Australian School of Pacific Administration

Australian School of Pacific Administration (ASOPA) was established in Sydney, New South Wales, in 1947, to provide training courses for Australians who had been selected to join the Australian Administration in Papua New Guinea, and in-service courses for those already employed. These courses were meant to familiarize prospective administrative officers with the history, institutions and culture of PNG and Australia’s colonial policy, and to provide further training for those who had completed an initial period of service in PNG. After 1969 PNGans participated in ASOPA courses.

Australian Territory of Papua (1906-1945)

Under the Papua Act, adopted by the Commonwealth of Australia in 1905 and brought into effect in 1906, Australia took over responsibility for British New Guinea and renamed it the Australian Territory of Papua. Hubert Murray, styled Lieutenant-Governor, was head of the Papuan colonial Administration from 1907 until his death in 1940. In July 1945, after the Japanese had been driven out, the Australian government passed the Papua New Guinea Provisional Administration Act under which Papua and New Guinea were administered as a single territory.

From 1907 to 1918 Murray followed policies which he hoped would attract European settlers to develop copra, rubber and sugar plantations. Under the Papua Act, and the Land Ordinances of 1906, land could be leased cheaply for 99 years and rent was not required for the first ten years. When these policies were unsuccessful Murray reverted to the policy which had been adopted by the British of trying to protect the land and labor rights of the people against gross exploitation. There was little alienation of land to white settlers and, compared with the Mandated Territory of New Guinea, close control of labor conditions. Murray’s paternalistic and relatively liberal land and labor policies were opposed by most expatriates who held him responsible for their not being able to make vast profits.

Murray extended Administration influence in the colony through extensive exploration by white patrol officers and the Armed Native Constabulary. By 1939 he believed, incorrectly, that the whole of Papua had been explored. By 1940 the Administration had established a permanent presence, by force if necessary, in key parts of the colony.

Western health services were scarce but the continuation of the relatively effective quarantine system established by MacGregor prevented the entry of some serious diseases. All Western-style education was left to the missions, partly subsidized by the Administration. There were very few employment opportunities for educated Papuans. Most Australians did not believe that Papuans were capable of anything other than manual labor and were reluctant to train them for other employment. Some were employed as domestic servants or as boats’ crews, a few were trained in clerical work or in manual trades such as carpentry and some became missionary assistants. Others were recruited as police. The police (Armed Native Constabulary) often acted as guides and interpreters to European patrol officers and were attached to Administration stations. Papuans also worked as indentured laborers for planters and gold miners under conditions set down in the Native Labour Ordinance of 1907. The work was hard, hours long, and housing and food poor, but men were prepared to suffer hardship to earn cash with which to buy European goods.

Murray thought more highly of Papuans than did most resident Australians but his Administration passed discriminatory legislation and maintained a system of racial segregation. The movement of Papuans in towns was restricted. They were excluded from ”European” areas and required to observe night curfews. Despite Australian racism and the exploitation of Papuan labor there was no organized opposition to Australian rule. In 1942, when the Japanese invaded, Australia was able to rely on the support of many Papuans, including the police.

Australian Territory of Papua and New Guinea (1945-1975)

In 1945, after the passage of the Papua New Guinea Provisional Administration Act, Australia administered Papua and New Guinea as one territory. The new administrative arrangment was agreed to by the United Nations. Australia’s “New Deal” abolished indentured labor, created a public service and accelerated PNG’s move into the modern economy. Local Government Councils were introduced in 1949, a Legislative Council in 1951 and a House of Assembly in 1964. Copra and cocoa produced on expatriate plantations were the main products of the islands and lowlands. Administration officials, missionaries and coffee growers moved into the highlands. In the 1950s highlanders began successful smallholder coffee growing enterprises. Thousands of highland men were moved to coastal plantations under the Highlands Labour Scheme. One effect of the rapid wartime and postwar economic and social change was a proliferation of cults and millenarian movements.

