Hal Wootten QC AC, one of Australia's most brilliant legal minds, is a former NSW Supreme Court judge, a former Chairman of the Press Council and an expert on Aboriginal and Papua New Guinea affairs. He was also one of the founding staff members of ASOPA immediately after World War 2.
In an interview with Peter Thompson of ABC Radio National, he tells of how this came about…..
"Well, when I was working for the private solicitor and feeling very unhappy, and wondering what I’d do, I got a phone call out of the blue from someone who said his name was John Kerr. He wanted to talk to me about the possibility of a job, and would I meet him in a coffee shop. He described to me what a Colonel’s uniform looked like, and I went down.
"He had just become Principal of the Australian School of Pacific Administration, which was the civilian metamorphosis of the LHQ of Civil Affairs, which had trained people to go back for the administration of British North Borneo when it was re-taken from the Japs, and had done other work.
"The Australian School of Pacific Administration was to be a permanent school training field staff, magistrates, patrol officers and so on for New Guinea, for the resumption of civil administration. These of course were still in the days of the great post-war idealistic outburst before the Cold War had really killed everyone’s enthusiasm, poverty was to be tackled, colonialism was to be got rid of, racial discrimination was to be eliminated and there was a whole brave new world to be built.
"Part of the picture of ASOPA was that it was to work towards preparing Papua-New Guinea for independence, as part of the world-wide decolonisation process. So there was a very attractive, a very idealistic agenda associated with the School. Anyway I ended up going there, initially as a general tutor and then as a law lecturer, and I was there for five years which were very interesting years.