Rory Ewins's Pacific Islands Politics

The Papua New Guinea Constitution: Australia’s Role in its Development, 1960-75

Rory Ewins

An honours essay written in 1990. Previously unpublished, and slightly edited here.

An Imposed Political System?

Rabbie Namiliu, Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea [in 1990], and Paias Wingti, his predecessor, both came to power during a term of parliament, rather than at the time of an election. They were able to do so because section 145 of Papua New Guinea’s Constitution allows the parliament to move a motion of no confidence in a Prime Minister without going to an election, provided it nominates a replacement Prime Minister. This feature, peculiar to Papua New Guinea’s system of government, is one of many which have prompted observers to brand the system “unstable”. Brian Brogan has labelled the set-up “a recipe for disaster,” and has attributed a large amount of the blame to Papua New Guinea’s “admirably idealistic constitution that was bequeathed by an army of young Australian legal scholars.”1

Such accusations raise questions about Australia’s past role in Papua New Guinea. Just how responsible is Australia for the political uncertainty brought about by Papua New Guinea’s constitution? Did Australia foist an unsuitable constitution on its former territory? Exactly what part did Australia play in its creation?

The answers are tied up in the history of Papua New Guinea’s move towards independence from 1960 to 1975. Surprisingly, Australia had little to do directly with the constitution’s construction. If anything, it may have put too much pressure on those Papua New Guineans who were creating it by rushing them towards independence. It was their insistence on more time that set the date of independence as late as 16 September 1975, rather than Australia’s preferred deadline of twelve or more months earlier.

Early Developments

Australia was not always eager to grant Papua New Guinea its independence. From the end of World War II to the late 1950s, the future of the territory—actually two territories, the Australian colony of Papua and the United Nations (UN) Trust Territory of New Guinea, fused in 19492—appeared to lie firmly with Australia. In 1951 the Minister for Territories, Paul Hasluck, said self-government was perhaps a century off,3 and as late as 1958 he was still referring to Australian policy towards the territory “in the next 30 years.”4 The Australian public, for its part, had little interest in Papua New Guinea5—although it is likely that, as the “last line of defence” against perceived communist expansion, “under the apparent indifference of Australians to the political future ... of Papua-New Guinea lay a deep concern about Australia’s security.”6

Security concerns contributed to changing Australian government attitudes to the region in the early 1960s. Indonesia’s President Sukarno posed a potential military threat, appeased by Australian support for his claim to Dutch New Guinea (West Irian)7. Also of concern was international criticism of Australia’s “procrastination” in Papua New Guinea—criticism which came not only from Africa, Asia and the Communist bloc, but from Britain, Canada and the U.S.8 The wave of decolonisation which was peaking in the early ’60s affected even that staunchest defender of Empire, Prime Minister Robert Menzies, who in June 1960 said:

Whereas at one time many of us might have thought that it was better to go slowly in granting independence so that all the conditions existed for a wise exercise of self-government, I think the prevailing school of thought today is that if in doubt you should go sooner, not later. I belong to that school of thought myself now, though I didn’t once.9

However, this awakening to the need for change in Papua New Guinea was accompanied by little constitutional development. 1960 did see modifications to the territory’s Legislative Council (inaugurated in 1951). But of the 37 members of the Council (up from 29), only 6 were indigenous (up from 3)—yet they were representing 98 percent of the population.10 Most power rested with the Administration (the public service), which was largely independent of the legislature; it was only effectively controlled by the Australian Department of External Territories.11

Australia’s goals in Papua New Guinea in the 1960s were “based on the belief that economic development not only should, but would, come before political development.”12 Whether this development was successful or not is another question, but it is worth noting the words of Father John Momis, a radical parliamentarian, just prior to independence: “In the past decade 70 per cent of the increase in wealth went to expatriates and only 30 per cent to Papua New Guineans. Yet expatriates account for only 2 per cent of the population.”13

Australia’s attitudes in the 1960s towards political change in Papua New Guinea were an uneasy mix of recognition of some need for change and resistance to too-rapid change. Australians were still uncertain what to do with the colony. No better example of this uncertainty can be shown than the proposal for making Papua New Guinea a seventh Australian state, an option favoured by some expatriates in the territory.14 It was not laid to rest until 1967, when the Minister for Territories, Charles Barnes, announced he did not see statehood as a “practicable possibility.” Ted Wolfers has speculated that perhaps Barnes realised that Papua New Guinea statehood

would create an enormous problem for the ... colour-conscious Australia to face. The admission of New Guinea as a first class state ... would mean unlimited migration into Australia of a brown, primitive people constitutionally eligible for every social service ... and equality of suffrage.15

