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42 posts from March 2009

Ballarat welcomes three PNG footballers

Richard Jones

It seems more and more budding footballers from Papua New Guinea intend to make the most of their opportunities to play Australian Rules.

Three young men are presently billeted with families in the Ballarat region and will play footy this autumn and winter with Goldfields club Bacchus Marsh in the BFL.

The boys are nineteen-year-old Ali Pinder, Zachary Rava, 25, and teenager Theo Gavari. As he's only 15, Theo will continue his schooling at St Patrick Boys College in Ballarat on a scholarship provided by the school.

All three have been billeted out, Bacchus Marsh Football and Netball Club spokesman Dion Miles said. "It has been a long and arduous process with complex negotiations through AFL Queensland and AFL Papua New Guinea, but after many meetings it was agreed the process would take place," said Miles.

The three boys arrived recently and have settled in well. Theo will play for St Pat's in the Victorian secondary schools' competition with transport for him between Ballarat and Bacchus Marsh organised by Marsh club members. He will also turn out for the Bacchus Marsh under-16s in the Ballarat League junior competition.

The trio hail from the Kimbe area of West New Britain. The relationship was kick-started back in 2004, Miles said. "One of our club members was working in PNG and was keenly involved in the local Aussie Rules organisations while living there.

"The relationship burgeoned to the extent that for the last two International Rules Cups our Bacchus Marsh club hosted the visiting PNG contingent.

"Last September on the MCG the PNG boys beat New Zealand by eight points in the International Cup grand final," he said.

Keravat renewal about to get started

Ronnie Ilam

I am surprised that news of developments at Kerevat high school have reached Australia. His Excellency the Governor General of PNG, Sir Paulias Matane, who was a former student of Kerevat, is continuing to assist us in this endeavour as currently he is working with the school to generate funding through the Alumni Association. His contribution is greatly appreciated.

I am also pleased that a person of his standing continues to work with us as we begin to rebuild what was once a prime institution producing many of our great leaders in this country.

I am pleased to report that my School Council finally had the opportunity to speak with the contractor in a meeting on Friday. In this meeting we were able to iron out issues and unanswered questions regarding the project.

The Council, in preparation for contract implementation, has put together a project supervisory team which comprises the technical and manpower support from the Engineering Battalion of the PNG Defence Force. In recent weeks the Secretary of National Planning delegated to the Council powers and function on the project management under this project, which means that by virtue of my position as Chairman of the Council I have now been entrusted with the role of project manager overseeing implementation on this project.

This power will now enable us to deal directly with the contractor and thus the contractor under this arrangement will from now on report to us on issues affecting the project.

Under the arrangement two Building supervisors will be based in the school to help us supervise project implementation in line with the contract scope of work. The team will work closely with Council and the other stakeholders on this project. The arrangement is unique and one that has not been explored before by institutions at this level thus I thank the National Planning Department for having the trust in the Council.

The Kerevat Rehabilitation involves three phases: dormitories; classrooms; teacher’ houses. The current project will implement Phase 1. We believe project funding under the two remaining phases will become available later under the RESSI funding now managed by National Planning.

The magnitude of the development is high and may take 2 - 3 years. Because of the controversy surrounding RESSI funding in the media, we believe the arrangement will ensure funding is put to its intended purpose and that this project is done in an accountable and transparent manner in the interest of students, parents and the people of East New Britain and PNG.

Thank you once again and I trust that you will all continue to support us in the difficult task ahead.

Ronnie Ilam is head the Kokopo UPNG Campus and honorary chairman of Keravat School Council.

Cairns 1964-65 ASOPA reunion 2009

Sue Ellison

Planning for the second ASOPA class of 1964-65 reunion is well underway. The reunion is to be held in Cairns from Wednesday 30 September to Saturday 3 October. Checkout will be Saturday morning following the final get-together at the reunion breakfast.

The organizers are aiming for attendance figures in the mid-thirties. Those attending to date: Annette (nee Sandstrom) & Malcolm Ashe; Sue (nee Kenway) & Kevin Ellison; Ken Grant; Gabriele (nee Nitzche) Litfin; Ed Brumby & partner; Rik & Ursula Ralph; John & Gaye Barclay; Robyn Edmonds; and Col Ridding.

 The proposed itinerary includes a welcoming cocktail reception, a trip to the Atherton Tablelands, a trip on the Kuranda Skyrail or out to the Barrier Reef and a grand reunion dinner. People from other ASOPA classes who would like to participate are welcome. Please contact Sue Ellison at [email protected] or phone (07) 4091 3359.

Private aid delivers results for PNG

David Keating

Operation Library Books for Karkar Secondary School is almost complete. The first collection points was at Clairvaux-Mackillop College in Brisbane. From there the books were loaded on a ship organised by Hon Ken Fairweather, Member for Sumkar and Chairman of the Karkar Secondary School Board of Governors.

The second collection point was the Rotary Club of Howrah in Tasmania. They did a great job and over 450 cartons of books and other equipment were delivered by the Club members to the Hobart wharf on 16 March.

The ship, Marina Svetaeva, is currently provisioning in Hobart and will be leaving for PNG in about 10 days time. The ship is due at Karkar Island on 16 April and the books will be delivered to the school on the same day.

Hilary and I went to Hobart last Thursday to speak at the Howrah Rotary Club Meeting. We thanked the Rotarians and their partners on behalf of the staff and students of Karkar Secondary School and all those who had also contributed to the successful outcome of this project.

A rough estimate is that we have sent up between 5,000 and 7,000 good quality library books. A very conservative estimate of the second-hand value of the books would be $60,000.

Unheralded Sisters helped build PNG

Dr Ann Prendergast

The November 2008 issue of the newsletter of the Golding Centre for Women’s History, Theology and Spirituality at the Australian Catholic University has reviews of two books that make significant contributions to the religious and social history of Papua New Guinea and Australia. The first book presents a wide and diversified national canvas, while the second give a more localised exploration.

MercySisters In 1956 the Australian Mercy Sisters, from 17 independent congregations spread across Australia, responded to the post-war call for missionary service in PNG.

Sisters had necessarily to be volunteers for a field of service not covered in their constitutions, but their generous response lead to a remarkable investment over the years in both personnel and resources across a number of PNG dioceses.

The Sisters engaged in a wide variety of works, often under circumstances calling for courage, initiative and improvisation. They provided the local peoples first with primary but later secondary and tertiary education.

They also had a health and hospital ministry, with certificated training of nurses as well as providing pastoral care in its many forms. Individual Sisters became significant actors in implementing indigenous leadership in various fields of the Church’s ministry and also in the provision of university education for civic leadership roles.

In contrast to the mission of the Mercy Sisters, the mission of the Presentation Sisters was confined to the diocese of Aitape, although, later, individual Sisters worked in Port Moresby and Kavieng.

These Sisters, too, were all volunteers who came from the six independent congregations of the Presentation Order throughout Australia. Beginning with primary education and pastoral and health care for the local people, they later expanded into secondary education and nursing.

These women worked in isolated areas with limited resources but, as their work progressed over the years, they became key players in pastoral and educational developments in the Aitape diocese.

Teresa A Flaherty, ‘Crossings in Mercy: The Story of the Sisters of Mercy Papua New Guinea 1956-2006’, published by the Sisters of Mercy, Papua New Guinea Region, 2008

MR MacGinley, ‘Presentation Sisters in Papua New Guinea 1966-2006’, published by Triple D Books, Wagga, 2008

Census patrol: Pikinini no nap kamap gut

The ABC website has a feature entitled The Making of Modern Australia that provides an opportunity to share stories about life in Australia from 1945 onwards. The stories will become part of a lasting record of Australia's history as told by the people who lived it.

Each story on the site is also appraised by the producers of an upcoming ABC-TV documentary series, The Making of Australia, for possible inclusion in the series.

Paul Oates, a regular contributor to PNG ATTITUDE, yesterday had a story, The annual village census patrol, accepted for publication on The Making of Modern Australia website. You can read the full article here. Meanwhile, here's an extract …

During a census patrol in a village in the Aseki Patrol Post area, a family of Kukukuku lined up in front of me. Going through the family names, I called out the name of a young boy, who had been marked in the book by a previous officer as having been born over three years ago. The mother quickly pointed with her chin to the baby in her bilum. Thinking that the child may have died and another given the same name, I said “Nogat, em olsem dispela” (“No, like this”), and marked with my hand, half way up my thigh above the knee, indicating the general height of a three year old. Again, after calling the child’s name the woman’s chin jerked in direction of the bilum on her back.

Mystified, I approached the woman who was standing next to her husband. Both people did not seem especially smart and I wondered what was going on. The policeman standing next to me had already prompted a response from the sullen looking father with a terse “Kaikai we?” (where do you eat?), indicating he should open his mouth and reply to a question asked of him.

Asking the woman to open her bilum I peered into it and was horrified to see an emaciated form of a curled up, crinkled, wizened monkey that was apparently a three year old child. I glared daggers at father who cringed away and explained via the village Tultul, “Mama inogat susu na emi no save kamap gut” (His mother’s milk dried up and he didn’t grow up very well).

I turned to the Luluai and instructed him in no uncertain terms to take the mother and child immediately to the Aseki Health Centre for treatment. When I arrived back at the station at the end of the patrol, I checked and the mother and child had already been flown to the District capital Lae and were now at the Angau Base Hospital. The child, who was severely malnourished and dehydrated, was eventually saved and I heard later, survived to grow up.

Later that night around the camp fire, I confided to my policeman (in Tokpisin) that, “When I saw the child’s condition I was so angry, I damn near hit the father!”

