I resign from PNGAA presidency: letter
Do we need a new Australia – PNG body?

PNGAA extinction; so what says Nancy

A long-standing member of the Papua New Guinea Association of Australia, Mrs Nancy Johnston, has said that people who want to change the PNGAA should create another organisation.

Mrs Johnston said that “some members feel that another Association could have been created, perhaps taking over the members who were willing to accept the change and let the others be left in peace to enjoy their Association and what it originally stood for - friendship amongst themselves.

“There is an avenue for the President's ideas, but I feel they do not belong to our present Association,” Mrs Johnston said, adding, “Several senior members are disillusioned and are beginning to feel like ‘outcasts’... My feelings are that the membership and finances of the PNGAA were hijacked, and ideas introduced that are unwanted by many of the original and long time members of the Association.”

Mrs Johnston also believes that the PNGAA should calmly face the prospect of its own demise. “As for the Association facing extinction,” she says, “once its purpose has been served, so what!”

She also believes Papua New Guinea is a place that does not necessarily deserve the support of the PNGAA. “[The Association] was not created to provide a platform for politics or to interfere with welfare and external aid. I don't think people who have not had a REAL life affiliation with PNG are going to join an Association to support what is now a foreign country, when knowing there are other places, our own aborigines, and some of the South African countries, in more desperate need.”

“A very long time senior and well-respected member said only recently ‘but I wonder if the nation of PNG will appreciate any such venture on our part?’”, Mrs Johnston added, suggesting that Papua New Guineans are not interested about whether Australians care about them enough to provide assistance.


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Robin Mead

Well, years later despite all the unwonted Jeremiahs, it didn't bring about the decline of the PNGAA. I found Nancy very hard going sometimes but I always respected her own sacrifice. Like losing a daughter when in a lonely posting in a remote area. But middle-aged self-righteous pontificating twerps with delusions of greatness would not be interested in things like that. RIP Nancy.

See: https://www.pngattitude.com/2009/01/pngaa-faces-extinction-so-what-says-johnston.html - KJ

Joseph Crainean

As a recent PNGAA member, I endorse the many sentiments expressed in support of Keith's sterling efforts to advance the causes of both the PNGAA and the people of Papua New Guinea today.

I feel sadness and disappointment that you have felt unable to continue as President. We are diminished by your departure. Please keep up the good work you have been doing, Keith, which you have advanced by this and other forums.

Bob Curtis

I was as surprised as most at the President's resignation, and I enjoyed some spirited exchange of ideas with him as did other members, usually without the benefit of a right of reply.The role of a President is I believe, to listen to the Membership and to govern the Association to the benefit of all. The best changes satisfy felt needs, and the President's autocratic style did not pass the tests applied by all members.

Certainly there was some dissent after his election, apparently different to the normal disagreements in a Committee, but some real concern occured after the politicising of the Association at the December 7 Xmas Luncheon when the Members were addressed by Duncan Kerr SC MP.

I believe the President mis-read the political climate of a large number of members and there has been much criticism of the President's 7 point "What's next in the PNGAA- Building on the legacy" published in the December 2008 Una Voce.

The 7 point proposal bears an uncanny resemblenc to Kerr's Policy for PNG, but the President dismissed any protests from both myself and other Seniors in the membership.

Much of the content of the Presidents letter of resignation would disturb the fair minded. Words such as inflexible,Intolerence and Intellectual dishonesty will continue to offend, and the un-warranted attack on Nancy Johnston for expressing an opinion is ungentlemanly in the extreme. Nancy is a very experienced Lady of mature years and her view of the Association is reflected in the minds of many other members.

The emeritus President carries with him my best wishes for the future and the hope that his business prospers in these difficult economic times.


When I joined PNGAA I sighed when I saw the power structure. Generally I viewed some (whose only concern was themselves) as a bunch of geriatric superannuants that hadn't moved on, couldn't get a job if they tried, supported by spouses whose only skill was vicious outstation gossip.

Now we have the results of years of honed mediocrity. These people haven't got the brains or organisational skill to prepare a lucid grocery list let alone run the Association. So the finances have been hijacked have they? Proof is required. The police should be called. If proven wrong defamation should be actioned.

Its time to get rid of the Nancy/Nitsche/Foley group. They must resign, or be expelled. These people shall not hijack the refreshed PNGAA. Lets show our guts and dump these dinosaurs. I'm not resigning - I'm fighting. Bring it on - nasty comments please.

Ed Brumby

My reaction to your resignation is one of sorrow - and gratitude for your efforts. My response, apart from the usual cliches: 'the best thing about hitting your head against a brick wall etc', and 'Lord help me to change the things I can and accept the things I can't' and so on, is that (and forgive another cliche) it is sometimes best (and suitably respectful) to let sleeping dogs lie.

