australia helps to bring about a free and independent Papua New Guinea.

I make those observations because wc look forward to the emergence of the new nation and to having, for example, a treaty of friendship and a mutual defence arrangement with it if it is so inclined. We would want an enduring relationship of harmony, friendship and goodwill between our nations. We support the Bill because it is a step towards assisting the emerging nation with its financial affairs.

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