He replied in the same language “You’d have had to stand in line, Sir.”

Post-It Note – In a comment that will leave its stamp on punmeister Prof Martin Hadlow, Paul adds: “We were driving past the letterbox at the front gate yesterday when Sue said she’d checked for mail and got a fright to discover a large frog in the letterbox. ‘Well of course,’ I said, ‘It would have to be large as it's obviously a male frog.’

Feds positive on Kiap recognition: media

AAP and the Melbourne Age today report that the Australian Government will investigate how the work of Kiaps in pre-Independence PNG can be recognised.

The AAP news agency's Port Moresby correspondent, Ilya Gridneff, quoting the Office of Special Minister for State writes that a spokesman for Senator Faulkner confirmed the government is looking into how Kiaps’ work can be appropriately awarded.

"The meeting [yesterday] went very well and it’s with government now,” the unnamed spokesman said. “We are considering how the recognition should happen.”

AAP also quotes Kiaps’ spokesman Chris Viner-Smith as saying the Kiap recognition campaign fell on deaf ears during former Australian prime minister John Howard's rule but now looks like being realised after six years campaigning.

Mr Gridneff writes that the Australian government wants to officially recognise the pioneering work of the Australian patrol officers who brought modernity and development to PNG before Independence.

Keith Jackson told AAP that Monday's talks in Canberra were positive, with the government recognising the Kiaps’ bid to highlight what has become a forgotten part of Australian history.

“The goodwill is there, the first chunk of the battle has been won,” Jackson is quoted as saying. “The government believes the Kiaps deserve recognition and should be rewarded with something tangible. They will come back to us with an idea as to how to achieve this.

“It's a bit tricky because Kiaps don't fit into any specific group. So the government needs to work out what form the recognition should take, like a medal or certificate.”

Jackson said 500-1,000 people along with widows would be eligible under their proposal to acknowledge ground-breaking work carried out in the Australian administered former Territory.

Aussie Sarah joins Pacific Island office

Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs, Duncan Kerr, has an acute eye for talent beyond politics when he recruits staff to his ministerial office.

Late last year, ‘Alopi Latukefu (aka ‘the Tongan Tonsils’) was appointed his chief of staff. ‘Alopi - the son of Dr Ruth Fink Latukefu, celebrated lecturer in Anthropology at ASOPA - is also leader of ‘Alopi Latukefu & Palermo Express’, a five-piece ACT jazz band, of which one critic wrote: “Latukefu’s oaken voice mines the soft sensuality of Pacific Romanticism with the rhythms, melodies and skat of the jazz world.”

I met with ‘Alopi and Sarah Bilney, recently appointed as an adviser to Mr Kerr, on my visit to Canberra this week. Sarah was just back from Bougainville and I was eager for a first-hand account of developments in PNG’s autonomous province.

It turns out that Sarah is not only very accomplished in her vocation (she has completed a masters in international relations at the London School of Economics) and has a wonderful political pedigree (daughter of amiable Hawke-Keating Minister Gordon Bilney, who served a spell as Minister for Development Cooperation and Pacific Island Affairs), but she is also Australia’s leading female poker player.

Aussie_Sarah At the 2005 World Series of Poker in Las Vegas, Sarah won an impressive $200,000 and finished as the second-highest-ranked woman and the second-highest-ranked Australian, outlasting 5,600 other players. Reporters at the tournament dubbed her ‘Aussie Sarah’, a nickname that has stuck

“Ever since I was a kid we'd go on holidays and play cards around the dinner table,” she said. Sarah slotted in the Las Vegas tournament between university exams.

You need nerves of steel, an ability to bluff, a good dose of luck, and a sense of the maths of the game, she said. "One of the things I've been studying in my degree is game theory (which tries to predict how people will interact given particular pay-offs or punishments) and there's probably a link there to how I play."

Sarah’s father, Gordon, a gently humorous man, always gave me a good hearing during my Canberra forays representing the interests of the ABC in the 1980s.

There’s a great story about him. Shortly after losing his seat in the 1996 Federal election, Gordon wrote to a whining local official: "One of the great pleasures of private life is that I need no longer to be polite to nincompoops, bigots, curmudgeons and twerps who infest local government bodies and committees such as yours.” I understand the feeling.

Kiap recognition is a step closer today

Chris Viner-Smith's six-year struggle to gain official Australian Government recognition of the contribution of patrol officers to the development of Papua New Guinea as a nation state moved a step closer to success in Canberra today.

Chris and I met with Martin Bonsey, a senior adviser to Special Minister of State, Senator John Faulkner, who was accompanied by two officers of the Prime Minister's Department, Peter Rush and Glen Gore Phillips.

The three men were well briefed, sympathetic to our advocacy and all believe that Kiaps have demonstrated a case for official recognition and deserve such recognition.

They also understand and support the notion of making such recognition tangible, whatever form this may take.

There is still some way to go to turn what is a general set of agreements into a firm undertaking, but today's discussions were friendly and productive and they will continue after the Minister has reflected on the outcomes of the meeting and conveyed a position to us.

Is this the kiaps' day on Capital Hill?

Canberra: Later this morning, Chris Viner-Smith and I will make our way to the Senate entrance of the Australian Parliament for a meeting that may determine whether the Federal Government, on behalf of the Australian people, will officially recognise the contribution made by Kiaps to the creation of a nation.

Kiaps were in the frontline of Pax Australiana in Papua New Guinea. In the face of hazard and isolation, they provided the context in which other services could be delivered and the nation could be built.

Canberra could have policies. Konedobu could issue orders. But these young field officers had to deliver the rule of law and the architecture of governance. They did this, supported by PNG police placed under their control and village and clan leaders who they selected and appointed.

They brought pacification, law and order and government – and they were instrumental in building a nation. Many lost their lives and had their health permanently impaired in undertaking this task.

In the period before Independence in 1975, these men were told that their services were no longer required and, without fuss or fanfare, they returned to Australia and dispersed. There was no official recognition; not even a thankyou. Not that the Kiaps had great expectations. They had never expected much from officialdom, which they tended to view with a genial cynicism.

Now, 35 years on, there is a move afoot to gain official government recognition for these men.

Senator John Faulkner is Special Minister of State. He’s interested in this issue. He’s expressed understanding of the Kiaps’ role and has praised it. And he’s asked that we be given a hearing.

So at 11 o’clock this morning, Chris and I will meet with one of his principal advisers, Martin Bonsey, and two bureaucrats from the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. We’ll let you know how we make out.

Somare set for late April visit to Australia

Canberra: It’s less than five minutes walk from the Hotel Canberra where I’m staying to the PNG High Commission, with its distinctive haus tambaran architecture, and – if you want to take a bit longer – you can stroll along a pathway on the foreshore of Lake Burley Griffin where, on a warm Autumn morning, the natural beauty of the bush capital calms the mind and energises the spirit.

PNG’s high commissioner Charles Lepani has provided a great deal of the depth and understanding that continues to do so much to underpin the new found strength of the Australia-PNG relationship. His third secretary, Helen, also provides a most invigorating cup of highlands coffee. Now that’s something Australians should consume more of.

Charles tells me that the State visit to Australia of Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare now has definite dates attached to it.  Sir Michael arrives in Canberra on Monday 26 April and, while here, will have discussions with Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and also deliver a major address at the National Press Club.

Later he will visit Melbourne (to inspect the scene of the devastating bushfires), Ingham (floods) and perhaps Sydney to visit his old friend Gough Whitlam, if Gough is up to it.

I’ve observed in these Notes before that the PNG responded magnificently to the natural disasters that beset Australia in the late Summer.

The PNG Government and communities across the country from Aitape to Buka did so much to assist the bushfire and flood victims – giving millions of kina in support. (“Australia has done so much for PNG,” Charles said. “We felt we ought to recognise this and give something back.”)

So far, PNG is weathering the global economic storm well. The country’s budget position is strong and the huge natural gas project, which promises to have a transforming impact on PNG, is still on track for a 2012 start.

PNG is gradually making inroads into its dreadful HIV AIDS problem, which has been a terrible blight on the country. Political stability such as PNG has not had for a long time is helping in such areas.

An underlying and chronic problem, however, is the performance of a public service plagued by low morale and inefficiency. The Government is trying to induce more of a management culture in the public service, although it acknowledges that this will take some years.

Meanwhile, the relationship with Australia is strong, as the impending visit by Sir Michael reinforces.

PNG needs slow & steady improvement

Paulus Ripa

Historians have pointed out the cyclical nature of types of governments. It is however fatalistic to not do anything about this. We leave in a different era; more people are literate and communications systems are fantastically fast and we have the lessons of history to learn from if we can (though PNG politicians may be the last people to take history lessons).

What PNG needs in order to extract itself from the quagmire is neither messiahs nor even revolutions. What it needs is a slow but steady improvement in the systems that run the business of government.

We have time and time again put our faith in new faces into parliament only to see them becoming different individuals because of the forces that compelled Lord Acton to write “absolute power corrupts absolutely”. Example: we tired of Julius Chan and the Sandline business so we put Bill Skate in and got the worst government in the short history of PNG.

We need to put our faith in systems that do not allow individuals to be tempted (and they are only human) and plug the holes.

A little progress has been made in this instance and we should remind ourselves of a few. Heads of Departments used to be appointed by the government of the day. Today the Public Service Commission goes through the applications based on public service criteria and shortlists three candidates who are then presented to Cabinet for their decision.