Archaic and change-resistant as the PNGAA is/has been, it serves a useful purpose in providing a forum for those whose preference is not for action but for reminiscence and nostalgia. And while some/many of us may disagree and disapprove and rail against the perceived waste and loss of opportunity to 'do something useful', we must also be respectful of those who choose to take a less 'active'and, perhaps, more self-indulgent stance.

You don't really need the PNGAA to achieve the ends you have defined in your Presidential manifesto, Keith. Through your blog, the ASOPA website etc you've already created another more contemporary forum for the sharing of ideas and ideals and for calls for action and created an assembled, interested and engaged online community which shares your passion and passions and which, like you, is prepared to be active and innovative. You (and we) don't need the paraphernalia of committees and such like: the forum is here in PNG Attitude and in The Mail ....

As a final comment: I'm reminded now of the frustration we much younger would-be change-agents felt when we first set foot in PNG and were confronted by the entrenched conservatism of the B4s. We managed then to reach an indifferent and mostly respectful accommodation with them, while pursuing our own and, at the time, radical change-based agendas. Perhaps somethings never change .......

So, keep on keeping on, Keith, and use the means that you have already created to do so. There is a huge reservoir of support for what you are trying to achieve and a growing number of us who rely on you to keep The Mail coming and the PNG Attitude active and assertive ....

Bill Brown

A sad, sad day.
Keith you gave PNGAA a breath of fresh air, and that may well have lasting effects.
Whatever the result, congratulations on what you achieved on those six short months, and thank you.
Best Wishes and Happy Birthday

Chris Viner-Smith

I was shocked and most disturbed to open up the PNGAA site this morning and find your resignation letter.

I have known about the detractors for some time and have received emails from some of them but have always upheld your direction and steadfastness in moving the PNGAA into a modern and more active organisation.

I for one am sorry to see you leave the presidency and committee but understand your reasons. I hope you will remain a strong and active member of the organisation for many years to come.

Thank you for all the help you have given to me and the cause for Patrol Officer recognition and I hope you might be able to assist in finalising the issue with me and those other members who are involved. The matter would not have progressed as far as it has without your assistance.

Phil Charley OAM

Such a shame you feel compelled to resign, Keith. Your energy and expertise was just starting to see some really worthwhile changes being implemented. Let's hope the PNGAA keeps moving forward without your leadership.

Philip Charley OAM

Richard E. Jones

As an occasional contributor to the PNGAA quarterly magazine 'Una Voce' and a reasonably long-term member I was aware of the inter-necine strife and struggles within the organisation.

Nevertheless like many other e-mail posters who have contributed to the presidential resignation thread and this one,I was saddened to read of Keith's decision to step down. He clearly has the sort of vision and planning skills so necessary to take the PNGAA towards 2020, and beyond. As Bill and Ian have pointed out, without any forward planning the PNGAA will just wither and eventually die.

I have heard, albeit second hand but from impeccable sources, about the clashes at PNGAA committee level. There remains a sizeable core group who merely want to sit about and reminisce and yarn about yesteryear in "The Territory".

Anything to do with assistance and aid to 2009 PNG would seem to fall on stony ground as far as these elderly members are concerned. Matters such as urban crime (Moresby rates in the world's Top 10 most violent cities), widening of employment opportunities, the fight against AIDS and many more pressing issues don't seem to count.

Establish another organisation? What piffle. We have one now and it's called the PNGAA.

Ian McLean

I haven't been a very good correspondent lately, but today's resignation letter on the blog made me forget my guilt and send some additional words of support.

Some months back, when I first read of your acceptance of the PNGAA Presidency, I thought to myself that the organisation was lucky to have you, what with the many other demands on your time (family, friends ... oh yeah, and work, ha ha).

The more astute PNGAA members will realise - perhaps belatedly - just how fortunate they were to have a leader who was trying so hard to breathe some life into the fading corpse.

Whoah! I just clicked back to the website for a minute, and there was Nancy Johnston's lovely piece of hatchet work.

She seems hellbent on taking her fellow 'outcasts' into extinction, so your regination should help them to reach their lemming-like goal a lot sooner.

I love her little rant: "I don't think people who have not had a REAL life affiliation with PNG are going to join an Association to support what is now a foreign country."

It's a foreign country? Now I'm beginning to understand the Australian Tourist Commission's "Where the bloody hell are you?" advert. We were duped. ;-)

Bill Welbourne

Congratulations Keith… It’s no use flogging a dead horse. The moribund attitudes of these cliques cause disharmony and will bring about the decline of the PNGAA.

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