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11 May 2019


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Bill Brown

Rob - Maybe you have the wrong year. For the first six months of 1966, Ted (EG) Hicks was acting District Commissioner of the Sepik District. John Wakeford was Deputy District Commissioner of what was styled the North Sepik Division and Kerry (BK) Leen was Deputy District Commissioner of the South Sepik Division.

Harry Roach was transferred to Bougainville from Aitape – arriving 17 April 1971. Des (DN) Ashton was District Commissioner, Bougainville at that time. (Wakeford was District Commissioner, West Sepik.)

I worked for Wakeford in various roles between 1961 and 1967 - 1966 excluded. In my view, he had many facets and idiosyncrasies, but he was never obstructionist or fossilised, as will be seen in subsequent chapters of this chronicle.

Rob Parer

In the West Sepik in 1966 District Commissioner John Wakeford was stated as being a fossilised obstructionist by a progressive medium aged Kiap Harry Roach who was ADC Aitape and soon to be upgraded to a bigger position in Bougainville and wonder how he worked beside Mr Wakeford.

Chips Mackellar

Superb story, Bill. Can't wait for the next chapter.

Paul Oates

There appears to be a clear and consistent message in Bill's report that seems to echo down through the ages: no matter what is happening at the coal face or, in this case, the kunai roots, those in senior departmental positions in Canberra are hopelessly out of touch.

Secondly, no credence is given to those who might have some knowledge and understanding of what the real issues are unless it suits those in top positions in the 'Canberra Bubble'.

There does not therefore appear to have been any change in this ongoing impasse in the last 50 - 60 years.

Those Canberra mandarins who steadfastly refuse to accept any relevant knowledge and experience as a source of intelligence upon which to base decisions are those who unfortunately, are also in charge of advising their political masters of the day.

There also does not appear to have been too many political leaders in history who have exhibited the perspicacity and intelligence to overlook the Canberra logjam and actually seek out for themselves what the true situation is.

It's obviously just easier to accept the advice given on the day since ministerial positions these days are of a very temporary nature.

Unfortunately, most political careers are also a poor preparation for understanding or wanting to understand reality, or so it seems.

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