In the early 1960s the Australian government was under pressure from international agencies and groups within Australia to prepare PNG for independence. The report of the 1962 United Nations Mission led to an emphasis on economic planning and a rapid expansion of secondary and higher education to produce an educated elite to take over the management of the country at Independence. Race relations improved in the 1960s when racially discriminatory legislation was repealed. Coffee, copra and cocoa continued to be the major cash crops in the 1960s but the most important economic development was the establishment of the Bougainville Copper Ltd mining project.

Political parties emerged in the early 1970s. In 1973 Chief Minister Michael Somare, leader of the PANGU Pati, produced an Eight Point Plan designed to provide for greater economic and social equality. However, as these goals were not supported by the People’s Progress Party, PANGU’s coalition partner, the plan was not implemented. The Administration took over from the missions much of the responsibility for education and health services. Established churches expanded and fundamentalist sects came to the country. The early 1970s saw interesting developments in the creative arts. A Constitutional Planning Committee prepared a Constitution and the country moved rapidly towards Independence. Early self-government and Independence were opposed by highlanders who were afraid that an independent country would be dominated by lowlanders and islanders, and by expatriates who were concerned to protect their commercial interests.

At self-government, in December 1973, Australia handed over all powers except those concerned with foreign affairs, defense and the legal system. PNG took these remaining powers when it became completely independent in September 1975. By 1975 a significant number of PNGans had joined the modern economy and had been exposed to Western social and cultural influences. However, the great majority of the people lived outside the modern economy and retained many of their traditional customs.

Banking in Papua New Guinea

An Australian bank, the Bank of New South Wales, established branches in Port Moresby and Samarai, in Papua, in 1910. In 1916 the Commonwealth Bank of Australia opened a branch in Rabaul, New Guinea. The Bank of New South Wales moved into New Guinea in 1926. Both banks closed when the Japanese invaded the territories in 1942. When they resumed operation after the war they were joined by other Australian banks. All banks operated under Australian banking legislation and in 1960 the Australian government set up a branch of the Australian Reserve Bank in Port Moresby.

The first indigenous Papua New Guinea bank, the Papua New Guinea Development Bank, established by Territory legislation, with capital provided from the Territory budget, began operating in 1967. By 1970 an integrated banking system provided for trading, savings, development and central banking. The Bank of Papua New Guinea was set up in 1973 to take over central banking functions from the Reserve Bank of Australia. The largest of the banks, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, was wholly owned by the Australian government. In 1974 the Territory government set up the Papua New Guinea Banking Corporation (PNGBC) which took over the assets and operations of the Commonwealth Bank.

In 1993 commercial banks included the state-owned PNGBC, two Australian-owned banks (the Australia and New Zealand Banking Group and Westpac Bank), the Indosuez Niugini Bank and Niugini-Lloyds International Bank. In July 1993 the Bank of South Pacific became the first locally- and privately-owned bank when the National Bank of Australia sold its 87 percent holding to a PNG consortium.

Baptist Church in Papua New Guinea

The Australian Baptist Missionary Society came to Papua New Guinea as a member of the Evangelical Alliance which commenced educational work in the Territories in the 1950s. The 1980 census recorded 2.3 percent of the Christian population as Baptists. Baptists did not appear as a separate denomination in the 1990 census. However, in 1993 the Baptist Union, the largest of several Baptist groups, was a member of the Papua New Guinea Council of Churches. Other Baptist groups were members of the Evangelical Alliance.

Bird of Paradise

Bird of paradise plumes are often used as part of ceremonial dress. They were also much prized in Europe in the 19th century and traders and shooters came to PNG seeking bird of paradise skins. 38 of the 42 known species are found in PNG. Of these, 12 are found only in PNG. All species are protected. PNGans are allowed to hunt them using traditional weapons but their sale to foreigners is prohibited. The Raggiana bird of paradise appears on the national emblem and the national flag.

Bougainville Copper Limited

Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) is a subsidiary of Conzinc Riotinto Australia (CRA) which discovered a major copper deposit at Panguna. on Bougainville Island in the North Solomons, in 1964. In 1967 CRA signed an agreement with the Australian Administration to set up Bougainville Copper Mining Company. Some 53.6 percent of the shares were to be held by CRA, 26.4 percent by public shareholders and 20 percent by the Australian Administration on behalf of the colony of PNG. Mining operations began in 1969 and copper was first exported in 1972. In 1973 the Bougainville Mining Company was renamed Bougainville Copper Ltd (BCL).

