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73 posts from July 2010

Unfair criticism of Don Polye is petty politics


THE POLITICAL attacks on deputy prime minister Don Polye are utter nonsense.

This is political game playing by a bunch of jealous and greedy leaders whose motives are unclear but seem to be intent on engendering regionalism and division within PNG.

We deduce what these greedy people have at the back of their mind when they attack the senior man from the highlands, Don Polye.

They don't want the top job to be moved too far away from themselves. Why not? Is it unconstitutional?

This mentality also took over in the recent parliamentary election of the Governor-General when other candidates were effectively excluded.

The statements by National Alliance president Simon Kawi and Housing Minister Andrew Kumbakor are utter nonsense. Sir Michael has promised he will hand over the National Alliance leadership to someone within the NA caucus before 2012.

This is also what many Papua New Guineans have in mind.

There was unfair criticism of Mr Polye’s announcement of the names of the MPs for the ministerial portfolios when acting as PM.

It was not Polye who made the decisions. Before Sir Michael left for Fiji he had already reshuffled his ministry. All Mr Polye did was to announce the names. And he is attacked for this.

These politicians should stop using Polye's statement on the prime ministerial post and his announcement of the portfolios to attack him. He is innocent. This is petty politics.

Using this issue to attack Polye’s eligibility for leadership and the prime ministership is utter nonsense. Mr Polye is the right man for the highest position.

He is a high profile, qualified and senior NA statesman who has maintained his reputation throughout his time in parliament since his victory in the 2002 elections.

It’s about time Sir Michael gave this man a fair go. This is no time for division and regionalism. Look at the potential Don Polye has to take this nation forward.

When the cat gets back, the mice get a whack


IF SIR PUKA Temu believed he had right (and the numbers) on his side when he defected from the National Alliance last week, abandoning his deputy PM’s post and his ministry, he must be wondering today why everything went so horribly wrong.

Sir Puka’s supporters have left him languishing in opposition and have rejoined the government, declaring their undying allegiance to Sir Michael Somare, especially if they get a ministry of their own.

As for the National Alliance itself, which just last weekend was confident it had a brand new leader in Don Polye – well, that idea went pear-shaped as well.

It’s one thing to plan creative moves when The Chief’s in Fiji playing the Grand Old Man of Pacific Politics. It’s another thing entirely to maintain the enthusiasm when he’s back home.

New deputy prime minister Polye’s announcement of new ministries when he suddenly found himself acting PM went down like a lead balloon with The Chief. Polye must have thought there were no telephones in Fiji.

Lifting the Trade and Immigration portfolios from Sam Abal, leaving him with Foreign Affairs and a largely empty in-tray, was a particularly insensitive move. Especially as Abal was in Suva with Somare. And on the phone.

This week the Chief moved quickly to restore Abal’s complete portfolio, leaving the new minister, the much-loved Moses Maladina, who thought he had Trade, out in the cold.

Polye himself had been unwise enough to grab Immigration. But he didn’t have time to put his tick on the first visa application before, rrrippp, back to Sam.

And now the National Alliance, which last week was looking more like the National Dalliance, has affirmed it does not want a leadership change or challenge or any other word beginning with ‘ch’ against Sir Michael … ever. It has declared undying support for him to remain Prime Minister until the 2012 general elections when he will retire of his own volition.

The MPs who defected from, and then defected back to, the National Alliance have a common message to explain their actions. No, they were not trying to pick winners, they were “misled to joint the opposition camp”.

Now they have been “welcomed back to work with the Prime Minister” who they “were not going to abandon in any way”. So that’s all right then.

“I want him [Sir Michael] to leave politics with dignity and not be left out in the cold — no way,” said their leader, Michael Ogio, who is by way of being Higher Education Minister, perhaps until a new portfolio can be found including the word ‘lower’.

When contacted by the media to be told he had lost Trade, the much-loved Maladina said he had spent two days working on the organisational structure of his new ministry and had not been informed of the decision to rescind the portfolio. The only good news was that he had not wasted his weekend putting names in boxes.

His new role, it is said, will be Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Constitutional Matters. That should keep Mr Maladina’s feet firmly planted on the ground.

Austrade should be partnering with PNG


IN HIS usual combative, rapid-response, fire from the hip style, our intrepid John ‘Moses’ Fowke did not answer his own question of how Australia can help PNG fight corruption through good governance.

John avoided the big issue question stimulated by the article What should Australia do about PNG while seeming to deny that AusAID is an ongoing problem.

John’s response would have been more helpful if it touched upon key areas requiring change other than local level government.

For example, should we turn our back on AusAID, considering its ineffectiveness ('boomerang aid'), or do we try to make it better.

Perhaps AusAID should be scrapped and Austrade substituted in a partnership arrangement between our two countries. I think so.

PM Julia Gillard needs to rethink Australia's aid arrangements with PNG. It is time to make a paradigm shift in policy towards PNG.

Australia would better serve PNG by implementing more bilateral trade. Ms Gillard must consider increased trade rather than the gesture of giving aid.

AusAID has come under criticism because much of its aid boomerangs back to Australia, with PNG not having much to show. Moreover, AusAID must not be seen as the only way Australia can help PNG with advice and instruction.

I agree with Moses that the educated middle class should work together to turn the country around and I agree this is every citizen's job, from PM Somare to the villager.

That said, this strategy of getting everyone working together will take a long time; but change; no matter how hard, will eventually come to PNG.

Despite DFAT's best efforts over the years to improve AusAID's deficiencies, aid recipients like PNG are still complaining that effectiveness needs to be improved.

Local aid projects need to be better factored into the government's own development plans so they can be better managed and have their progress monitored to pre-determined milestones.

AusAID is a one-sided policy contributing to political corruption in PNG.

A new trade policy between PNG and Australia under a partnership framework is much needed, because it will have more benefits than the current aid arrangements.

I am confident Julia Gillard can go one better than both John Howard and Kevin Rudd.

You can link here to a trade  fact sheet focusing on Australia’s trade with PNG.

Chance for our readers to support Sam Basil


THE ACT NOW! organisation, which is working to engage Papua New Guineans in grassroots democracy and to give them a continuing voice, is sticking up for gutsy PNG politician Sam Basil.

ACT NOW! says people need to send a message to prime minister Somare “that his behaviour is being watched and that we find his arrogance and disrespect completely unacceptable”.

But the organisation is realistic and knows The Chief won’t take any notice of a message sent directly to him.

So instead, it’s asking readers to send a message of support  to Sam Basil, saying it will copy the message to the Prime Minister and some of his senior ministers.

“Sam Basil has stood out over the last three years as a shining beacon of the type of leader PNG needs,” says Act Now!

“Young and inexperienced maybe, [but] he has refused to get caught up in the mob mentality of party politics, and refused to chase the money.

“Time and again this young leader has stood up and, often alone, spoken with common sense, dignity and integrity about the important issues facing PNG.  Issues like service delivery, corruption, the Environment Act amendments and health care. 

“In speaking out, Sam Basil has shown up the hypocrisy of most MPs who stay silent, blindly follow the government so they can line their own pockets with the millions of kina that are tossed their way, and he has shown how our democracy should operate.”

That's all true. Sam Basil, readers may recall, was the MP who Michael Somare threatened to kill during last week’s stormy sitting of Parliament.

”Mi warnim yu nau, yu go arasait mi bai kilim yu,” said an infuriated prime minister. [“I am warning you, when you go outside I will kill you”]

Get Up! continues: “As we have come to expect of Mr Basil, his response to the Prime Minister was dignified and poignant. ‘If they do kill me at least I can say I stood up for this country’, he said.

"But Sam Basil does not deserve death threats, he does not deserve abuse. Sam Basil deserves the support of everyone who believes in a better future for our country.”

And Act Now! is giving people a chance to tell Sam Basil that he has their support.

PNG Attitude urges readers to add their names to the petition; it will only take a minute. Link to it here.

You got water; I got whisky; we got a deal


IDEAS SUGGESTING there are terrific economic benefits in piping water long distances from areas of flooding rain to places as dry as a dead dingo’s donger are old hat to Australians.

But a couple of PNG Attitude readers were captivated enough by entrepreneur Fred Ariel’s proposal to pipe water from PNG to Australia to direct the report to me, so I thought we should give it a look.

The ABC’s Liam Fox introduced the world to Fred, a Queenslander who claims the 3,000 km pipeline would be cheaper than desalination plants and water recycling.

Fred, who made his money in tourism, wants to build a $30 billion pipeline from the Highlands to south-east Queensland.

And it seems he’s signed an agreement with the PNG government to conduct a feasibility study.

As Liam Fox says, it sounds crazy, but Fred’s adamant the plan is feasible and will solve “Queensland's water woes” (not evident as I write this in Noosa, south-east Queensland, with Jupiter Pluvius spoiling my morning walk).

"There's a huge demand for [water] in Australia and there's a huge supply up here which is untapped," Fred says.

"The advantage is the sheer volumes of water available. It's available all year round. It doesn't require expensive dams."

But, if you think a 3,000 km pipeline is a monumental task, how about reaching agreement with landowners in the areas where the water would be sourced and through which the pipeline would run.

Fred, as ever, is confident.

He’ll be able to reach agreements with the thousands of affected PNG landowners, he says.

Any more water in Noosa and I'll have it on the brain.

Spotters: Peter Warwick and Robo

Does democracy exist in Papua New Guinea?


Having just returned from the original birth place of democracy in Greece, and in the light of a fellow commentator’s postulations, it seemed appropriate to reflect on whether true democracy does or did ever exit in PNG. So firstly, what is democracy...

‘Democracy is a political form of government where governing power is derived from the people, either by direct referendum or by means of elected representatives of the people... Even though there is no specific, universally accepted definition of 'democracy', equality and freedom have been identified as important characteristics of democracy since ancient times. These principles are reflected in all citizens being equal before the law and having equal access to power...’

Well that’s clear. Democracy exists when: all citizens are equal before the law, their votes are of equal value, they have legitimised rights and liberties and equal access to power.

George Orwell in Animal Farm highlighted the idea that, when some of the animals took over the farm and tasted the fruits of power, “some were more equal than others”.

So I'm given to ask whether all PNG is a democracy as defined.  In many so called modern democracies, it seems the way law is applied depends on a citizen’s relative wealth. It's said that money can buy justice, in the sense that the wealthy can afford to pay the high costs often involved.

Yet even expensive legal assistance is only a factor if a case actually goes to court. In PNG these days, it seems little legal action involving PNG politicians ever gets to court. And, if a case doesn’t get to court, how can there be any justice? So it seems not all PNG citizens are ‘equal before the law’.

‘There are several varieties of democracy, some of which provide better representation and more freedoms for their citizens than others. However, if any democracy is not carefully legislated – through the use of balances – to avoid an uneven distribution of political power … then a branch of the system of rule could accumulate power and become harmful to the democracy itself.’

Given the performance of the current Somare government where Parliamentary government has effectively been sidelined, the answer would appear to be that some people in the PNG political system have ‘accumulated power [that is] harmful to democracy itself.’

‘… without responsible government … it is possible for dissenting individuals to be oppressed by the "tyranny of the majority". An essential process in representative democracies is competitive elections that are fair both substantively and procedurally...’

So are ‘dissenting individuals’ being oppressed in PNG? Given the recent arrangements the Somare government has made to suppress the rights of landowners connected to local mining and timber industries, many would agree it has.

Are PNG elections ‘fair both substantially and procedurally’? Well with the extra financial resources given to preferred MPs (some from foreign resources, the Opposition claims), it would seem PNG elections are anything but ‘fair’.

What is clear to me is that, by these definitions, PNG is hardly an unimpeachable democracy and hasn’t been for some time.

Why then is Australia still supporting the current PNG government? Elsewhere in the world, Fiji for example, leaders of countries who have deposed Parliamentary rule and effectively instituted a dictatorship are sidelined and denounced.

Why hasn’t this happened with the current Somare regime?

The quotes in italics are from Wikipedia

Back to that old accustomed, familiar grind

After a sojourn abroad, PAUL OATES returns to his desk to look at the state of the PNG body politic a month after he last took its temperature

"I was once thrown out of an antique shop," British comedian Ronny Corbett claimed. "I walked in and asked "What's new?"

They say; 'travel broadens the mind', but in my experience it may also broaden the midriff. Just back from overseas and trying to cope with the jetlag, I downloaded my digipics and switched on the computer.

Opening PNG Attitude to see what's happening up north, I skimmed through the latest reports.

Somare suspends PNG Parliament (again), Opposition moves for a vote on no confidence is again thwarted. Somare threatens to kill Sam Basil outside the Parliament (PNG politics can be so very subtle).

