Media release from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

6 December 2006

Publication Commemorates the 30th Anniversary of Papua New Guinea’s Independence

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade today launched a historical publication commemorating the 30th anniversary of Papua New Guinea’s independence. Australia and Papua New Guinea 1966–1969 is part of the prestigious series Documents on Australian Foreign Policy and is the first of two volumes that will trace Australia’s decolonisation of Papua New Guinea from the mid-1960s up to 1975.

The book contains previously classified documents that have been extracted from the files of many existing and former government departments including Territories, Foreign Affairs, Defence and Prime Minister and Cabinet. They tell the story of how Australian governments of the 1960s tried to maintain a slow pace of political change in PNG while accelerating economic development.

The book also documents an increasingly vigorous internal debate on whether to hasten the tempo of political change in view of growing social strains in Papua New Guinea.  Highlights of the volume cover Canberra’s reaction to Papua New Guinean interest in joining the Australian federation; the genesis of the Bougainville problem; conflict with a quasi-nationalist movement in the Rabaul area; early analyses of PNG’s unique parliamentary politics; fears of a break down of law and order in Port Moresby; and the formulation of a massive five-year plan for economic growth.

The book will be available from the market information officer in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (02 6261 3114) or online at www.dfat.gov.au/publications.

Media Inquiries:  DFAT Media Liaison on 02 6261 1555