By Donald Denoon
Whilst it got here in September 1975, Papua New Guinea’s independence used to be marked by means of either nervousness and elation. within the euphoric aftermath, decolonisation was once declared a triumph and rapid occasions appeared to justify that self belief. via the Nineteen Nineties, notwithstanding, occasions had taken a flip for the more serious and there have been doubts in regards to the means of the nation to operate. sooner than independence, Papua New Guinea was once an Australian Territory. accountability lay with a minister in Canberra and companies have been supplied by means of Commonwealth firms. In 1973, leading Minister Gough Whitlam declared that independence could be accomplished inside of years. whereas Australians have been united of their wish to decolonise, many Papua New Guineans have been anxious of independence. This superlative background offers the complete tale of the ‘trial separation’ of Australia and Papua New Guinea, concluding that — given the intertwined historical past, geography and economies of the 2 neighbours — the decolonisation venture of ‘independence’ remains to be a piece in development.
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Extra info for A Trial Separation: Australia And the Decolonisation of Papua New Guinea
Each district had a township as its headquarters. Indigenous people seldom ventured into these Australian enclaves, which were almost as baffling and menacing as the territory of other language groups. The officials whom people met most often were kiaps — field officers of the Department of District Administration and Native Affairs, from District Commissioners (DCs) to cadet Patrol Officers. Sam Alasia, in the nearby Solomon Islands, sums up the general experience of Melanesians. A visit by the DC provoked a flurry of anxious activity: The village was cleaned, pigs were fenced, cultural items were prepared for performances, elders, teachers and church leaders were invited.
And should progress be as swift as possible, or deliberate and slow? Present policy aimed at a sound rather than a swift result: It will need courage, skill and patience under insult to maintain that in the face of international pressure and segments of opinion among Australian ‘intellectuals’. I suggest we should still try to maintain it. Hasluck anticipated the need to double Australia’s grant in the next five years. Even so, the Administration would achieve much less than it should in land management and 28 A Trial Separation agriculture, health services and schools.
Shallow antagonism might be just the ticket. Chauka had surely been helpful; he was obviously intelligent, he had ‘sound ideas’ and he wanted progress for his people — but might he ‘go to extremes’? He was related to Paliau Maloat, the charismatic exserviceman whose independent spirit and ideas worried officials. Chauka got the nod but most kiaps favoured men whose attitudes were well known. All were in their prime, with more than average exposure to government and missions. They all owed their selection to the patronage of a DC.