Somare visits his old Fijian mate Bainimarama and maintains it's all in the interests of Melanesian brotherhood. Somare Jnr promoted and refuses to stand down when he is under investigation.

People on both sides of the Torres Strait are still railing against the lack of democracy and accountability.

"Ho hum," I thought. What's new!

Tragedy depicted in a new & hopeful light

Christine Arnott Artist CHRISTINE ARNOTT writes about what inspired her to paint this interpretation of the Montevideo Maru tragedy

MY MOTHER, especially in her later years, found consolation that her brother, Neil Smith, and her brother in law, Harry Harvey, were together with Arthur Gullidge and others from the 2/22nd Battalion Band, when the Montevideo Maru sank.

In my mother’s mind’s eye, Neil and Harry were resting with their comrades.

My uncles enlisted as bandsmen and stretcher bearers, they did not carry firearms. They joined up to assist their fellow Australians in any way that they could, taking into account their own religious views as members of the Salvation Army.

My father had been required to stay in Australia to work at the Commonwealth Aircraft Factory, so was at home when his relatives and his mates went off to war.

He used to say he'd lost most of his mates when the Montevideo Maru went down. And, when he remembered them, which was frequent, he spoke of them being “all together" on the ship. I know he was comforted by that thought.

My mother got very emotional whenever she heard the song, 'We're off to see the wizard, the wonderful wizard of Oz'. She had vivid memories of the Band playing this song as the troops had their final parade through the streets of Melbourne before sailing for Rabaul.

To me, this music symbolises the attitude of those men: enthusiastic but unprepared for the horrors they would face when they reached their destination. This innocence and purity of intent has influenced my painting.

I attended the memorial session at Parliament House on 21 June 2010. This was a moving and proud moment for me. However, I was concerned when it was mentioned that the wreck of the Montevideo Maru may be disturbed.

After returning to my accommodation, I had a restless night. The thought of anyone disturbing the ship was very distressing to me.

As I was lying in bed, I envisaged the ship at the bottom of the ocean, surrounded by nature in a pristine tropical environment.

The spirit of the men who perished would be at peace, and it would be at one with their environment.

I knew I had to paint this image, to express my vision of where the men are. They are At Peace Now - together in Death as they were in Life.


Keith Jackson writes: Chris’s painting, At Peace Now, offers a peaceful and beautiful interpretation of the outcomes of a black and tragic story.

The policy of the Rabaul and Montevideo Maru Society is that the ship should not be explored or disturbed in any way. Veterans’ Affairs Minister Alan Griffin and others, including the veterans who were mates of the men on the Montevideo Maru, share the Society’s view on this matter. We know where the ship lies; we need know no more.

The Society’s aim is to have this site declared as an official war grave and it is currently working on this project with the Federal Government. Declaring the site as a war grave will protect the wreck from interference. Although, since the vessel lies at a depth of about 4,200 metres, any intrusion is unlikely.

Bougainville scrutinises all foreign business


ALL FOREIGNERS involving in business activities on Bougainville will be screened following a new directive from the new president of the Autonomous Bougainville Government, John Momis.

Mr Momis expressed deep concern about the increasing number of foreigners involved in unapproved commercial projects in the autonomous province.

He said that the situation was particularly serious in Central Bougainville with projects like the sale of scrap metal from the old BCL copper mine.

There were also illicit sales of oil from the Loloho powerhouse and alluvial gold mining in special mine lease areas on the Kawerong and Jaba rivers.

Mr Momis said that there were dangers in dealing with foreigners not approved by the government.

He said that the ABG will be establishing checkpoints at airports and wharves to make sure foreigners are screened for passports, visas, work permits and local contacts.

He said the exercise was not to stop Bougainvilleans entering into partnership arrangements with investors but to make sure foreign partners are honest and capable.

All new applications will go through a screening committee set up by the Bougainville Administration.

The president has also warned people who are misusing and holding government assets to return them or face the consequences.

He said law and order must be restored if the province is to attract investment by Bougainvilleans and foreign partners.

Story of PM’s resignation ‘grossly misleading’

PNG’s NATIONAL Alliance has denied claims that prime minister Sir Michael Somare will step down in the next few weeks saying they are “grossly misleading”.

The party’s national president, Simon Kaiwi, said yesterday’s report in the Post-Courier was “fabricated by people” ignorant of the NA constitution.

However, a report in the PNG National said the party leadership issue would be high on the agenda at the NA national convention in Western Highlands next month.

According to the Post-Courier, Deputy Prime Minister Don Polye said the prime minister had told a party caucus meeting that he would step down and hand over the top job of running the country to another person within the National Alliance.

Mr Kaiwi said this was not true.

Meanwhile, six MPs who defected from the ruling National Alliance during last week’s leadership struggle have returned to the fold, saying they are still loyal to Sir Michael.

“We moved out as a group and now we have come back. We have not resigned and, therefore, we are still members of the party,” spokesman David Arore MP said.

The six MPs said they had a meeting with Sir Michael to iron out their differences and in which they had sought ministries. Earlier, the group had written an apology letter which was hand-delivered to the prime minister.

Sir Paulias’s re-election was lawful say judges


CONFUSION ABOUT the legality of the re-election of PNG Governor-General, Sir Paulias Matane, has been resolved by the judiciary.

Three candidates ran against Sir Paulias for the vice regal post when his term came to an end late last month.

At the time, Speaker Jeffery Nape said that, because Sir Paulias was being proposed for a second term, the Constitution required Parliament to determine his eligibility for re-appointment by a two-thirds majority.

In this eligibility ballot Sir Paulias surpassed the requirement, securing an 84-13 majority.

But there was surprise when Sir Michael Somare moved a motion to resolve that Sir Paulias be appointed for a second term as it was expected there would be a further ballot for the vice-regal post between Sir Paulias and three other nominees.

There was “chaos and confusion” in Parliament and members supporting other candidates exchanged abuse, bringing the House into turmoil.

When Sir Paulias was declared re-elected, Morobe Governor Luther Wenge shouted that “democracy has been hijacked”, and Enga Governor Peter Ipatas cried “why are you hijacking this House”.

At the time Sir Paulias Matane told PNG Attitude – where there was also vigorous debate on the matter - that “the 'win' is likely to be taken to court due to misunderstanding of the law”, adding “let's wait and see”.

Now a court has ruled the election valid and lawful.

“I am sure you have heard, read and watched on TV all kinds of bad comments about my 'illegal' and ‘so-called’ appointment as the ninth Governor-General,” Sir Paulias says.

“What people do not know is the fact that what was done was not illegal.

“Four judges looked at the issue very carefully and, on Tuesday before my swearing in ceremony on Wednesday, they came up with a decision that there was no illegal practice done.

“In other words, what was done was legally correct.”

So that’s that then.

Leaders must better manage our resources


THE MINING industry in PNG has contributed much to the economy over the last 34 years.

It is sad to hear that major revenue earner, the giant Ok Tedi Mine, will not continue past 2013. This was revealed by Western Province Governor, Dr Bob Danaya, during a Sustainable Development Program forum in Port Moresby a couple of months ago.

Porgera, Lihir and other mining concerns also have a limited lifespan as non-renewable resources.

The closure of Misima and the forecast end of Ok Tedi sends a signal to the government.

This is a big challenge to MPs and the people of PNG to be aware that non-renewable resources will one day come to an end.

When that happens, what will be the government’s major sources of revenue to sustain the growing demands of the country?

At present many countries are major aid contributors because they have an interest in our natural resources, especially mining, oil and gas. After these resources are gone, PNG will be left like an African nation.

We have to be more mature about these resources. Mismanagement of the revenue and the natural environment are major problems.

The government must do something right now to raise the standard of living. This is no time for poverty and corruption to linger. If other countries can prosper, PNG can too.

It is irritating to hear that PNG is ranked one of the poor nations in the world. Why is that?

In fact, I feel we are going backwards, fuelled by a chronic attitude problem and a high level of official corruption and bribery.

The government must do something to sustain the nation after the resources are gone. There is still time.

The government needs to check itself out and properly plan what it can do to sustain the country when giant mining companies shut down their operations.

This is an urgent call to the government to act before it’s too late.

PNG media report Somare about to quit

THE PNG Post-Courier is reporting this morning that Sir Michael Somare will stand down as prime minister before 14 August, with his new deputy Don Polye favoured to take over.

Mr Polye is expected to announce his candidacy for the top job which will be decided at a National Alliance caucus meeting in Minj in the new Jiwaka Province on 13 and 14 August.

Apparently Sir Michael has said he will step down as leader of the National Alliance, which effectively means the end of his prime ministership.

Mr Polye said he would make public his candidacy at the convention, telling reporters it was time for another national leader to come from the highlands.

“Now is the time to give a chance to the highlands region,” he said. “With the new ministries, I do not think the Somare-Polye government will fall.

“The opposition cannot go and oust a government when you do not have a notice in parliament,” Polye said.

He said the opposition was trying to mislead the public and create instability within government.

Sir Brian Bell, nation builder, dies at 82


Bell_Sir_Brian SIR BRIAN BELL, a great champion of PNG business, died yesterday in a Brisbane hospital.

Sir Brian graduated in 1948 with a Diploma in Pharmacy from what is now the Queensland University of Technology.

He moved to Port Moresby in 1954 as pharmaceutical chemist in the Bulk Medical Store and soon after established PNG’s first electrical retail outlet. The business expanded into department stores, home centres, chemicals, cleaning products and industrial equipment.

Sir Brian was chairman and managing director of the Brian Bell group of companies, the largest business of its kind in PNG, generating annual revenues of K253 million and employing 1,300 people.

He was also a generous philanthropist - a prominent benefactor of Port Moresby General Hospital (of which he was chairman), the Salvation Army, the Red Cross and Port Moresby City Mission.

Sir Brian was knighted for his outstanding community service in PNG and was also awarded high honours by Norway and Sweden for his service as their Honorary Consul General in PNG.

He had been ill for some time and died of heart failure.

Fiji outmanoeuvres Australia in the Pacific


AUSTRALIA’S BENIGN neglect of its own backyard – the island states of the south-west Pacific – has come back to bite it.

That neglect is all the more noticeable given the initial enthusiasm with which the Rudd government approached the job of rebuilding bridges with the region after its election in 2007.

Why the commitment waned is debatable. Perhaps there were bigger items on the diplomatic agenda. Perhaps it was a way of Australia expressing distaste for various developments in the region – like corruption and misgovernance. Perhaps it was a sign of Australia rethinking a failing approach. Perhaps it was sheer incompetence.

Whatever, this cooling of enthusiasm was seen tangibly in the government’s failure to appoint a new Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs. In 2007 this had been an innovative and creative move. By 2009 it was dead.

Duncan Kerr had been a committed and energetic appointee. When he announced his retirement from the job, for reasons that are now unclear, no replacement was announced.

At the weekend, Fiji’s illegal military regime for the first time won international support for its coup.

Late Friday, at the conclusion of Frank Bainimarama's summit in Suva, the heads of the governments of PNG, the Solomons, Kiribati, Tuvalu, East Timor and five other Pacific states signed a communique which endorsed Bainimarama's eight-year ‘road map’ for a return to democracy.

The communique, issued late on Friday, agreed that the road map was a credible home-grown process for positioning Fiji as a modern nation and to hold "true democratic elections".

Rowan Callick reports in today’s The Australian that this raises the prospect that next week’s Pacific Islands Forum leaders' summit will be asked to lift the suspension of Fiji from the Forum.

Along with Samoa, Australia and New Zealand have been the most consistent supporters of the suspension.

Australia has not yet decided whether it will attend the Forum meeting. Foreign Minister Stephen Smith – who’s making a real mess of his regional diplomacy - said he would decide whether to attend "in the context of the [Australian election] campaign".

Meanwhile, Fiji is making hay of its diplomatic outmanoeuvring of Australia and New Zealand.

At the weekend, details emerged about a controversial new land use decree in Fiji which gives Bainimarama the power to designate the use of land, even by indigenous Fijians, without challenge, including by the courts.

Last week, Bainimarama said that even the 2014 deadline for elections was in doubt because of continuing criticism from Australia and New Zealand.

How Oz gave PNG the wrong political system


PHIL FITZPATRICK, perhaps having murdered an Asiatic or two in some long-past life, seems to be encumbered with some slight traces of the autocratic eccentricities of view which I myself maintain.

He says: "I was on the point of responding to John Fowke’s provocative article on the Westminster system by suggesting that what is missing in PNG are two opposing ideologies – socialism versus capitalism."