Neither would it satisfy Australia’s critics in the UN, being “too suggestive of neo-imperialism.”16

Criticism of the territory’s undemocratic Legislative Council, and the report of a UN mission in 1962 which recommended rapid change, did lead to reform of the legislature. The Council was abolished in 1963-64, and in its place was put a House of Assembly with 64 members (44 coming from electorates open to candidates of all races).17 The House was expanded in 1968, and again in 1972. But its powers were still limited; during the ’60s the Australian Government

exercised its power of veto on several occasions, though use of veto became less common. Policy more usually originated in Canberra than in Port Moresby.18

Although these changes did represent some constitutional development, the House of Assembly was mainly seen as a training ground for politicians.19 There was still no timetable for self-government or independence. Minister Charles Barnes was happy to leave the question open, saying the pace of political change should be determined by Papua New Guineans.20 The members of the House of Assembly themselves were “in no hurry for independence and were, by and large, happy to consent to the guidance of the Australian dominated administration.”21

Impetus for Change

But the complacency of the 1960s was not to last long. On the Australian domestic front, calls for change were coming from the increasingly influential Australian Labor Party. As early as 1960, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Gough Whitlam, was calling for independence to be granted by 1970. That these calls went unnoticed was “a measure of Australia’s lack of interest in New Guinea.”22 When Whitlam repeated his call in 1965, however, it was noticed, with a poll showing 30 percent of Australians favouring speedy independence and 49 percent favouring delay (the latter centring their answers at about ten years).23 Independence was no longer seen as a far-off event, except by Charles Barnes, who in April 1968 estimated that independence was still twenty to thirty years off.24

Whitlam’s greatest step promoting change in Papua New Guinea came in 1970. The close 1969 Australian election result “convinced him of the certainty of a Labor victory in 1972.”25 Rather than keeping the issue out of the public debate and “wasting another three years before Australians could be brought to face realities,”26 Whitlam placed Papua New Guinea on the political agenda with a widely-publicised tour of the territory in January 1970.

By then, the Australian government was already having doubts about Papua New Guinea. Events in the territory were demonstrating the difficulties involved in its governing. In 1968 there were signs of secessionism on Bougainville Island in the east. Resentment had built up among islanders, “partly at the general rate of development in the area, and, perhaps most forcefully, over Conzinc Riotinto’s copper exploration and potential mining activities in southern Bougainville.”27

Bougainvilleans considered themselves a distinct ethnic group, and wanted to determine themselves how their land was to be used. They felt “helplessness and outrage in the face of a large mining operation.”28 In September 1968 a group of prominent Bougainvilleans demanded a referendum by 1970 to determine the island’s future.29 The following year the general discontent led to a confrontation between villagers and police in southern Bougainville.30

An unpopular administration policy to enforce the establishment of multiracial councils also led to unrest during 1969, in the Gazelle Peninsula of the large island of New Britain. The local Tolai people opposed the policy, seeing it as reinforcing white dominance, and formed the Mataungan Association, a co-operative society to collect taxes and run their own affairs.31 Clashes with police followed.

This use of police by the Administration to enforce its rule disturbed many Australian politicians. It seemed to damage the “selfimage of a country that had long considered itself to have trusteeship obligations rather than colonial possessions.”32 When they also considered the increasing cost of economic aid to Papua New Guinea, and the potential damage to Australia’s international standing, “neither side in the Australian parliament was prepared to meet the costs that the long-term maintenance of Australian rule would have required.”33

Canberra’s attitudes were shifting. In this atmosphere Gough Whitlam’s visit to Papua New Guinea was a catalyst for change. It was seen at the time as “undoubtedly the most significant event ... during the period.”34 In fact, Whitlam’s public statements during the tour merely restated his previous goals for early independence, with the date now set to, at the latest, 1976. But his new status as a potential Prime Minister “gave new force to everything he said and did.”35