MPs used to have unlimited access to their electoral funds. Today they have to put in project submissions that are vetted by the Department of Provincial Affairs. Many MPs have been unable to access those funds because they are unable to submit proper project proposals. (That those millions are parked in a trust account is another matter.)

Much of AusAID funding is tied funding which is governed by strict criteria. For instance, funding for hospitals in PNG need the approval of an AusAID adviser in each hospital for those funds to be released and on the basis that previous disbursement was properly acquitted.

In fact it is now much harder for politicians to steal as there is intense monitoring and the Ombudsman Commission has put a number of them in jail. Where they do manage to get rich is from kickbacks from big business. The clever ones put in cooked up project proposals to get access to their electoral funds and senior ministers have some access to funds in trust accounts that may be difficult to monitor in terms of spending.

Superannuation funds used to be very poorly managed with politicised boards. Reforms have ensured that the two main super funds are now managed very well and are performing very well. Many of these reforms were put in place by Sir Mekere Morauta during his term in government. This work needs to be continued.

There is huge outrage at the moment because parliamentarians have voted massive increases in accommodation and vehicle allowances. Whilst the outrage is understandable, our focus should now be on ensuring that the Salaries and Remuneration Committee puts in place transparent and effective mechanisms.

At the moment there is more stealing and bribery by high ranking public servants and in government funded independent or autonomous departments.

I think that is really where AusAID is needed: providing experts who can help maintain and improve systems and mentor and support PNG experts. This mentoring should not only be technical; it is now apparent that individuals need mentoring in order to develop and mature as people able to withstand the pressures of working in such an environment.

PNG – sometimes enough is enough

Gelab Piak

I have passion and love my nation. I love my country so much; I can’t even find the words to define it. I feel hurt when I see a young woman walking on the dusty road with three hungry crying children behind her.

Eighty percent of the population of PNG lives in rural areas, where the roads, bridges, infrastructure and school building are deteriorating and people have little or no access to government services. I see this as a violation of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights article 21(2), where it states: Everyone has the right to equal access to public services in his country.

It’s like living in a fairy tale; each year we hear billion dollar profits announced by companies in PNG, but there is no tangible development. May I ask: where is our (the public’s) money going? Workers throughout the country are living in dire conditions: rotting houses, some condemned. Thousands of public servants don’t have a house provided by the government. They live in settlements. It is estimated that nearly 2,000 police officers in Madang Province have no house.

Ok Tedi Mining has operated in Western Province for 29 years; but there seems no sign of development except the 150km stretch of dirt road from Kiunga to the mine site. Lihir Gold has over the years announced consecutive billion dollar profits, but recently New Ireland Governor Sir Julius Chan complained in the media (The National, 16 March 2009) of no tangible development in his province.

Why is the PNG Government hypnotizing the world by announcing billion dollar kina budgets yet the country’s infrastructure is crumbling?

The Government is sensitive on issues relating to its corrupt practices. It uses its position to crush protesters (e.g., the 1997 UPNG protest in which several students were shot by police) because it realises that the educated elite, especially university students, know about these corrupt activities.

The Government controls every department by abuse of power, using its discretion to appoint the heads of all departments. So when Members of Parliament misuse public funds, the agency heads do not comment or pretend not to know a thing, and the corrupt practice goes on until it adds up to millions of Kina being stolen.

For example, the PNG National Aids Council is being investigated for misuse of funds that were donated by aid donors such as the Clinton Foundation and AusAID who pumped millions of dollars into NAC to combat HIV/AIDS in PNG. Members of Parliament are also corrupted; they offer project contracts to their own private companies.

On Thursday (Post Courier, 19 March 2009), MPs voted themselves a hefty 10 million Kina bonus in perks. Who are these MPs to do this while the workers and public servants live in dire conditions on a K7 a fortnight housing allowance while MPs vote themselves a housing allowance of K1,720 a week? Ordinary citizens suffer and live in acute poverty while parliamentarians and their K12,000 drivers are chauffeured around in K50, 000 tinted glass cars.

Should PNG have a revolution?

Yes, why not. Many countries that are now well off (France, Russia, China, the United States) had revolutions. Change is a movement from one stage to another, it brings advancement and development. Revolution can be the mechanism of that change. PNG was given independence on a plate. We didn’t have to fight for it, that’s why we don’t appreciate our freedom and take it for granted.

I believe PNG can achieve a bloodless revolution. It only takes the will of the people. We are systemized by the Melanesian chief system, that’s why we respect the Chief, but in order to change for the better, sometimes you have to gather up the courage to draw the line and say enough is enough. It’s now or never.

This year on PNG No Corruption Day, the author would like to organise a march against corruption but is hindered by several hurdles. If you wish to find out more or would like to help, email him at [email protected]

Reality is blurred when fact meets fiction

Paul-Oates2-small I’m still awaiting Nancy Johnston’s permission to use an edited extract from her appraisal of Philip Fitzpatrick’s ‘Bamahuta – Leaving Papua’, approval that perhaps will not be forthcoming. As I understand it, the essence of Nancy’s concern with ‘Bamahuta’ is that it doesn’t clearly identify itself as fiction – and, in Nancy’s view, it isn’t really fiction anyway, so much as distorted and misconstrued fact. In this analysis of the debate, PAUL OATES seeks to square the circle.

I suggest that any debate over written content is more germane to  writing that clearly intends to convey factual information, or opinion based on fact, rather than fiction. Where factual content is the goal, as say in a report, people who feel their integrity impugned can justifiably raise concerns if the facts presented are awry.

One aspect that appeals to me about Philip Fitzpatrick's novel is his ability to get away from a report-like tome to convey thoughtful observations that we could never do in our sterile Patrol Reports. Of course we never expected an American University to hawk our Reports around the globe as historical documents. I cringe at the thought of my limited report writing ability of these early years now being on show to the world.

Phil’s perspective about how a contract kiap was treated by some senior officers also fits my experience, but there were many other senior officers who were helpful and supportive. To me - a young, green 21-year old just arrived in TPNG - a certain amount of hazing was expected, given this was part of almost any organisation one joined in those days. You didn't have to like it, however, and I don't believe it helped me learn the ropes.

My belief is that the true value of novels like Phil’s is that they are able to convey a sense of what it was like for us in the 60's and 70's to people who will never experience these distant days. That to me is the pre-eminent issue, getting the story to those who will read it. The vast majority of people who buy a book like this want to be entertained as well as informed.

Sure, some people who were there at the time will feel that an entirely factual report should be presented to the public. To the vast majority of readers, however, while factual details are important, they shouldn't get in the way of a good story. Editors bear this in mind as they seek to sell the product to the widest possible audience.

I remember seeing a review of the making of the film Zulu where relatives of one of the 24th Foot Battalion's miscreants, Private Alfred Hook VC, objected to how he was portrayed. The answer from the producers was that they wanted to make a drama not a dry documentary.

So, if a novel is intended to entertain whereas a report is written to inform, I suggest the two perspectives can never be fully reconciled.

I can only say that I empathise entirely with the scenarios Phil presents, and reiterate that I liked the book when I first read it and thoroughly enjoyed reading it again last week. I recommend it to everyone.

Bamahuta controversy: now the debate

Bamahuta09 With Philip Fitzpatrick’s highly praised novel, Bamahuta – Leaving Papua, on the eve of its second printing (the only thing changed, the cover), Nancy Johnston has entered debate on the issue of who stopped John Kleinig’s favourable review of the book, originally published in Una Voce, from appearing on the PNGAA website. Censorship most foul!

“To me it became a closed subject,” Mrs Johnston says. “I had absolutely nothing to do with what went on the website.”

Nevertheless, when the book was first published, Nancy had seen fit to take Philip Fitzpatrick to task. She has sent me a 36-page document detailing her views on inaccuracies and errors of interpretation in the book. These Nancy raised in a polite exchange with Mr Fitzpatrick in 2005, when the book saw the light of day.

Here are a few colourful quotes from Nancy:

“Could it be wishful thinking on his [Fitzpatrick’s] part, after being told about the seconding of patrol officers to the Security Branch he has written this part of his story from make-believe or perhaps a bit of hearsay?”

“I got a vague feeling Mr Fitzpatrick had a chip on his shoulder and an aversion of senior officers, judging by some snide remarks.”

“I cannot recall the names of the junior patrol officers who were brought in for a three months stint [in Security Branch]. I remember one seconded patrol officer, attached to the Branch in 1970, had bad body odour and after lunch he frequently smelt of tinned fish. Not even the hints from patrol officer Tony Murray and the presentation of a cake of soap made a difference; he threw the soap into the waste bin! From memory he was sent back to field duties before his time was up. Also I know the reason why, but will not disclose it here.”

“One person reading my criticism [of Bamahuta] said it could be a lesson for you [Fitzpatrick] on how not to write a book like that again.”

For his part, Philip observes: “I’m afraid Nancy's comments have all become tedious and boring and a bit sad.” But, in 2005 and still today, the author is punctilious: “I appreciate Nancy's point of view and her right to hold it,” he says. “We had a lively correspondence for a while and she was always polite but insistent.”

Nancy comments: “As you can see by his letters [Philip] was decent how [sic] he accepted my criticism and that is the reason for me wanting to purchase the new edition - to see if he omitted some of the ridiculous rubbish.”

Nancy should save her money if this is the outcome she wants.

So we still don’t know who put the kybosh on the PNGAA book review. But, on the eve of the relaunch of Bamahuta – Leaving Papua, at least we’ve got a good discussion underway.

