I looked at Wayne’s question ‘posed on 30 March regarding rank and seniority,’ disagreed with some of the responses, and thought the queries might be better examined from other perspectives.
Firstly, “rank’ was seldom used in Public Service terminology, and, possibly, a better indication of the importance of ‘seniority’ and ‘position’ was provided by the notification of promotions in the Government Gazettes.
The four headings in the notice, left to right above the columns, were: 1 Name, Seniority Date and Status; 2 Present Designation, Salary Scale and Location; 3 Position to which Promoted, Salary Scale, Location and Position Number, and 4 Date of Promotion.
Promotions could be contested by appeal on the grounds of “(a) Superior efficiency … (b) Equally efficiency and seniority, or (3) “That all other things (other than seniority) being equal, the officer is a contract officer and the appellant is other than a contract officer.” (Hence the reference to “Status” in Column 1.)
An historical perspective provides another viewpoint.
The pre-war New Guinea system of District Officers running Districts, and Assistant District Officers running Sub-Districts was extended to Papua on 30 October 1945. Ted (E) Taylor, acting Director of the Department of District Services and Native Affairs casually made that public in circular titled “Correspondence,” dated 16 February 1946. In part, it read, “the terms ‘Resident Magistrate,’ Assistant Resident Magistrate,’ ‘Resident Magistrate’s Office,’ and ‘Assistant Resident Magistrate’s Office’ have been replaced by [the] terms ‘District Officer,’ ‘Assistant District Officer,’ ‘District Office,’ and ‘Sub-District Office.’”
Seniority, i.e. length of service, played no part in that pecking order. The District Officer was the senior officer in the District. Assistant District Officers were responsible to the District Officer for the administration of their respective Sub-Districts. Even the Sub-District where the district headquarters was located was run as a separate entity, under the control of the ADO.
Assistant District Officers were responsible for the control and direction of subordinate staff—Patrol Officers and Cadet Patrol Officers. Officers-in-Charge of Patrol posts were, similarly, responsible to the appropriate Assistant District Officer for the control and direction of any subordinate staff in the Patrol Post’s domain.
Patrol Instructions—specific, generally written, directions—given by the ADO, or by the Officer-in-Charge of a Patrol Post, were an example of the exercise of that authority.
There were, of course, some anomalies. For example in March 1950, Reckless Reg (JR) Rigby, District Officer of the Sepik, formally advised Assistant District Officers of the Aitape Angoram, and Maprik Sub-Districts that “In future all Patrol Posts will be administered directly from this office … .” There were seven patrol posts in the Sepik District at the time: Dreikikir, Lumi and Vanimo in the Aitape Sub-District, Ambunti and Green River in the Angoram Sub-District, Yangoru in the Maprik Sub-District—and Telefomin hanging out on its own in the breeze.(Allan Timperley cancelled Rigby’s instruction in May 1952, shortly after taking over as Sepik District Commissioner. Telefomin became a Sub-District after kiaps Szarka and Harris, and constables Buritori and Prurari, were murdered in 1953.)
District Officers administering Districts were given the new title of District Commissioner in 1951. At the time, that seemingly was a position, not a rank, as District Commissioners reverted to back to being District Officers when they proceeded on leave.
There was some tinkering at the edges during subsequent years but the next major reshuffle was the re-organisation announced in October 1964. The position of District Commissioners was formally established and the new positions of Deputy District Commissioner and District Inspector were created. The existing positions of Assistant District Officer, Grades 1 and 2, were renamed District Officer. The position of Patrol Officers Grade 2 was renamed Assistant District Officer. Patrol Officers Grade 1 became Patrol Officers, and Cadet Patrol Officers remained unchanged.
That reorganization created a lot of new positions and a fairly clear organizational structure. The Deputy District Commissioner’s role was to “assist the District Commissioner in the supervision, control and direction of the Department’s work in the District, [act as] Executive Officer to the District Development Committee, [and] carry out district inspections, and undertake other duties as directed.”
District Officers responsible for the administration of Sub-Districts were given the new administrative title of Assistant District Commissioner, but relinquished the title when proceeding on leave or transfer etc.
District Inspectors [not District based] were said to “inspect departmental district establishments and projects, assess efficiency, submit reports, and take follow up action. Advise district staff on departmental organization, functions and policy, and assist with district planning, and undertake other duties as directed.
From the District viewpoint, the District Commissioner, Deputy District Commissioner, Assistant District Commissioners, OICs of Patrol Posts had all the authority, while District Inspectors etc could offer sage advice.,
I do not think that there was ever any doubt that officers appointed to an acting position exercised full authority, but some examples may assist this discussion.
(1) When Sydney Elliott-Smith abandoned his position as the Sepik District Commissioner in April 1957, District Officer Dick (JR) White (seniority May 1939) was passed over and Fred Kaad (seniority March 1946) was appointed acting District Commissioner. Kaad and White continued in those roles--White as District Officer—until Bob (RR) Cole arrived, on transfer from the Southern Highlands, to take over in September the same year.
It could be argued that Kaad’s appointment was a special case, as DC appointments had to be endorsed by the Administrator and the Minister, but there were other examples of seniority being ignored.
(2) Phil (GP) Hardy, ADC at Buin, was passed over on at least two occasions between 1964 and 1968, when Bob Blaikie
acted as Deputy District Commissioner. Hardy (seniority January 1946) and Blaikie (March 1948) were both District Officers, but Hardy had been a Captain in ANGAU and had run the Bougainville District, in an acting capacity, for three or four months in 1962.
Promotions were touched on in the opening paragraph, but the selection process, appeals, and the Promotion Appeals Committee could all be relevant to this discussion. It may be sufficient to note that an officer’s Confidential Staff Reports were probably a consideration in the selection process, and were certainly essential to the determination of appeal. Maybe more on that anon?
One final point. In my experience ADOs in the old system, and DO/ADCs in the new, were appointed before, not after, they took the various Oaths of Office and Allegiance to allow them to sit in the Court of Petty Sessions (Papua) or in the District Court (New Guinea).
Moresby, Kairuku, Tapini, Urun, Vanimo, Aitape, Dreikikir, Ambunti, Wewak, Telefomin, Maprik, Kieta, Arawa.
1949 - 1975