198 Australian Delegation, United Nations, to Department of External Affairs

Cablegram UN631, NEW YORK, 15 July 1948, 12.03 p.m.


Trusteeship Council 14th July. NEW GUINEA. (Further to our 630.) 1. Introductory statement by Australian representative indicated contents of official statement on Administrative Union circulated as Document T/138/ADD.1[1], to which copy of Bill is annexed (see our 592). Paragraph 2(f) included points from your 78[2], paragraphs 4 and 5 (omitting 4 (c)) and your 122[3] paragraphs 5 and 6 in part. Emphasised necessity to deal with each trust territory in the light of its particular condition. Pointed out that while the mandate did not specifically authorise administrative union, the Trusteeship Agreement does (full text by saving-gram).

2. France and Belgium spoke strongly in favour.

3. China quoted record of 4th meeting of Sub-committee One, 1946 Assembly, meeting of 21st November, to the effect that Australia had undertaken that application of article 5 would be subject to 'discussion and supervision' by the Council. Omitted, however, subsequent clarification at the same meeting (page A10 of summary record) and Forsyth at once quoted this, i.e. decisions under article 5 not subject to Council approval. China also asked why agreement not yet confirmed by Parliament after 1.5 years. Halligan indicated this was provided in the Bill as considered more appropriate than separate legislation.

4. Sayre (U.S.A.) noted definite assurance that identity of trust territory would be preserved and asked several questions which Halligan answered, viz, specific advantages, title of territory, retention of revenue from trust territory and whether contemplated provinces (paragraph 11 of Bill) would compromise identity of trust territory, and co-operation with specialised agencies.

5. Mexico considered that provinces including portions of both territories would prejudice identity of trust territory. Made distinction between juridical and geographical identity on the one hand and the political question of growth of collective New Guinea consciousness on the other. Asked whether the final outcome would be independence or merely increased self-government merged with Papua. Forsyth answered to the effect that this would be matter for people themselves, that the task of political development was at elementary stage and growth of anything like a national consciousness of the inhabitants was a long way off. Nervo (Mexico) expressed the opinion that the proposed arrangements were in fact political union.

6. China expressed opinion that provinces overlapping boundaries would not be conducive to maintaining separate identity - asked where capital would be. Halligan answered that provinces would only be created to facilitate and decentralise administration and that site for capital had not yet been selected.

7. United Kingdom gave very helpful example from Cameroons and Nigeria. Interests of people sometimes necessitated common administration across frontiers.

8. Belgium pointed out on the one hand Australian self-interest that safeguards the identity of sovereign territory, Papua, and on the other hand Trusteeship Council's complete power to demand all points on trust territory as defined in agreement and to investigate in the field.

[1] See Document 197.

[2] Document 192.

[3] Document 194.

[AA : A1838, 301/2/2]