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Australia's Northern Shield?

Papua New Guinea and the Defence of Australia since 1880

By Bruce Hunt

$39.95

‘We are indebted to Bruce Hunt for showing how PNG has figured in Australia’s security thinking for well over a century.’ – Allan Patience, Australian Institute of Internal Affairs journal

‘This is a most welcome addition to the literature on the Australia/PNG relationship.’ – Sean Dorney, The Interpreter

This book is the first to draw extensively on the recently released highly classified notes of the cabinet room discussions of successive Australian Governments from 1950 to the mid-1970s and details the changing attitude of the nation’s leaders towards the place of Papua New Guinea in Australia’s defence and security outlook. The Cabinet notebooks provide an unprecedented, uncensored insight into the opinion of Australia’s leaders towards Indonesia under Sukarno, Southeast Asia and Indo China in general, Britain and the United States and, finally, towards Papua New Guinea. The cabinet room discussions reveal attitudes towards Asia and Australia’s place in the region more nuanced, varied and sensitive than previously known. They also illustrate the dominant influence of Prime Minister Robert Menzies and Deputy Prime Minister John McEwen in shaping Australia’s response to the critical events of this time.

Australia’s Northern Shield? shows how, since colonial times, Australia has assessed the importance of Papua New Guinea by examining the ambitions of and threats from external sources, principally Imperial Germany, Japan, and Indonesia. It examines the significant change in Australia’s attitude as this region approached independence in 1975, amid concerns as to the new nation’s future stability and unity. The terms of Australia’s long-term defence undertaking are examined in detail and an examination is offered also of the most recent attempts to define the strategic importance of Papua New Guinea to Australia.

About the Author

Bruce Hunt is a Research Fellow in the School of History, College of Arts and Social Sciences, at the Australian National University.  He was an officer in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) from 1974 until his retirement in mid-2011.  He was posted to the Australian High Commission in Port Moresby from 1985 to 1987 and was Director of the PNG Section in DFAT from 1990 to 1994 and again from 2000 to 2003. 

In 1999 he was appointed Chief Negotiator in the Peace Monitoring Group on Bougainville.  In 2000 he was an adviser to the Commonwealth Eminent Persons Group set up to examine the challenges faced by the Papua New Guinea Defence Force.  His other postings have been to Bonn, Harare, Tel Aviv and as High Commissioner to the Kingdom of Tonga.

In 1996 he attended the Australian College of Defence and Strategic Studies (now known as the Australian Defence College).  He is a Fellow of the College.
He was awarded a PhD from the University of New England in 2003. 

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