Some Bougainvilleans opposed the project and others, particularly owners of the land which had been taken over by BCL, wanted more than the token compensation which they had been offered. In 1974 the BCL Agreement was renegotiated on what were, by world standards, terms very generous to PNG. However, many Bougainvilleans believed that they were being inadequately compensated.

Concern about the effect of mining on the physical and social environment, and resentment over inadequate compensation, led in 1979 to the establishment of the Panguna Landowners Association (PLA). BCL reluctantly responded by establishing a Road Mine Tailings Lease Trust Fund (RMTLTF) to review the situation. The dispute was complicated by the emergence of a younger, educated group of Bougainvilleans, whose members claimed that compensation to the landowners had been inequitably distributed and questioned the authority of the PLA. In 1987 this group formed the New Panguna Landowners Association (NPLA) which, in 1988, demanded K 10 billion compensation, many times the mine’s total gross earnings between 1972 and 1987. When BCL failed to meet this unrealistic claim, some members of the NPLA, led by Francis Ona, resorted to sabotage and terrorism and formed the Bougainville Revolutionary Army (BRA). BRA activities forced the closure of the mine in May 1989. In December BCL announced that the mine would remain closed indefinitely.

Between 1972 and 1989 BCL contributed K 1.17 billion (67 percent of the total BCL income of K 1. 175 billion) to the PNG economy. Of this amount, 61.5 percent went to the national government, 4.3 percent to the North Solomons provincial government, and 1.4 percent to those who had been recognized as owners of the land occupied by the mine. In 1989 BCL provided 30 percent of PNG export earnings, 11 percent of GDP and 15 percent of national government revenue.

Bougainville Rebellion

In April 1988 the New Panguna Landowners Association (NPLA) demanded K10 billion compensation from the Bougainville Copper Ltd (BCL) mining project on Bougainville island in North Solomons Province. This unrealistic claim was not met. In November 1988 the rebel Bougainville Revolutionary Army (BRA), the armed wing of the NPLA, led by Francis Ona, began a campaign of terrorism and sabotage of the mine. In March 1989 the national government sent troops to guard BCL installations and in April offered the landowners an increase in their share of royalties from 5 percent to 20 percent and considerable autonomy for the provincial government. The BRA refused to negotiate and disrupted attempts by moderates within the provincial government to resolve the issue.

In May BRA attacks forced the closure of the mine. In June the government declared a state of emergency and sent in a 2,000-strong force of soldiers and armed riot police. In December BCL announced that 2,000 of the remaining 2,300 staff would be made redundant in January 1990. The remaining 300 staff were evacuated in February 1990. Commercial activity came to a halt as public servants, private business managers, plantation managers and laborers also left. Fighting between the security forces and the BRA escalated and reliable reports indicate that atrocities were committed by both sides. The national government did not have complete control of the behavior and movements of its armed forces in the province. In March 1990 the government withdrew its forces and imposed an economic and communications blockade. In May 1990 the BRA announced that North Solomons Province had seceded from PNG and unilaterally declared an independent Republic of Meekamui (Sacred Island) with Francis Ona as interim President. The PNG government declared this action to be unconstitutional.

Negotiations in July and August 1990 failed. In September 1990 PNGDF troops returned to Buka, an island between Bougainville and New Britain and the largest island in the North Solomons apart from Bougainville. Negotiations between a BRA leader Joseph Kabui and PNG Foreign Minister Michael Somare in January 1991 collapsed. In April 1991 PNG troops made an unauthorized landing in north Bougainville. Talks scheduled for July were cancelled. During 1991 and 1992 the PNGDF gradually regained control over parts of the island. In April 1993 the BRA offered to meet government representatives on neutral ground. The talks did not eventuate. In October 1993 the government claimed that the PNGDF had advanced into the rebels’ remaining stronghold – the area immediately around the Panguna mine. By January 1994 the PNGDF had still not recaptured the mine but the PNG government claimed to control almost all of the island. During 1993 the government restored health, education, and transport services to many parts of the province under the auspices of “interim authorities”. In extending its control the government took responsibility for an estimated 30,000 refugees who moved from BRA areas into government care centers.

