Celebrating the 30th Anniversary
of the
Independence of Papua New Guinea

Christmas Luncheon , Sunday 4 December 2005

Foreword by President Harry West

Our Association celebrated Papua New Guinea's 30th Anniversary of Independence (1975-2005) with two major events. On Sunday 28th August more than 250 members and friends gathered at the Roxy Theatre, Lindfield, for a special screening of 'Walk Into Paradise', refreshments and socialising. Members from South Australia also organised a viewing and a donation of $2000 was raised from both events for the children's Ward at ANGAU Memorial Hospital, Lae. (See page 10, Una Voce No. 4 Dec 2005).

Our regular Christmas luncheon on December 4 was transformed into a very special and joyous Independence anniversary festivity. Twenty two large round tables filled the expansive function room at the Mandarin Club in Sydney and on each of the gleaming white tablecloths were ten large sparklingly colourful laminated table mats depicting PNG's national and nineteen provincial flags. On the reverse were the national anthems and flags of both PNG and Australia - wonderful souvenirs of the occasion for the 220 who attended the luncheon and sang both national anthems. Suspended above all tables were vivid clusters of hovering balloons in red, black and yellow. The stage was surrounded and lined with palm fronds and had a focal point of a large PNG flag. On each side of the stage was a set of the PNG provincial flags. Walls were decorated with posters relating to the national and provincial flags, the national anthem and the national crest. Aviation memorabilia was supplied by Robin Mead and postage stamp and coin displays by Nancy Johnston.
Our Chief Patron, His Excellency, Major General Michael Jeffery, AC CVO MC (Rtd), Governor General of the Commonwealth of Australia, who has had a long and close association with PNG, including service with the Pacific Islands Regiment in the late 1960s, sent an inspiring address, which was read by me. Our guest of honour, Paul Nerau LLB, PNG's Consul General in Brisbane, accompanied by his wife Pauline, spoke stimulatingly about the positive side of contemporary developments in his country. There was much satisfaction and applause when he presented the 30th Independence Anniversary Commemorative Medal to legendary Fred Kaad OBE for outstanding service to the development of PNG.

We were pleased to be joined by the President of the PNG Chinese Catholic Association, Dr Dennis Chow and wife Susan, and from the Sydney-PNG Wantok Club, Daniel and Caroline Luke, Tom and Margaret Neeson and Helen and Ray Withy, who arranged the presentation of five brilliantly attired and vigorously accomplished Manus dancing girls who provided colourful and lively entertainment to the rhythm of the garamut in their dances of 'friendship, celebration and rejoicing'.

There was a large display of recently published books on PNG. People dug deep with their pockets in their quest for the wonderful raffle prizes, including a combo DVD video player donated by regular benefactor Alan Johnston, and a set of 12 recent books on PNG donated by Pandanus Books, ANU, to mark the 30th Anniversary of Independence. Members attending were mainly from the Sydney region, but all states were represented and Jeanette Leahy was down from Zenag, near Lae. Apart from the war years she has lived in the Morobe Province since 1939.

Everyone enjoyed the day and it brought back many wonderful memories.

His Excellency Major General Michael Jeffery AC CVO MC (Retd)
Governor- General of the Commonwealth of Australia

A Message
His Excellency Major General Michael Jeffery, AC CVO MC (Retd)
Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia
The Annual Christmas Luncheon hosted by
The Papua New Guinea Association of Australia

4 December 2005

I am disappointed that Marlena and I are unable to attend the Annual Christmas Luncheon hosted by the Association because of a long standing prior commitment.

In September this year we were privileged to make a State Visit to Papua New Guinea to attend the 30th anniversary independence celebrations and to mark the 60th anniversary of the World War II surrender ceremony at Cape Wom near Wewak. The Japanese invasion of PNG in July 1942 initiated one of the bloodiest campaigns of the war. Japan's march south through the Philippines, Malaya and Singapore, was halted - first at Milne Bay and then along the Kokoda Track.

Soldiers of the Pacific and New Guinea Infantry Battalions, carriers on the Kokoda track and loyal village people, made a splendid contribution to our respective countries' defence. Sixty years later, the trauma of those times still resonates deeply with many.

We were both delighted to be back in Papua New Guinea, as we were married in the 'Haus Lotu' at Taurama Barracks nearly forty years ago, and after a very happy three years there, I was further privileged to command 700 very fine soldiers of the Second Battalion the Pacific Islands Regiment in Wewak at Independence in 1975. Little did I realise that in commanding a company of a 1PIR Guard of Honour to welcome the new Administrator Sir David Hay, in 1967, that 38 years later I would be inspecting guards from both 1 and 2 RPIR as Governor-General of Australia.

In 2000 I returned to PNG as a member of an Eminent Person's Group tasked to review the size, structure and role of the Papua New Guinea Defence Force.
Australia's relationship with PNG is one of our deepest and most important. At its core are our close geographic proximity and shared history. There are many significant moments comprising that history, but none more important than 16 September 1975 - the day Papua New Guinea gained its independence.

On the 15th of September 1975, when the Australian flag was lowered in Papua New Guinea, PNG's first Governor-General, Sir John Guise, noted poignantly that 'the Australian flag was being lowered, not torn down'.

Sir John's statement reflected the positive spirit in which the Independent State of Papua New Guinea was established - to the credit of both the leaders of Papua New Guinea and the Australian Governments.

In 2005 Australia and Papua New Guinea have an exceptionally close and broad-based relationship which is characterised by a great deal of affection and trust. We must all continue to work together to ensure that the positive links between our two countries, tempered through war, independence, economics and geographic proximity will continue to expand. Let us not be deterred by occasional blips on the radar screen; they come and they go, but the enduring features of our relationship are unique and will never change.

