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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 3888

ADDRESS BY THE PRIME MINISTER, THE HON EG WHITLAM QC MP, AT THE PAPUA NEW GUINEA INDEPENDENCE CELEBRATIONS, PORT MORESBY, 16 SEPTEMBER 1975

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: 16/09/1975

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 3888

EMBARGO LEm ue
ADDRESS BY THE PRIME MINISTER, THE HON. E. G. WHITLAM, M. P
AT THE PAPUA NEW GUINEA INDEPENDENCE CELEBRATIONS,
PORT MORESBY, 16 SEPTEMBER 1975
This is a day that will live in history.
There can never be a more important day in a
nation's history, than its birthday. But the significance
of this day in the broad sweep of history goes beyond even
that for Papua New Guinea, for Australia, for our region
and for the Commonwealth of Nations around the world.
Today Australia, herself once a group of colonies,
has ended the role as a colonial power imposed upon her
by an irony of history. Australid could never be truly
free until Papua New Guinea was truly free. In a very real
sense, this is a day of liberation for Australia as much
as for Papua New Guinea.
iFurther, Australia has today finally discharged
her mandate from the old League of Nations and her
trusteeship to the United Nations.
The presence of the heir to the Crown reminds
us that Papua New Guinea is the last of the significant
nations to be newly created under the authority of that
crown the final act in that remarkable process so
brilliantly inaugurated by his great-uncle Lord Mountbatten,
28 years ago. Nothing became the life of that Empire more
than the manner of their -leaving it.
I came here two days ago as the last Australian
Prime Minister to visit a Papua New Guinea constitutionally
linked to Australia. At midnight last night I became
the first Australian Prime Minister to visit the new nation
of Papua New Guinea. I accept the change of status with
complete equanimity. It is good for the soul, in these
, times which try men's souls.
Let me congratulate your Government, Mr Prime
Minister, on the excellent arrangements made to allow us
all to take part in your indepe ' ndence celebrations. The
ceremonies, the feastivities, the displays all quite
. splendid. And I noticed the excellent security arrangements.
In fact, I haven't felt so well protected since our first
meeting five and a half years ago January 1970 in the
lounge of the Sepik Motel in Wewak. The Australian security
eavesdropped on our subversive talk and well they might,
for we were talking about early self-government and early
independence for Papua New Guinea. We brought great
criticism, even ridicule and contempt, upon us in those far
off days a whole five and ahYalf years ago when together
we first stated that the independence of Papua New Guinea
was imminent and inevitable. / 12

I said then that independence for Papua New
Guinea was an idea whose time had come and nothing could
resist the power of that idea. In you, Mr Prime Minister,
Papua New Guinea found a man whose time.. has come.
In the event, Papua New Guinea's independence
was her own deicsion and this day for independence was
decided by her own House of Assembly a modern, single
chamber parliament with equal electorates indeed,. an
example for other parliaments. Her Constitution, was not
devised in another land or imposed by foreigners.
It emerged from her own democratic processes, from within
her own democratic institutions, from her own people and
their elected representatives. It has been a remarkable
demonstration of political maturity.
Mr Prime Minister, our two nations cannot ignore
and escape our historical links, our geographic proximity,
the past we share, the future we share. I am convinced
neither of ups wish or will ever wish to do so. At yesterday's
flag lowerii~ g ceremony, Sir John Guise stressed that the
Australia flag was being lowered, not torn down. This
spirit, the strength of which comes from a shared past in
peace, in war, is a firm foundation for our future relationship.
Australia wants the closest possible relationship
with her nearest neighbour, the new nation of Papua New
Guinea. A relationship of equals, based on mutual respect,
understanding and trust. That trust, that understanding
and that respect, is necessary for us to develop a
rela~ tionship which will go well beyond normal diplomatic ties.
This does not mean that we seek an exclusive
relationship with Papua New Guinea. On the contrary, we
recognise and appreciate that you will want to find your own
place in the international community, based on your
own independent assessment. The independence which we
celebrate today is a genuine independence not a phoney
independence. The Australian Government has stressed that a
united and independent Papua New Guinea will continue to
have first call on Australia'expanding aid program.
I re-affirm that pledge in the strongest possible terms;
te-af firm it with the full support of the Australian Government,
the full support of the Australian political parties, the
full support of the Australian people. I give a categorical
and unequivocal assurance to the Government and people of
Papua New Guinea that this nation will continue to have first
call on our expanding aid program.
Mr Prime Minister, tonight, I also want to
re-affirm. the Australian Government's absolute, unqualified
support for a united Papua New Guinea. Even when there was
disagreement in Australia about the time-table for independence
there was never any disagreement on this fundamental objective.
Australia's policy over the years of bringing a united Papua
New Guinea to independence has been supported by the overwhelming
majority of your elected representative. It is a policy which

has been endorsed by the United Nations many times as
recently as three weeks ago by the Trusteeship Council. Indeed,
it was the fun ' damental condition of Australia's trusteeship.
Representatives of the Trusteeship Council, of the Committee
of Twenty Four and of the United Nations Secretary-General
are here for the celebrations. It is more than the hope of
Australia, the hope of Papua New Guinea it is the world's
hope for Papua New Guinea and, one might pray, the hope of
the universal church.
On an occasion like this its hard to avoid
euphoria, the feeling of unqualified optimism, particularly
when so much of all that we hoped for, worked for, fought
for, has been achieved is now a, living fact. It seems
almost churlish to remind ourselves that there are
difficulties, dangers, pitfalls ahead. But, of course,
that is alsq a fact. It is in the nature of things.
In particular Papua New Guinea * is embarking on that most
difficult of all courses that effort to make democracy
work. Nowh~ re in the world is this man's noblest experimentaltogether
beyond challenge, beyond the possibility of failure.
The particular forms, the techniques, the institutions
by which democracy can prevail are always subject to development
and change. Each nation will make its own experiment, its
own choices. The substance of democracy, however, can be
achieved if we keep in mind its basic aim the aim set out
by the first group of colonies to achieve independence, 199
years ago, now the United States of America that all men are
born equal and have equal rights to life, liberty and the
pursuit of happiness. In the great task ahead Papua New Guinea will
have many friends. Australia, of course; Australia firm and
unswerving in her friendship. But the representative presence
in this room of so many of the nations of the world is a sure
sign. that of all the great strengths which this nation enjoysthe
strength of her people, the strengths of their diverse and
rich cultures, the strength of her leaders not least is3
the strength of the friendship she has throughout the region
and the world.

Transcript 3888