PNG ATTITUDE will be publishing more of Nancy’s colourful views together with an appraisal of the debate by Paul Oates. 'Bamahuta - Leaving Papua' is available from Diane Andrews Publishing, which you can link to here. When you read this book, which has received excellent reviews, we’d like to hear from you.

Organisation, not revolution, the answer

Paul Oates

Arnold_Oates_280109 Gelab Piak’s frustration and passion about the current situation in PNG are palpable. No one feels this more deeply than those of us who worked so hard to provide something worthwhile to your people and your country.

The problem is not unique however and you should bear in mind that the very leaders you now mention as being the source of the problems concerning PNG were, when I knew some of them, equally passionate and frustrated at the government of the day.

The syndrome you need to be careful not to perpetuate is one that continually frustrates many countries. Look at the way in which the countries in South America used to constantly overthrow dictators only to have the leader of the 'revolution' become the next dictator. Look at the situation in much of Africa today.

What then, you ask, is the answer? Well, in Australia, elections are not usually won but lost. Once a government has been in power for some time, it tends to lose its way and make many mistakes. This is often because it tends appoint advisers who only provide positive feedback and filtered advice on practical matters and important policy considerations (i.e., read sycophants and 'yes men').

Ministers tend to appoint public servants who are politically aligned and this influence  trickles down through the departments. This tends to create a climate where only public servants who agree with the Minister's ideas are promoted or retained. After a while, the government becomes isolated from the general community and vulnerable to become irrelevant and out of touch.

The problem is that there must be a viable and effective alternative government in the wings, ready to take over when the existing government falls. In a pluralistic society, an official Opposition or alternative government must have undertaken the necessary planning and training to be ready and able to take over when they win an election.

In PNG, the main problems are that there is no universal education benchmark available to everyone and that communications are at best fragmented and limited due to geography and income. This tends to allow the current government a free rein to influence enough members to form a government by the use of favours and influence.

The policies introduced by Sir Mekere Morauta concerning 'no confidence' votes and intended to provide stability of government, have inadvertently provided the means whereby a sitting government can virtually rule without worrying about a no confidence motion threatening responsibility and accountability of actions.

So what's the answer? Well, I know it's dull and I know it's boring, but in order to ensure that the same problems do not constantly reoccur, potential leaders like yourself must prepare a party machine and a platform that appeals to the majority of voters.

On achieving recognition, there must be a party machine to ensure everyone speaks with the same voice and 'sings from the same song sheet.' Others have done it so it's not impossible. However, like most things in life, nothing worthwhile is ever easy otherwise everyone would be doing it.

Photo: Paul in conservative blue, Dick Arnold in socialist pink, beer in populist amber [Diane Bohlen]

Gulp! Mail readers asked to make a choice

The March issue of The Mail is now safely archived in PNG ATTITUDE EXTRA. When this month’s issue of the newsletter was distributed to some 300 people, I circulated a note asking readers if they wanted to receive it by email, as differentiated from reading similar information on this blog. Tell me, I asked, if you want to continue getting the newsletter, or whether you're satisfied with this website.

I’m not too unhappy to report that early returns from about 80 readers indicate you’re still  stuck in the age of Gutenberg. The desire to receive the newsletter is running at a ratio of better than 30 to one compared with those people who are satisifed, simply, to get the same information on the website. Economists always knew that the trouble with free goods was their failure to force a choice!

Those of you who regularly read this website and receive The Mail know there’s a considerable overlap between the content of both publications. That shouldn’t surprise, e.g., the March newsletter comprised about 10,000 words and PNG ATTITUDE would probably have at least twice, maybe thrice, that in any month you care to nominate. And there’s only so much these poor tired fingers can produce.

I'll say this for The Mail. It organises the material more efficiently, and offers only what I consider the best of each month’s offerings on PNG ATTITUDE. It also frequently provides longer versions of material on this website. So it's not really the same product.

Now the punchline....  If you receive The Mail, you need to let me know that you still want it emailed to you each month. Silence will be taken as acknowledgement that you don’t require the email service and that you're happy to get your fix on this blog.

And, if you don’t receive The Mail already, and you want to do so (although it is reproduced on this site within a couple of days of publication), you should email me. And I’ll add your name to the (free) distribution list.

PNG - a victim of history’s great cycle ?

Paul Oates

In 1787, Alexander Tyler, a Scottish history professor at the University of Edinburgh, had this to say about the fall of the Athenian Republic some 2,000 years prior. “A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government.

"A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship.”

“The average age of the worlds greatest civilizations from the beginning of history, has been about 200 years. During those 200 years, these nations always progressed through the following sequence:

1. From bondage to spiritual faith;
2. From spiritual faith to great courage;
3. From courage to liberty;
4. From liberty to abundance;
5. From abundance to complacency;
6. From complacency to apathy;
7. From apathy to dependence;
8. From dependence back into bondage.”

If however the process is in fact circular, there is every reason to suspect that the comments by a PNG Parliamentarian about progress could also be true, namely: “Mr Speaker, you can progress forwards and you can have progress backwards.” Given this observation, if the continual process of nation building and dissolution is circular, why does the process have to progress clockwise? Why can’t it also progress anti clockwise?

Might the country we knew as PNG at 1975 have been at Stage 1 above and just progressing in some parts to Stage 2? Has PNG then reverted anticlockwise to stage 8?

Many former colonies might see themselves as actually having progressed to Stage 3. The problem for PNG was that there was no real fight for liberty. For the elite, as well as the ‘just contacted’, it was a ‘no contest’.

This issue in itself creates a significant problem when a new nation created from a disparate and varied ethnic background tries to establish some form of cohesion. Look at countries like Nigeria, India, (Tito’s) Yugoslavia, the nations of the Middle East and Indonesia. All suffered or are suffering from the problem of trying to hold a nation of illogically imposed national borders together when no such historical basis exists.

In 1975, the Australian government and the PNG elite had only around a decade or less of examples of former colonies to learn from. Maybe there is no easy way of jumping ahead of the nation building process. The Westminster system is ephemeral and will only work where there is a fairly uniform and nationwide education base and an effective, universally available and independent communications system. Neither were established in PNG prior to Independence.

In regard to the notion of the best form of government for the right circumstances, the real problem may have been one of perspective. In 1975, the Australian Government saw its mission as bequeathing a system of government to a collection of disparate clans, tribes and cultures that were neither prepared for nor aware of what was being thrust upon them.

The natural order of human nature allowed PNG to be ‘progressed’ anticlockwise. But who can say if this is wrong in the long term. In the short term, however, it is easy to draw comparisons and conclusions.

For those of us who experienced a system of responsible and accountable albeit bureaucratic dictatorship (i.e., the Kiap system), and I believe it worked well given almost a total lack of resources and support, it is a hard to accept that the people we worked so hard to help are now a lot worse off in many ways.

Perhaps history will not judge us too harshly when comparisons are made in 50 or 100 years time. The problem is that none of us will be around to defend ourselves or to tell it like it was. History is always written by the victors, but who will they be, I wonder?

Bamahuta: gripping, wry, humorous read

Brian Darcey

Bamahuta09 People who lived and worked in Papua New Guinea prior to 1975, when independence was prematurely thrust on an ill-prepared and largely unwilling population by the Australian Government, are becoming thin on the ground as the years roll on.

Most former colonies including PNG have coped with their new status with varying degrees of success, and a recently republished book by former Kiap Philip Fitzpatrick would be a welcome addition to any collector of stories written by the men who brought youth, stamina and dedication to the task of preparing a stone age country for political independence.

Rescued from its out of print oblivion by niche publisher Diane Andrews of Cairns, Bamahuta. Leaving Papua reeks of authenticity and personal acquaintance with the people of Papua New Guinea by a writer who lived and worked with them as a Kiap in the final years of Australia's occupation of Papua from 1967-73, two years before independence.

Like others who returned to PNG after 1975, including the writer of this review, Philip returned from time to time after the departure of the Australian administration, and was appalled and saddened by the shambolic and lawless depths to which the country he knew and loved had descended.

The opening chapter of the book has a vivid account of an armed payroll hijack at a remote airstrip which Fitzpatrick survived after his driver was shot and badly injured. It makes gripping reading.

There is much humour and wry comment by this percipient and acute observer of mankind, both black and white, some of it racier and more personal than in books written by former kiaps like Ivan Champion, Jack Hides and JK McCarthy, but it deserves a place alongside these in the Papua New Guinea section on your bookshelf.

Bougainville Blue ‘Bamahuta: Leaving Papua’ by Philip Fitzpatrick is now available from its new publisher, Diane Andrews Publishing.

Brian Darcey’s latest book, ‘Bougainville Blue’, another novel solidly based on real events in PNG is also available. For further information go to the publisher's website here.

The first seconded teachers 50 years on

David Craig

The first short course for seconded teachers started at ASOPA fifty years ago last January. The majority of the teachers recruited for two or four year terms were from NSW and Queensland but other States and the ACT were represented.

There was a large group of newly recruited CPO’s on a short course at the same time. Some Kiaps was also in residence and they kept us intrigued with exciting tales of life in the Territory. Of course, being Kiaps, many of the tales were highly embellished but we didn’t know this until we had spent many months in our newly adopted country. The Kiaps certainly made the women teachers feel very welcome, especially as they had just arrived from isolated postings.

The focus, apart from the cultural aspects of PNG and an attempt to dilute our expected culture shock, was the teaching of English as a Second Language using the situational method. Our lecturers, as far as I can remember, were mainly from the ABC, and they had regular lessons broadcast each week. We also observed evening classes each week, where immigrants were taught English..