This was the point I have so long attempted to make both in PNG Attitude and in several other places: in egalitarian TP&NG there were no landless, no exploited social classes or subordinate hereditary castes, no tied farmers obliged to hand over half their produce to the exploitative, hereditary "squire" or "Lord of the Manor."

Thus there were no existing "parties" of dominant or of exploited subordinate interests needing representation and redress. There were only one or two small, peripheral societies where a hereditary system of chieftainship prevailed.

Tribes and clans were strongly opposed one to the other in their interest towards self-preservation and the keeping and extension of land-based resources, and it was this common interest, expressed in guarded suspicion and occasionally in violent confrontation, which drove natural communal politics and social management here.

The concept of occupation/class/inheritance-based politics, as in the British style, was adopted throughout the Empire/Commonwealth. The British way being assumed to be the best, was entirely redundant for this reason.

It had no anchor or points of focus or foundation in need in post-war TP&NG, where land and the burial-places of the ancestors were the basis of all action and motivation of a socio-political nature.

As I have laboured to point out for some years past, the pre-existing local level governments, the successors of the earlier local government councils - if tied to a fully-enfranchised society electing democratised versions of the then-existing District Advisory Councils and the Legislative Council - would have provided a socially-relevant, grassroots-located, fully-understood basis for the political pathway of the new, free nation. But it was not to be thus. As we know.

The attempt, post-independence, to make PNG politics more relevant - while done in a clumsy, hasty, inchoate way, as seen in the rise of Provincial Government with all its well-known faults - reflected a deep discomfort with the separation of politics from land and thus from as ples, custom, tradition, and so from the understanding of the mass of the people.

This has foundered on the reef of the greed of an opportunistic and well-educated minority elite who are able to pull the wool over the eyes of the great mass of poorly-educated and politically naïve. These men have no conscience.

PNG's two original political parties arose simply as representatives of the educated, young, ambitious citizen on one hand – the Pangu Pati - and the conservative, cautious and "don’t rush it" sentiments of the majority - the National Party.

But from then on the parties simply became vehicles for the ambitious and manipulative - and in a great many cases the selfish and less-than-honest.

These people entered a sort of upper echelon, an aristocracy within which the power and the wealth of the nation is accumulated and dispensed in an increasingly hegemonic and uncontrolled way.

Party based politics, whether of the parliamentary or the presidential-executive style, were like oil in water in the pond of PNG society. They did not mix.

And they have never been at all well-understood, either, allowing a ceiling of great opacity to arise dividing the controlling political aristocracy from the increasingly-long-suffering and exploited ordinary citizen.

Thus the party-system of politics has introduced into what was perhaps the most egalitarian of societies existing, worldwide, 60 years ago, the same conditions of exploitation and unfairness which gave rise to the slow stirring and ultimate creation of party-based politics.

A political system aimed to dislodge an entrenched, existing and exploitative aristocracy in Europe, a process taking some six centuries from around 1350 AD.

That sound you hear is heads being scratched


THE CHIEF has again peremptorily bent the rules and jetted off in the family aeroplane to see his friends in Fiji in the secure knowledge that on his return and with a bit more judicious tweaking he may survive until the next election in 2012.

In his wake he leaves a puzzled population staring at its toes and a disgruntled horde of PNG-watchers scratching their heads. What happened? Is that it? It’s suddenly become boring. So predictable – a PNG ground hog day.

I was on the point of responding to John Fowke’s provocative article on the Westminster system by suggesting that what is missing in PNG are two opposing ideologies – socialism versus capitalism.

I was going to suggest that when the LNG (liquefied natural gas) Project gets going full steam, its workers might like to unionise and form a movement to replace the in-name-only PNG Labor Party.

They could take on the corrupt Tory elite. No more rabble of myriad clan loyalties but a true democratic fracture into opposing ideologies.

Reg was right, it’s all a bit redundant now. It’s never going to happen. May as well shelve the link to PNG Attitude until 2012 when it might liven up again and take up John’s offer of a cold beer. It’s going to be déjà vu from here on.

Then again, maybe it could be a useful respite. I was tidying up my library the other day and came across a copy of Vincent Eri’s book, The Crocodile. Do you know that was probably the first novel published by a Papuan writer? I wonder if you can still buy it. What was it about anyway?

And there’s Albert Maori Kiki’s Ten Thousand Years in a Lifetime. And what’s this? Something called Sana which purports to be an autobiography of someone called Michael Somare. Wonder who he was? Looked like a nice young bloke. Bit thin though, but then again so is this copy of Paulias Matane’s My Childhood in New Guinea.

I wonder if PNG Attitude readers would be interested in a review of these old books. After all there isn’t much else to do for a while. I suppose I could mow the lawn?

Bainimarama's actions ‘normal’ – Somare

IN THIS SECOND part of an interview with Sir Michael Somare by the ABC’s Philippa McDonald, the PNG prime minister looks at his country’s relationship with the pariah regime of Fij's military backed leader, Commodore Frank Bainimarama.

PHILIPPA MCDONALD: Fiji's interim government is very happy to see you at this Engaging With Fiji meeting. Why have you come along?

SIR MICHAEL SOMARE: I came along because there are MSG [Melanesian Spearhead Group] leaders, there are four of us. We were invited to take part in the Pacific discussions on our environment, our sustainability, our economy, because things are happening right now, for example, climate change, for example, mining underwater, fishery resources to discuss how we can best preserve what we have. Our resources as you know.

The islands one major resource which is fish. Islands also have reefs, islands have marine ecology, and the discussion of course stem from the early start when Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, was talking about how can island people survive and it is all about this. Yes, we have come as MSG countries. We're not raising any issues on MSG. We will be discussing how we should go on the next forum, which the prime minister of Fiji will attend and this is the place for it in Vanuatu.

Here we will exchange ideas and say how can the Pacific people come together and that is one way of coming together is you have seminars. You can have it under the United Nations charter it also provides for countries, differences. You not a member of the Commonwealth and you are not a member of an organisation, as individual countries, as sovereign states, you can enter into discussions because there are some things, resources like commonality and resources like fishery resource, reef ecology of the marine, issues like that, so we took part in that one.

MCDONALD: Are you supportive of Commodore Bainimarama? After the coup there has been no elections and there are not going to be elections until 2014. Do you still support Commodore Bainimarama?

SOMARE: We have made it quite clear in the forum, we want to see democratic government in Fiji, but the way Bainimarama has gone round to bring about change in Fiji, and making marks, making future Constitution of this country, getting the Fijians together. It is quite normal here.

If you have been to Africa and you see those countries that are run by military are different. He is doing what is best for Fiji people. That is what he believes and he has done that. We all have gone through now. He has been there for almost four years now. He is running the country, country is surviving.

He is looking at the economic base, how can he sustain the development of Fiji. Tourism industry is booming. Talking about it, there are more Australians and New Zealanders on this soil here and they not being tampered, they not be followed around like you do in other dictatorships, military regimes.

MCDONALD: Australia has expressed deep concerns about human rights in Fiji, about the deterioration of the rule of law, about lack of media freedom. Do you agree with Australia's criticism of Fiji?

SOMARE: Australia has got its own right to criticise Fiji. It would be better for us in the region. We playing our cards differently, because we believe that we belong to the region, we are Melanesians and it’s our tradition to help each other. If our enemy’s down, we are there to celebrate and say right, get up and walk and we are merely following Melanesian tradition on how to help each other in bad times and the good times.

And what we've done here is four of us from MSG, Melanesian Group’s leaders have decided to come, but the person who made the commitment is not here, he's Foreign Minister is here and we have been discussing issues that will come up in the forum later on.

But here we are concentrating on a launching of Pangea* and I think that is a vision, some of the visions I shared with my friend, my very good friend, the late Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara and that's one important reason why I am here and also to give encouragement to Fiji to say that we have not forgotten you, we're still around. You sort out your house, join us later if you want to.

Source: Australian Broadcasting Corporation

* Pangea World’s mission is founded upon the principles and credentials of the TCR economic-development model ("Tourism for Conservation through Research"). TCR is a vision and art of crafting and distinguishing a strategic union of an economic or business, frontier scientific research, and proactive natural and cultural conservation. [Gobbledegook from the Pangea website]

Sir Michael Somare tells his side of the story

AFTER A WEEK of political turmoil at home, Sir Michael Somare travelled to Fiji to take part in the Engaging With The Pacific meeting, hosted by the Fijian government.

The meeting was called to replace the planned Melanesian Spearhead Group Leaders' meeting. This was postponed after other member nations raised concerns about Fij's military backed leader, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, taking on the rotating chairmanship.

Many Pacific heads of state have shunned the Suva meeting, instead sending emissaries.

Earlier today Sir Michael spoke with the ABC's Philippa McDonald...

SIR MICHAEL SOMARE: Well, there's always a comment about PNG politics, very volatile, but I've managed the stage from time to time. Many a times I have made vote of no confidences in my past being prime minister, so my body is getting used to it, so I have got a thick skin.

PHILIPPA MCDONALD: How confident are you that you will still be prime minister when parliament resumes in November?

SOMARE: I am still quite confident that we will carry through, I think I have got the numbers with me and I don't see, the Coalition partners have made firm commitments and our numbers still will carry in after November.

MCDONALD: You say you've got the numbers. It was not that parliament was adjourning, you've still got the numbers?

SOMARE: Oh we have the numbers, but I think parliament became very volatile, but following the rules of standing parliament, so speaker decided that he has to adjourn the parliament.

MCDONALD: Sir Michael, it's been reported that you became a little volatile and said to one of your opponents, I will kill you?

SOMARE: Well, in I said it to him in Pidgin and let's get our facts right, because the member concerned did not say something which is very rude and I can't say it on radio.


SOMARE: Or TV and it hurts and it would hit the other members, if they heard it, it would not have been very good. One is to stop it and I happen to be around when I heard it and I told him you're dead meat, if you repeat it again, your dead meat. Now that dead meat means, you virtually use violence and kill people and I used it in Pidgin about the killing you.

I have used that to Mekere Morauta, in former translation, I will meet you in the post and you'll be gone and that's the way I did look at it. I told him in Pidgin exactly the same. Don't take it literally.

This is a Pidgin you use. Pidgin has got many ways of using it and by that I mean I will kill him in the polls and that is exactly the same term I used. And people who have come in the past when every time are rude, I have got rid of them and I am notorious for these type of things.

MCDONALD: Sir Michael, there is a fire still burning brightly. Do you want to be prime minister of Papua New Guinea for many years to come?

SOMARE: No, I think I have done my 42 years. By then I am sure that 44 years and my political career, I decided politics, I decided to leave teaching, it's the best profession, noble profession, but I thought I going to a dirty profession which is politics and I have mastered it, I have doctored it and I believe time has come for me to throw in my towel.

MCDONALD: You call it a dirty profession. Have you had to play dirty?

SOMARE: No, I don't play dirty. I follow the rules in the standing orders of parliament and I have been doing that all right through. Every time I beat people on the floor of parliament, to take their colours, they don't understand how to conduct the processes of parliament and having such a vast experience around, advise the speaker from time to time, this is how the rules are and I have made a success of it.

Source: Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Tomorrow: Why PNG supports an undemocratic Fiji military regime

Brandi memories – drama of the right kind


SchoolI TAUGHT AT Brandi High School from 1971-74 and in those days it was already well established and well respected having been running for about 20 years.

It was located on a fine surfing beach with good sports fields and plenty of room for agriculture. It was noted for its academic achievements and very active in art, drama and music.

Sepik designs were painted on classroom walls and silk-screened on tee-shirts and fabrics. There were many choirs and lots of singsings, and Sepiks are great actors!

In 1971 Brandi had over 500 students from Form 1 to Form 4, and 20 expatriate and seven national teachers. The expatriates were a great mix of ASOPA-trained teachers and others from various parts of Australia and beyond.

Sadly, many only stayed for a couple of years. They came with their young families for an interesting few years in PNG then returned to their respective areas for their children’s sake or for to pursue their own career paths.

Brandi was handy to Wewak, which had a good marketplace. The adventurous could spend holidays on the Sepik River, which is those days was still relatively untouched by western ways.

Brandi Beach After years of struggling to teach poorly motivated European children in Sydney and London, I found it was most rewarding, at Brandi to be teaching classes of highly motivated, clever, hard working students, who achieved excellent academic results.

Another highlight of my time at Brandi were the dramatic presentations. Science Master Jon Hughes was a talented actor and drama director. In 1971 he directed the students in a production of This Man, a moving symbolic dance drama by Francis Bogutu from the Solomon Islands.

It depicted the mental turmoil experienced by men in countries like PNG in their search for their own identity in a changing society with conflicting cultures. Two male actors represented the dual personality – the traditional man and the modern man.