Expatriates accused Whitlam of being “detached from reality ... ‘to suggest that Papua New Guinea will be ready for independence by 1976 is like saying that the moon will be ready for mass population in the same year.’”36 They were also angry at being ignored by the Leader of the Opposition. Rather than talking to the expatriate community, Whitlam talked to Papua New Guinea’s emerging indigenous leaders. He even addressed a heated rally of 11,000 in New Britain on the need for peaceful change—which led Prime Minister John Gorton (in his first statement on Papua New Guinea affairs) to accuse him of provoking violence.37

The attention Whitlam paid to Papua New Guinean politics and politicians had an important impact on the development of political parties in the territory—especially the small, recently established Pangu Pati. Pangu’s aims of self-government and independence had previously been seen as unrealistic. Now, with Australian opinion shifting towards independence, they gained a new importance: “Whitlam placed Pangu on the wave of the future.” By the same token, he shook Pangu’s conservative opponents out of their complacency, which led to their formation of the United Party, a party dedicated to gradual change.38

There were plenty of opponents of self-government and independence amongst Papua New Guineans. In 1968, The Australian pointed out in an editorial that “the notion of independence is anathema to most New Guineans at this stage, because it is equated with Australian desertion.”39 The idea that Australians would take their money with them if they left was widespread, and pro-independence politicians had a hard time explaining it wasn’t accurate.40 This was especially the case in the Western Highlands, the most recently-colonised region, where the population was strongly against self-government, and remained so even after the exact date for self-government was set. As late as mid-1972, two parliamentarians at a public meeting in the highlands were told by a local councillor that if they voted for self-government “we will kill you and cut you into pieces and throw you into the river”.41 There were suspicions that expatriates were encouraging this general discontent. The ALP accused the Administration of “exploiting the grievances of the highlanders to hold at bay the requests of what might be called the coastal intellectuals.”42

Once self-government had become a serious issue, however, there was no turning back. Constitutional development became “a much discussed theme in the Territory’s political circles.”43 Prime Minister Gorton made a trip to the territory in July 1970 to outline Australia’s objective of a gradual advancement to self-government—“not too late, not too soon”—warning that a “Biafran situation” could develop if Australia withdrew too quickly. His statements indicated that

there [was] no alternative to full internal self-government at the earliest practicable date ... [and] demonstrated Australia’s strong support for retention of all the present units of the Territory within an eventually independent state, under a Westminster style of government.44

By the time Whitlam returned to Papua New Guinea in January 1971, he could clearly see a new public awareness of the inevitability of self-government. He stated at the time:

In the past year the political climate of Papua New Guinea has been transformed. A year ago proposals for early self-government were met with official hostility and public dismay. ... Now the most significant leaders of Papua New Guinea and significant sections of the population accept that they must shortly come to terms with their own future as a self-governing nation.45

Towards Independence and a Constitution

In 1969 the House of Assembly had set up a Select Committee on Constitutional Development, not “to try to achieve self-government or independence,” but rather to “find out the thoughts of all people in the country.”46 To this end the Committee made a series of tours around the territory in April and May of 1970, and then, dividing into two groups, visited recently-independent countries in the Pacific, Africa, and Asia to study their experiences.47

The Committee’s final report was presented to the House early in 1971; it recommended expansion of the House of Assembly, and gave a timetable for self-government. Although the Committee found that “the majority of the people ... feel that internal self government should come about no sooner than during the life of the 1976-1980 House of Assembly,” it recommended that “programmes ... [be] developed now with the view that the Territory may become internally self-governing during the life of the 1972-1976 House,”48 mainly so that Papua New Guinea would be ready if Australia forced it to early independence.

Charles Barnes took this a step further in April 1971 by announcing that the Australian government expected a cohesive ministry group to emerge in the 1972 House of Assembly elections, and would negotiate with its leader “for the handing over of further authority step by step as he felt in a position ... to accept further responsibility.”49 The ALP, for its part, had declared that when in government it would “not be blackmailed into accepting an unnatural role as rulers for those who have had no say and can have no say in electing us.”50

