As Papua New Guinea moves closer to full independence from Australia later this year the country's Chief Minister, Mr.
As Papua New Guinea moves closer to full independence from Australia later this year the country's Chief Minister, Mr. Michael Somare, has been visiting the eastern Highlands to rally support form conservative Highlanders for national sovereignty.
Timing his visit to coincide with the colourful Goroka Highland Show, one of the few occasions when the Highland tribes are assembled together, Mr. Somare told the Tribesmen that national economic prospects were favourable to immediate independence.
Mr. Somare said, Papua New Guinea has many natural mineral resources and it was only a matter of hard work to achieve economic prosperity. He also promise to curb inflation, currently running at about six per cent.
However, he warned them independence was not a panacea for the country's problems. But it was better, eh said, for the P.N.G. Government to make mistake and learn from them, than to have the country ruled form Canberra.
SYNOPSIS: Papua New Guinea's slow political and economic development in it's year under Australian tutelage was hastened in 1972 with the election of the Labour Government, committed to giving the embryonic national full independence as soon as possible. Within months Mr. Somare, as head of the largest indigenous political party in the national assembly, was named Chief Minister with his administration responsible for all government decisions excluding defence and foreign affairs. However, with independence bow scheduled for this December many Highland leaders have expressed reservations for the future. Many tribesmen have little idea of political concepts and are not eager to enter a cash economy.
With dozens of difference tribes and literally hundreds of languages and local dialects Mr. Somare's government faces a formidable problem in welding Papua New Guinea into a viable nation. Only recently many of these tribesmen were head-hunting warriors and inter-tribal warfare is still not unknown.
But in his swing through the Highlands, Mr. Somare showed a judicious mixture of optimism and caution for the future. In meetings with local people he was met with a barrage of questions, mostly form younger people who have benefitted form increasing education opportunities. He assured them mineral resources would provide future prosperity but he warned against regarding independence as a national panacea. Papua New Guinea's modest six per cent inflation also came in for some criticism with Somare promising action to curb it.