In 1972, at the end of Term 2, the four Form 4 classes presented plays they had written themselves and there was a Drama Festival and an Inter-school Cultural Festival.

Nigel Gregory wrote and produced some excellent plays on PNG themes and some were performed at Wewak for other schools to appreciate.

In July 1973 the Sepik Drama Group again put on a great night’s entertainment in the Brandi Hall  with Gilbert and Sullivan’s Trial by Jury and excerpts from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s South Pacific.

The 1973 Speech Night was another wonderful show. First a moving play Hello Out There by William Saroyan, loosely adapted to a local PNG setting. This was followed by some of the Form 3 music students playing traditional Sepik flutes which they had made themselves.

Then to top it all, there was a very polished production of Joseph and His Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat by Andrew Lloyd Webber, complete with excellent costumes and microphones for the lead singers. What a contrast of cultures!

Threepenny Opera_Sepik Drama Group '74In 1974 the Sepik Drama Group produced The Threepenny Opera [right] with lyrics by Bertolt Brecht and music by Kurt Weill. The cast included 16 staff and some students and was presented in the Brandi Hall over three nights.

Looking back, what a feast of culture! Oh, I forget to mention, we played a lot of sport, too, and there were Cadets and Scouts and stuff like that …

Two Pacific strong men attend phony forum

THAT MODERN DAY propaganda outfit known by the soubriquet ‘Fiji Broadcasting Corporation’ has reported upon the arrival of Sir Michael Somare in Suva.

The PNG prime minister's there for the Pacific forum you have when you don't have a Pacific Forum (goodbye Australia and New Zealand), the so-called Engaging Pacific Leaders meeting.

Michael Somare arrived still PNG’s prime minister on the back of a narrow parliamentary escape, thanks to Speaker Nape (go you good thing, Jeff!).

And The Chief's longer-term career prospects were enhanced considerably late Wednesday by the appointment of eight new Ministers, so making his Ministry, proportionately, the largest in the world.

Over the years, Michael Somare has shown an outstanding ability to adjourn parliament at will, irrespective of the respective party numbers, simply by not putting motions to a vote (thank you, Jeff!).

But let’s cross to the FBC and its coverage of the meeting …..


The first day of the Engaging the Pacific leaders meeting at Natadola has come to an end, with leaders and Fiji prime minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama declaring the meeting a huge success.

FBC News Stanley Simpson is at Natadola and files this report.

PNG prime minister Sir Michael Somare arrived at the Engaging Pacific Leaders meeting in the last hour, leaving behind a politically divided nation, to come and discuss Fiji’s progress to democratic elections.

His arrival caps off a hugely successful day for the Fiji government and the leaders and representatives of the ten countries who have turned up for the meeting. Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama delivered the opening address urging Pacific leaders to work together and focus on the future.

The Prime Minister refused to say much about the deferment of the MSG [monosodium glutamate] meeting saying he did not want to engage in condemnation and recriminations.

He however outlined that Pacific leaders should not confine themselves to traditional spheres of influence which has allowed them to be dictated to by Metropolitan powers – an obvious reference to Australia and New Zealand.

In an interview in Fijian with FBC News Bainimarama says Australia and New Zealand either underestimate or are ignorant of the strong bonds that bind Pacific peoples.

A government statement says all leaders at the meeting endorsed and supported Fiji’s roadmap and were impressed with Fiji’s efforts and progress towards reforms (sic).

Editor’s note: Health Warning - Readers should be aware that all information emanating from Fiji is censored by operatives whose main job it is to ensure that the full facts are never disclosed and that Commodore Bainimarama’s wisdom is never challenged

My PNG: 40 years of beauty and respect

Recent Comments frequently enjoys readers’ contributions that are passionate and full of insight. But this, by ARTHUR WILLIAMS formerly of New Ireland and now of Old Wales, was special...

Williams_Arthur I FELL FOR a beautiful, young New Irelander and we mostly enjoyed 17 years of married life together.

At first I was known by the white expats of Kavieng as the ‘white kanaka’ but when we remained together through good and hard times their initial silly attitudes changed.

It was the pre-Independence, so naturally a few ‘black power’ males resented our relationship.

I readily accepted a mostly lovely extended family with my mum and dad-in-law; perhaps the best this world could provide.

I was proud, from my meagre resources, to help the young ones of the family through their schooling and was always available for them to seek my advice, which they often accepted but sometimes rejected too.

It cost me over the years, but what is money for? Mind you, I not merely inherited a clan but also a whole tribe who I grew to love and miss in my lonely retirement in UK.

Plenty of them accepted and respected me enough to trust me with being their Provincial Assembly Member.

On the death of my wife I was traditionally expected to remarry into the same matrilineal clan and did so ~ despite my greying hair.

She too, like her sister, was a real beaut and we enjoyed ten years of marriage registered both customarily and by our church.  Alas, perhaps the age gap was too large for our relationship to be sustained and so I lost her and have been separated now for too many years.

We met cordially when I lived in Kavieng a few years ago and our teenage daughter is currently living with me.

Do I regret my 40-year connection with PNG? No! It made for a fulfilling and often useful life among great people.

I believe I did it the right way by marrying my island girls rather than having temporary relationships with one or more before leaving PNG for good and with mixed race kids left behind who too often are not even recognised by their so sad dads.

At a grassroots school meeting at Taskul in 2007, the subject of condoms and AIDS was discussed, without prior knowledge of the people attending.

I was delighted to hear the unanimous opinion of the meetings was that condoms promote immoral behaviour and that it is far better to be faithful to your one spouse.

These were not only Catholics but also people from the nearby United, SDA and Pentecostal Church communities. It was great to hear the islanders supporting my basic marital belief too.

Chief wins for now; but faces legal challenge

THE AUSTRALIAN media this morning is reporting how PNG’s “wily, veteran fox of a Prime Minister” has contrived to escape political demise after he arranged to have parliament adjourned until November.

Rowan Callick in The Australian reports: “Buoyed by his win, Sir Michael Somare, crossed the chamber as MPs began to leave the house, pointed at rising young opposition star Sam Basil, and shouted in Pidgin: If you were outside, I would kill you."

Apparently he was restrained by his son, Public Enterprises Minister Arthur Somare.

This is the second year running that Sir Michael has avoided a no-confidence challenge by shutting parliament down.

But The Australian says this time he is likely to face a legal challenge, with a strengthened and frustrated opposition claiming it was cheated by a ruse in which Speaker, Jeffery Nape - a member of Sir Michael's National Alliance party - played a crucial role.

Legal appeals may follow Mr Nape's ruling which means parliament will fail to meet its constitutional requirement of sitting days this year.

New opposition leader, Sir Puka Temu, told AAP after the drama in parliament: "They call him the 'father of the nation', but he and his family are destroying the nation. They break laws, they treat parliament like a joke. Is this what PNG wants? No, they want an end to this."

Source: ‘Crafty Somare survives no-confidence challenge’ by Rowan Callick, The Australian, 22 July 22

Sad Day: Not the headlines we wanted to see

Prime minister of Papua New Guinea threatens to kill rival politician

Daily Telegraph, United Kingdom

PNG leader to MP: 'I'm going to kill you'

Australian Broadcasting Corporation

PNG leader Michael Somare threatened to kill an opposition member amid a leadership spill

Special Broadcasting Service News, Australia

Somare tells MP Sam Basil : 'I'm going to kill you'

Malum Nalu Blog, Papua New Guinea

PNG's prime minister to MP: 'you are dead meat'

Australia Network News

PNG PM tells Opposition: 'I will kill you'

Adelaide News and Sydney Daily Telegraph

"I will kill you" Papua New Guinea PM tells opposition and The Australian

Totally off the wall: A sign of the times


AAP - TODAY’S FAILURE to change government highlights how PNG's nascent democracy and unique take on the Westminster system can provide endless high drama and a heavy dose of farce.

This morning the opposition failed to block the swearing-in of Governor-General Sir Paulias Matane, who had been selected in a controversial manner.

When Sir Paulias formally accepted the role and said "So help me God", a light emblazoned with the word ‘CAUTION’ suddenly fell from the wall of parliament, and remained dangling by its cord for the remainder of the ceremony.

Former prime minister and opposition member Julius Chan quipped: "What an ominous sign things are just not right in PNG."

Somare escapes for now, but threatens Basil

THE ABC is reporting that this morning’s session of the PNG parliament ended with an extraordinary outburst by Sir Michael Somare, who threatened to kill an opponent.

After Sir Paulias Matane was sworn in as governor-general, there was a move to suspend parliament until 16 November, said the ABC’s Liam Fox.

“When the speaker called for 'ayes' and 'no's', the no's were noticeably louder,” Fox said.

“But the speaker said "the ayes have it" and adjourned parliament without calling for a division to count the numbers.

“As members were leaving the house, Sir Michael walked towards the opposition benches, pointed at MP Sam Basil and yelled in Pidgin: ‘I'm going to kill you outside’.”

It seems that, with Parliamentary sittings suspended for nearly four months by a compliant Speaker, Sir Michael has escaped a vote of no confidence, at least for now.

Temu set to challenge Somare leadership

SUPPORT FOR Sir Michael Somare has deteriorated rapidly in the last few days, falling to about 60 of the 86 MPs who elected him prime minister, reports Rowan Callick in The Australian  this morning.

While the prime minister shored up his shaky parliamentary support sufficiently to stymie plans for a vote of no confidence yesterday, his National Alliance Party is fragmenting rapidly, says Callick.

Yesterday, Deputy Prime Minister Sir Puka Temu, who led three ministers out of the cabinet on Monday nigh, became leader of the opposition, which is within a few votes of the target for toppling a prime minister -- 55 out of 109 in the parliament.

But most of the Highlands bloc -- the biggest regional grouping -- stayed with Sir Michael, after they could not agree on a single leader of their own to challenge him.

Sir Michael, 74, is an astute player of this core element of PNG politics, and has been able to preserve enough of his formerly dominant majority, principally by offering ministries. In the last sitting, he amended legislation to enable him to appoint an extra five ministers beyond the limit of 27 in former cabinets.

He kept these positions up his sleeve as inducements, and could now add the jobs of the four who have defected to the opposition.

The traditional counter to a vote of no confidence in PNG is to call a motion adjourning parliament. A year ago, Sir Michael pulled this off with little trouble.

But the political environment has been transformed by a recent ruling by the Supreme Court that the 10-year-old Organic Law on the Integrity of Political Parties breaches constitutional freedoms.

That law ensured MPs stay with the party in which they were elected during the five-year parliamentary term.

This had made it virtually impossible to dislodge a government once it had formed a coalition enabling it to rule.

Now, however, MPs are free to shift between parties, and parties are themselves free to shift -- and the days of vote-buying and changing loyalties have returned.

Sir Michael yesterday felt sufficiently uncertain about his majority to refrain from testing it by an adjournment vote.

The stakes are much higher now in PNG. At least one liquefied natural gas project is virtually certain to be built, for about $18 billion, which is already driving up property prices in Port Moresby.

The drama is set to continue through this parliamentary session.

A motion of no confidence would be voted on a week after being brought.

Source: ‘Somare hangs on as tide turns’ by Rowan Callick, The Australian, 21 July 2010

David Fanshawe – collector of Pacific music

Fanshawe_David PERHAPS THE greatest collector and archivist of the music of the Pacific and PNG has died in England at the age of 68.

David Fanshawe was also a composer of note, his best-known and most influential work being African Sanctus, which fused a choral mass with field recordings of traditional music he made on travels in Africa from 1969-75

Later in his career he worked extensively in the Pacific. “His archival collection of Pacific music is legendary and, I'm sure, unique,” says Assoc Prof Martin Hadlow of Queensland University.

“Perhaps, one day the NBC in PNG will be able to retrieve some of its own 'lost recordings' by accessing copies from David's collection.”

In a parallel career, Fanshawe also composed scores for over 30 films and television programs, including When the Boat Comes In, England their England and Softly, Softly.

He began to explore the Pacific region in 1978 and, in 1981, with his wife and two young children, he relocated to Fiji, which he used as a base for his travels. In the mid eighties he remarried and resettled in Australia, from where he continued his journeys through Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia. He eventually made around 2,000 recordings.

The family returned to the UK in 1992, settling in Wiltshire, where Fanshawe established his archives and continued to compose.

Source: David Fanshawe: Composer and explorer best known for 'African Sanctus' by Jon Lusk, The Independent, 15 July 2010

Will Genia is back – lukaut Springbok ia!


Passing PNG-BORN Will Genia returns to international rugby against the South African Springboks in Brisbane Saturday night after recovering from a broken thumb.

