20. My first hearing of the term ‘The New Guinea side’

Paul Quinlivan’s Snapshots

The Ela Beach Discussion Group did not let me get away with my simple statement that Murray Groves’ evidence was of inestimable value. There were 14 members present and several said, “Yes, but he criticises the New Guinea Side!”. This was the first time I had heard anyone talking about ‘sides’ but they pointed out that, at pages 587 and 588, Murray Groves said, “It is not proposed to discuss the ‘atmosphere’ of the New Guinea Court; this the writer is not qualified to do. But the ‘bare bones’ of the New Guinea court procedure have been familiar from the perusal of verbatim reports of proceedings (and)… scattered sentences from a ‘summing up’ of Mr Justice Phillips may illustrate the practice more clearly :-
“I propose to direct myself, first, as to the law relevant to the charge, and later, as to the evidence…”

“It is now necessary for me, as Judge, to direct myself next, as Jury, as to the evidence …”

“That is a question for the Jury to answer, bearing in mind …”

“That completes my summing up and, at this stage, had I been addressing a jury of good men and true, instead of directing myself, they would retire to the jury room… Whatever the jury’s decision might be, no reason would, or may, be publicly given for it. When a Judge is also the jury, however, he should, in my opinion, give (even though briefly) the reasons for his findings…” And from this Groves concluded that “prima facie, the New Guinea procedure would on the whole be less comprehensible to a Native…”

It is perfectly true that Monte wrote lengthy judgments and that they were filled with the precise words quoted by Groves. But each of those ‘scattered sentences’ was followed by a string of figures and letters which were never read because they were there for the typist if there was any appeal. The words quoted in the article were such that I could chant them with him because I heard them innumerable times and he, himself, said them without bothering to look at the page. My point is that, by looking at what is written, without understanding why it was written, one can get a totally wrong impression. Monte always gave a lengthy explanation to the Papua New Guineans in the court and that is why they flocked in, crowding every courthouse and leaning in through windows and, in one case, at Buin, crowding below the courthouse and listening through the floorboards.

His constant harping on the difference between this section of this ordinance and the other section of another ordinance was for a different section of his audience, the Europeans, and was to show that ‘near enough was not good enough’ and it was only the legislation which mattered, not any personal idea of the prosecutor or court. It was not until some years later, when I went into “Pen’s Book Store” in Little Collins Street in Melbourne, that I learnt why he did this. The owner, Mr Penhalurick, had been a Kiap and he told me that, in the ’20s, Chief Judge Wanliss had awarded costs against a Kiap Magistrate and this caused consternation because Kiaps had joined the service because they had served in New Guinea during the war and had fallen in love with it. But they had not been trained so, one day, at a cricket match (and although Monte’s leg could not bend, he was an avid player) they asked him if he would teach them their duties as Magistrate. So he set up a training course for Kiaps and, every Wednesday in Rabaul before the War, he gave lectures on the law. And after the Second War he continued, this time making every court case another lecture. The fact that those lectures were appreciated is obvious from the fact that, as I have said so often, his court was always crowded and any Kiap who could make it, made sure he attended. That is why Monte made the distinction (ad nauseam, to some of the lawyers appearing before him) between the Kiap as an executive officer of the Government and the Kiap exercising his jurisdiction as a Magistrate. And the difference between his exercising his jurisdiction as ‘jury’ and as ‘judge’.


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