On one occasion a Thai woman was introduced to our class and was invited to say five words. To our untrained ears she said the same word five times. After living and teaching English in Thailand, I now understand that Thai has five tones and many words sound the same to the untrained ear. You have to be careful not to call your mother a dog.

Our time at ASOPA was exciting although, with family in Sydney, I missed out on boarding house life and the social implications, like parties every night.

A most memorable experience was when a severe flu swept through the course. Officials decided it was unwise to allow us to proceed to PNG whilst the infection was active. This meant that our bulk booking on a Qantas flight was cancelled and we were sent on recreation leave. A small group spent this time at Coolangatta, an unexpected bonus.

Eventually a DC4 was sent south from Far North Queensland. The flight took off from Sydney at 2 am with the majority of the course on board, landed in Brisbane to pick up the Queensland teachers and CPO’s and then in Townsville and Cairns to take on cargo for PNG.

It was a long, slow flight made bearable by the fact that we knew each other and were able to party on. As evening approached, alarm swept through the plane when rumours circulated that Port Moresby did not have night landing facilities and we might have to turn back to Cairns. Fortunately the pilot pushed it and we landed just on dark.

We were accommodated at the Boroko Hotel and learnt we had to vacate our rooms early each morning as a large bulk tanker backed up to the main door in the dormitory style block and pumped clouds of potent insecticide into the building to eradicate mosquitoes. It would not have been prudent to be caught in bed.

The young men in our group experienced the full impact of culture shock as soon as they reached Moresby when they observed the local women wearing only grass skirts. For three days it was difficult to know where to look, but we acclimatized.

Our next few days at Konedobu were exciting as further orientation took place and appointments were announced. Mine was to Henganofi Primary T School in the Eastern Highlands and it was accompanied by the chilling addendum that most of the school had burnt down the previous week and I was expected to oversee the rebuilding.

My mind was still anchored down South and I found it difficult to envisage how I was to do this. But I did not take into account the expertise of my Tolai teacher and the resourcefulness of the school students. A couple of months later we had a better set of buildings than had been there before and I had learned how versatile New Guineans were.

At this stage in 1959 there were only two expatriate government teachers outside Goroka in the Eastern Highlands. One in Kainantu and me. In 1961 some E Course teachers arrived.

After 12 months, I was transferred to Gon Primary T School in Kundiawa. It seems the Chimbus had great influence and had demanded that a masta be in charge of their school. It was a move I appreciate to this day, as I met my wife of 47 years teaching in the Lutheran Mission at Ega, adjacent to Kundiawa.

On reflection ASOPA opened a new aspect in my life and proved a very valuable launch into a series of experiences that have taken me all over the world teaching English in many varied environments.

Minister commits to Keravat rejuvenation

Following recent public criticism of PNG’s four national high schools, Education Minister James Marape has told Parliament they will be renovated. Attention focused on the schools at Aiyura, Sogeri, Passam and Keravat following revelations of dilapidated buildings, insufficient funds, alcohol brewing and cult activities.

Mr Marape assured Parliament that he would look at the problems affecting national high schools, which he said were the responsibility of the Education Department. He advised that he was in communication with National Planning to deploy Rehabilitation of Education School Infrastructure funds to the institutions.

It's not all doom and gloom in PNG

Paulus Ripa

As a Papua New Guinean who grew up during the pre independence era and am now a public servant, I have enjoyed reading on this site for the last three weeks. From different sides of the fence we all remember that era with fondness.

As to the themes of PNG failing and imminent revolution, I have mixed feelings. I share the sentiments of Dr Ninkama but feel that all is not gloomy and lost. There are many dedicated people both in government and in the bureaucracy who are trying very hard to make things work. I am optimistic that in time a critical mass of like-minded people will bring about change but it will be slow and it will take several generations.

I trained for several years in Australian hospitals and could have stayed in Oz. I didn’t because the problems in this country have made it challenging to work here and try to find solutions. (Life is boring if there were no problems). My colleagues and I who form the Paediatric Society of PNG are slowly,and with help from many dedicated colleagues in Australia, beginning to observe small but improved outcomes due to some programs instituted with the aim of circumventing the obstacles presented by bad governments and inefficient bureaucrats. An example is the small but definite turnaround in infant mortality rates (in contrast to maternal deaths in childbirth).

At the village level there is also some room for guarded optimism. I go home to the village every year and, whilst services have not been effectively delivered in my area by the government or politicians, the people have slowly realised that they need to help themselves.

In the last two years in my former primary school, my tribesmen raised enough money to build twp double classrooms and twp teachers’ houses without even appealing for help to those of us who are employed. We are now trying to build a library and more teachers’ houses.

The greatest lesson of not having external help is that the villagers now look after these resources with greater care then if they had aid or government help.

Most of the young man are now no longer seen loitering. They are working raising cash crops or engaging in small businesses such as running trade stores and at last count four of them with now sizable coffee plots and assets have gone back to finish high school as adults.

As to the idea of revolution, I am afraid it will not eventuate. If anything, there may be unorganised anarchy and violence but the possibility of organised revolution is now more remote than it ever was. Many young people are angry but that does not mean they have a shared vision and common purpose.

We all have to work hard. The tendency is to blame politicians. But all of us by omission of commission contribute to the state of affairs. The onus is on all Papua New Guineans to engage with politicians and local leaders in a constructive manner.

Accusations and name calling only make leaders obstinate. I have had to swallow my pride and engage certain individuals who may not be totally honest or scrupulous but I believe that the outcomes are more important.

The road ahead will be extremely rocky but it is not the time for Papua New Guineans to run away; the ship is not sinking yet.

As to Australian aid much of it is now tied so that it is not likely to be squandered by politicians but linked directly to aid programs. However such a commit of course frees the PNG govt from funding these programs.

Finally to all of you, thank you for what you did for my people and for educating people like me.

Keravat does it tough as funds not spent

It was once the pride of the New Guinea Islands region, but now Keravat National High School faces closure as urgent maintenance and repair work continues to be delayed even after the contractor had been paid.

Deputy chairman of the National Education Board and member of the school’s board of management Anthony Tsora said more than K6 million was paid to an East New Britain company last year, but the contractor had not started work on the school buildings.

Mr Tsora questioned the manner in which the Department of National Planning made payments to the contractor from the controversial Rehabilitation Education Infrastructure fund, which is under investigation by the Ombudsman Commission.

“I wrote numerous submission about how the REIS funds should be used, but these were ignored by the Education Department and the National Planning Office,” one source told PNG ATTITUDE, “so I am not surprised that the Ombudsman Commission is having to investigate and funds are unspent.

“There is also over K100 million unspent by the European Union education project for text books for schools, that [if unspent] will be returned to the EU at the end of this year. The project started in 2004 and also has been unable to spend its funds, so it is not just the PNG Government that is incompetent!”

Other people who have an association with Keravat – including PNG Governor-General Sir Paulas Matane and author Barbara Short, whose history of the school will soon be published – are also very concerned.

“I feel the ex-Keravats [in PNG] will work at trying to solve this present Keravat problem,” says Barbara Short. “Some are now parents of Keravat students, others are teachers at the school. It is possible that the contractor who is trying to do the job is also ex-Keravat. The Administrator of East New Britain is an old Head Boy from Keravat.

“I think what Australian ex-teachers can do is to give useful hints as to how to solve these entrepreneurial problems which are holding back the use of the money put aside for various projects.

There are many schools that need renovating. Some provincial governments have done their job well. David Keating found Malabunga High School looking better than he had ever seen it when he returned in April 2008.

“Many Australians who taught in PNG during the 1960s and 1970s are probably returning to visit their schools. It would be good if we heard how they are finding things.

“I don't want to shame these men and women who are having to run the Education Department today. I think we should be encouraging them and reminding them that these older school, like Keravat, can be renovated and the renovation needs to be done before they become too decrepit and have to be knocked down and built again from scratch.

“The PNGAA could probably help with a project like restocking the school library. We could collect the books here and ship them in a container to Rabaul.”

Sounds like a good project for the PNGAA. Meanwhile, PNG ATTITUDE will write to PNG Director of Education Dr Joe Pagelio and Australian Government Parliamentary Secretary Duncan Kerr to see if they can help. Readers other ideas and experiences can be added through the Comments link below.

PNG national broadcast network revives

The PNG National Broadcasting Corporation is to rehabilitate its medium wave radio broadcasting network, which has been unserviceable for the last ten years. NBC board chairman Paul Raptario said the project was a significant modernisation and infrastructure development program.

Mr Raptario said senior NBC technical officers fire up a network of medium and short wave transmitters enable radio broadcasting transmission throughout the whole country. The board is excited with the changes taking place which will see a new NBC promoting PNG and bridging all provinces, cultures and languages through radio and television, Mr Raptario said.

Meanwhile, the board has tasked NBC management for a development plan for the new National Television Services.

It's been 40 years of darkness for PNG

Dr Kristoffa Ninkama in South Simbu

Sir Michael Somare led PNG to self-government in 1973 and independence in 1975. Since then, he has served continuously in various capacities either as Prime Minister or Opposition leader for 40 years.

The question I would like to pose is: “Is PNG better off now than it was 40 years ago?” The simple answer is: “No.”

In the 40 years that Sir Michael has been in politics in PNG, the following occurred:

1. The people of PNG continued to rely on the infrastructure left behind by the Australian administration. Roads, bridges, administrative headquarters, schools and aid posts have fallen into disrepair. Successive governments failed to carry out infrastructure development projects. It is the Government’s fiduciary responsibility to maintain and continue infrastructure development. So for 40 years, roads, bridges, schools, health services, administrative buildings, transport and communications have fallen into ruins. Is this something to be proud of?

