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Early returns come in on PNGAA review

The first responses are arriving in the Papua New Guinea Association’s consultative process on a revamped constitution. The PNGAA decided to canvass people's views before asking them to vote on a new constitution.

Steering groups were established in six States and Territories and individual members are being consulted through a questionnaire. The process will conclude in January 2009 and, next April, members will vote on the changes.

Early feedback has been positive, apart from one view suggesting that the very act of asking people for their views is indicative of a lack of leadership. A typical response came from Eric Johns: “If these changes go ahead I would feel encouraged, and would be willing, to be a more active member”.

New objectives proposed for the Association – especially one to focus the organisation on working to strengthen the relationship between Australia and PNG – are meeting with approval.

Paul Oates commented: “I suggest one of the most important requirements is to strengthen our relationship with PNG and thereby with our Pacific Rim neighbours. PNGAA can achieve this by providing a forum for interaction and ideas and contact between members from both countries. As an NGO, PNGAA could also provide a healthy input to government policy making by offering non-political lobbying to the governments of both countries.”

The proposal to initiate new classes of membership is turning out to be more controversial. One member said: “I am quite opposed to this. We speak with one voice – we should have one class of membership.” And another: “If people want to pay more to support PNGAA projects, they should be able to - and get some recognition into the bargain. If the price is ordinary membership is protected, what's the big deal? It can't be discriminatory because the voting and representational entitlements of all members will remain as now - exactly the same: one member, one vote.”

I urge you to participate in the review by taking a few minutes to complete the PNGAA’s online questionnaire here.


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