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How have our major parties managed relations with PNG

By Jeffrey Wall - posted Friday, 10 March 2023

I am often asked how our major parties have managed Papua New Guinea.

On balance both Labor and Liberal have done well. Not perfect but sound.

There have been several high-water marks since 1945...and a few failures.


The pre independence high was during the 13-year term as Administrator Sir Donald Cleland 1953-1966.

He came to office with a strong political pedigree. He was RG Menzies' campaign director in 1949.

He was held in high regard even by the radical proponents of independence such as Michael Somare. He died 2 months before independence in 1975. Somare accorded him a state funeral.

He was buried at Bomana cemetery. His widow Dame Rachael lived in PNG for a further 30 years.

He was supported by fellow WA Liberal Paul Hasluck the territories minister.

When Hasluck became foreign minister he was replaced by the Country Party's CEB Barnes, he was a disaster! His decade as Minister delayed self-government.


In 1971 McMahon appointed Andrew Peacock to replace him. He was a great success.

In 1973 Whitlam delivered self-government. Independence was to follow in 1975. The timing was about right.

Andrew Peacock was an excellent FM. Only the Country Party opposed it.

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About the Author

Jeffrey Wall CSM CBE is a Brisbane Political Consultant and has served as Advisor to the PNG Foreign Minister, Sir Rabbie Namaliu Prime Minister 1988-1992 and Speaker 1994-1997.

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