I commend the members of the Papua New Guinea Association of Australia for your contribution to the building of people-to-people links between our two nations, for your continuing interest in regional affairs, and for the goodwill and opportunities you create that particularly influence our bilateral relationship.

Marlena joins me in wishing you and your families a very happy Christmas and prosperous New Year.

(Michael Jeffery)


The Guest Speaker, Mr Paul Nerau, LLB, thanked Mr West for giving him the opportunity to address members and guests of the Association on such an important occasion. The following is an edited version of Mr Nerau's address -

"Our motto for the 30th Independence Anniversary is: 'PUT PNG FIRST, PNG ATOA GUNA, PUTIM PNG IGO PAS'. It is with great anticipation and optimism we stand here to celebrate the 30th Independence Anniversary of Papua New Guinea. Our country has been described as the 'Jewel in the Crown' of our South Pacific neighbours.

Papua New Guinea attained its Independence in 1975, from Australia under Prime Minister Gough Whitlam. I was privileged to be just completing my University studies with many others in the likes of Mr Frank Kramer. Our pioneer politicians and public servants include our current Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. Sir Michael Somare, former Prime Minister Sir Rabbie Namaliu and current Foreign Minister and former Prime Ministers, the Hon. Pius Wingti, Sir Julius Chan, and Sir Mekere Morauta. Independence was achieved with mixed feelings. Some critics say it was too early but be that as it may, it happened and it happened without any bloodshed as our first Governor General, Sir John Guise at the eve of Independence with the lowering of the Australian flag, and in handing the Australian Flag to the Australian Governor General Sir John Kerr, said 'We are lowering the flag and not tearing it down'.

Our 30th Independence motto challenges us to be patriotic in our outlook and calls for Renewal and Commitment and a beacon of Hope; Solidarity in our Commitment for Unity, and Purpose for our Nation, Papua New Guinea. We must now strive to excel in the things that bring positive outcomes and ensure we work towards protecting what we have already achieved and built over the last 30 years and continue to build on them. The vibrant Parliamentary Democracy and the Government Institutions, our diverse languages, Cultural Heritage, our unique environmental fauna and the Virgin Forest which we must treasure for future generations and not destroy for quick capital gains. We must not take these for granted but continue to nurture, protect and improve on them.

We have and will continue to have many challenges of nationhood as we have learned from the Bougainville experience. We must learn that 'Life is precious' and that we can resolve differences between ourselves without resorting to violence. Today we celebrate 'LIFE'; the life of Papua New Guineans and friends of PNG for the 30 years we have been together. Life, as you and I know, has many challenges, and PNG has had many such challenges, for example, the natural disasters of the tsunami, the frost and El-Nino; the Bougainville experience; the Sandline Crisis; economic short comings; the AIDS-HIV epidemic and others, but we will overcome such with equal determination and continue to strive to find solutions for the common good of our people.

What have we to look forward to in the next 20 to 30 years? By far the most significant will be the PNG Gas Project with the PNG to Queensland Gas Pipeline; the stability in our Parliamentary Democracy; the challenge to tackle AIDS-HIV, and improvement in both Education and Health, and the quality of Life for our people.

We need to think and do things smartly and cultivate a hunger and thirst for Excellence and Innovative thinking outside the box. As a Nation we must be ready to take proactive measures to embrace what is happening around us in regard to Globalisation and to capitalise on opportunities presented to us for those of us living and working in Australia and vice versa. We need to establish a mutually sustainable partnership between Australia and PNG at the community, corporate, political and bureaucratic levels. We must grab with both hands the opportunities presented by the Gas Pipeline Project and take a holistic approach on all fronts. Queensland, the closest neighbour to PNG, provides great opportunity which my office is promoting with the State Development and Innovation Department, the QLD/PNG Chamber of Commerce, the QLD/PNG Business Corporation Group (BCG). We look forward to strengthening this relationship with further opportunities for PNG and Australia through the accessing of Labour Market Employment Opportunities in the horticultural sector and youth training.

Today we celebrate these and say "thank you" to our Mentor, friend and neighbour, Australia, for being a true friend during the Second World War when we stood side by side at the Kokoda Track Campaign and for the assistance over the last 30 years in the provision of aid and other assistance. Also, we acknowledge other donor countries who have and continue to assist us today

I make special mention of your recipient of the Commemorative Independence Anniversary Medal, Mr Kaad. Let me thank Mr Kaad for being such a wonderful friend and ambassador for PNG. Finally let me thank your Association and its members for your great contribution to our country during your days in PNG and no doubt you will continue to maintain this link through your Association. I have read from your magazine, UNA VOCE, the many adventures and tasks that many of you accomplished whilst in PNG.

What can you do as friends and brothers and sisters of our people in PNG? Currently we are negotiating the seasonal labour opportunity for fruit picking and other employment opportunities in Australia. You have your networks, both through the Association and individually, to your representatives in the Parliament. Please, I urge you to support us in this, as this will make a tremendous difference for families if we are allowed to have these job opportunities. As you and I have learned from the media, the aid to PNG does not reach the families, whilst job opportunities will have immediate effect on family disposable income. I look forward to your support and hope we can once again stand side by side as we did at the 'Kokoda Track Campaign' when we needed each other.

Thank you and God Bless You All."


Monday 15th September 1975 :
Symbolising the end of Australian Control, the Australian flag is lowered


Tuesday 16 September 1975 :
The Proclamation and raising of the Papua New Guinea flag







00.01 16 SEPTEMBER, 1975


Photos - INDEPENDENCE 1975
papua new guinea
in truth a nation - eric lindgren