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Verrier, June Raye 1976 Australia, Papua New Guinea and the West New Guinea question, 1949-1969, PhD Dissertation, Monash University.
    © June Raye Verrier, 1976. Use of any part of this thesis for any purpose must be acknowledged.

Abstract

This thesis is an historical analysis of Australia's West New Guinea policy over a twenty year period from 1949 to 1969. It begins by showing how the traditional importance of New Guinea to Australia shaped the policy that was adopted when the territory fell into dispute between the Netherlands and Indonesia in 1949. It traces the development of Australia's WNG policy from support for Dutch sovereignty to eventual acceptance of Indonesia's claim, and, later still, to encouragement of a favourable outcome for Indonesia in WNG's Act of Free Choice in 1969. It describes the international pressures that were brought to bear upon Australia's WNG policy as the WNG dispute developed before its settlement with the New York Agreement in 1962, along with the pressures that came to bear upon Australia as conditions in the territory deteriorated under Indonesian rule before the Act of Free Choice in 1969. This study shows the relevance of those pressures not only for WNG policy but for Australia's developing foreign policy, as well: New Guinea's change from a vital Australian security interest in 1950 ran parallel with a change in Australian foreign policy priorities as a whole from dependence upon an alliance association outside the region to the pursuit of the regionalism that was seen by most Australians to be as irrelevant as it was unnecessary at the outset of the period under consideration.

This thesis also describes the consequences of the WNG dispute for New Guinea. It traces the development of WNG nationalism and the contribution to its character made by Dutch tutelage and subsequent Indonesian mal-administration. It describes the problems which were a result, including rebellion and repression in WNG, a refugee movement into PNG and subsequent border incidents as refugee numbers increased with the approaching Act of Free Choice. It traces Australia's response which changed from co-operation across the border with the Dutch, to border freeze and a defence development programme when the Dutch were replaced by Indonesians, and, later still, to eventual co-operation with Indonesia. Finally, this thesis describes Papua New Guinea's response to the events that were taking place on and across the international border in the period under consideration. It shows how and explains why the PNG response in this period of eventually rapid political change was one of both fear of Indonesia, sympathy for the people of WNG, and pan-Papuan sentiment, on the one hand, and of reaction from PNG's own emerging, nationalist elite as they saw Indonesia, Australia and the UN ride rough-shod over the interests of WNG on the other. It also shows how that part of the PNG elite which took office as the government of the self-governing and later independent PNG came to accept the kind of realism propounded by Australia's Minister for External Affairs, Gordon Freeth, in 1969, and so the logic of the politics of the Australian-New Guinea-Indonesian triangle.

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