The Wallaby scrum-half received the injury during the Australians’ 20-21 loss to England in mid-June and missed the Test against Ireland.

Genia is one of three changes in the Australian team, that has won three of its four internationals this season.

The game against South Africa is the first for Australia in this year’s Tri-Nation series. For Will Genia, it will be his 13th Test.

The 85 kg captain of the Queensland Reds is a hard tackling defender and a skilled  playmaker in attack. Commentators say his return will “set alight” the Wallaby backline.

PNG on knife edge as numbers are crunched


AAP – THE PNG government survived today in parliament, but faces another political showdown tomorrow with the opposition planning to move its expected vote of no confidence.

Tonight, government and opposition camps are number crunching in earnest and shoring up support after the opposition failed to muster the numbers to move the no-confidence vote when parliament resumed earlier today.

Former deputy prime minister Sir Puka Temu, who resigned yesterday and is now vying for the prime minister's job, moved to extend question time this afternoon but raised only 42 votes in support.

This showed the opposition has doubled its numbers, but still doesn't have a majority of the 109 MPs on side for a successful move against the government.

Temu told reporters tonight that he was confident government followers sitting on the fence would side with him.

"I don't want to name the MPs and ministers but they have been talking to us," he said.

"We will follow all the procedures and do everything that is right to move this no confidence vote.

"The issue still remains that the PM is incompetent and this was demonstrated today."

In question time, Sir Michael Somare fended off numerous criticisms from the opposition regarding PNG's failure to achieve the UN millennium goals on development and a long list of corruption allegations.

The opposition's attacks were two pronged, against Mr Somare and his son and heir apparent, Public Enterprises and Finance Minister, Arthur Somare.

It seems much rests with Transport Minister, Don Polye, who holds a key position in making or breaking the government. His loyalty may be the crucial factor determining whether Mr Somare stays or goes.

Former Forestry Minister, Belden Namah, one of the three ministers who defected to the opposition this week, claimed the opposition would have the numbers to roll the government.

"When parliament sits we will have 55 on our side and we'll see a change," he said.

Parliament will sit tomorrow morning for the swearing in of Governor-General Paulias Matane, and then the opposition is expected to move the vote of no confidence.

Commentators predict Speaker Jeffery Nape may not allow the vote to be moved or may accept an adjournment of parliament that would neutralise attempts to overthrow the government.

Moses tok pinis: Lo! The path of redemption

With another book in the offing and a full calendar, JOHN FOWKE says this is his last essay for the year. I hope our readers will write to us and persuade the great man otherwise.

THE BLITHELY-approved-and-imposed Westminster party system has been the nursery within which the political, administrative and social dysfunction which defines PNG has developed.

Far from an enfranchisement leading to the empowerment of the people, the party-system set up by – or, more accurately, countenanced by Australia - has led to the marginalisation of the people in this once most egalitarian of societies.

It has led to the growth of a small, unstable, unscrupulous but very tenacious governing elite; divided by greed but united in its concern to expand its hegemonic hold over the affairs of the nation.

The growth of the very conditions which the Westminster system slowly eradicated in Britain is the outcome of Australia’s foolish decision to allow this system where there was no requirement for it.

How could the Australian powers of the day have been so dense? The answer lies in the strong “them-and-us” outlook manifest in the ruling clique of senior Administration officials.

We (the administrators) know and you (the private enterprise, mission and indigenous members of the old colonial Legislative Council) don’t.

It is difficult today to find any record from the time of other than superficial discussion of alternative systems.

At least one was readily to hand, in the shape of a fully-democratised version of the former Legislative Council supported by the 19 existing District Advisory Councils, democratised and linked to the network of well-established and democratically-elected Local Government Councils then numbering more than 100.

This would have been governance anchored firmly in the roots of society; government answering the reality of  regional needs and interests as opposed to non-existent social, class-based or occupation-based needs.

There was however an aversion in Konedobu to the encouragement of "regionalism" - perhaps engendered by the violence of tribal politics in Kenya and other east African countries.

There is a hint of what may have been the unspoken fears of senior Administration men in the late Ian Downs's novel The Stolen Land.

What to do now, today? Today? In this present (and paradoxically potentially productive) period of turmoil prior to the 2012 election?

Follow the word of Moses, is my very strong recommendation.

1.    Create Provincial Management Committees of Local Level Governments and Governors. Their strength will be in the statutory powers of individual members derived from their appointments and the fact that this is the voice of the people. They will be sanctioned by the laws of the land and the principles of the constitution.

2.    These committees will be chaired by the Governor and comprise Provincial MPs and Chairmen of all LLGs. They will meet to plan action based on the minutes of the past three months' LLG meetings. Their meetings will be open and well publicised.

3.   Committee meetings will be held every three months to receive, deliberate upon and provide necessary action in response to the quarterly reports received from LLGs; such reports reflecting the needs of the people. [See my series of three articles in The National in November/December last year.]

4. The resolutions will be forcefully and openly despatched to both the Provincial Public Service and to National Departments within and outside the Province. Dates for implementation and completion will be publicised regularly.

Thus will democracy and fairness slowly arise amid the wreckage of the attempts and failures and disappointments of the past 35 years.

These steps are not in conflict with the principles of the Constitution. They need no great period of deliberation, no long and expensive series of conferences for consideration.

They are commonsense, pragmatic, simple and able to be adopted and implemented if the people want them to be.

Thus spake Moses!

John's most recent book is a new edition of 'Kundi Dan' (Southseas Press), available from Bill McGrath's Pacific Bookhouse for $29 plus p&p [credit cards accepted]. Email Bill at [email protected] or visit the website at

Turmoil in PNG as Somare deputy defects

WELL, IT LOOKS like the PNG government has blown itself apart in spectacular fashion.

Sky News reports that four key ministers have defected to the opposition in a move that seems to allow deputy prime minister, Sir Puka Temu, to topple The Chief, Sir Michael Somare.

Sir Puka along with Forest Minister Beldan Namah, Culture Minister Charles Abel and Attorney-General Ano Pala have publicly announced they’ll quit the government.

“There is a lot of disharmony in the country and in the cabinet,” Sir Puka said, affirming that a vote of no confidence will be moved when parliament sits tomorrow. The vote is likely to occur next week.

Transport Minister Don Polye had been expected to launch a leadership challenge today, but Sir Puka’s move to opposition has thrown PNG politics into melt down.

“We have the numbers, that's why he [Sir Puka] moved to join the new government,” an opposition spokesman said.

Sir Mekere Morauta’s opposition now claims 52 members of 109 MPs and more ministers are expected to defect tonight.

The political turmoil that threatens to bring down Sir Michael began earlier this month when PNG's Supreme Court overturned laws that prevented government changes when parties switched allegiance.

The ruling allows disgruntled politicians to once again behave as they choose, returning PNG to a prospect of constant political upheaval.

Western Province Governor Bob Danaya, the chief architect in the legal challenge, aid the formation of a new government is imminent but the leadership issue still to be discussed.

“People want change and it must be genuine with new leadership”, he said.

It remains possible that Sir Michael will have the numbers tomorrow to adjourn parliament as a strategy to delay the vote of no confidence.

Spotter: Peter

Could this be the end for Michael Somare?

AAP IS REPORTING that Michael Somare is facing a party leadership challenge tomorrow – and that he will not contest it.

Rival bids by Transport Minister Don Polye and Deputy Prime Minister Puka Temu to lead the ruling National Alliance are being discussed at a party meeting today, and Mr Somare's spokeswoman says he is unlikely to fight them.

"He's the one who's introduced democracy to PNG so I think he'll go with what other members of his party want," the spokeswoman said.

"He's not putting up a particular person at this stage. He'll just support the party."

For most of this year the Opposition, headed by Mekere Morauta, has been running a campaign urging disgruntled parliamentarians to leave a government marred by numerous allegations of corruption and mismanagement.

Earlier this month, the Opposition began counting numbers for a vote of no confidence in the government that's expected to be launched when Parliament resumes tomorrow.

Sir Michael, 74, has often indicated this will be his last term in office, and his spokeswoman said he was planning to retire at the next elections in 2012.

"He's just been in politics for too long ... 42 years," she said.

Spotter: Colin Huggins

Bougainville & NSW sign twinning agreement


THE SPEAKERS of the Autonomous Bougainville Government and the New South Wales Parliament [pictured] have signed a Parliamentary Partnership Agreement.

The agreement was signed by Richard Torbay and Andrew Miriki, the respective Speakers of their Parliaments.

It aims to promote collaboration, cooperation and understanding between the Bougainville House of Representatives and the NSW Parliament for their mutual benefit.

Under the terms of this agreement, the parliaments have agreed to work towards developing friendly relations through exchanging information, training in parliamentary practice, and exchange visits for parliamentarians and parliamentary staff.

A boys school in the sixties – a Bugandi story


Bugandi class 1968 with Denis Murrell I WAS SENT to teach at Bugandi High School in January 1968 and saw it for the first time from the back seat of the Principal’s Mercedes-Benz.

It was a neat set of single and double-storey buildings situated in lush green, well-tended parkland and sports ovals bordered with red canna lilies, crotons and painted white stones.

There were three new arrivals on that day, John Budby, John Jensen and me, and we joined a number of other new staff-members that year. Initially, all the staff were male but that was to change during the year when three female staff members were appointed and later, there were more.

Bugandi was built on the site of a former swamp, a place where people said it would be impossible to build anything. In 1959, ten acres were cleared of rainforest and two classrooms, a dormitory, two houses and a mess were built. Amazingly, classes began soon after in January, 1960.

The school was called Bugandi Upper Primary School and there were 78 students in Standards 7, 8 and 9 and three teachers, two from overseas and one Papua New Guinean. By 1962, the name had been changed to Bugandi Junior High School and Jack Amesbury was appointed as Principal.

He worked successive groups of students hard over the years, to reclaim land from the water, fell trees, clear undergrowth, build roads, plant lawns and gardens, and construct playing fields and livestock pastures. I could see the results of this hard work as I travelled down the drive in his Mercedes.

Bugandi Aerial 1970 When I arrived, Jack was trying to develop another oval to accommodate all the rugby league teams, but the trees were full of shrapnel. The area closer to the Markham River had been a battleground between Australian and Japanese troops in World War II and students often found bits and pieces of Japanese war materiel and occasionally unexploded bombs.

Jack Amesbury - a stocky, sandy-haired man with a demanding expression and occasional wry smile - was a former Royal Australian Navy man who had been present on an Australian vessel at Wewak for the Japanese surrender.

Her ran the school like a naval vessel, always referred to his students as ‘men’. His first words at every Assembly were, ‘Right Men! On deck!’

The students were up at dawn to shower. They ate a breakfast of wheatmeal cakes, jam and hot tea and listened to the morning news on 9LA as they prepared for lessons. Some boys were rostered each day to keep the area around their dormitories clean.

They wore government-issued white cotton drill shirts and navy or khaki shorts. Assembly was at seven sharp and no-one was ever late.

After assembly, English master, Charles Cazabon, and his staff would take all Form 1 for 20 minutes of English language drills, while the other students went straight to class. Students were punished for speaking their own village languages [tokples] and Tok Pisin. They were required to speak English at all times and were reported to the Principal by the prefects if they did not.

During lessons, Jack Amesbury would often suddenly appear at a classroom window and take all the boys and the teacher, out to work on the school farm - to harvest peanuts, soybeans or pineapples, to carry rocks, to get wandering pigs back into their pen, to collect eggs, or perhaps push the tractor out of some mud.

Teachers didn’t always manage to complete what they had planned to teach and what they thought was going to be a relatively easy day in the classroom would turn out to be hot and tiring, but no-one complained.

Classrooms had usually 25 double-desks accommodating up to 50 students per class. Sometimes there was a cupboard and for the teacher, and a table - but no chair. Jack Amesbury didn’t like his teachers to sit down during lessons.

Some teachers would sit on a desk but would always keep a wary eye out for the Principal. If you were caught sitting during a lesson, you could expect to be scolded in a way that only Jack could manage, and in front of your students too.

Lessons finished at 1pm followed by lunch, usually consisting of kaukau, other vegetables and soup. Boys rostered to mess duty helped the cooks serve and clean up. The school was divided into to four houses and one house had to do work parade one day a week until about 4.30.

Some boys worked on the farm or caring for the flower gardens, some cut grass with their serifs, while others cleaned the ablution blocks. There were special projects like the new swimming pool, fish ponds, chapel/assembly hall and the tractor shed. Others ran the school tuckshop operated by the Bantin Cooperative Society, whose president was Utula Samana. Selected boys helped Charles Cazabon in the library and others helped me to print tee-shirts in the art room.

