Michael Jeffery continues with PNGAA
PNGAA extinction; so what says Nancy

I resign from PNGAA presidency: letter

This morning I sent the following letter to the Secretary of the Papua New Guinea Association. Its contents may please some people and disappoint many others. But life goes on. And so does PNG ATTITUDE.

I would like the Committee of the Association to accept my resignation as President and as a Committee member of the PNGAA.

This decision has been made over a number of weeks and has been arrived at for the following reasons:

1. Despite what was said to me before I agreed to put my name forward as President last year about there being a mood for change in the PNGAA, it is clear that a vocal minority of people within the Association, and particularly within the former ROAPNG membership, are implacably opposed to change.

While I know there were serious divisions in the Committee before my election as President and subsequent arrival on the Committee, and while Committee meetings under my chairmanship have been conducted professionally and in a businesslike manner, I have no desire to preside over a voluntary organisation in which such divisions persist and in which such ill will is manifested to the person holding the office of President.

2. I believe that pressing ahead with the changes I believe are necessary to sustain the Association will, in the short term, exacerbate existing divisions. These changes are likely, also, to cause some members to leave. In my view, while such departures would not affect the long-term viability of the Association, they would make me feel that I had failed in a fundamental sense to have the Association operate harmoniously and in union.

While such disharmony and discord would be in large part due to the inflexibility, intolerance and, in some cases, intellectual dishonesty of some members – which in most circumstances would not deter me – I nevertheless feel compassion for these people, most of whom are ageing, and I also feel a sense of duty to the origins and history of the Association.

In other words I feel conflicted between what I know is in the best longer term interests of the Association and the reaction of some members to my prescription for the sustainability of an Association I believe is under threat.

Since I do not intend to preside over a body that may have a limited future, and since if in trying to provide it with a sustainable future my efforts cause the perpetuation of existing conflict, I believe I can best resolve this matter by stepping down.

While I do not believe my resignation will resolve the conflict, nor be of assistance in equipping the Association for the future, at least, at a personal level, I will not need to deal with what is essentially dysfunctional micro-political behaviour by some of our members, which I find both discomfiting and a waste of my time and energy.

3. I am chairman of a company that, while it has longevity and a good reputation, is nevertheless a small business. You would be aware of the prevailing economic climate and I am sure you will understand that I need to devote more time to my business during such a period. In circumstances where I feel the time I would devote to the PNGAA would more usefully be spent protecting and enhancing my firm, I choose to do this.

4. There are other personal reasons, which I do not intend to canvass here, that make dealing with the difficulties of the PNGAA even more burdensome on me at this time, and these factors have also influenced my decision.

I cannot write this letter without escaping the feeling that I am letting down a great number of people. I apologise to them and thank them for their support and kindness. But sometimes we must make decisions in our own best interests as well as in the interests of others, and this is what I am doing today.

My decision is irrevocable, it has been made alone, and I ask that you respect it.

I will continue to work on selected PNG-related projects that I have been undertaking, but will not do so as President or as a PNGAA Committee member.

My resignation is tenable as of today’s date.

Best wishes



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Michael Jeffery AC CVO MC

Very sorry to hear of your resignation as a caring and competent President of the PNGA, but appreciate your reasons for so doing.

As Patron I do not feel it proper that I should become involved in the issue, but I would have thought that the Association would want to ensure that the older members’ interests in a historical sense were catered for, whilst at the same time doing whatever is seen as both useful and feasible in supporting closer Australian / PNG relations – particularly between our Defence Forces.

Ann Prendergast

I have just heard the news about your resignation and read the story in your PNG ATTITUDE blog. I don't know anything about what has happened in that you feel you have to take such action but I want you
to know how sorry I am.

You seemed to have such good ideas about how to help us mobilise our interest in PNG as well as enabling us to keep in contact with people we have known and liked for many years.

Thank you for what you have done so far Keith and if there is anything I can do in relation to what you intend to do re PNG in the future do please let me know.

Phil Charley

Having now read all the comments, I'd just like to congratulate you again on all your good work in such a short time as President. You gave all you have . Well done Keith Your sensitive, compassionate decision was correct. All who know you realise that youi'll continue in your efforts to help PNG . That's the important thing. You'll have plenty of support ftrom people who DO care.

