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Minister talks of kiaps’ extraordinary role

Faulkner_John The Australian Government has said the work of former Patrol Officers in preparing Papua New Guinea for nationhood deserves a “higher level of consciousness” in Australia. The Special Minister of State, Senator Faulkner [left], was responding to a submission proposing that official recognition be given to former Patrol Officers.

“The story of Patrol Officers is certainly an extraordinary one,” Senator Faulkner wrote,” and one that deserves a higher level of consciousness than that which exists in contemporary Australian society.”

The President of the Papua New Guinea Association of Australia, Keith Jackson AM, said today: “The Minister has acknowledged that Patrol Officers, or ‘Kiaps’, should be recognised without indicating what form it might take. He has gone only halfway down the track.”

“Many of these former District Services officers are getting on in years. They should be given official recognition of the exacting work they did that made possible the pacification and unity of Papua New Guinea and its peaceful transition to Independence,” he said.

“It was a tough job which they did willingly and without thought for reward and their own well-being. Their deeds were epic and should be recognised by all Australians.

Mr Jackson said there seemed to be some uncertainty on the part of the Federal Government about the role of patrol officers. “Senator Faulkner says they were engaged in ‘capacity building and not peace keeping’ when in fact they were involved in both, and much more besides,” Mr Jackson said.

“Patrol Officers were commissioned Police Officers and were given the responsibility to bring under Australian law vast tracts of Papua New Guinea inhabited by warring tribes. To their lasting credit, they did this with minimal loss of life.

“After World War 2, Australia ruled PNG as an external Territory. By the time Independence was granted in 1975, the entire country had been brought under a system of governance and laws developed by Australia and largely implemented and administered by District Services officers. This was an important and magnificent part of Australia’s history.

“We hope the Federal Government will see fit to formally acknowledge the debt Australia owes to these men, never more than a few hundred, who achieved so much with so little and in sometimes very dangerous conditions," Mr Jackson said.

Mr Jackson said that he and Kiaps’ representatives Chris Viner-Smith and Paul Oates will be seeking a meeting with the Minister when Federal Parliament resumes next year.


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