Papua New Guinea's constitution and autochthony

Ritchie, Jonathan (1996) Papua New Guinea's constitution and autochthony. Honours thesis, Victoria University of Technology.


This thesis explores the writing and adoption of the Constitution of the Independent State of Papua New Guinea. It argues that the manner of its adoption fulfilled the requirements for constitutional autochthony: being "constitutionally rooted in its own native soil". This result was due to a combination of three influences, the first of which is the rise of nationalism among the country's first politicians. The ambitions of these politicians for early independence were aided and guided by the commitment and expertise of the small group of expatriates associated with the university and administration: two of the most influential of these were C.J. Lynch and J.W. Davidson. The acquiescent attitude of the Australian Government towards the manner in which Papua New Guinea achieved its independence was the third factor influencing the unusual nature of the Constitution's adoption. The thesis explores the development of nationalism in the preindependent Territory of Papua New Guinea, culminating in the formation of a National Coalition Government in 1972. It details the stages in which the Constitution was planned, written and adopted between 1972 and 1975 and considers the evidence for the influence of Lynch and Davidson in the adoption of the Constitution. The thesis is based on a study of a range of official and personal documents. These include Papua New Guinea's House of Assembly Debates, the Final Report of the Constitutional Planning Committee, drafts of the Constitution held by the family of C.J. Lynch, and the papers of J.W. Davidson held by the National Library of Australia. Interviews were held with a number of people involved in the Constitution's development, and relevant newspapers and secondary sources were also consulted. The thesis aims to contribute to the study of constitution forming, politics, and history in the Pacific Islands. Additionally, the thesis illuminates the role undertaken by expatriates in the independence of Papua New Guinea.

Additional Information

Bachelor of Arts (Honours)

Item type Thesis (Honours thesis)
Subjects Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > School of Communication and the Arts
Historical > FOR Classification > 1606 Political Science
Historical > FOR Classification > 2103 Historical Studies
Keywords constitutional law, Papua New Guinea, nationalism, politics, history
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