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PNGAA committee hits ground running

The first meeting of the new PNGAA committee was a great success. The 15 members present got through a lot of business and struck a new direction for Association activities over the next 12 months.

The first issue addressed – the committee’s own structure - may seem bureaucratic but, to achieve its ambitious goals, the PNGAA must be capable of bearing the load of increased activity. To this end, five sub-committees were established, each with its own convenor to provide leadership, in these areas: Fellowship and Caring [Rbecca Hopper]; Papua New Guinea Relations [Robin Mead]; Publications and Communications [Andrea Williams]; History and Scholarship [Riley Warren]; and Finance and Membership [Ross Johnson].

Any reader interested in assisting with a specific area of sub-committee activity can contact the Association by email at admin@pngaa.net and indicate your willingness to participate.

The committee meeting also agreed to establish a task force to review the PNGAA constitution, including how to the incorporate State and Territory branches in the formal structure of the Association. In due course constitutional change will require agreement from the entire membership, and there will be ample opportunity for discussion and deliberation before changes are instituted.

In terms of the Association’s external activities, the committee passed resolutions that have already generated action on a number of important matters, as readers of ASOPA PEOPLE will have seen:

          The committee agreed to support the initiative of Chris Viner-Smith to seek Commonwealth Government recognition of former District Services personnel ['kiaps'] for their exemplary service to Papua New Guinea over a period of 75 years culminating with National Independence. I have written to Chris indicating this support.

          I was asked by the committee to write to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd urging the Federal Government to financially support the search for the Montevideo Maru, the declaration of the site of the sinking as a Commonwealth War Grave and the erection of a monument commemorating the tragedy. I have done this and issued a news release expressing the Association’s views, which was reported by Channel 9.

          The PNGAA has also supported a proposal from Paul Oates and Norm Richardson that the Federal Government establish an exchange scheme to enable young officers from the Commonwealth and PNG public services to exchange jobs for short-term assignments as a means of building understanding and transferring expertise between the two countries. I have written to the Duncan Kerr, the Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Islands Affairs, on this matter.

          I have also written to Duncan Kerr urging the Federal Government to redevelop the former ASOPA site on Middle Head, Sydney as an Asia-Pacific institution dedicated to exchanging knowledge about important regional issues and improving relationships between peoples in the region.

The new committee has hit the ground running in terms of its own affairs and that it is also moving to occupy a more strategic position in PNG-Australia relationships by engaging productively in proposing how the Australian Government may itself be able to do more and do better. As each sub-committee builds its own momentum, the scale and scope of the Association’s activities will intensify and broaden.

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