After work parade, the students could relax until dinner and perhaps do their laundry. Dinner consisted of rice, instead of kaukau, and some green vegetables like aibika or spinach with some bully-beef or tinned mackerel.

Immediately after that, from 7 until 9, boys went for night study in their classrooms, supervised by duty teachers. No-one could be late or absent without a good reason and the duty teacher would count the students present in each room. Following that, students were then free for an hour but had to be in bed by 10pm lights-out.

They could go into Lae with permission on Saturdays and Sundays but had to be back in their dormitories by midnight on Saturdays and 10pm on Sundays and the duty teacher and prefects would be waiting to catch those who might be late. There was usually a small group of boys up for punishment on Monday mornings.

During that first year and the three further years I taught at the school, I cannot remember any boy not working hard to prepare for his future. In the late sixties, it was not easy for a boy to go to high school and those who were selected used their chance wisely.

They knew that any boy who didn’t follow the Bugandi way of doing things could be dismissed and sent back to his village. Under Jack Amesbury’s guidance, Bugandi became a great and famous school, producing many students who went on to become academic, political and business leaders in PNG.

Photos: Denis Murrell and class; Bugandi High School from the air [Denis Murrell]

Somare on the brink as PNG holds its breath


THERE IS EXCITED talk in the suburbs of Mosbi and, in the settlements, street-bookies are taking a wager or two.

It’s the only game in town; the hot media topic making front page news; the story that’s got political punters excited.

Is this the end of Sir Michael Somare’s prime ministership?

I am quietly confident it's not time yet for Somare's swan song. More likely Kenny Roger's “You picked a fine time to leave me, NA” humming along the corridors of the Haus Tambaran next week.

In order not to risk unnecessary altercations in the diverse society of the national capital, people are careful and discreet - one never knows who one is talking to and whether that particular person may be a Somare supporter.

The media has been speculating for over a week. It's public knowledge that the Sir Mekere Orauta’s Opposition intends to move a vote of no-confidence motion in next week's parliamentary session. The clear aim is to remove Somare as PM.

This will be a difficult task. Many political variables still remain and those thinking of crossing the floor are still not sure of whether it's the right thing to do.

Politics in PNG is always fluid. Sir Mekere knows very well that he is up against a tough opponent who knows how to play the numbers game better than anyone, except perhaps New Ireland Governor Sir Julius Chan; the other maestro who knows a thing or two more than the young guns of today’s parliament and who was Somare's first Treasurer and later PNG's second prime minister.

In PNG today, party policies are a secondary matter. Those who will be enticed or seduced will already have displayed weaknesses that the behind-the-scenes Mr Fix-its will work on.

Among other incentives, there will be cash gifts and promises of Ministries, regardless of whether the MP has the required qualifications or not.

In order to beat Somare, Mekere must have the required numbers before parliament sits next week. If he fails, his chance of removing a perceived dictator will be gone.

The people will also miss an ideal opportunity to have a properly run this government for the next two years before the general election.

The opposition has moved to invite other MPs to join them to remove Somare, seeking like-minded MPs unhappy with Somare's leadership to defect.

So for PNG Attitude punters, Keith Jackson's bet could be right on the money. The Grand Chief is not leaving politics yet. This may further frustrate his inner circle who will see that he has once again misled the party and the nation by delaying a long-awaited cabinet reshuffle and quitting politics.

On the other hand, many NA insiders have long secretly feared that, with pressure on for his job, the PM may do something stupid that could seriously threaten the party's internal stability. Many party members feel that, in an eleventh hour surprise move, Somare will forget the national interest and give the top job to his son, Arthur, and damn the party deputies.

While this may not be possible under party constitution, there has been media speculation that amending certain provisions could facilitate this. But the NA regional deputies will challenge such a move prompting a revolt. Or they may or simply dump Somare by defecting to the other side.

So by this time next week, we will know whether PNG has a new prime minister or government. But Morauta may not get the required numbers in the time available. The opposition has not told the nation why they should be in government and what it can offer PNG as an alternative.

Brian Halesworth, school broadcast pioneer


I KNEW Brian Halesworth well. He was a shy, tall, balding, conservative, anti-cigarette smoking, 30-something who was my first boss in the ABC, out there at the Five Mile.

We all smoked cigarettes in 1967. All except Brian, that is, who (quietly) would remonstrate with us (rightly, we now know) and say he would never marry a cigarette smoker. Which meant, back then, that you would never marry. And he didn’t. Even the girlfriends were thin on the ground.

Halesworth_Tanya Brian was the ABC’s Supervisor of Education in PNG. He’d been at teachers’ college (in Wagga Wagga, I think) where, in 1955, he met and married a fellow student, the beautiful Tanya Halesworth [right].

Soon after, in television’s infancy, Tanya became an ABC newsreader. Back then she was everyone’s darling. Too many people’s darling, as Brian discovered. They divorced in 1959. Brian never got over it.

Furthermore, long after the divorce, he resented that Tanya would not relinquish his surname for her own maiden name – Kemp. Brian felt this was insulting.

"Marriage is an untenable state," Tanya said later. Adding that it was "entirely against man's instincts to be tied down to one woman". And vice versa one could add.

In any event, she later married Australian TV personality John Bailey and, despite a rocky time of it, remained with him until he died in 1998. Tanya herself died of cancer two years ago, aged 73.

Back to the story. Understudying Brian in ABC Education in Port Moresby, when I arrived there in 1967, was the late Lester Goodman [ABC designation - Education Officer Grade 2], a powerhouse in bringing the force of radio to education in PNG. And later to many other countries, including Indonesia and India, until he ended up as a senior officer with Unesco in Paris in a futile battle with the UN bureaucracy.

Lets Use English With me occupying the diminutive position of Education Officer Grade 1, the three of us produced hundreds of radio programs: instructing in English, current affairs, social studies, music, health and probably others I’ve forgotten. Like Teachers' Teatime.

As the total complement of ABC Education in the late sixties, Brian, Lester and I were close colleagues and close companions. At and after work.

And, not counting the newsroom, where David Prior and Albert Asbury held court, we were the second most boisterous and noisy production unit at Broadcast House.

Brian was the first person I knew who had a hair transplant. The frail fronds grew as small shoots from the pink plugs bored into his scalp. I had never observed anything like it. At 22, and with hair like a Mekeo, I did not fully comprehend it.

In those days we did everything to do with making a broadcast. Planned, researched, wrote, trained actors, produced, acted, did sound effects, edited, published books [above] and publicised.

Then we went into the sticks proselytising to teachers the techniques of using those broadcasts in the classroom. Not that we had to do much instructing. Radio, back then, was adopted enthusiastically as a vital part of the educational mix.

Brian Halesworth returned to Australia in the late sixties and spent many years in the independent school system. He had a kidney transplant about nine years ago, and a period of excellent health followed.

A few months ago, however, in Queensland, he caught pneumonia and died. He was 80.

Vale Brian Halesworth - an unsung pioneer of PNG educational broadcasting.

Additional credit: John Leah, another pioneer

Death of the hero of the Battle of Kaiapit

King_Gordon THE DEATH of former commando Captain Gordon King, 91, is reported in today’s Sydney Morning Herald.

In 1941 King was posted as instructor to the School of Guerilla Warfare. The next year he helped to raise the 2/6 Independent Company, which was posted to New Guinea with King as second in command. He was 24.

The unit provided flank and forward protection for the 7th Division, usually behind enemy lines. In September 1943 the squadron, with King now in command, was airlifted to a jungle landing ground in the upper Markham Valley with the task of capturing and holding Kaiapit and its small airstrip.

The group of 150 troops captured the village and destroyed the enemy garrison and the citation for the Distinguished Service Order King was awarded for the encounter records that, although wounded in the leg, he organised the defence against two counter-attacks, which were successfully repulsed.

Then, around daybreak, the enemy in superior numbers made a further attack. King moved among his troops, encouraging and directing them and, when ammunition was low he ordered a bayonet attack.

The enemy were routed and 214 of their dead were later buried while the squadron lost 14 with 23 men wounded. The airstrip was enlarged elements of the 7th Division were flown in.

The Battle of Kaiapit is regarded as something of a classic and is still taught at Duntroon Military College and in special forces officer training in Britain. King always maintained the DSO was really awarded to the squadron.

Link to Gordon King’s full obituary here.

Source: ‘A true hero who lived his life serving others’ by Edwina Jones & Ken Handley, Sydney Morning Herald, 15 July 2010

Who profits from our aid? An untold story


IF YOU ASK most Australians who delivers Australian aid overseas, they’ll most likely list big, well-known NGOs such as Oxfam, World Vision or Caritas.

Most would be surprised to know that for nearly a decade one of Australia’s most successful, although little-known, aid companies and its biggest casino operator were owned by the same company.

We’ve studied the records of one of Australia’s biggest foreign-aid companiesGRM International. Until December last year, GRM was fully owned by the Bahamas-based company Consolidated Press International Holdings, a key company in the private empire of one of Australian richest families, the Packers.

The central question at the heart of this web of complex company structuring is this: such set-ups for tax minimisation purposes are common in international company business, but is it acceptable for major recipients of Australian government contracts to operate in this way?

GRM International handles hundreds of millions of dollars worth of government contracts each year. Yet, according to its most recent financial statements, it doesn’t make a profit and hasn’t had any employees since 2005.

It’s just one of many surprises and inconsistencies that surround the company, which was sold by the Packer family to some of the company’s directors, managers and business associates last December.

GRM secured more than a billion dollars worth of AusAID contracts between 2001 and 2010, as well as income from its agribusiness activities.

A large amount of this money has been for “technical assistance” in the form of short-term contracts for expert advisers. This form of aid is more common in Australia than in other OECD countries and has been criticised by a recent review of Australian aid to PNG as often ineffective, wasteful and lacking in accountability.

GRM’s highest-profile jobs have been for managing the civilian end of the Australian-led Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands. It has received hundreds of millions of dollars to hire judges, magistrates, public servants, court officials, the Ombudsman and the RAMSI public relations team, advise on financial policy and manage the local prison.

Even the deputy managing director of GRM International, Darryn Purdy, who until the sale was its Asia-Pacific regional director, said he had no idea why GRM had filed accounts listing zero profit.

“Maybe ASIC data is not up to date,” said Purdy, and then suggested Consolidated Press should explain the anomaly…

AusAID’s contracts are managed according to the Commonwealth Procurement Guidelines. For large contracts, AusAID says it requires contractors to provide information on their financial status, ultimate ownership and other related entities and the previous three years’ accounts. It hires accounting firms to assess these.

ACIJ asked AusAID when it was aware GRM International was owned by CPIH and if it was aware it was based in a tax haven and that it owned casinos. A spokesperson said: “AusAID has been aware for many years that Consolidated Press Holdings was GRM International’s ultimate owner.”

It did not respond to the question about the tax haven or the casinos other than to say: “AusAID has had no direct commercial relationship with CPH. AusAID’s contractual dealings have been with GRM International.” ACIJ has contacted AusAID to confirm that it was not aware of CPIH’s role but as yet has received no reply.

ACIJ also asked AusAID about the company records showing no employees, to which it replied: “AusAID has regular direct dealings with GRM personnel. How GRM reflects this in its reporting to ASIC is a matter for GRM and ASIC.”


* Wendy Bacon is the director of the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism and Flint Duxfield has just completed a postgraduate journalism course at UTS. This investigation was a joint project between ACIJ and Link to the full Crikey story here.

The wild dogs of Moresby – 4 legged variety


IT CAME AS a surprise to see semi-wild dogs roaming a city. There must be thousands of them in Port Moresby.

They often kept me awake at night, howling some secret canine message in unison.

They could be dangerous - best carry a stick when going for a walk - but more often they were just distressing to see. Skinny as a lizard and ridden with mange.

An old grey abandoned sad-looking hound came to my house one day. All ribs, tongue and no bark.

Feeling sorry for him, I retrieved some of last night's stew and left it out with a bowl of water. He fawned over me after that - sitting at the bottom of the steps waiting for me to come out of the house.

Never a growl, never a bark, just a hopeful look in his eyes and the odd doggy tear and tail-wag.

I don't know why, but there are many uncared for and abandoned dogs in Moresby that seem to have coalesced through breeding into a whippet-type.

I know there are more important things to be concerned about, but someone once told me you can tell something about a society by how it treats its animals. I felt sorry for the Moresby dogs - ragged, diseased and sometimes violent mongrels that they were.

We found two puppies outside our house, and decided to adopt them. Jack and Jill were lovely pups. If we let them inside the house, they would jump on the bed wagging their tails furiously.

