Papua New Guinea’s Road to Independence

Papua New Guinea’s Road to Independence

1883: HM Chester, Queensland Government Agent on Thursday Island, raised the Union Jack near present-day Port Moresby and annexed, on behalf of Queen Victoria, that part of New Guinea and adjacent islands lying between meridians 141E and 155E longitude.

1884: Britain proclaimed a protectorate over south-east New Guinea. Germany raised its flag over Kaiser Wilhelmsland, the north-east part of the country and allowed its administration by the Neu Guinea Kompagnie (NGK).

1888: The British assumed sovereignty over the protectorate of British New Guinea (BNG).

1899: The German Government resumed responsibility for the administration of German New Guinea from the NGK.

1901: Britain transferred BNG to the Commonwealth of Australia. The latter did not formally accept it.

1906: The Papua Act of the Commonwealth Parliament transferred control of BNG to Australia and renamed it the Territory of Papua.

1907: Australian Sir Hubert Murray appointed Acting Administrator of Papua, and then served as Lieutenant-Governor until his death in 1940.

1914: Australian Forces invaded, occupied and administered German New Guinea at the commencement of World War I. The first Australian ‘killed-in-action’ in WWI resulted.

1920: The League of Nations conferred a mandate on Australia for the former German New Guinea. The two territories, the Mandate and Papua, were administered separately, both being responsible to the Australian Government, until 1942.

1942: The Japanese invaded New Guinea landing at Rabaul. Administration of Australian-held territory was transferred to the military. ANGAU was created for this purpose.

1945: The Japanese surrendered.

1946: Civil administration restored to Papua-New Guinea. The General Assembly of the United Nations approved a trusteeship agreement for New Guinea and its administration by Australia.

1949: The Papua and New Guinea Act formalised the provisional administration for the two territories and provided for a Legislative Council.

1961: A twenty-eight-member Legislative Council, set up in 1951 by the Australian Government was reconstituted to allow for the inclusion of six elected indigenous members and six nominated indigenous members.

1964: Legislative Council was replaced by an elected House of Assembly.

1972: Michael Somare elected as Chief Minister. The territory’s name was changed to Papua New Guinea. As Chief Minister, Somare led the country to self-government in 1973.

1975: Papua New Guinea became independent on 16 September, the day when HRH Prince Charles officiated at a ceremony in Port Moresby at which Australia’s flag was lowered and PNG’s flag raised. The proud new nation, led by Michael Somare, became a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, with Queen Elizabeth II Head of State and was admitted as a Member of the United Nations Organisation.

We, the members of the PNGAA, in reflecting on the past forty-six years, can be justifiably proud of our past and continuing contributions to the Independent Nation of Papua New Guinea.


Worked for Burns Philp in Popondetta and Port Moresby from 1980 through 1987

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