Opinion Number. 1802



The Secretary, Department of External Territories

(1)  I am asked to advise on the organization required for carrying out expeditiously the consolidation, amalgamation and revision of the laws of the Territory of Papua-New Guinea. I refer to the consultations which I have had with yourself, with the Administrator, the Principal of the School of Pacific Administration and Dr. X., and also to the interview which your Minister was good enough to give me in association with yourself.

As a result of these discussions the work to be done shapes itself in my mind under three broad heads:

(a)  The completion of the work in progress in consolidating the existing laws of Papua and New Guinea respectively.

(b)  The production, as a matter of immediate urgency, of single uniform Ordinances to replace the two existing separate Ordinances in certain selected matters which are basic to the establishment of a unified administration. Police and Public Service have been mentioned as illustrations of these matters.

(c)  The complete revision of the existing law, so as to produce not only uniform law throughout the combined Territory but a modernized law brought up to date in the light of current principles and policies in the administration of dependent Territories.

(3)  Phase (a) may largely be disregarded. The organization for completing the consolidation of the existing separate laws of the former two Territories is already in existence. The work that remains is largely of a routine character in seeing through the press laws that are already in final draft.

(4)  Phase (b)—that is, the production of a small number of basic unified Ordinances—is plainly a short-term problem. The Administrator strongly presses the view that without these basic unified Ordinances he cannot hope to produce a really unified administration. I think his reasoning is unanswerable. It must also have an important bearing on the organization by which this particular phase can best be handled. This point I develop below.

(5)  Phase (c) is plainly a long-term problem. I imagine that it cannot be done effectively in less than something between five and ten years.

(6)  The original plan contemplated that the whole of the work required for the consolidation, amalgamation and revision of the laws of Papua-New Guinea would be the responsibility of a Research Section under the general direction of the School of Pacific Administration. I do not under-estimate the importance of the research aspects of the work to be done. In phases (b) and (c), however, decisions of policy must inevitably take a much more important place in the work than they did in phase (a)—the phase of mere consolidation and annotation. I am therefore of opinion that the work to be done in phases (b) and (c) should be the primary responsibility of the Department of External Territories, the local Administration, and the Attorney-General’s Department. They would each, I think, need special staff for this purpose.