2. The general health and well-being of the people have steadily declined. Many Papua New Guineans are dying of preventable and treatable diseases and HIV/AIDS is threatening to decimate a generation. Malaria, TB and sexually transmitted diseases are on the rise as all the health centres and aid posts built in the colonial days are no longer functioning. The provincial and referral hospitals are grossly underfunded, understaffed, poorly equipped and lacking basic medicines. The health services are so primitive that PNG politicians have been flying to Australia with their families to seek medical treatment. So for 40 years, the people of PNG had been deprived of their very basic right to decent health services.

3. The education system in PNG has been on the downward spiral. Schools lack basic essentials like decent classrooms, chairs, desks, library books, audio-visual aids, books, pencils and other essential learning aids to give a child an opportunity and a fighting chance to attain a decent start to attaining knowledge and literacy. The majority of school-aged children are not attending schools and the literacy levels of the average Papua New Guinean is on the decline.

4. The citizens of PNG are resorting to cargo cultism, sorcery, sanguma, etc, because the level of ignorance in our societies is on the increase. An ignorant society spells disaster for a nation.

5, Law and order problems are escalating. Port Moresby is a virtual prison. The citizens of PNG’s major towns live in constant fear of something awful happening to them. Can you imagine living in fear in your own house in your own country every day of your life?

6. For 40 years, successive politicians and their families have done very well for themselves at the expense of the people they represent. Our politicians can afford to own expensive vehicles, buy properties in Australia, educate their kids in private schools and overseas, seek private hospital treatment overseas, etc. Are all these possible from a mere politician’s salary?

7. More than 85% of the people are struggling on a daily basis with malnutrition; hook worm infestation, rotting teeth, swollen tummies, chronic malaria infestation, unclean water sources, no access to decent health services, roads, bridges, communications, electricity, etc. These basic services had been denied to our own people.

8. Government institutions are failing at an alarming rate and millions of dollars have been swindled from the Finance Department under Sir Michael’s watch. Yet, he has remained quiet.

9. I am sick and tired of hearing our politicians say PNG is a rich country. I have not seen one toea of these proclaimed riches filtering to my people in the villages. Is this something to be proud of?

Oh, the poor Engans. All those cassowaries and pigs ready to be slaughtered to celebrate 40 years of what?

Forty years of being in the dark ages?

Source: PNG National, 10 March 2009

Revolution: face of the new generation?

Gelab Piak in Madang

Have you ever wondered where Papua New Guinea will stand or how it will look half a century from now? Well, that question has burned like a furnace in my mind. But what puzzles me most is where we would be now if we had taken a different course?

I speak not only for myself, but also for the many young people in PNG. Today, many young Papua New Guineans often wonder how great this beloved country would look like if the billions of kina stolen by our selfish leaders had been used on infrastructure, education, health, transport and other such things as businesses, people’s welfare, school materials, medical drugs and vehicles for Government agencies.

By now, our Government should be concentrating or focusing its resources on maintenance of infrastructure and investing for the future generation. Investing in things such as putting computers in every school in the country, subsidising school fees 100%, and letting the public have free access to clean water and power supply. Not opening billion-dollar gas plants and million-dollar mines. What good would those do except pollute us, breed more corrupt politicians and bring upon us more suffering.

To paint a more realistic picture of the Government, take a look at the Government agencies in the provinces and districts outside of Port Moresby. Government agencies are rundown, incapable of performing their duties and are under-resourced. So where did all the billions of kina go? I think the answer lies in the back of our minds.

Every year hundreds of Papua New Guineans die from treatable diseases like malaria, TB and leprosy. The Government should be guilty of that, a crime against the people it is obliged to serve. When will we, Papua New Guineans, realise that? When will we stop being fools and slaves in our own land?

Well some of us - the wise ones, who are not blinded by these blind prophets who lead us - have realised it. In universities all over the country, young students are becoming radicalised. They believe that a revolution is the only way to fix up our country. Whether it is a peaceful one or a bloody one, it is coming, and it is unavoidable.

It is mostly those who have come from rural areas, who have gone through suffering at the hands and whims of the Government that are calling for a revolution. They know what it is like to be left out, to live in inaccessible places, to have no access to Government services, to put their hopes into false promises, and they know what it is like to lose everything and pay the hefty price of freedom so that their children can have a better, fruitful future.

These young people are not criminals, not homeless people, no. They are university students and graduates, who live, work and mingle with you. They know one thing, that one morning, the rest of PNG will wake up to the sound of, not singing birds, but bombs and guns, and they will all know that the face of the new elite and educated generation of Papua New Guineans is an ugly one with the word “revolution” written all over it.

Gelab Piak is a freelance journalist and a student of Divine Word University, Madang

A short history of the ASOPA site

Sydney Harbour National Trust

Students The onset of World War 2 prompted another round of construction work on the military land at Middle Head. The golf course was resumed in 1940, with the army deciding to retain the clubhouse as two married quarters.

In 1941 buildings were constructed to temporarily house the Anti-Aircraft and Fortress Engineering School (the 10 Terminal Regiment site) and the Army’s Signal Unit (the ASOPA buildings).

On 13 August 1941 the Federal Government established the Australian Women’s Army Service (AWAS) to release men for duty with fighting units. By the end of the war, more than 24,000 women had enlisted as volunteers in the Service, which involved in a range of duties including administration and transportation. An AWAS contingent was attached to the Signals Unit at Middle Head.

AWAS_Dec1944 ASOPA grew out of an army civil affairs unit also created during the war. It was originally known as the Land Headquarters School of Civil Affairs, and based at the Royal Military College, Duntroon. In 1947 the Government approved the establishment of the Civil School as a permanent body – to be known as ASOPA - with teaching and research duties to be based at Middle Head.

The Army permitted ASOPA to occupy part of 10 Terminal until 1952, when ASOPA was relocated to occupy the timber framed huts of the Signals Camp. A number of modifications and additions were made to the timber huts to make them suitable as a teaching facility.

From its early years ASOPA played an important role in the development of Papua New Guinea. From 1948 it offered a number of refresher courses, short courses and two year diploma courses to train Australians as administrators. Students were originally selected from the armed forces and ASOPA trained many people who made a notable contribution to the development of Papua New Guinea.

Portrait The School became known for its association with a number of notable academics and administrators. In particular, John Kerr, James McAuley, Alf Conlon, Charles Rowley, Peter Lawrence and Camilla Wedgwood.

Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, ASOPA grew in stature, size and significance. In 1954 it started to train Australians to become teachers in PNG primary schools as well as continuing to train patrol officers. Teacher training was further extended in 1960 to include training of teachers for Aboriginal schools in the Northern Territory.

In 1964, the School switched teacher training from primary to secondary. In 1967, the school commenced a course for senior local government officials. It was in this period that a number of extensions and alterations were made to ASOPA to cater for the growing demand for its courses and its use as a research school.

By 1970, the Commonwealth Government had realised that despite its goal of making PNG independent, there was no adequately trained public service of indigenous people in the country. In 1971, changes were announced for ASOPA, with the school being developed as a training centre for Papuans and New Guineans, preparing them for the impending self-government. In addition, candidates for short courses could now come from any other developing nations, in the Pacific or elsewhere.

In 1973, the School was integrated into the structure of the office of the Australian Development Assistance Agency and became known as the International Training Institute.

Photos: Students at leisure, early 1960s; AWAS personnel at play on the ‘ASOPA Oval’, December 1944; Sir John Kerr, first ASOPA principal

‘Unique’ ASOPA on market for 2010 lease

Grounds The old ASOPA site is about to be put on the market. Eighteen buildings are being refurbished by the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust and will be available for lease and occupation from early 2010. The Trust has called for expressions of interest to be submitted by 31 March, three weeks away.

 The Trust says the site is important as the location of “Australia’s only training institution established to train administrators and officers for Australia’s overseas territories.”

It recognises the unique contribution ASOPA made to Australia’s administration of Papua New Guinea and the “connection felt by former employees and students to the now defunct institution”.

The buildings are offered as fully refurbished commercial spaces and the Trust says the facility will suit one or two larger occupiers requiring facilities of 650-2,200m² or a number of smaller organisations occupying suites from 40m².

The Trust says uses will be sought that complement the institutional, character of the precinct, including education and training, studios, offices, cultural activities and visitor accommodation.

It is adamant these will interpret the former role of the site, including its period as ASOPA, although it does not explain how this will be achieved. Successful lessees will need to commit to public access to the site.

“The hutted interconnected pattern and built character of the precinct will be retained,” it says. “The tropical landscape character of the inner courtyard will be retained, but selective clearing will need to occur adjacent to buildings to protect the built fabric from water damage.”

The buildings will be retained and restored with finishes and colour schemes reflecting the original. The Trust instructs that “care be taken to avoid and minimise removal of original built fabric from the World War 2 barracks and original adaptation for ASOPA. New buildings are to be of a similar scale, form and material finishes.”

The Trust calls the site a rare surviving example of hutted World War 2 army buildings. Their standardised built form illustrates the lack of materials and labour of the time, as well as the requirement for rapid low cost construction to provide accommodation for defence forces in a national emergency.

Lease_Ad “The site is important as a physical reminder of the nationally unique ASOPA and of Australian engagement in the Pacific,” says the Trust.

“The buildings adapted for use by ASOPA provide a physical focus for the connection felt by former employees and students to the now defunct institution. The site has an association with a number of eminent Australians, including John Kerr, one of the early principals of ASOPA, and the noted poet, James Macauley.”

