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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 3007


Photo of Whitlam, Gough

Whitlam, Gough

Period of Service: 05/12/1972 to 11/11/1975

More information about Whitlam, Gough on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 13/09/1973

Release Type: Media Release

Transcript ID: 3007

M/ 131 13 September 1973
Australia has proposed changes in the functions of the
0 South Pacific Commission, aimed at revitalizing the organisation.
These were outlined in an address to the South Pacific
Conference in Guam yesterday by Australia's Special Minister of
State, Senator Willesee, who is leader of the Australian
delegation to the conference.
Senator Willesee proposed that from 1975 there should
be a de facto merger of the South Pacific Commission and the
Conference sessions.
At present, membership of the Commission comprises
Australia, New Zealand, France, the United Kingdom, the United
States, Fiji, Nauru and Western Samoa. The Conference sessions
are attended by all the territories and independent island States,
as well as the metropolitan Dowers, but the latter do not vote.
Senator Willesee said that since 1947, when the
Canberra Agreement had led to the formation of the South Pacific / 2

Commission, the Pacific " has been washed by the tides of change."
" In 1947 no island entity in this region was a State,"
he said. " None could be a signatory to the Canberra Agreement.
Today three are full members of the Commission Western Smaoa,
Nauru and Fiji and one or two more such as Panua New Guinea
could, if they so desire, be shortly."
Senator Willesee continued: " Today we face the fact
that we are meeting here under the terms of an Agreement which
has been of considerable value but which is increasingly
anachronistic." He said that the 1947 Agreement, seen retrospectively,
was and remained a oaternalistic document. It saw the Pacific
world was divided between controlling metropolitan powers and
their subject colonies, and had not even foreshadowed the
possibility of any of those colonies becoming independent and
hence members of the Commission.
The Australian Government believed that the time had
come to bring the nrovisions of the Canberra Ag-reement or if
that should prove imnossible its practices, up to date.
It was ag-ainst this background that Australia had
proposed changes in the Commission's functions.

Transcript 3007