Abstract: Copper and Sugar: Post-Colonial Experiences of Australian Multinationals, 1960-2000

David Merrett


This paper reviews the experience of three Australian firms whose performance as multinationals were affected by the colonization and decolonization of Fiji and Papua New Guinea. All were to exit from their respective hosts: the Colonial Sugar Refinery (CSR) from Fiji in 1973; Conzinc Riotinto Australia (CRA) from the Panguna copper mine on Bougainville in 1989 and Broken Hill Proprietary (BHP) from Ok Tedi mine in PNG in 2002. It is argued that the prior experience of these firms in Australia led them to seriously underestimate the level of political risk they faced in these colonial hosts. The paper resonates with concepts of path dependency, administrative heritage, and psychic distance.