Thus, for the first time, real constitutional progress was set to commence. Some debate had already occurred about possible systems of government. Most non-New Guineans saw a federal model as too expensive and divisive, “giving fodder to secessionist movements.”51 New Guineans seem to have agreed, with the Select Committee having found that “the majority of people supported a single central government, provided genuine authority and autonomy were given to the districts.”52 A unitary Westminster-based system, being the most familiar, was generally accepted as the likely model, but others were considered. One observer noted, perhaps wryly, that “interest in the US Presidential alternative has focussed on the opportunity which it offers to appoint ministers who have not won election to the House of Assembly.”53 On the whole, though, those advocating alternative systems at this early stage received little publicity.54

The first significant changes came at the beginning of 1972—not in the structure of government, but in the cast of key players. Charles Barnes retired, and was replaced as Minister for External Territories by a younger, more progressive minister, Andrew Peacock. Then, in February and March, Papua New Guinea’s House of Assembly elections resulted in a coalition majority group being formed, with Pangu’s leader, Michael Somare, at its head.55

With a solid governing group and a large opposition party (the United Party, with 42 of the 104 members), the House of Assembly became a workable parliament, and the Australian government, “for most practical purposes, ... treated [Papua New Guinea] as an independent country and the Somare cabinet as its government.”56 For its part, the Somare cabinet started to act like a real government, much to the shock of public servants in Port Moresby and Canberra (who until then had been solely responsible for policy).57

Peacock and Somare got on well, and were in general agreement about the pace of change and the changes needed. Somare’s government promptly created “a series of committees to advise it on the desired form of change.” The most prominent and important of these was set up during the June 1972 meeting of the House of Assembly, and its members were appointed in September. This was the Constitutional Planning Committee (CPC).58

Peacock had advised against such a committee, fearing it would get out of Somare’s control. Somare went ahead anyway. He failed, however, in his bid to have a Department of External Territories officer attached to the CPC as an adviser: “Peacock, who did not wish even the appearance of official Australian involvement in the committee’s work, refused to release [him].” In the end, three advisers were appointed, with a fourth added in 1973. Only one was an Australian—Dr Ted Wolfers—and he had lived in Port Moresby for some years.59

The CPC was charged with developing a “home grown” constitution. It was to be truly independent, both of Somare’s government and Australia:

the CPC has almost complete freedom of action and for the first time decisions affecting the constitutional future of the country are to be made in the country and by its politicians.60

It was also seen by the Somare government as a useful way of slowing down the transfer of power “by insisting on critical examination of each proposal.” Several ministers were already expressing alarm at “the pace at which they were acquiring power and at the confusion over exactly which areas they had final responsibility.”61

With the mechanisms for change in place, Somare announced on 27 June that “the view of my government is that self-government should not occur before 1 December 1973, but that it should come as soon as possible after that.” In effect, 1 December 1973 was the date set.62 Almost immediately Somare had to travel to the highlands to soothe angry opponents of self-government; fortunately, the ability to defuse difficult situations is one of Somare’s strengths, and he met with little opposition.63

In August, Somare met Peacock at a constitutional conference in Port Moresby, to decide what powers would be handed over, and when. That “the mother country came to the colony” perhaps indicated which side was “keener to see quick progress.” But neither did Somare leave observers in doubt about his eagerness for change:

Self-government is coming and we want it as soon as it is practicable. ... If the hand-over is too long delayed ... the present climate of goodwill between ourselves and Australia could rapidly change under pressures of frustration.64

Somare was not to be disappointed. In December 1972 the Liberal Party lost government in Australia, and a government keen to see rapid progress in Papua New Guinea was replaced by one that would accept nothing less than rapid progress. Whitlam restated his party’s (and now his government’s) commitment to self-government and independence in Papua New Guinea, “not just because it is Australia’s obligation to the UN but because we believe it wrong and unnatural that a nation like Australia should continue to run a colony.”65

Early in 1973, Prime Minister Whitlam and the Minister for External Territories W. L. Morrison set 1974 as the target for independence, saying that it would be a natural “flow-on” from self-government. This drew criticisms from some Papua New Guineans similar to those aimed at early self-government—that Papua New Guinea was “not ready for it,” that it was a “threat to stability and unity.” In the face of these criticisms Somare, in the middle of “a politically difficult tour of Bougainville,” asked Whitlam to modify his stance. Whitlam reaffirmed the 1974 target but conceded that “the timing for independence would be subject to consultation with the Papua New Guinea government.”66

