It’s Papua New Guinea Independence Day tomorrow – yes, 33 years since that splendid flag was raised (as Nancy Johnston reminds me, first flown in 1971) over cities and outstations in the newly independent nation.
Arguments still rage about whether Independence came too early – a view I never favoured even before Independence. For all her faults – and point me to the perfect nation state, please – PNG has demonstrated a remarkable propensity to stick together. It wasn’t easy to gather 800 tribes under the one flag and hasn’t been easy to maintain that unity. PNG remains probably the world’s most diverse democracy – and that’s a major claim to fame.
Meanwhile, the Australian Government has this year brokered a new and welcome affiliation with the PNG Government while, coincidentally, the PNG Association of Australia is moving to equip itself to strengthen civil relationships between the two countries. [See PNGAA under ASOPA PEOPLE EXTRA at left for a discussion paper on this]
Outgoing Governor-General and former Army chief in PNG, Major-General Michael Jeffery, has agreed to continue as a Patron of the PNGAA and says he looks forward to playing a more active role in its affairs in the future.
In a recent discussion I had with him, Maj Gen Jeffery commented that the changes being proposed to give the PNGAA a greater role in strengthening the Australia-PNG relationship are “excellent”. He believes that the PNGAA should be taking a more active role in building the relationship and he says he's willing to work in any way he can to assist this goal.
Happy birthday, Papua New Guinea.