Early Papuan magistrate CAW Monckton - suave here but had a 'shoot and loot' approach to law enforcement
ADELAIDE - One of the perennial problems for historians is separating fact from fiction.
History is a notoriously murky subject, capable of being interpreted or reinterpreted because the facts change or new facts emerge or, sometimes, simply because we choose to perceive the facts differently.
This is why there can be so many histories of the same event or time or place in which different authors reach different conclusions about what happened.
Thus, Geoffrey Blainey and Manning Clark, both eminent historians, wrote very different histories of Australia. To this day, aspects of Australian history emphasised (or de-emphasised) by each of these great scholars are hotly contested in the so called 'history wars'.
I have recently read a splendid book called 'The English and Their History' by Robert Tombs, in which the author takes a very different and forensic view of English history to that usually reflected in classical scholarship.
Tombs’ exposes how myth, confusion, bias, misunderstanding, misreporting and omission have all contributed to what the English understand to be their collective history.
With this in mind, it is a bit frustrating for me to read that Papua New Guinea supposedly has “a longstanding tradition of military-style and heavy-handed policing, and some of my fellow countrymen assert direct links between this behaviour and that of some kiaps under the previous Australian colonial administration.”