The Australian government’s pressing of the pace of change led to resentment in the CPC. Many in the Committee felt their decisions were being pre-empted. When, in April 1973, Somare and Morrison announced they’d had talks to review the self-government process and consider which powers to transfer next, the outspoken Deputy Chairman of the CPC, Father John Momis, released a resolution in which the CPC condemned

The continuing colonialist attitude of the Australian government towards the constitutional development of Papua New Guinea—in particular its interference with the work of the committee ... [and] the willingness of officials in the Office of the Chief Minister to actively collaborate in advancing this Australian policy.67

The resolution was an unfair representation of the situation (Momis had even been invited to the talks, but had declined the invitation), but it did lead to an improvement in communications between Somare’s government and the CPC. It also led to an agreement between the CPC, Somare’s government, and Australia on a timetable for independence which would see the CPC’s final report tabled in February 1974, and independence in about September 1974.68 The Australian government treated Papua New Guinea politics more delicately from then on. It was increasingly aware that “too much Australian pressure upon the National Coalition Government could weaken its position very seriously indeed.”69 A change of government in Port Moresby would have reduced the prospects for a smooth and speedy transition to independence.

The CPC and Constitutional Debate

The CPC had been told to develop a “home-grown constitution.” It pursued this goal enthusiastically, undertaking “a process of consultation with the masses of people unparalleled in comparative constitutional history.”70

From the start, the CPC saw wide public consultation as vital for building a legitimate constitution. It received 2000 written submissions. Five hundred discussion groups, each of about twenty people, were set up throughout the territory. Papers and questionnaires were widely distributed, and the CPC’s activities were publicised in English, Pidgin, and Motu. In late 1973 the CPC toured the territory in two groups, holding 110 public meetings attended by 60 000 people. One observer visiting remote areas in 1973 found “a surprising awareness among village people of what was happening.”71

Self-government arrived on 1 December 1973, and with it “Australia’s only remaining powers related to the courts of law, the House of Assembly, electoral affairs and foreign affairs and defence.”72 It was really only a formal recognition of a situation which had existed for some time. The Somare government carried on much as it had done. The CPC, however, found itself swamped by the size of its task. On 28 February 1974,

Momis announced in the House that the committee would be unable to meet its deadline because ‘we have found the task too great and too important for the report to be rushed in order to meet the original date’. The House would have to wait until the April-May meeting before receiving the final report.73

Somare proposed becoming independent without a finished constitution, but, not surprisingly, failed to win parliamentary approval. All hope for early independence was lost when, in late March, the CPC’s recommendations went to cabinet, and discussion bogged down. The CPC and the government disagreed over a number of issues, primarily citizenship qualification, but also “the justification for a head of state, the powers of parliamentary committees, provincial government, guidelines for foreign investment, and the obligations of government leaders.” Independence was impossible in 1974. Somare had to say as much to eliminate a risk of being toppled in the House. Some members had changed their allegiances, which potentially gave the United Party the numbers to defeat Somare; but by careful manouevring Somare was able to retain his majority.74

In August 1974 the CPC’s report was tabled in the House. The report was a bold attempt to present a truly “Papua New Guinean” constitution, presenting a “general view of what Papua New Guinea had once been, and once again should be”—a traditionally egalitarian society, with “a natural willingness to share within the community, and a symbiotic relationship with the natural environment.”75 The government did not argue with its general principles. Instead, over eleven weeks of debate, it considered each chapter in turn, and moved that it be accepted, subject to government amendments. In this way, according to Don Woolford, the government “emasculated” the report:

the committee was committed to Papua New Guinea as an ideal and was prepared to take institutional risks to try and attain its ideal; the government preferred the safety of the status quo.76

Others were more generous in their assessment of the government’s actions. Anthony Clunies Ross saw the dispute as owing something to “the proprietal feeling of the CPC members that the text of their report was sacred and that not one jot or tittle should be tampered with.”77

The drafting of the constitution started in the new year. A date for independence still had not been set. Feeling frustration over the continual delays, the Whitlam government transferred full sovereign rights over defence and foreign relations to the territory in March 1975 ... “probably an unprecedented development in colonial history, [and one which] indicated the degree of exasperation being felt in Canberra.”78

Finally, mounting pressure from secessionist movements in Bougainville and Papua forced the issue. The final debate on the draft constitution began in May. Two more surprising changes were made by the government: the Queen was adopted as Head of State (supposedly to provide post-independence stability and continuity); and an entire section detailing a system of provincial governments was scrapped after twenty minutes of debate in the House. By the end of June, Somare had announced the independence day to be 16 September;79 and finally, on 17 August,

the constitution was formally rushed through, with Mr Olewale gagging the debate. ... When the final vote was taken only 19 members were there and, although alerted to the fact that there was no quorum, the Speaker went ahead.80

Australia quickly passed the necessary legislation for independence, and Papua New Guinea became an independent state on Tuesday 16 September 1975.

