197 Forsyth to Trusteeship Council

Letter, NEW YORK, 3 July 1948

In answer to questions concerning the administration of the Trust Territory of New Guinea asked by representatives in connection with the preliminary examination of the Annual Report on that territory for 1946-1947 at the Second Session of the Trusteeship Council[1], the Australian Delegation supplied a paper circulated as Document T/138.

The answer given to question No. 7 concerning administrative union was that a separate statement would be supplied to the Council. The separate statement on this subject is now forwarded herewith for circulation as an addendum to Document T/138.

It will be noted that a copy of a Bill concerning the territory* is annexed to the statement for the information of the Council in accordance with the undertaking given to the Council at the Second Session and re-affirmed during the course of the present session.

The Bill is a public document, having passed the stage of first reading in the Australian Parliament.

*'A Bill for an Act to approve the placing of the Territory of New Guinea under the International Trusteeship System, to provide for the Government of the Territory of Papua and the Territory of New Guinea, and for other purposes', Parliament of the Commonwealth, House of Representatives, 18th June 1948.

Enclosure T/138/Add.1 TRUSTEESHIP COUNCIL STATEMENT IN ANSWER TO QUESTION 7 (Administrative Union of Territories of Papua and New Guinea) Introduction The Government of the Commonwealth of Australia has taken a decision[2] that the Trust Territory of New Guinea be placed in Administrative Union with the adjoining Australian Territory of Papua. This decision has been made in pursuance of Article 5 of the Trusteeship Agreement relating to the Territory of New Guinea, because it is the opinion of the Government of Australia that such an administrative union is in the interests of the peoples of the Territory of New Guinea and will greatly assist in carrying out the objectives of the trusteeship system.

[matter omitted][3]

Provisional Administration In July 1945, the Papua - New Guinea Provisional Administration Act was passed by the Australian Parliament to provide for one Administration for the former separate Territories. The Provisional Administration was composed of a single Administrator and a single Public Service together with one Supreme Court for both territories. This was a tentative arrangement pending determination as to the future policy in regard to the Mandated Territory of New Guinea.

The impact of the war had created additional problems common to the whole area and it would have been an extremely unwise step to have attempted to reconstitute the two separate administrations when the task of reconstruction had to be dealt with throughout the whole area of the two territories. The advantages of combined administration were clearly apparent.

The planning and organisation of rehabilitation measures from one headquarters were accompanied by the establishment of essential services including native affairs, medical and hospitalisation services, education services, agricultural and transport services and of course, public works on a common basis. It was imperative that the resources of both the territories in manpower and materials should be used for the purpose of dealing with the urgent reconstruction problems.

Continuance of Administrative Union The experience under Military Administration and Provisional Administration of working common services for the two Territories has demonstrated the distinct advantages of such an arrangement. This was indeed the period during which the arguments advanced previously in favour of administrative union were being thoroughly tested. These arguments were so amply justified by results that the Australian Government determined that it was essential to have included in the Trusteeship Agreement which was submitted to the United Nations General Assembly in 1946, an article specifically covering the question of capacity to implement an administrative union between the trust territory and the neighbouring territory. Such an article, it was realised would finally remove any doubt that existed under the mandate concerning the Government's capacity to carry out an administrative union. The approval by the United Nations Assembly of Article 5 in the New Guinea Agreement was therefore very much welcomed by the Australian authorities.

The following general considerations influenced the Australian authorities in coming to the decision that the provisional administrative union between the Territory of New Guinea and the Territory of Papua should be continued.

The two territories are geographically united, the division between them being merely a line drawn on a map. The racial groups are, broadly speaking, Negritos, Papuans and Melanesians and are scattered indiscriminately throughout the two territories.

The problems involved in the raising of the living standards of the population of both territories which amounts to over a million people demand the most efficient utilisation of all resources and equally efficient execution of the policies evolved for the advancement and welfare of the inhabitants of the two territories. It is very difficult for services subject to different executive controls to do this. It is essential that in the carrying out of these policies of development reliance should not be placed merely upon consultation and collaboration between the two different administrations. The fact is that whilst a certain amount of co-operation along these lines takes place, the degree of co-ordination effected is never entirely satisfactory. In fact, prior to the war, the chairman of the 1939 commission commented on the paucity of the consultation between people in the two territories and between officers of the two services.

Furthermore it is believed that through the establishment of a single Public Service greater opportunities are given for advancement and there is greater diversity of training and opportunity for gaining of knowledge and experience. In consequence a more efficient technical staff can be built up.

There should be little need to point to the advantages gained from the building up of the area comprising both territories as one economic unit. It will be possible to develop much more easily the communications between the two territories by air and by land and also communications with the outside world. Furthermore, from the point of view of trade a large unit should be much more effective in securing the best terms for the marketing of products in the area and in particular should be in an advantageous position to arrange marketing schemes for those products.

So far as the old argument regarding dependence of Papua on New Guinea goes, it is apparent that the cost of rehabilitation of New Guinea and of Papua over a period of many years will be far higher than the income of either the individual territories or the combined territories. In other words it will be essential for the Australian Government for some time to come to provide money in the form of grants to meet expenditure on the re-establishment and development of the services which will ensure higher standards of living for the inhabitants. It should be noted also that it is possible to make provision for the keeping of accounts in such a way as to enable the outside observer to know what amounts of money are being spent on each territory and where the money comes from. It is the view of the Australian Government that there should be expended upon the administration, welfare and development of the trust territory an amount which is not less than the amount of the public revenue raised in the trust territory.

It should be recalled that the Australian Government, during the discussion on the Trusteeship Agreement for New Guinea gave a definite assurance that any action taken to implement administrative union under the provisions of Article 5 of the Trusteeship Agreement would not involve the loss by New Guinea of its identity as a separate territory administered under the provisions of the international trusteeship system. That assurance has been fully borne in mind in drafting the legislation for an administrative union of the territory of Papua and the territory of New Guinea (Annex A) and will be honoured by the Australia authorities when the administrative union plans are put into effect.

A Bill for an Act entitled 'The Papua and New Guinea Act 1948' was presented on 18th June 1948 for the consideration of the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia. The Bill had not been discussed when Parliament adjourned. The Bill has not therefore become law but it is intended that it will be listed for consideration during a session of the Parliament to commence later this year. A copy of the bill is furnished with this statement so that the Trusteeship Council might be informed as to the steps that have so far been taken by the administering authority to give effect to the decision that has been taken to provide for the government of the trust territory of New Guinea in administrative union with the territory of Papua.

[1] See Volume 12, Document 37, paragraph 6.

[2] See Volume 12, Document 36.

[3] The omitted material repeated the matters covered in Volume 12, Document 36, concerning arrangements for administration and legislation during the pre-war period and the period of military administration.

[AA : A1838, 891/1/10, I]