Holman investiture a first for Mido
Votes loom as major test for PNGAA

First state visit as sun sets on Somare era

Head In the nearly 34 years since Papua New Guinea attained its Independence, there has never been a State visit to Australia by a PNG Prime Minister. Now it seems, this April, Kevin Rudd is about to make good this deficiency. Michael Somare – nearing the end of a stellar political career and truly the father of his nation – will visit Canberra where he is expected to address the Federal Parliament.

This is the latest step in the growing closeness of the relationship between Australia and Papua New Guinea, a relationship blighted since Independence by benign – and sometimes deliberate – neglect on the part of Australia. Sure, we have always provided budget support funding and we have sent (not always the most culturally aligned) aid workers there, but we have not built a relationship worthy of the name at the political or civil level.

In March last year, in one of his early foreign policy initiatives as Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd paid the first state visit any Australian leader had made to PNG. At the time, Michael Somare said: “In the past few years things have not worked out as we’ve expected. The relationship was more or less deteriorated... There was no common understanding, mutual understanding ...”

And that statement said it all: it was as serious an indictment of the Howard Government’s attitude to Australia’s nearest neighbour as you would want to read.

And what was happening at the political level was reflected at the civil level. In 2006, PNG High Commissioner Charles Lepani told Hamish McDonald of the Sydney Morning Herald: “…the older generation of Australians with close contact has gone. A lot has depended on the very robust friendship that existed in Australia up to independence. There is nostalgia among the old hands but they can’t offer much today, they’re dying off. There needs to be more people interested… After all, the Australian taxpayer is paying for it.”

Today, of course, the PNG Association – in the face of considerable pushback and vitriol from some of its members - is moving to set the civil relationship to rights. In April it will ask its 1,600 members to vote for a constitutional change that will place furthering the relationship between Australia and PNG right at the top of its agenda. This change needs a 75 percent 'yes' vote to succeed. The vote will take place at about the same time Michael Somare pays his final formal visit to Australia as head of state. There is a wonderful symmetry about this.

If you support the strengthening of our relationship with PNG, and you’re not a member of the Association, join now, and make sure the organisation reorients itself to this new position. If the vote fails it is a dead set certainty the PNGAA will have failed. The only reasonable alternative in that case will be to form a new organisation that will undertake this necessary task. But it seems to me to be far easier to reform what already exists than to start anew.

You can join the PNGAA online for just $20 by visiting its website here.


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Bob Curtis

In your Post today 04/02.You state "They are views I had to ponder carefully in allowing Publication." This implies that you have the power of censorship. That you find my Post uncharitable and bordering on the defamatory is interesting, and I presume the same applies to the Article I posted this morning regarding the Somare Family and published on the PNG News?

The same applies to the Huggins Post which in my view is insensitive and puerile in its reference to Arson and the Victorian Bush Fires. I suppose that just crept through your guard?

I don't know Mr Huggins, but he appears to be uncertain whether or not my suggestion regarding the state of PNG affairs are true or un-true. There are plenty of members who support my suggestion.

Crossing the Rubicon! what next? An Intellectual insult to add to the injury. I can't attend the AGM, because of my failed immune system which exposes me to Virus, Bacteria, and unpleasant personalities.

Keith Jackson

Colin Huggins’ nails the issue in questioning the tenor of Bob Curtis’ comments on Michael Somare. They're views I had to ponder carefully in allowing publication, since they are not only uncharitable but border on the defamatory.

Furthermore, the malice implicit in the suggestion that Sir Michael and his son might end up in gaol is particularly distasteful and reflects poorly on Mr Curtis. In the end, however, free speech triumphed.

In a personal note to me, Colin comments: “For too long Mr Curtis has had his toes in the Rubicon - now he has crossed that river - and Gaius Julius Caesar, he ain't.” Interesting times in the PNGAA.

Colin Huggins

Dear Mr Curtis - I think you should perhaps retract what you have written. Maybe true - maybe not?

It is unnecesary to have such inflammatory comments on this PNGAA Attitude blog. When you light a fire, as all Victoria now knows, you never know the consequences. Arsonists are not the flavour of the month!

I'm not sure I will be looking forward to being under the same roof as you at the SGM and the AGM in Killara in April and June. But, Mr Curtis, I will be there!

Bob Curtis

What great news that Sir Michael is finally making it to Canberra. No doubt he will have an opportunity to explain the state of his Nation and what has happened to the in excess of Fourteen Billion Australian Tax payer funds given to PNG since 1975.

Rumour has it the Sir Michael will live in Cairns once he retires, unless of course he gets a stretch in Bomana if he can't explain where the 1.34 Million came from to buy the family Real estate in Cairns. Sir Mekere Morauta and Bart Philemon are asking some embarassing questions.

I see the Left wing is still indulging in the Blame Game, now using Somare to slag the Howard Government. I suppose if push comes to shove all of our Governments must bear some responsibility for the failed state of PNG.

Maybe the products of an inferior Education Department since 1975 are the Rascols and Criminals of today. Same old story, poor teachers, poor pupils. No doubt the Contract Staff in Administration, Health, Works, and Agriculture must bear some of the blame.

If the worst comes up and Sir Michael is charged over Corruption, dont worry he wont be lonely, at least Arthur will be with him.

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