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Thursday, 24 August 1972
Page: 442

Senator YOUNG (South Australia) - J. have listened with a great deal of interest to Senator O'Byrne's comments on this Bill tonight. Firstly, may I say that the Papua New Guinea Bill 1972 increases the Ministry in the Papua New Guinea Parliament from 17 members. It is taking the Territory closer to the stage of selfgovernment. Tonight Senator O'Byrne has ranged very widely over many areas including, if I could say so without giving offence to him, areas slightly beyond both Papua New Guinea and the Bill. Nevertheless, I frankly feel that this is a good step forward for Papua New Guinea. At the same time, I must express my own views, which are supported by many people - both indigenous and expatriates - in the Territory. They say that one most important thing to do in this area of the world is to hasten slowly. 1 had the pleasure of talking with the Chief Minister, Mr Michael Somare, not many weeks ago. He expressed this point of view to me. At the same time, he also emphasised the point that as they move towards self-government they would be still relying upon much of the administration and other areas of expatriate activities that have made such a great contribution to the development of Papua New Guinea in the past. He hopes that they will continue to be able to look to these people and others in the future because the people of New Guinea will still be reliant very much on assistance from the outside world in the areas of expertise and experience.

If we go back over the years, particularly the postwar years, and look at the contribution made by people who acted as patrol officers and district commissioners, we in Australia, as well as the people of Papua New Guinea, can pay a great deal of gratitude to these men who have spent their lifetime in some cases and many years of their lives in other cases to assist in the development of this country. They have put up with many hardships and at times many dangers. Many of these men have stayed behind in this country. I was a little concerned when I heard Senator O'Byrne speak rather critically of some of these men tonight because of the fact that they had taken up land in the Territory. I think that they are making a great contribution. For many of these men, this work has become their lives and in so many ways, Papua New Guinea has become their land. They are making an important contribution to this country because, without these men firstly, going in to assist the development and the education of this country and, secondly, taking a stake in it to develop it and get commercial viability in certain areas, this country would not be in the situation that it is in today - moving towards complete selfgovernment and eventual independence.

There are men in Papua New Guinea who have virtually amassed a fortune in real estate there. If they walked out tomorrow, this would stay behind. This is a very important point. They are not amassing a fortune to take out of the country. They have it there and it is staked in the country. In many of these areas today ft will be found that expatriate Australians and others who have gone there have developed primary industry and some commercial industries. It will be found that the indigenous people also are participating in the profit on a co-operative basis. This is helping them to increase their incomes and in turn helping them to develop more economic viability within their own groups. I would not accept criticism in regard to these men. On the contrary, I would extend to them praise for what they have contributed to the development of Papua New Guinea.

I refer to another area, as did Senator Sim tonight, and to many of the men in the Administration. At the present time, they are sitting in rather a doubtful position. Many of them are expressing concern in regard to their future. One can hope only that wisdom and sanity will prevail. Although Senator O'Byrne does not like the word 'tolerance' I will go further and say that tolerance, patience, respect and, as I said earlier, wisdom will be foremost and that many of these men will be retained in Papua New Guinea when eventually it attains self-government because they can continue to make a great contribution to the further development of the country. When speaking of increasing the number of Ministers in the Parliament of the Territory, accepting that the Territory is moving towards self-government, one must remember that the country is still a long way from development. It is a country of so many extremes; the climate ranges from tropical to temperate in the highlands. There are areas of high fertility. Some areas have high densities of population; others are sparsely populated. But most important - and therefore we must not overlook it - is the great variation in sophistication of the people. People on the coastal plains have known the western way of life for many years. Others who are still very primitive, though intelligent, will if given time develop and make a great contribution to their country. My hope is that they will not be forced to change but will be allowed to take their own time to change. As I have said, some people in the Territory have never seen a motor vehicle. There are others who have not even been found. All of these people are part of the Territory.

I am confident that if the members of the Territory's Parliament to whom I spoke recently have their way they will progress slowly and with caution and so give their country time to develop. My hope is that there will not suddenly come into areas of power men of impatience with perhaps extreme ambition who could bring tragedy to the Territory. This has happened in other developing countries. My hope is that tragedy will not befall Papua New Guinea, because the people of the Territory are wonderful people who, given the opportunity, will develop a very great country which will play its part in South East Asia. We must all hope that they will be given time to grow into this situation and that they will not be prematurely forced into it. If they are prematurely forced into it I should hate to think what might happen to many of the people who are making such a great contribution to their own land.

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