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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 88

PRIME MINISTER'S T.V "FACE THE NATION" - 2ND AUGUST, 1959

Photo of Menzies, Robert

Menzies, Robert

Period of Service: 19/12/1949 to 26/01/1966

More information about Menzies, Robert on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 02/08/1959

Release Type: Interview

Transcript ID: 88

PRIME INISTER'S T. V. " FACE THE NATION" 2ND AUGUST, 1959
QUESTION: Mir. Menzies, after your recent visit to The Hague you
re-affirmed Australia's support for Dutch sovereignty in West New
Guinea. The Indonesians seemed to take this as a change of front
on the part of the Australian Government. Is that so?
MR. MENZIESNo, it is not. You may remember that after the
visit, the very happy visit, I thought, by Dr. Subandrio to
Australia, I made a speech in Parliament in which I indicated what
our policy was in the light of our discussions with him. Now it
was quite clear, it was and is quite clear, that we support the
Dutch claim to sovereignty. I put it to Dr. Subandrio myself that
I would like to know what the legal basis was of-the Indonesian
claim to sovereignty. And he explained at once that it was not on
legal grounds but on political grounds, and that was why the matter
had never been taken by Indonesia to the International Court.
Now that represents no change of front at all on our
part. We have frequently repeated that we recognise Dutch
sovereignty. If that sovereignty is to be changed then it must be
changed only by an agreement truly negotiated between themselves and
the Indonesians or by the decision of the Court. That was our
position. That remains our position.
QUESTION: Speaking of Dr. Subandrio, when he was here in February,
I think it was, there was a joint conmunique in the course of which
there was a hope that was expressed that there might be some day a
treaty of friendship between the two nations. Has that matter
been carried any further?
MIvR, NZIES: ' Tell, I do not know ,/ hat has happened during my
absence, but as you may havo heard I have an arrangement to go to
Indonesia myself before the end of the year. I do not know what
date, but I have accepted an invitation to go there before the end
of the year. And in that event, of course, we would pursue it
and very properly, because one thing which was quite clear during
Dr. Subandrio's visit was that we had no points of difference,
speaking in essential terms, other than our difference of view as
to the sovereignty of ' Jest New Guinea. And, therefore, there is
ample scope for friendship and honourable association.

-9 STION Before leaving the subject, Kr. l. enzies, vihat do you
foresee for the ultimate future of Dutch " Tei Guinea.
I INZIES: ell, it is very difficult to look into the future
but if you look far enough then I would ho,; e to see selffrovemment
in New Guinea and I think theru would be areat merit
myself in seeing that as self-goverment of the entire island.
You see, treating it as a hole, because ethnologically there
are very few distinctions to be made between the people of the
West and the people of the East and the people of Papua.
Now our policy as you know has been and is to
-rorote tho ielfare of the native people, many of .; horn of
course are still living in their remote lnd rather savage
conditions, but to promote their welfare so that some day, which
is certainly not goin; to be next year or the year after or
something like that; some day they will be broutt to a state
of life in which they can accept self-govcrnment. Anu so far as
the Dutch are concerned they have told us that tIhey have the
same ultimate ambition for their people, ( nd therefore in the
long run, it won't eorhmcps be in my time as Prime Iinist-r, but in
due course, with all the efforts . e can make in the meantime to
nromote thoir welfare, we may find an in. de'endent nation of native
New Guinea citizens conducting their own affairs and I ho! e
living in terms of close friendship with Australia.

Transcript 88