A Home-Grown Constitution

In the end, then, Australian pressure for early independence did lead to some rushed debate over the constitution. However, it is likely that any Papua New Guinea government would have modified the radical constitution proposed by the CPC. After all, “it is a rare government that will agree to a dilution of its own power,”81 which is effectively what the CPC had proposed.

The evidence points to the absence of direct Australian involvement in the constitution’s creation. There was certainly no Australian government involvement; as for individuals, there was, as has been mentioned, only one Australian involved with the CPC. Any Australian influence on the shape of Papua New Guinea’s constitution was indirect—some parts of the Constitution may have ended up differently had the CPC and the Somare government been given more time to consider them.

Despite Australia’s dictation of the time-frame for constitutional development in the three years before independence, the debate over the form it would take was carried out by Papua New Guineans. The resulting document, while it differs from the CPC’s recommended version, is still a unique combination of influences:

It is quite apparent that the models from which parts of the Constitution are drawn are not confined to Australia or the United Kingdom, or even from former British colonies in Africa... 82 adapts, changes and builds on the [Westminster] model, so that the Constitution of Papua New Guinea is autochthonous in the true sense, and is also a novel statement of political ideology and aspirations of a people—so far as they could be ascertained.83

The Constitution sets up a unicameral parliament, with special rules for fixing election dates and votes of no confidence. It contains a statement of “National Goals and Directive Principles,” an outline of Basic Rights, a Leadership Code, and a detailed description of the system of government. In many ways it is more complete than Australia’s constitution, and certainly more flexible. In fact, many objections concerning Papua New Guinea’s system of government could easily be met under its constitution. Its first-past-the-post electoral system could be changed by a simple act of the National Parliament.

Australia, in procrastinating on deciding the territory’s future, did Papua New Guinea a great disservice. By delaying the task of real constitutional development until the last tolerable moment, “the constitutional changes of 20 years effectively [were] compressed into less than two.” Even the modest goal of training political leaders was not achieved—only three members of the 1972 coalition government had any experience of executive government.84 Given Australia’s long-standing lack of interest in the territory, it is remarkable that Papua New Guinea came to independence as early as 1975, and that it did so with a truly home-grown constitution.


Selected Bibliography

Aitkin, Don, and Wolfers, Edward P. “Australian Attitudes Towards the Papua New Guinea Area Since World War II.” Australian Outlook 27 (August 1973): 202-14.

“Australian Political Chronicle.” The Australian Journal of Politics and History, August 1967–April 1976.

Camilleri, J. “‘Internal Conflict in an Independent Papua New Guinea’: A Rejoinder.” Australian Outlook 28 (December 1974): 308-12.

The Constitution of the Independent State of Papua New Guinea.

Fraser, Helen. “No Faith—More Struggles. Why PNG’s Political System Must Be Stabilised.” Pacific Islands Monthly, September 1987, p. 33.

Freudenberg, Graham. A Certain Grandeur: Gough Whitlam in Politics. Rev. ed. Ringwood, Vic.: Penguin Books, 1987.

Goldring, John. The Constitution of Papua New Guinea: A Study in Legal Nationalism. Sydney: The Law Book Company Limited, 1978.

Griffin, James. “Papua New Guinea.” In Australia in World Affairs 1971-75, pp. 347-70. Edited by W. J. Hudson. Sydney: George Allen & Unwin, 1980.

Grosart, Ian. “Making Decisions in New Guinea.” Australian Outlook 24 (December 1970): 277-95.

Miller, J. D. B. “Papua New Guinea in World Politics.” Australian Outlook 27 (August 1973): 191-201.

Nelson, Hank. “Picking Up Australia’s Burden.” Pacific Islands Monthly, September 1985, p. 23.

