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Historical documents

192 Australian Government to Noel-Baker, Fraser and Australian Delegation at the United Nations

Cablegrams 34, 27, 78, CANBERRA, 11 February 1948, 3.10 p.m.


1. It appears likely that on resumption of discussion on New Guinea report particular attention will be given to the provisional administrative union of Trust Territory of New Guinea and Territory of Papua which was effected during military occupation of the Territories and has since been continued as a tentative arrangement pending completion of plans and legislation for the future permanent Administration of the Territories.

2. Attitude of certain delegates during interim discussion of report last December[1] raised possibility that majority of Council might be disposed to approve resolution opposing continuance of administrative union of territories concerned and appealing to the Australian Government to communicate the details of any plan for administrative union prior to implementation.

3. Although such an attitude can be objected to on ground that Council cannot direct an administering authority in regard to future administrative action, such a resolution could embarrass us in the furtherance of our plans for an administrative union at a time when reconstruction problems require planning on long term basis and on reliable foundations.

4. We are satisfied that an administrative union will be in best interest of Territory and its inhabitants. We propose to act on the following lines:

(a) to review in some detail the course of and the reasons for the establishment of the provisional administrative union, with a very general statement of the factors that have influenced the decision to continue the administrative union of the two territories as a permanent arrangement;

(b) to recall assurances given at the General Assembly 1946, regarding 'no annexation';

(c) to indicate that the Australian Government although it will proceed to carry out its plans for administrative union will be very interested in the views of the delegates at the Council on the general nature of the administrative union contemplated;

(d) to assure the Council that is will be kept informed through annual reports of the progress made to give effect to the complete plan.

5. The inference to be drawn from our approach is that we shall remain firm in our intention to implement the plan for administrative union. We wish of course whilst maintaining an attitude consistent with the Charter and the Trusteeship Agreement to co-operate with the Council in all matters and to recognise the valuable assistance the Council can afford an administering authority in keeping it to achieve the objectives of the International Trusteeship system.

6. Broadly the following considerations have influenced the decision that has been taken:-

(a) Increased efficiency and economy, resulting, firstly, from pooling of knowledge and experience derived from both territories and secondly from central planning and local implementation of policy matters affecting political, economic, health, educational and social development of native peoples and welfare of non-indigenous inhabitants.

(b) Preservation of character of New Guinea as an 'entity' by itself based on keeping of separate accounts for the trust territory.

(c) Refutation of idea that New Guinea will support Papua financially. Reference to financial contribution to reconstruction in war-devastated Papua and New Guinea.

(d) Need for fully co-ordinated defence organisation covering the trust territory and Papua.

7. The Australian representatives at the Council meeting will discuss points raised in this cable with your representatives and we hope that you will be able to give us full support at the meeting.

[1] See Volume 12, Document 37.

[AA : A1838, 306/2/1, I]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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