Monash University Publishing | Contacts Page
Monash University Publishing: Advancing knowledge

Australia's Northern Shield?


This book had its origins in an essay I wrote while a participant at the Australian Centre for Defence and Strategic Studies in Canberra in 1996. I then turned to the question of the place of Papua New Guinea in Australia’s strategic assessments in writing my PhD thesis in the late 1990s. It was during this period that I was fortunate enough to be supported and encouraged first by Chris Pugsley and then Frank Bongiorno of the University of New England. Chris’s enthusiasm alone was essential during those early uncertain times, and Frank, now at the Australian National University has remained an invaluable mentor to the present day. Three other academic colleagues who have spent their careers studying Papua New Guinea have been a constant source of encouragement. They are David Hegarty, Anthony Regan and Dr Ron May from the Australian National University. I owe all three a great debt of gratitude.

I began writing this book in 2011 and since then the list of those whose support and encouragement should be acknowledged has grown immeasurably. I am bound to omit someone and for that I apologise. However, I do wish to acknowledge the guidance and encouragement of friends and colleagues notably Ric Wells who fully supported my proposal to turn the thesis into a book and Rob Flynn, Steve Waters, John Oliver, Ruth Pearce, Peter Hooton and Colin Milner for their continuing interest. Michael Wilson, who was my High Commissioner in Port Moresby in the mid-1980s, has been a great source of support, as was his late wife, Susan Stratigos. Dr Matt Jordan has been a font of advice and knowledge and has served as an invaluable sounding board for the exploration of ideas. Similarly, Dr Moreen Dee has been generous in providing comment and offering assistance. I have also appreciated the support of Dr Clinton Fernandes. I must acknowledge the great help given by Drs David Lee and Stephen Henningham and the guidance offered by Joan Beaumont, James Cotton, Garry Woodard and Neville Meaney, all distinguished historians of Australian foreign policy.

I have particularly benefitted by being able to draw on the first-hand knowledge of John Greenwell, Christine Goode and Alan Kerr, former officers of the Department of External Territories whose work in bringing Papua New Guinea to independence deserves much greater recognition than it has had to date. I am particularly indebted to Alan Kerr for his sup port and guidance.

I was fortunate to have been able to draw on the insights of Sir Peter Lawler and Peter Bailey, both senior officers in the Department of Prime Minister in the 1960s and 1970s and both note-takers in Cabinet meetings. Both were present at some of the critical meetings which decided the course of Australian foreign and defence polices in this period and were able to provide an intimate portrait of how the Cabinet functioned and the key personalities.

The writing of this book also reflects the influence and support of a number of people who have been instrumental in stimulating my interest in history. These begin with Professors Bruce Mansfield and Edwin Judge of Macquarie University who instilled in me the importance of always turning to the original source document when coming to an understanding of events and decisions. My great friends, Brian Croke, Fran Byrnes and Douglas Newton, all history students with me at Macquarie many years ago, have been an inspiration as we have discussed the many issues arising from our shared interest in both modern and ancient history. I owe a particular debt to Douglas Newton for his willingness to share documents and information, as well as advice, on the contents of the early chapters of this book.

I am indebted to Robert Webster whose knowledge of modern Indonesian history, politics and language has been invaluable. His comments on the early drafts of the book and his suggestions for revisions were an essential element in bringing this book to completion. Our mutual friend, Peter Michelson, who we first met in Port Moresby in 1986 and who served with the British Army in Malaysia during Confrontation and then with the Australian Army in Vietnam, has encouraged me over the years and has also been a source of inspiration and support.

A book such as this that has taken a long time to research and write owes a particular debt to the staff of the National Archives in Canberra, notably but not exclusively, Andrew Cairns, Michael Wenke, Leslie Wetherall, Kerri Ward, Megan Vasey, Ritchie George and Paul Croke who have responded to each request for assistance with great professionalism and dedication. I am also indebted to Beja van den Bosch in the Netherlands for tracking down and translating a number of documents from the Dutch Archives. I have also appreciated the support and guidance given to me by the great team at Monash University Publishing and by Gary Grey in proofreading the text.

Finally, I owe a great debt to my family. They have remained engaged and interested in the book as it has progressed from an idea to a manuscript.

Above all, I would not have completed this project without the support of my wife. I owe her the greatest debt.

Australia's Northern Shield?

   by Bruce Hunt