Pettit, David, and Hall, Anne. “Papua New Guinea: A Brief Background.” In Selected Readings in Australian Foreign Policy, pp. 173-77. 3rd ed. Edited by D. Pettit and A. Hall. Malvern, Vic.: Sorret Publishing, 1978.

Premdas, Ralph R. “Secessionist Politics in Papua New Guinea.” Pacific Affairs 50 (Spring 1977): 64-85.

Ross, Anthony Clunies. “Papua-New Guinea: Severing the Cord?” Dissent 32 (Spring 1975): 11-17.

Smith, Hugh. “Internal Conflict in an Independent Papua New Guinea: Problems of Australian Involvement.” Australian Outlook 28 (August 1974): 160-67.

Tate, Merze. “Australia and Self-Determination for New Guinea.” The Australian Journal of Politics and History 17 (August 1971): 246-59.

Tate, Merze. “Recent Constitutional Developments in Papua and New Guinea.” Pacific Affairs 44 (Fall 1971): 421-27.

Todd, Ian. Papua New Guinea: Moment of Truth. Sydney: Angus & Robertson, 1974.

Whitlam, Gough. The Whitlam Government 1972-1975. Ringwood, Vic.: Penguin Books, 1985.

Wolfers, Edward P. “Papua New Guinea’s Politics and their Implications for Australia.” In Australia’s Northern Neighbours: Independent or Dependent? pp. 117-49. Edited by E. P. Wolfers. Melbourne: Nelson/Australian Institute of International Affairs, 1976.

Woolford, Don. Papua New Guinea: Initiation and Independence. St. Lucia, Qld.: University of Queensland Press, 1976.



1. Brian Brogan, quoted in Helen Fraser, “No Faith—More Struggles. Why PNG’s Political System Must Be Stabilised,” Pacific Islands Monthly, September 1987, p. 33.

2. Merze Tate, “Australia and Self-Determination for New Guinea,” The Australian Journal of Politics and History 17 (August 1971): 247. The name “Papua New Guinea”, later adopted for the independent nation, was often used in the early 1970s in place of the official designation of “Papua & New Guinea”, and is used here for simplicity’s sake.

3. Ibid., p. 249.

4. Paul Hasluck, quoted in Don Aitkin and Edward P. Wolfers, “Australian Attitudes Towards the Papua New Guinea Area Since World War II,” Australian Outlook 27 (August 1973): 206.

5. Ibid.

6. Graham Freudenberg, A Certain Grandeur: Gough Whitlam in Politics, Rev. ed. (Ringwood, Vic.: Penguin Books, 1987), p. 189.

7. Ian Todd, Papua New Guinea: Moment of Truth, (Sydney: Angus & Robertson, 1974), pp. 39-40.

8. Ibid., p. 39.

9. Aitkin and Wolfers, “Australian Attitudes,” p. 206.

10. Todd, Moment of Truth, pp. 37-38.

11. John Goldring, The Constitution of Papua New Guinea: A Study in Legal Nationalism, (Sydney: The Law Book Company Limited, 1978), p. 11.

12. Edward P. Wolfers, “Papua New Guinea’s Politics and their Implications for Australia,” in Australia’s Northern Neighbours: Independent or Dependent? ed. E. P. Wolfers (Melbourne: Nelson/Australian Institute of International Affairs, 1976), p. 118.

13. Father John Momis, quoted in J. Camilleri, “‘Internal Conflict in an Independent Papua New Guinea’: A Rejoinder,” Australian Outlook 28 (December 1974): 309-10.

14. Goldring, The Constitution of PNG, p. 13.

15. Tate, “Self-Determination,” p. 253.

16. Ibid., p. 254.

17. Todd, Moment of Truth, p. 40.

18. Goldring, The Constitution of PNG, p. 9.

19. Ibid., p. 11.

20. Wolfers, “PNG’s Politics,” p. 119.

21. David Pettit and Anne Hall, “Papua New Guinea: A Brief Background,” in Selected Readings in Australian Foreign Policy, 3rd ed., ed. D. Pettit and A. Hall (Malvern, Vic.: Sorret Publishing, 1978), p. 174.

22. Freudenberg, A Certain Grandeur, p. 193.

23. Aitkin and Wolfers, “Australian Attitudes,” p. 207.

24. “Australian Political Chronicle,” The Australian Journal of Politics and History 14 (August 1968): 271.

