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Tuesday, 22 August 1972
Page: 281

Senator DAVIDSON (South Australia) - It is an interesting facet of parliamentary procedure and debate that brings a Bill relating to a comparatively simple measure before the Senate tonight. The Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Cotton) said in his second reading speech on the Bill that it is a straightforward matter. As Senator O'Byrne said, it provides for a simple transfer of part of the Commonwealth Government's powers to the Administration of Papua New Guinea. With Senator O'Byrne I applaud the work which the Commonwealth has done within its responsibility. It has carried out its duties in relation to the coastline of Papua New Guinea and in the maritime area in the manner required of it in servicing Papua New Guinea. lt is important for the Senate to say, and for the people of Australia to be aware, that the transfer of a power, even if it appears to be a fairly small one such as we are dealing with now, should never indicate that we are surrendering our personal interest and concern. The Government's departmental operations and all its facilities must constantly be available to Papua New Guinea for the training of personnel and for making available navigational aids and all the new and developing scientific trends and developments. The Territory which is so adjacent to us and with which we are so involved in such a wide range of areas will thus receive the benefit of Australian administration and of the technical advances that we have within our control. The responsibility for decision making in relation to maritime navigation and lighthouses is now being transferred to Papua New Guinea, but it is true to observe that the Australian authorities will continue to maintain a close and watchful interest. I suppose this is symbolic of the transfer to ultimate independence of the Territory of Papua New Guinea.

I think it would be appropriate to place on record something of the contribution that is now being made in this important international as well as Australian exercise by the Minister for External Territories (Mr Peacock). Not only has he a personal interest but also his personal interest finds expression in the fact that since he assumed duties in February he has been to the Territory no fewer than 16 times. He brings to his office and all phases of work relating to the Territories his own personal enthusiasm. He brings his own optimism and he sees the change as something that needs encouragement rather than control. Papua New Guinea has a special place not only in our Australian context but also in our international relations. The areas of independence will emerge. There must also be an assertion of their own independence and Australia must see to it that there is an encouragement of independence of thought and creative thinking and, of course, an independence of responsibility. Papua New Guinea may look to the Asian area as it emerges into independence but also it will look to Australia. We must see to it that it never looks to us in vain and never feels alone or neglected. Any steps that the Australian administration and the

Australian Government can take to help in political stability surely must be taken with courage and creative responsibility. What appears to be a small measure receives the wholehearted support of the Senate. At the same time, as Senator O' Byrne said, it is symbolic as a light shining not only in encouragement but also in support and help. I support the Bill.

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