Philip Charley OAM

Terry Chapman

Hi Keith,
I have been out of touch for a while and so have been taken by surprise by the recent events and your decision to resign. I am very disappointed as I have been looking forward to more involvement in exciting developments on '09. I guess I should have seen it coming as the reaction of a few to your election as president at the Dec '08 luncheon was to head underground and as a reptilian trait this should always be treated with concern. I regret that I dis not take it seriously enough.

It is disappointing for us all, but also for the individuals concerned when all they can do is look backwards rather than building on those memories and experiences to go positively and constructively forward.

I acknowledge the effort and forward thinking you contributed and hold firm in my belief that good things can develop even from bad experiences. I confidently anticipate that many of your ideas and initiatives will re-appear for everyone's benefit in the near future.
Stay well and keep smiling,
Terry Chapman

Hon Duncan Kerr MP

Dear Keith, It was worth the effort

Liz Thurston

I was very sorry to learn of your resignation as president of the PNGAA. I do understand, however, how you have come to this decision. As a professional, it is very difficult to work in a dysfunctional environment - particularly when it is voluntary work!

Having been on the committee and having produced the DVD I now prefer to select those areas where I can make a contribution without all the politics. The stress simply isn't worth it.

I do hope you will continue to be involved with the MVM committee but I will respect your decision whatever it is.

With many thanks and appreciation for the vision and energy you have brought to the Association.

Geoffrey Luck

What a disaster! When I joined the PNGAA a few years ago, I realised that the membership had a preponderance of old fogeys who saw the organisation as a geriatric social club in which they could vicariously re-live their petty Konedobu bureaucratic achievements.

But I knew there were also members whom I had seen in action in my seven years in PNG, men whom I admired and respected for their energy, imagination and often selfless dedication to the Australian commitment. Naively, I thought the former group would retire to their club chairs with their pipe and port, and welcome the initiatives that Keith and his team brought to revivify an increasingly moribund association.

If for no other reason, they might have been expected to support efforts to assert the proud role of Australia in the Territory at a time when the cynicism of politically correct and historically illiterate journalists denigrate their life's work. Never before has that effort been so necessary, as PNG slides into self-corrupted chaos, and Australia loses interest and leverage in its important neighbour.

So far only one reactionary seems to have outed herself - I'd invite others to come out of the shadows and try to justify their wrecking actions. None of us may be young and energetic now, but remember: we can all age without growing old.

Jim Toner (24 years a member)


Dick Arnold

The binatangs, of the classification to whom you refer, are related to the dinosaurs - they fossilise before they die. It's just as well the very few remaining specimens are a protected species; otherwise they would have been Mortein-ed years ago.

It is a sad day when people are unable to appreciate the enthusiasm, planning, drive and performance that you brought to the PNGAA.

One wonders how our Papua New Guinean neighbours will react when they realize that a number of their former work colleagues care little for the future of their country and its relations with Australia.

I applaud your outstanding efforts and recognize your decision to devote your time to your family and business interests.

I would like to support Henry in encouraging you to continue the operation of the website “PNG Attitude”.

Loch Blatchford

Sorry to hear you have resigned. If your hard work is not being appreciated it is better to move to where it will be.

It will not worry me if the PNGAA wishes to sever ties with my [Blatchford Collection] project. I will tap on regardless and continue to send copies to those interested.

Henry Bodman

It mightn't feel all that great at the moment but you have just made a smart move. This isn't the stage in life to run yourself ragged over anything - and certainly not in taking on arch conservatives, many of whom cannot cope with and detest the word "change".

Ten years ago I found myself in a similar position taking on similarly inclined dinosaurs. Fortunately, I did it from a position which made it very difficult to be "picked off". I also had powerful supporters who never let me down on those few occasions when I called in the cavalry.

I dubbed the prehistorics "the forces of darkness" and "the hill billies" and wasn't at all averse to using the terms in the presence of those thus described. For a couple of years "the forces of darkness" enjoyed some popularity and wide circulation throughout Oz - and even beyond. I have slowly extricated myself from the firing line (though not before I managed to have some of the changes introduced) and life without the hassles is a joy.

