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.