You can link to a comprehensive document here that includes plans of each of the old ASOPA buildings and plenty of detail about the history of the site.


Don’t miss chance to change PNGAA

The latest Una Voce drops into my mailbox weighing in at a substantial 68 pages and looking most refined with its recently acquired paper stock, as smooth to the touch as a silk stocking.

Its articles include my letter of resignation from the PNGAA presidency, a generous response from the committee and an unsuccessful attempt at analysis by Graham Taylor, for whom the hazy distance of Adelaide permits no insights into the inner workings of Association politics. Icarus shmickarus, Graham.

Una Voce is published quarterly, can be obtained only by joining the Association and, since this costs just $20 a year, represents a true bargain for anyone with an enduring interest in what happened to old whatsisname last seen on the Rai Coast in ’62. You can become a member by clicking through from here and I encourage you to do so.

The current journal also comes with an embedded proxy form that allows members to exercise a vote for or against constitutional change at a special general meeting scheduled for 26 April, the Sunday after Anzac Day. I suspect that most members will dump this form along with the old newspapers sometime in the next few days.

Accordingly, the most significant constitutional change proposed for the PNGAA in its history has the profile of a drinking lizard. Getting the 75 percent majority of voting members required to achieve a result that will revive and redirect the Association will be difficult. This will need much more targeted information and energetic advocacy than has been the case so far.

So, if you’re a PNGAA member and have your Una Voce to hand, extract that proxy form, put a cross in the ‘yes’ for change box and post it to the Returning Officer. That way, when the resolution is defeated, you can rightly claim it wasn’t your fault.

In PR we’d call the committee’s approach a low profile campaign not intended to rise above the radar and conducted merely as a matter of record.

I will be delighted if the final result proves me wrong.

Kiap recognition moves into vital phase

The high hills

A meeting at Parliament House in Canberra later this month is likely to be critical in determining whether moves will succeed to gain formal Australian Government recognition of Patrol Officers’ contribution to PNG.

On Tuesday 24 March Chris Viner-Smith and I will meet with Martin Bonsey, a principal adviser to Minister for State Senator John Faulkner, and senior members of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

We will be seeking official agreement that a distinctive award be struck for former Kiaps to acknowledge and value their nation building, policing, and peacekeeping roles conducted in often hazardous, isolated and otherwise difficult situations.

We will also be asking that two years service be regarded as an acceptable minimum benchmark for eligibility for consideration for the award and that the award offer a post-nominal entitlement.

As I said to Mr Bonsey yesterday: “I was not a Kiap but, serving in remote areas of PNG, I closely observed their work. Chris Viner-Smith's proposal is valid and proportionate to the service these young men performed for Australia.

National recognition of their role will bring great credit not only on these men but on the Commonwealth Government in its acknowledgement of  the transformative work they did in PNG - a country that, despite the fissiparous nature of its 800 tribes, today remains a united democracy. This could not possibly have happened without the effort and enterprise of these young men.”

Photo: 'The high hills' - Harry West

Big Kev, little Kev: Degi birthday thwarted

Celebrations for the first birthday of baby Kevin Rudd Junior are being held in a rather sombre atmosphere in remote Degi village in PNG’ Kevin Rudd Junior was born in Goroka General Hospital a year ago tomorrow, just five minutes after Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd visited the Eastern Highlands town.

Esau and Lina Kitgi, having named their baby in honour of Mr Rudd, are upset that Australia hasn't recognised their efforts to host a special first birthday party.

Loven Forapi, self-appointed chairman of the Kevin Rudd Junior Birthday Committee, remains optimistic. “We want someone from the Australian Government to come to the village to show we are celebrating little Kev's birthday,” he said. "We understand Mr Rudd is very busy, but a namesake is very important for our culture.

“It is a true sign of friendship, especially at our rural level. Australia has been our lifetime friend in every aspect, and having a namesake sealed it all.”

Source: ‘PNG's Kevin Rudd Jr turns 1’ by Ilya Gridneff, AAP, 6 March 2009

Condoms rot as AIDS officials romp

Richard Jones with AAP

H&S   More than two million condoms paid for with Australian aid money have been
left to rot in AIDS-ravaged Papua New Guinea. The PNG government's National AIDS Council Secretariat left the stockpile, worth $190,000, sitting in a warehouse for more than 18 months.

The condoms are well past their use-by date and cannot be distributed in a country, which has the highest incidence of HIV in the Pacific. Not surprisingly, the secretariat has just appointed a new board, which aims to reform its activities and look into serious allegations of mismanagement.

Reporters based in Port Moresby have obtained documents which show the secretariat has overspent its budget with hundreds of thousands of dollars wasted - much of it on unnecessary travel by bureaucrats. The documents also show alleged abuses by staff members.

The secretariat's new chairman Peter Barter, a former PNG health minister, said the condom stockpile was discovered during a recent audit. "AusAID is not to blame. We just need to distribute what condoms we can and get our direction right," he said. Mr Barter added he would be asking for the fraud squad to investigate the alleged overspending on wasteful travel.

New Dawn FM website is up and running

New Dawn FM – the Buka based radio station established out of local enterprise and with assistance from UNESCO, the German Government and a group of private Australians – has just launched a website, New Dawn on Bougainville, which you can click through to here.

The website features information about the station and news about happenings in the Autonomous province of Bougainville. It is edited by one of the station’s founders and its manager, Aloysius Laukai, and me.

The site is brand new and experiencing a few teething problems but it’s well worth a visit from time to time. The folks in Bougainville would also deeply appreciate it if you could offer some welcoming remarks by way of a comment on the site.

New Dawn FM broadcasts to the many towns and villages in the Tinputz and Buka Passage area of north Bougainville. The locally owned and managed radio station provides independent news, information, education and entertainment to listeners.

“We believed the project would contribute to establishing a public sphere of community discourse, enabling discussion and giving a voice to a community dispossessed by civil insurrection and seeking to rebuild a democratic society,” says Aloysius Laukai.

Meanwhile, here at PNG ATTITUDE, our readers have just chalked up a significant milestone. When the reader meter told me the total number of comments had passed 500 in the last couple of days, I was reminded of the important role that interaction with readers plays in the life of a website like this.

It’s one thing to have readers (according to a US company called Lijit that counts them, we had 2,115 last week – averaging a few more than 300 a day), it’s quite another to have the requests, ripostes and occasional rockets from our Commentariat. Well done, and keep up the comments.

Country Life: bush creatures on parade

By now you know Paul Oates, the ex-Kiap who from time to time on PNG ATTITUDE files glimpses of life in rural south-east Queensland. We’ve met a goanna called Gordon, the bull Suvista Captain, who charges at red and flees at yellow, and an unnamed Antechinus whose attempts to invade the Oates’ household are legion.

Brown_Snake I’m embarrassed to be the first one to notice, but it seems these animals might be ganging up against the Oates. Let me start with the snake. “We arrived home to be met by this bloke inside on the window sill next to my TV chair,” Paul calmly put it. “I think he may have been waiting to see what was on.”

Well, ‘this bloke’ was a brown tree snake, venomous and aggressive when confronted. Seems he’d wriggled through a hole in the mosquito wire that had been made, wait for it, by an Antechinus biting through to get at a trapped insect.

Gordon_Fullers Meanwhile, Gordon, who one might reasonably have thought to be diligently protecting the household, and who I have previously described as a light drinker, had knocked over his bottle of Fullers London Pride and scurried away. I presume Suvista Captain was standing in the back paddock balefully watching all this through bloodshot eyes.

Enough animal conspiracy theories. The Oates are still in one piece - mercifully unpunctured, unbitten and ungored, and their home is secure. So let Paul take up the story of the Fullers. “I emailed the company about Gordon's activities and received an e mail back from the PR lady [who] was astounded to find out what a goanna was and how big they grew.

“I told her that after sampling the London Pride, Gordon got high (up in an ironbark out the back). She said she’d put the photos and story in their staff magazine and I could have a complimentary tasting next time I’m in London. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to follow up that offer as yet.”

The Security and Intelligence Branch

With the permission of author Philip Fitzpatrick, today’s Notes reproduce a short section from Bamahuta – Leaving Papua. The characters are fictional, although I presume, as with all novels, some are based loosely on real people, some are composites and others are entirely invented. Having eagerly consumed the chapter Philip emailed me yesterday, I’m anxious to get my hands on the entire book. Bamahuta looks like a compelling read.

This widely praised book, soon to be reprinted, has been preoccupying PNG ATTITUDE over the last few days as we sought to understand why a review published in the PNGAA journal Una Voce never made it to the Book Review section of the PNGAA website. There have been dark stories of censorship but let’s put those aside: much better to read the author’s words as he wrote them.

Port Moresby, Central District, 1970

The head of the Security and Intelligence Branch was an aloof, upper-class type, who had difficulty concealing his racism. He seemed to be suppressing other things too but I could only wonder at these because he deigned only to speak to his second-in-command. Any communications to the likes of me came down the line.

The second-in-command seemed to have stepped straight out of the pages of a Biggles novel and was very smart in an obscure sort of way. His esoteric interpretation of everything often left me bemused. He had the knack of making even the simplest proposition sound deep and profound. It was only after you worked out exactly what he was saying that you realised he was wanking. I think the Branch Head resented his second-in-command’s mind.