Your position is far more difficult - without the support of "heavies" who can re-establish an equilibrium when it is needed. You also have a pretty shadowy target while you, in turn, are a "sitting duck". Your adversaries have played these games all of their lives - few have achieved anything of note .... they are the gutless curs who go for the heels of real people.

The best that you could have hoped for would be "point scoring" and that is only necessary for small people. It is also destructive for groups like PNGAA.

It will be interesting to see who (and how) fills the position!

Enjoy the extra time for those things which you have worked so hard to make available to yourself and family.

PS I hope like hell you will keep your site operating. That is where you can have an influence: even if the path is narrower and progress along it a fair bit slower.

Joseph Crainean

It is with great sadness and disappointment that I read of your decision to resign as president and to leave the PNGAA Committee.

Your efforts made me feel for the first time that it was worth joining last year, although my late father John Crainean had been a member for many years since his retirement from PNG in 1973 until he passed away in 2001.

I understand your reasons and respect them but am appalled that members could be so small minded to resist and complain about what you were discussing and doing in attempting to spur it into relevance in 2009 and beyond.

Your enthusiasm and web sites have made an enormous contribution in publishing and informing a wide range of people about PNG and our involvement in its history. I feel it is a terrible shame that such enterprise has been so poorly recognised and so badly rewarded. I feel so sorry that this has come to pass.

I am also sending this to the Una Voce editor.

Chris Ballard

I'm very sorry to hear of this - it will put paid to all efforts to reform the PNGAA and condemn it to a slow death, which will be painful for all of us - but I can imagine and thus quite understand how untenable your position would have become.

I thought your initiatives were excellent, and I trust you'll now be able to devote all that energy to your business - I look forward to bumping into you on occasion in the future.

Harriet Troy

I have been thinking about your resignation since I received it this morning. It does not surprise me, as I think you were remarkable in tolerance and perseverance ever since you took the new role.

Yes your vision and new ideas have been very progressive and your leadership rich in patience from the onslaught you have faced from some.

Like Andrea and Robin, I am sorry it has come to this. For me I will also be resigning from the role of [chair of the] Caring and Social committee. I came on board as at the time you needed someone, and I plunged in to help you out. It does indeed take far more personal time than one realises. I will outline my reasons in a letter to Ann and the committee members in due course.

The PNGAA will have a sad loss of leadership by losing you Keith.

Diane Bohlen

Sorry to hear of your decision. If YOU couldn't fix the problem it must have been bad. On the positive side your stress levels and business will benefit. Good luck for the future.

Robin Mead

I endorse Andrea's comments wholeheartedly. I think that this is a regrettable situation which could have been avoided. I thought we were starting to get somewhere.

Keith, thank you for your imagination and drive, and I hope you retain as much connection as possible.

Andrea Williams

I am really sorry to hear this. It hasn’t been easy being on the PNGAA committee for a number of years due to the intolerable attitudes of some.

I have appreciated your energy and vision for a sustainable association that had the ability to grow and develop without losing the essence of its history.

You have made many remarkable achievements whilst at the helm, many of which would not have, as yet, been seen by the membership as a whole...thank you.

Colin Huggins

Maybe I should have continued watching the tennis (Hopman Cup & Brisbane International) and the cricket!
Like Murray Bladwell I am utterly confused and disappointed at your decision. We do not know the details but one can only say that you gave 100+% for the organisation.

It will be very interesting what all comes out of this. I guess any ideas that were hoped to have come out of the lunch at the Sofitel, Brisbane - can be now put into the 'too hard' basket. Congratulaions Keith you did your best.

Murray Bladwell

Keith, It saddens me deeply that all your efforts, and the efforts of many others, to reenergise the PNGAA and to assure its long-term future have been thwarted by negative individuals and pressure groups.

I congratulate you on your positive efforts and forebearance and only hope that those nameless critics now come forward and put their ideas and options on the table so they can be judged by the membership.

Again congratulations! You gave it your best shot, the Association will miss your positive and constructive input.

Murray Bladwell (PNGAA Member- Brisbane)

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