One day they got sick. We did our best, but the next morning woke up and found Jack dead outside the door, and Jill not far behind. It was a Sunday. We called a taxi to take Jill to the RSPCA vet).

The taxi driver couldn't believe his eyes - we wanted to take a dog in his cab! Fortunately a few kina alleviated his concern. The RSPCA diagnosed canine gastro-enteritis and treated her accordingly, so in two days she came home hail and hearty.

When we left she stayed with relatives at Morauta and terrorised the neighborhood and had a few puppies. A good insurance policy, God bless her.

Give a thought for the RSPCA in Moresby - a difficult job in an unsympathetic city.

Of the Admiral, the General ... and Moses


OVER THE LAST couple of days you may have been witness to a little family spat on PNG Attitude.

It occurred between some of our most prolific – and I dare I say, most valued - contributors. The General, the Admiral and Moses.

The General is Bruce Copeland. He never attained such rank in his Army career, Major was as close as he got. When he puts his mind to it, Bruce can write like a dream; but he can bore like a woodworm when he doesn’t put said mind to said it.

As the editor, I never know whether I’m going to be delighted or despairing. Life around Bruce is such a rich tapestry of verbal conflict.

The Admiral is Reginald Renagi – a real family favourite of many of our readers. Reg never got to be an Admiral, of course, but in the PNG Navy he got a lot closer to it than Bruce ever came to being a General.

Reg writes about how things might be. Every society needs its Reg’s. Yes, they can frustrate because the goals they espouse are often beyond us; and because they rarely tell us precisely how to attain them.

But we need people like Reg; people who are willing to write, to let us know what those goals ought to be. Quibble not with the idealist; it is a necessary role.

And who is Moses? My curmudgeonly mate John Fowke is Moses. John had laboured up the mountain and, in doing so, had discovered some profound truths.

And having discovered them, he now labours down the mountain - when he must have thought his labours might have been over - to share those truths and ensure they are heard. Heard just doesn’t mean listened to. It means acknowledged. And acted upon.

Few of our readers would appreciate just how hard John works at this. If all our aid agency workers laboured as conscientiously, as intelligently and as passionately, PNG would be a far better place. So would Australia.

Over these recent days I have had to exercise the editorial axe with a gusto that I profoundly dislike. I much prefer an open debate, untrammelled by some so-called editor. But the conflict was getting a little close to the bone. A little too personal.

What readers may not appreciate is how our contributors go offline – and use emails between each other – to resolve issues that may cause personal offence. I didn’t invent that recourse, but I think it’s a damn good system. However, sometimes it doesn't work. The public forum is too tempting.

Not that readers object to a bit of conflict (after all, the mass media thrive on it and yesterday readership on PNG Attitude surged to 30% higher than average), but there is a fine line in here somewhere – where personal conflict turns us off instead of switching us on.

PNG Attitude is not a physical property. It is information. If you gave PNG Attitude a shovel, it could not dig a hole. If you gave it an SP, it could not drink it. If you gave it a million kina, it would probably waste it. Just like AusAID.

Do not expect PNG Attitude to solve many problems. But expect it to raise them, debate them and espouse solutions to them (which it cannot give effect to, even where they are half sensible).

There is only one issue PNG Attitude, as an entity, ever wanted to – and continues to want to – address. The issue of the long silence that existed for too long between ordinary Papua New Guineans who live in PNG and ordinary Australians who live in Australia. People like us.

[I'll write another time on how Australians let down the relationship after PNG's independence.]

That silence (which denied a truly fraternal friendship and deep knowledge, one of the other) is beginning to recede - a little. Subscriptions to our free newsletter (now numbering well over 600 subscribers) are evenly divided between the people of our two countries. And the readers of this website are representative of our two countries (and also a significant representation beyond).

People who are in jobs where they can effect solutions also read this website and its accompanying PNG Attitude newsletter [free, monthly, email here]. But there are many of us who can only occupy the sidelines and cheer. Or wail.

That said, we’re all vital to the task – as some patriot once said: They also serve who only stand and wait.

But – General, Admiral, Moses – we particularly need you, and are in your debt.

We thank you for your knowledge, strength and passion. And we thank you mostly because you give a damn.

PNG implicated in $4 billion foreign aid fraud

NEWS LIMITED newspapers across Australia this morning are splashing a story revealing something that will come as no surprise to PNG Attitude readers.

An article by journalist Steve Lewis discloses that Australia’s $4 billion foreign aid program is “plagued by fraud” and that there are 134 "active" investigations into possible corruption in 16 countries.

Most cases of fraud are in Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, writes Lewis, whose investigation showed that at least $100,000 has been possibly siphoned off on one project in PNG's overflowing jails.

AusAID head Peter Baxter has conceded many countries receiving Australian money don’t have sufficient legal and police enforcement to properly pursue fraud.

But Mr Baxter would not comment on particular cases of fraud “while investigations continue”.

Steve Lewis reveals that a flagship $160 million PNG Law and Justice Sector Program is under serious scrutiny after misuse of funds.

An investigation by the PNG Department of Correctional Services has uncovered "serious weaknesses" with the project, which has been backed by AusAID since 2003.

And he said it was possible some money had been stolen or siphoned off by corrupt government officials.

This was leading to "great risk in the movement of prisoners".

You can link to the full story here.

Source: ‘Australia's great foreign aid rip off’ by Steve Lewis, Brisbane Courier-Mail, Sydney Daily Telegraph, Melbourne Herald-Sun and other newspapers, 14 July 2010.   Spotter: Murray Bladwell

Coming to terms with violence in PNG


Shot VIOLENCE IN PNG is a complex issue with its roots in the culture and traditions of its peoples.

PNG was not in any sense unified until colonisation by the Germans, British and Australians not much over 100 years ago. Even then the PNG people didn't conceive themselves as belonging to a 'country'. 

Prior to colonisation people lived in tribal and clan groups with a series of relationships with their neighbours and those from further away for such things as trade, customary exchanges, family relationships and the like.

In general people did not travel much beyond their language group's lands. Relationships between rival tribal or ethnic groups were therefore more like international diplomacy rather than internal disputes - and had more in common with the relations between ancient Greek city states than European models of internal policing.

Western notions of national sovereignty and national civic society were relatively recent introductions. Inter-tribal negotiations and conflict were traditionally dealt with via a sophisticated series of exchanges, challenges, compensation payments and as a last resort, violence.

But this was carried out within a broad context of generally-accepted conventions (think western "rules of war").

This changed with colonisation and the introduction of western ideas, influences and above all modern weapons. A generation or to ago tribal conflicts would have been fought with bows and arrows, clubs and spears. Now you will find M16's, automatic pistols, fearsome machetes and even grenades. So the potential for serious injury and death has magnified drastically.

Transfer this to a domestic situation and you will have some horrific incidents. Bride price traditions undoubtedly play a role in this as well. Some PNG islands have a matrilinear social structure and do not have a bride price tradition. Levels of domestic violence in these areas are noticeably lower than on the mainland where most of PNG society is patrilinear and bride price is common.

We might think a man is seen as "buying" a wife via bride price. However this is a simplistic view as bride price also involves a complex series of exchanges between families, and corresponding obligations and responsibilities which are easily unbalanced by Western attitudes and mores.

Unfortunately this broader cultural context has been diluted through Western influences, where young people might form their attitudes as much by watching US soap operas on TV than listening to their elders.

As NCD metropolitan police commander, Supt Fred Yakasa, said at a recent United Nations Say No to Violence meeting, "Laws regarding domestic issues such as violence against women and marital rape exist but are never enforced due to the perception that such issues should remain within the parameters of the family...

“Under traditional customs, violence against ones spouse or child was seen as a disciplinary and corrective measure within the family... views were passed on for generations and were fuelled by the bride price practice, which makes men to think that a woman was now their property to do with as they pleased."

A further complication is widespread belief in sorcery as an explanation for anything unfortunate that might happen - such as a car accident or an unexpected death through cancer.

A natural reaction is to use violent reprisals against the alleged "sorcerers", so there are many terrible cases of violence, torture and murder as a result of such accusations. Just check the two national newspapers for regular accounts of this.

What is the solution? Only through education can deeply held beliefs be challenged and changed. Only by providing medical, counselling and support services like Médecins Sans Frontières and various church groups are doing can women and children be helped, and only by providing shelters can they be protected.

The PNG Government must also take on more responsibility for changing attitudes and providing better policing, health and social support. And the Australian government must bear some responsibility for introducing the catalysts that have amplified violence and changed the delicate balance of traditional social checks and balances.


Some references:

1.      Amnesty International, Papua New Guinea: Violence Against Women: Not Inevitable, Never Acceptable!$File/ASA3400206.pdf

2.      In Papua New Guinea, 67% of wives had been beaten by their husbands. (PNG Law Reform Commission, 1992), and 60% of men reported having participated in lainap (gang rape) at least once. (PNG Institute of Medical Research 1994)

3.      The National -

4.      Post-Courier -

Photo: Taken in Banz during a conflict between Peter’s wife's family and the police over removal of building materials from a long-abandoned building. The young man has been shot with an M16

Michael Somare on the edge? Let’s get real


WE HAVE ALL been here before, so we shouldn’t get too excited about it.

I refer, of course, to chatter of the impending political demise of Sir Michael Somare.

“There are increasing rumblings in PNG about moves to topple the prime minister,” said ABC Moresby correspondent, Liam Fox, on Monday.

But PNG Attitude has heard this a number of times in the last two years. And reported it. And been wrong.

It is true that government MPs are now free to take part in a vote of no confidence against Sir Michael. But this does not mean they will.

The political imperative is that, to a very considerable extent, politicians become expert sniffers of the breeze. They develop forecasting skills that are the envy of the Weather Bureau .

So when reports from Port Moresby say parties are crunching the numbers, weighing the chances of change, I do not disbelieve this is occurring.

But I am also cautious in suspecting it means a coup is imminent.

The Opposition says it is confident it can attract enough disaffected government MPs to win a vote.

Why? What is suddenly on offer from an Opposition that has shown little strategic skill. What is on offer that is so much better than what the government is offering now – or may offer in the future.

Parliament is due to sit later this month, but don’t hold your breath.

Michael Somare is 74 – and his health may not be the best (like many men of 74). But he’s never shown himself to be a quitter. Never.

I doubt he’s about to start now.

PNG Platitude: Reacting to Reg & his mates


HOW WILL Julia Gillard help PNG to become more independent and fight corruption through good governance if her operating agency in PNG is closed?

I am not known as a fervid AusAID supporter by any means, but if we in Oz and Julia Gillard and her Minister for Foreign Affairs are to be of help to our mates in PNG, how may this be facilitated in any other way but a material one; where the agreed material help comes with relevant advice and instruction?

By Reg Renagi’s own admission, his own generation of educated professionals and leaders of society are so weak, lacking in guts and imagination, and dishonest as not only to stall progress, but to send it into reverse.

How may Australia help in this regard, unless by the offer and the implementation of assistance directed at the problem? By hypnotism? By a national Help PNG Prayer Day?

The river of weakness and lack of resolution runs deep in PNG, as these educated people well know. Who in PNG will get up and turn the nation around?

All any of these people do, with such few exceptions as to be counted on fingers of one hand, is endlessly talk and propose and suggest. You are self-proclaimed champion boxers who spend your lives hitting the punching-bag but always shy away from the ring and the real challenge.

And sit back to watch the crooks become stronger and more numerous week by week.

Reg and his fellow educated professionals in PNG are musicians who play many tunes; music played according to who is listening, not music played from passionate feeling.

I find this immensely disappointing, whilst at the same time maintaining a full heart and high regard, in fact love, for so many old friends and their families who live in the villages.

These people have never had the opportunities that Reg and his mates have enjoyed, and they suffer a continuing diminution in conditions of daily life. Why? Because the educated generation has failed them absolutely and miserably.

We PNG-acquainted outsiders who are not able to do any more than talk and write are in many cases people who have worked hard and long as subordinates within PNG-managed institutions.

We have been putting up positive ideas, some of us for years, and there are some slight signs of acceptance - for instance, changes in the management at AusAID and Stephen Smith's announcement about funding for education and health through church-managed institutions.

These signs show perhaps, and while never acknowledged, that our ideas have caught the eye of those who control Australia’s inputs and aid delivery to PNG.

Forget about endless contributions on blogs, get together and make plans and actually do something instead of practising your famous Melanesian Way - talk, talk, seminars, 2050 programs, all this is simply horseshit.

When did we ever see anything positive come out of these magnificent plans? The Eight-Point plan, for instance? Plans, plans and more plans, accompanied by seminars and two-day stays at fancy locations. Tokwin tasol. Karana anina lasi. [Just empty air!]

