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Thursday, 17 August 1972
Page: 194

Senator COTTON (New South WalesMinister for Civil Aviation) - I move:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

This very straightforward Bill provides for a further step in Government's progressive transfer of powers to Papua New Guinea. Since 1949, the Department of Shipping and Transport has exercised the entire responsibility for planning, installation and maintenance of aids to marine navigation in the Territory. The Administration is now able to see its way to accept this responsibility in the near future, and the Administrator's Executive Council has agreed in principle. The only question remaining is the precise date of transfer, and so this Bill provides for amendment of the Lighthouses Act from a date to be proclaimed. That date will be set according to the wishes of the Administrator's Executive Council. lt should not be thought that with the transfer of responsibility our interest will cease. We shall continue to provide whatever assistance the Administration may request for as long as desired. It is already agreed, for example, that an executive officer, selected by the Administration, will come to the Department of Shipping and Transport for a period of familiarisation. The skilled crew of the New Guinea-based lighthouse tender. M.V. 'Noel Buxton", will remain until such time as the Administration can replace it. Training of lighthouse technicians will be provided as soon as the Administration can engage indigenous tradesmen. Technical servicing of equipment such as the flashing mechanisms of lights will be provided until such time as the Administration has made its own arrangements. Advice on the planning of systems will always be available. Thus the responsibility for decision-making is going over to Papua New Guinea, but assistance in whatever area and in whatever measure the Territory desires will continue. To regularise this transfer, it is necessary to remove reference to the Territories of Papua and of New Guinea from the Commonwealth Lighthouses Act.

I commend the Bill to the Senate.

Debate (on motion by Senator O'Byrne) adjourned.

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