A Trial Separation: Australia And the Decolonisation of by Donald Denoon

By Donald Denoon

Whilst it got here in September 1975, Papua New Guinea’s independence was once marked by way of either anxiousness and elation. within the euphoric aftermath, decolonisation was once declared a triumph and quick occasions looked as if it would justify that self belief. by means of the Nineties, even though, occasions had taken a flip for the more severe and there have been doubts concerning the means of the kingdom to operate. sooner than independence, Papua New Guinea was once an Australian Territory. accountability lay with a minister in Canberra and prone have been supplied by means of Commonwealth enterprises. In 1973, major Minister Gough Whitlam declared that independence could be completed inside years. whereas Australians have been united of their wish to decolonise, many Papua New Guineans have been frightened of independence. This superlative background provides the complete tale of the ‘trial separation’ of Australia and Papua New Guinea, concluding that — given the intertwined background, geography and economies of the 2 neighbours — the decolonisation undertaking of ‘independence’ continues to be a piece in development.

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67/3861, Assistant District Commissioner’s report to his Director, October 18, 1968. 40. 68/4999, Territory Intelligence Committee Paper 3/68, September 12, 1968. 41. Eugene Ogan, ‘Some Historical Background to the 1989 unrest in Bougainville’, seminar paper, Department of Political and Social Change, ANU, June 1989. 42. Ian Maddocks, ‘Udumu a-hagaia’ (Motu, meaning open your mouth), Inaugural Lecture, University of Papua New Guinea, 1968. 43. Sam Alasia, ‘Party Politics and Government in Solomon Islands’, Discussion Paper 1997/7, State, Society and Governance in Melanesia Project, ANU.

47 Political participation should be channelled through Local Government Councils, which must accept expert guidance. These scenarios allowed little initiative by the kiaps, and almost none by Papua New Guineans, who (as in Buka) were coopted into official structures or discouraged from expressing their views. Equally invisible to village people was a Legislative Council, inaugurated in 1951. Sixteen of its 28 members were officials, bound to support the Administrator’s proposals. Three others were appointed to represent the missions, another three to represent planters, three more for commerce, and three — Merari Dickson from Milne Bay, Aisoli Salin from the New Guinea Islands, and Pita Simogun from the New Guinea mainland — represented indigenous interests.

In some cases this fear is exacerbated by dislike, distrust or contempt, in others it is tempered by genuine respect and even liking. 44 Kiaps exercised control mainly by foot patrols. Their village visits were brief and they had to rely on Tok Pisin to communicate so they had limited insight into village affairs. A kiap relied on what he could see (pit latrines, swept courtyards, fenced-off pigs, tidy houses, records in the Village Book) and whatever village officials told him. Village officials (luluais in New Guinea, Village Constables in Papua) were government appointees who might — or might not — be Big Men with authority of their own.

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