Until you actually start kicking arse and getting people to come to work on time five days a week, accepting responsibility and working hard for that beautiful place which is your home, none of the problems you continually refer to are going to go away.

If you and your peer-group of some tens of thousands of middle class, educated citizens can’t hack it, the war's already over.

And the ghosts of people like Sgt Major Katui MM and Sgt Major Soa Ubia MM, who really cared, and who really fought and delivered for their country without the benefit of university educations and long white socks, will remain restless, disappointed, homeless spirits forever.

Australia, stop encouraging PNG corruption!


PNG GOT HER independence in 1975. In the 35 years since, Australia has been propping up PNG's annual budget with free money that now sits at nearly half a billion dollars a year.

This gift from Australian taxpayers is meant to develop PNG and improve the quality of life for ordinary Papua New Guineans. This has not happened.

And we are asking: why hasn't this huge grant from Australia raised PNG out of abject poverty? Where has all the money gone?

We hear insistent demands from well-intentioned people in PNG and Australia for their respective governments to fix the ongoing problems with Australian aid.

Many efforts have since been made to do this. There have been more reviews than in the history of cinema. But there’s the nagging question remains of how to improve the efficiency of AusAID in the mutual benefit of PNG and Australia.

Australia is an incredibly charitable nation, as evidenced by the billions of dollars it has granted to PNG and other developing countries over the years.

It's time for Australia to stop this flow of funds. Giving so much of its hard-earned tax dollars to PNG only props up bad governments that our people believe are corrupt.

It's time new Australian Prime Minister, Julia Gillard took her country's AusAID program in hand and made a fundamental change none of her predecessors have done. Cut the aid.

AusAID’s reviews are all the same. Cosmetic changes are made to give the impression to citizens of both countries that positive benefits will flow to the PNG people.

But Julia Gillard can change all this nonsense when she visits Port Moresby for the first time later this year or next year.

She needs to also do more for her own poor, especially Australian indigenous people, instead of sending it north of the 10th parallel.

The present approach of giving PNG money to be wasted by our government is fundamentally wrong.

Julia Gillard must cut the AusAID program to zero and in its place see what can be done to increase trade volume between Australia and PNG. This will be more beneficial to the development of PNG and the subsequent well-being of Papua New Guineans.

PNG's poverty is deeply rooted in government corruption, which is fostered by Australian aid.

Australian aid simply enriches errant politicians and their cohorts, distorts our economic system and props up bad government. Australia could send PNG next year a whopping one billion dollars and this country would still be poor and corrupt, and be getting worse by the day.

Australian aid enables prime ministers and governments to gain and hold power without the support of the people. PNG politicians have learned to manipulate foreign governments and obtain an independent source of income (especially from AusAID).

Once comfortably in power, and much to the horror of the Australian and other foreign governments that fund them, PNG politicians subjugate their own people to a miserable life of helplessness and being dependent on political hand-outs.

AusAID gives PNG politicians the power to impoverish Papua New Guineans.

It's time to stop this crime.

Australians should be free to do everything in their power to help Papua New Guineans, whether by donating money or working in our country (for less than monstrous salaries). But foreign aid to PNG does not work, it never has and it must now be stopped.

PM Julia Gillard must now direct her speechwriter to pen a new speech for her future visit to PNG. It should be entitled The New Order Australia-PNG Partnership.

Julia, it's time to cut aid and increase trade between our two countries. When this happens, watch us move. PNG will comfortably pay her way and become less dependent and more prosperous.

And our people will long remember an Australia PM for her toughness to assist our country become more independent, overcome poverty and fight corruption through good governance; and of having a more responsible and accountable government in office.

I invite readers to an open discussion of what Australia should do now about PNG.

The response should be interesting. It may even allow the Australian High Commission in PNG to better advise Canberra before Julia Gillard pays us a courtesy call as Australia's first woman Prime Minister.

When she does, we will welcome her with open arms, as we did Kevin Rudd.

Nasfund: Portrait of a business doing good


PNG's NATIONAL superannuation fund, Nasfund, recognises that there are important not for profit organisations that would struggle to survive without support from corporate and donor agencies.

As a Fund of more than 300,000 diverse members, it understands that many face very difficult social issues that impact on their work and quality of life.

Nasfund is not a social institution. Our major objective are the maximisation of member wealth. But this does not mean we cannot be oblivious to the needs of the community.

While we do not have endless resources to meet the challenges facing by the community, Nasfund does assist with in kind support, and in some cases direct funding, to certain causes that reflect our corporate ethos.

It continues to champion human rights, HIV/AIDS awareness and the need to build a strong governance platform.

Unfortunately we are slowly seeing many of these fundamental values placed on hold or being eroded through corruption and blatant self interest.

No individual or business can afford not be involved in pushback – in holding the line to ensure that a just society ultimately prevails.

As part of its support for these values, under the Nasfund roof technical support is given to a number of organisations.

HIV/AIDS is perhaps the greatest threat to the nation at present. Unchecked, and lacking proper dissemination of information on preventative measures, PNG could face major social dislocation - from low productivity, falling economic output, human rights abuses and even erosion of sovereignty.

Without proper education on dealing with HIV/AIDS in a non discriminatory, stigma free environment, we open up the possibility of divisive, hurtful and unfair treatment of our people. This is why Nasfund is solidly committed to HIV/AIDS awareness.

The Coalition for Change is another organisation to which NASFUND gives assistance. Family violence is a national disgrace. The low value placed on women continues to perpetuate cycles of disadvantage in education and participation in national decision making.

There is never a justification for the abuse of women and children. While some men justify such actions either through culture and or their “rights”, no just or moral society can ever develop while remaining aloof from this major social problem.

The PNG Institute of Directors with a membership of over 300 is a growing organisation committed to the promotion of corporate governance. Nasfund rescued the PNGID from collapse five years ago when it suffered major fraud. It was rehabilitated and now it is flourishing.

This year, Nasfund provided Buk Bilong Pikini with free office accommodation and access to technical support. This organisation is managed by a group of dedicated women who aim to spread literacy among children. Fostering a culture of literacy in PNG from early childhood is a development issue.

In the short time Buk Bilong Pikini has been operating, it has established six children’s libraries with full-time teachers. These are free of charge to children in settlements in Port Moresby, Lae and Goroka. A truly extraordinary program.

Nasfund also provides access to its electronic database of 25,000 addresses to a number of organisations like Transparency International and the Community Coalition against Corruption.

This has been of great benefit in galvanizing the community in the now annual Walk Against Corruption which has raised over K900, 000 for the Sir Anthony Siaguru Endowment Trust and for grassroots petitions against changes to the powers of the Ombudsman Commission.

By supporting groups of professionals who want a better PNG, Nasfund assists to facilitate the cross pollination of a broad church of civil society, ensuring our corporate ethos reinforces the community’s desire for positive change.

PNG mooted as refugee centre for Australia


IT WAS A WEEK in which the gloss got knocked of new Australian prime minister Julia Gillard as she dithered and slithered over the issue of a processing centre for refugees.

It was a week that began with Timor Leste as the desired site and ended with Manus Island back on the agenda.

But, according to The Australian newspaper, Julia Gillard is yet to formally raise the use of the Lombrum centre on Manus Island with PNG leaders.

Home Affairs Minister, Brendan O'Connor, says the government is "willing to engage" with Australia's northern neighbour on the issue. Well, yes.

The Australian government is struggling on an issue where it made premature public statements without the requisite consultation, and succeeded only in offending East Timor's leaders.

It also gave a struggling Australian opposition some oxygen, its leader Tony Abbott attacking Ms Gillard as a political amateur "lost in a wilderness of spin".

Last Tuesday, Ms Gillard scrapped Labor’s preference for onshore processing of asylum-seekers, arguing that third-country processing would prevent people-smuggling. It was in this context that Ms Gillard said she had canvassed the idea with East Timorese President, Jose Ramos-Horta.

But on Thursday, as East Timorese politicians attacked the plan, Ms Gillard back flipped saying she had never proposed the centre would be located in Timor Leste.

Mr O’Connor was asked on Melbourne radio whether Manus Island, used for refugee detention by the previous Howard government, could be a possible site.

"We'll engage with any of the countries within the region on this matter that are signatories to the (UN) refugee convention,” he replied.

"PNG is a signatory to the refugee convention and therefore we were willing to engage on that basis, because we believe we need to have a regional approach, one that also recognises the convention in that manner."

At a press conference on Thursday, Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith explained that he had briefed his PNG counterpart, Sam Abal, on Ms Gillard's proposals but had not sought any indications about particular locations for a refugee processing centre.

Mr Abal said PNG had "the place up in Manus" but had not considered reopening it.

A spokeswoman for Michael Somare said "any consideration [on the matter] would have to go before a cabinet meeting".

Asked whether Manus could be an alternative to East Timor, Ms Gillard said she was taking a step at a time, and noted that Dr Ramos-Horta and East Timorese Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao had said they were happy to discuss her proposals.

Manus Governor Michael Sapau has frequently expressed his willingness to have the centre reopened because of the resulting jobs and income for the province. But the facilities have deteriorated in the tropical conditions.

PNG has housed 10,000 West Papuan refugees for about 20 years in a manner recently commended by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

Source: ‘PNG now in Labor sights for asylum-seeker centre’ by Matthew Franklin and Rowan Callick, The Australian, 10 July 2010

The end of OLIPPAC; back to musical chairs


THE PARLIAMENTARY process in Papua New Guinea appears to be going back to the future.

In earlier times, the nation witnessed a parliamentary musical chairs as members blithely skipped from party to party.

It was common for a new member to want to become a Minister regardless of lack of experience.

Ministers were big men and every parliamentarian wanted to be a big man. Where’s my ministry?

The Westminster System was a puzzling abstraction. Its fit with Melanesian culture was non-existent. There was a need for a system that might induce stability. There was no political party that could achieve that.

If the Prime Minister did not provide enough ministries to go around, then parliamentarians promptly changed parties. At whim. For personal gain

The Organic Law of the Integrity of Political Parties (OLIPPAC) changed all that. Musical chairs were unlawful. Members had to stay where they had started at election time.

Now a new corruption began as leaders had the opportunity to bully politicians into following directions they may not want to. Witness the vote to accept the re-election of Sir Paulias Matane in an act that seemed to defy the Constitution.

Now the Supremem Court has rejected a number of provisions of OLIPPAC, Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia stating that “restrictions imposed on PNG’s national parliamentarians and their freedom of movement in the National Parliament were unheard of in any democratic countries within the Commonwealth”.

So, it seems, back to parliamentary instability. Anyway, at least the parliamentarians can vote against the Prime Minister. But nothing in the Court’s judgement implies any improvement in political integrity.

Being a parliamentarian is a growth industry for the individual who succeeds at the ballot box. Have a politician in your clan and masses of money fall from the sky.

Paying school fees is small bickies. We want a land cruiser for every family. Where’s my land cruiser? I voted for you.

Incompetent govt is cause of a failing PNG


WITHOUT AN effective public service, we will increasingly see PNG’s growing mineral boom frittered away with benefits unequally shared. This will mean minimal service delivery, especially outside Port Moresby.

It is clear the PNG government sector has lived well beyond its means for a decade or more. It is costly, grossly inefficient and largely ineffective. Many sections have been corrupted and deskilled.

To quote the Public Accounts Committee [PAC]:

“Systems of accounting and reporting in all government departments have collapsed under the gaze of the departments of Finance and Treasury, law enforcement agencies and Parliament with no attempt to stop the endless illegalities and incompetence.”

The recent exposé in the media of the PAC findings is simply breathtaking. It reveals incompetence and lack of accountability right throughout the machinery of government. In the latest round of PAC reports, covering 900 state agencies, only five made the grade. As the Chairman of the PAC stated:

“Of the hundreds of agencies we have examined, we can only find five that maintained proper, lawful, auditable and reliable financial information."

How are we going to provide education, aid posts, roads and other services, when the very machinery is incapable of basic delivery?

How are we going to progress the Nation if the Lands Department is assessed by the Committee in the following less than complimentary terms:

“Corruption and criminal collusion by senior managers is an accepted incident of the department's functioning”.

Sadly, these facts have been well known for over a decade. Currently the expenditure on salaries and wages within the public sector takes up approximately 45% of recurrent expenditure.

Many people look to the LNG project's tax receipts, believing the answer is to throw more money at problems. How wrong is that line of thinking?

Money has never been the root cause of the effectiveness or lack of effectiveness of the public service. Money has always been there, it has just been washed away through incompetence, corruption and lack of discipline.

The real solution to the public service is leadership and responsibility. Two key words sadly in short supply.