The Branch Number Three was a perfect counterfoil. He was portly and middle-aged, with the demeanour of a distant but enjoyable great uncle. He knew exactly what was going on all of the time, and was damned if it was going to interfere with his comfortable sinecure. He smoked a pipe, of course, as did the other two; but whereas they gripped theirs, mostly unlit, in their steely-jutted jaws, he used his to generate great clouds of aromatic smoke and to shed copious quantities of tobacco all over his desk and the surrounding floor. I was always shaking little shards of Blend 11 out of the paperwork he gave me.

The other permanent fixture in the office was a rumpled lady of indeterminate age who was addicted to gin. She could have been English or European; it was hard to tell. She was generally pissed by midday. She tried to keep awake when the Branch Head was abroad but was mostly seen dozing in a happy funk. When I caught her sober she turned out to be a witty and charming lady with a healthier than average cynicism. Her trick with the gin was to pretend it was water. Every morning she made a point of loudly noting Port Moresby’s oppressive heat while she filled a big tumbler of water from the fountain in the hallway. She plonked this tumbler in plain view on her desk and imbibed from it at regular intervals. The water level never seemed to drop, and she never seemed to revisit the fountain. I spotted the gin bottle in her bottom drawer on my second day there.

The other staff member was a fellow kiap. I’m not quite sure why he was there. I suspect he didn’t know either. He had been pulled out of a hot, swampy and depressing patrol post on the border with Irian Jaya. He had had a number of highly publicised run-ins with Indonesian troops pursuing border crossers. Most of these incidents turned out to be simple navigational errors. It is almost impossible to work out exactly where you are in the jungle, let alone which side of the border you are on. In most cases you can only work out where you are when you stumble on a known point like a major river or, in the case of Indonesian troops, an Australian Patrol Officer striding down an airstrip in a possessive sort of way. Anyone could be excused for firing off a few frustrated rounds in such circumstances. The media gave Sean a fleeting fame and I don’t think the Administration knew what to do with him after that so they stuck him in the Security and Intelligence Branch out of harm’s way.

Source: Extract from Chapter 7 of ‘Bamahuta – Leaving Papua’ by Philip Fitzpatrick

Moresby confirms Somare Canberra visit

With Rudd There has been confirmation in Port Moresby that PNG’s Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare will pay his first State visit to Australia next month, addressing the National Press Club and possibly giving a speech in Parliament House.

Meanwhile, Australia’s Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs, Duncan Kerr, is in Moresby today beginning a four-day visit with discussions focusing on the fight against HIV/AIDS in PNG. He is meeting the National AIDS Council Secretariat and key stakeholders involved in the fight against AIDS.

Tomorrow Mr Kerr will leave for Buka for the first visit to Bougainville by a member of the Rudd Government. While there, he will meet with the new President of the Autonomous Bougainville Government, James Tanis.

ASOPA lecturer Tony Edmonds dies at 85

Roy Clark

Dr Anthony Edmonds, former World War II RAAF pilot, science teacher, physicist, senior lecturer (Balmain Teachers College, ASOPA, Kuring-gai College of Advanced Education) died on Sunday evening in Mona Vale Hospital after his third heart attack in 18 months. He was 85. He lived with his wife, Pam, at their home in Elanora Heights, overlooking Narrabeen Lagoon.

I first met Tony in 1955 at Randwick Boys High School, where we were both science teachers. Tony soon went on to be head of the science departments at Canterbury Boys High and then North Sydney Boys High.

He joined me again at the Australian School of Pacific Administration at Mosman in 1966 where I had been appointed the year before to help train junior secondary science teachers for PNG. With PNG independence rapidly approaching in the early 1970's we were both transferred to the Kuring-gai CAE Science Department in the Education School. Tony retired in 1983.

Pam said that in keeping with Tony's wishes there will be a private funeral for family and a few close friends.

Green Chip cops straight talk in Enga

Green Chip Enga

The AAP correspondent in Papua New Guinea, Ilya Gridneff, provides this unusual shot of the welcoming committee that greeted Sir Michael Somare on his recent visit to Enga Province for a Cabinet meeting.

The Prime Minister’s trip ended in disarray when Enga Governor, Peter Ipatas, decided to say what he really thought at an official dinner. Anyway, that’s politics. But a welcome is good reason to celebrate and fly a few balloons.

So what’s the ‘Green Chip’? Well that’s the Engan rendition of ‘Grand Chief’. I think you’re now fully in the picture.

Photo: Ilya Gridneff


That missing Bamahuta book review

With more than a little help from author Philip Fitzpatrick, we offer readers the book review of Bamahuta – Leaving Papua banned from the PNGAA website by an unknown censor. The review, by John Kleinig, had appeared in the March 2005 issue of Una Voce. Bamahuta is currently being reprinted and will be available soon. Here’s the review someone didn’t want you to read…..

This is a book you will not be able to put down.

The adventures of Philip Fitzpatrick prior to independence are told with wit, humour and pathos. The style is refreshingly crisp and this makes for the telling of a compelling and intriguing series of stories.

There are some unforgettable moments.

Fitzpatrick reduced to his leopard skin jockettes leading a patrol in the oppressive heat of the Western District comes face to face with a group of nuns with their habits hitched up around their knees and wearing white rubber boots. One of the nuns, a French Canadian, who once worked as a dancer in a strip club, reacts in an unpredictable manner much to the consternation of the group.

The story of the contact with the border crossers on the West Irian border carrying the still conscious elder who has been disembowelled by Indonesian soldiers as an example to potential refugees, is heart rending and disturbingly real.

Seconded to the Security and Intelligence Branch in Moresby, Fitzpatrick is rostered for night surveillance duties around Government House during the visit of the Australian Prime Minister, John Gorton. What eventuates is a series of hilarious incidents.

Woven through these adventures is the question of the timing of independence. Fitzpatrick appears to avoid the temptation to overstate the obvious and instead skilfully canvasses the attitudes of others, although he could be forgiven for a little self-indulgence.

His relationship with Ihini, the young, attractive Papuan journalist on the Post Courier, is an integral part of the story.  Fitzpatrick generally resists telling us the detail and leaves the reader to fill in the gaps. Perhaps it might have been better not to tell us of Ihini’s fate.

This story will be irresistible to those who have lived, visited or heard of Papua New Guinea. To those who have friends who only borrow from libraries or from others, do everyone a favour and buy an extra copy.

Bamahuta – Leaving Papua, Philip Fitzpatrick, ISBN 1 74076 1367, Pandanus Books, Australian National University, Research School of Pacific & Asian Studies, Canberra. ACT 0200. Published 2005.

Gordon the goanna makes a house call


Gordon the goanna has proved quite a hit with PNG ATTITUDE readers (see Recent Comments), not to mention his becoming the object of an exquisite (or do I mean execrable) series of Martin Hadlow puns, so we're pleased to report on his latest adventure. "Gordon was caught sniffing around our back door and decided to come in for a social call," says Gordon's buddy, Paul Oates. The good news, it appears, is that Gordon is a light drinker.

Photo: Paul Oates

Mystery of the ‘Bamahuta’ book review

Bamahuta In the March 2005 issue of the PNGAA journal Una Voce there appeared a review of a book by ex kiap Philip Fitzpatrick entitled Bamahuta – Leaving Papua. The review was written by John Kleinig. One reader has observed that it was a “very sympathetic and enthusiastic review”. Bamahuta was also very well received by The Australian Book Review.

But, by the time details of the book had made the journey from Una Voce to the PNGAA website, something mysterious had happened. The positive review had disappeared, and has not reappeared to this day. It seemed someone on the PNGAA committee had objected to the review being written in such laudatory tones. And this person had decided an act of censorship was appropriate.

So it is that the reference to Bamahuta on the PNGAA website today is a truncated and emaciated: ISBN 1 74076 1367, Fiction. Soft cover 313pp. Cost: $29.95 (incl postage in Australia). Published by Pandanus Books c/- Australian National University, Research School of Pacific & Asian Studies, Canberra. ACT 0200. Orders also through their website or Ph: 02-6125 3269. Published 2005.

I haven’t yet read Bamahuta, so I’m looking forward to its reprinting later this year. But I thought I’d offer you this reaction to the book, which was contributed to the Ex-Kiap’s website in 2005 by Paul Oates. This extract from Paul’s appraisal perhaps offers a clue as to why that mysterious PNGAA censor acted as she did.

I enjoyed Bamahuta and yes, it does bring back into focus what it was like. I thought the book was more interesting in the first part where the author captures the essence of what patrolling was all about.

The second part on the build up to Independence seemed to rush it a bit and concentrated on how the new PNG elite were taking over and being resisted by the 'old guard' of the B4's.

It may also have been that the book’s treatment of the farcical characters in the Security and Intelligence Branch met with disapproval. It seems if you don’t like history, or if it doesn’t fit, you can always try the airbrush.

Thankfully for the rest of us, Philip Fitzpatrick’s book, so praised by his kiap peers and literary reviewers, will soon be republished. Let’s hope that the many fine words that will written about Bamahuta will this time make it to the PNGAA website. Watch this space.

More Aussie police mooted for PNG

Richard Jones with AAP

The Papua New Guinea Government wants to bolster Australian police numbers in some of the country's toughest spots, Prime Minister Michael Somare has said in Wabag after the PNG Cabinet discussed the need for more Aussie police to help local forces.

Last year 11 Australian police members were deployed in advisory roles in the capital Port Moresby following the expensive failure of a previous detachment sent to PNG in late 2003.

In 2005, there was a highly politicised withdrawal of 150 Australian police in the Enhance Cooperation Project (or ECP), a number of them from the Federal force. The withdrawal followed a PNG court ruling which stated the legal immunity of the Australian police officers conflicted with the PNG constitution.