41. The reason for the Highlands Rule

Paul Quinlivan’s Snapshots

 

Obviously, the reason for the rule was that such people lack immunity to coastal diseases but there is an additional reason which explains why Monte was so adamant that the rule be obeyed. It is from the report for 1927/1928 on our administration of Former German New Guinea and reads:

… Mr. F.B. Phillips, at the time Stipendiary Magistrate of the Territory and now a Judge of the Central Court, was appointed, under the Commissions of Inquiry Ordinance 1927, to be a Commissioner to inquire into and report upon alleged irregularities in recruiting… The Commissioner proceeded to… Salamaua and all the villages in the Finschhafen area, where the irregularities were reported to have occurred. In all 538 witnesses, of whom 501 were Natives, were examined. The investigations occupied a period of approximately five months. The Commissioner found that a number of Natives had been illegally recruited and that certain irregularities had occurred… In some instances Natives had been recruited against their will, and, in others, had been signed on as casual labourers contrary to the provisions of Section 51 of the Native Labour ordinance, or had been recruited from areas of high altitude without the prior permission of the Administrator (my emphasis). Food and labour had also been supplied in a number of cases by Natives without adequate payment in return. Pursuant to the recommendations of the Commissioner immediate action was taken … to compensate the Natives who had supplied food and labour without payment, to cancel the contracts of Natives who had been illegally recruited, and to make further inquiries with a view to the institution of proceedings wherever possible…

 

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