25. Freudenberg, A Certain Grandeur, p. 189.

26. Ibid.

27. “Australian Political Chronicle,” The Australian Journal of Politics and History 15 (April 1969): 112.

28. Edward P. Wolfers, quoted in Pettit and Hall, “A Brief Background,” p. 174.

29. “Australian Political Chronicle,” (April 1969): 113.

30. Pettit and Hall, “A Brief Background,” p. 174.

31. Freudenberg, A Certain Grandeur, p. 195.

32. Wolfers, “PNG’s Politics,” p. 124.

33. Ibid.

34. “Australian Political Chronicle January-April, 1970,” The Australian Journal of Politics and History 16 (August 1970): 262.

35. Freudenberg, A Certain Grandeur, p. 193.

36. Letter in the Post-Courier, quoted in “Australian Political Chronicle,” (August 1970): 262.

37. Whitlam, The Whitlam Government, p. 88.

38. Freudenberg, A Certain Grandeur, p. 194.

39. Quoted in “Australian Political Chronicle,” The Australian Journal of Politics and History 14 (December 1968): 443.

40. “Australian Political Chronicle,” (August 1970): 262.

41. Quoted in Don Woolford, Papua New Guinea: Initiation and Independence, (St. Lucia, Qld.: University of Queensland Press, 1976), p. 140.

42. Kim E. Beazley, quoted in “Australian Political Chronicle,” The Australian Journal of Politics and History 15 (December 1969): 122.

43. “Australian Political Chronicle,” The Australian Journal of Politics and History 16 (December 1970): 430.

44. Tate, “Self-Determination,” p. 256.

45. Whitlam, The Whitlam Government, pp. 90-91.

46. “Australian Political Chronicle,” (December 1969): 122.

47. Tate, “Self-Determination,” p. 255.

48. Quoted in Aitkin and Wolfers, “Australian Attitudes,” p. 209.

49. Ibid.

50. Gough Whitlam, quoted in Wolfers, “PNG’s Politics,” p. 122.

51. Ikenna Nwokolo, quoted in “Australian Political Chronicle,” (December 1970): 430.

52. Merze Tate, “Recent Constitutional Developments in Papua and New Guinea,” Pacific Affairs 44 (Fall 1971): 424-25.

53. Ian Grosart, “Making Decisions in New Guinea,” Australian Outlook 24 (December 1970): 281.

54. Goldring, The Constitution of PNG, p. 15.

55. Aitkins and Wolfers, “Australian Attitudes,” p. 210.

56. Anthony Clunies Ross, “Papua-New Guinea: Severing the Cord?” Dissent 32 (Spring 1975): 12.

57. Goldring, The Constitution of PNG, p. 20.

58. Woolford, Initiation, p. 138.

59. Ibid., pp. 158-59.

60. “Australian Political Chronicle,” The Australian Journal of Politics and History 19 (April 1973): 106.

61. Ibid.

62. Woolford, Initiation, p. 139.

63. Ibid., p. 140.

64. Ibid., pp. 140-41.

65. Whitlam, The Whitlam Government, p. 93.

66. “Australian Political Chronicle,” The Australian Journal of Politics and History 19 (August 1973): 290-91.

67. Ibid., pp. 292-93.

68. Woolford, Initiation, p. 166.

69. Wolfers, “PNG’s Politics,” p. 129.

70. Goldring, The Constitution of PNG, p. 15.

71. Ibid., pp. 21-22.

72. Whitlam, The Whitlam Government, p. 98.

73. Woolford, Initiation, p. 168.

74. Ibid., pp. 168-71.

75. Ibid., p. 173.

76. Ibid., p. 181.

77. Ross, “Severing the Cord,” p. 14.

78. James Griffin, “Papua New Guinea,” in Australia in World Affairs 1971-75, ed. W. J. Hudson (Sydney: George Allen & Unwin, 1980), p. 369.

79. Woolford, Initiation, pp. 178-179.

80. Griffin, “PNG,” p. 369.

81. Woolford, Initiation, p. 182.

82. Goldring, The Constitution of PNG, p. 22.

83. Ibid., p. 15.

84. Hank Nelson, “Picking Up Australia’s Burden,” Pacific Islands Monthly, September 1985, p. 24.


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