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Thursday, 12 October 1972
Page: 1503

Senator O'BYRNE - I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate: In view of the serious drought prevailing in the highland area of New Guinea and coinciding with the delicate negotiations for independence, will the Minister indicate what measures are being taken by the Australian Government to assist the Government of Papua New Guinea in alleviating this most unfortunate situation?

Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson - I ask the Minister representing the Minister for External Territories to answer that question.

Senator WRIGHT - As I represent the Minister for External Territories in this chamber I have been provided with information that about 30,000 people have been affected by this drought. It may be that that number will grow to 100,000 or even more. The Sydney office of the Department of External Territories has already dispatched 325 tons of rice, 330 tons of wheatmeal flour, 21,000 cases of tinned meat, 15,600 tins of meat, 30 tons of salt, 20 tons of seed potatoes, smaller quantities of corn, maize and assorted vegetable seeds and 8 million ascorbic acid tablets. All these supplies are additional to the normal store requirements of the Papua New Guinea Administration. Commonwealth officials are working closely with Territory officials to ensure that there is effective communication and co-ordination of requests between the authorities.

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