There has been a very considerable loss of revenue to the people of the North Solomons, and to the PNG government, resulting from the closure of the Panguna mine, and from loss of export income from cash crops (the North Solomons produced 45 percent of cocoa exports and 17 percent of copra exports). In addition, the North Solomons people have suffered from damage to food gardens. The number of people who have died in fighting or from lack of medical supplies is not known.

The Australian government has taken the position that the PNG government is the legitimate constitutional authority in North Solomons Province, that a satisfactory solution cannot be achieved by military means, and that a political settlement must be reached by the PNGans themselves. The BRA has a small but active group of supporters in Australia which has gained publicity by accusing the Australian government of supporting the PNGDF and the blockade which, it claims, is causing civilian deaths.

In September 1993 the PNG Foreign Minister, John Kaputin, announced that the government would allow independent observers into Bougainville, arrange for Red Cross representatives to return to the island and organize a conference of leaders of all parties to the conflict. This announcement was welcomed by Australia and Solomon Islands. An Amnesty International report released in November 1993 accused both the PNGDF and the BRA of human rights violations. The PNG government assured the Australian government that these allegations would be investigated.

Bride Price in Papua New Guinea

Bride price is the formalised gift-giving of money and traditional valuables to the father of a would-be bride. It might include shell money, cash, pigs and even SP Lager. Traditionally, the relatives of the bridegroom gave food, ornaments and other valuables, such as shell money, to the relatives of the bride. This practice is still widely, although not universally, observed. Today bride price is frequently paid in cash rather than goods. Both in the traditional and the modern economies the bride price represents considerable wealth. The term “bride price” is misleading as it suggests that the bride is simply being bought, when what is involved is a complex exchange between the bride-giving group and the bride-taking group.

British New Guinea (1884-1906)

In November 1884, in response to the German occupation of the northeast of the island of New Guinea and under pressure from their Australian colonies, the British established a Protectorate in the southeast. The Protectorate was under the control of Special Commissioners who were responsible to the British Colonial Office. The Special Commissioners attempted to prevent clashes between European traders and settlers and the local people, and impose Western law.

In September 1888 Britain formally annexed the Protectorate. The colonial governments in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria agreed to meet the financial costs of administering British New Guinea.

Dr William MacGregor was appointed to administer the Protectorate. He was an energetic and forceful man and much that he initiated was retained by later Australian Administrations. During the ten years of his Administration, MacGregor encouraged exploration and vigorously (and sometimes brutally) enforced white control over regions which had been subject to endemic tribal fighting. In this process, called “pacification”, the Administration used the Armed Native Constabulary. MacGregor established an administrative network which linked the Administration headquarters, in Port Moresby, with government posts in the islands and along the mainland coast. He appointed village constables who were expected to act as agents of the Administration. Gold mining was the colony’s most important economic activity but MacGregor found it difficult to control the activities of white miners as they moved from one alluvial field to another.

MacGregor did little to encourage white settlement, except for Christian missions, and was mainly successful in preventing the alienation of Papuan land. To prevent competition amongst the missions he arranged a conference, in 1890, at which the London Missionary Society (LMS), the Methodists, and the Anglicans divided the colony into spheres of influence. The Catholics, who had only one mission in Papua at the time, were not consulted, but the other missions were excluded from the area in which the Catholics were working. While MacGregor greatly extended and consolidated the white presence, most Papuans remained beyond the Administration’s control.

The three Administrators who succeeded MacGregor between 1898 and 1906 presided over a period of transition from British to Australian control. Gold mining expanded, and violence between Papuans and Administration patrol officers and police increased, but no major changes were made to MacGregor’s colonial policies. In 1906 Britain handed the colony over to the Commonwealth of Australia (the newly formed, self-governing, federation of British colonies), which renamed it the Territory of Papua.