Garnaut is silent on Lihir pollution claims

Learning the lesson from the Hurrell story


ONE MUST hope that AusAID understands the real significance of Don Hurrell’s apparent success in reducing the incidence of tribal fighting in the Eastern Highlands.

The correct take-out is not that consultants necessarily deliver good outcomes because they have expertise for which they are highly-paid.

It is that, if carefully selected for their experience and knowledge of the cultural nuances of the people they’re working amongst, they can maximise their chances of success.

In the case of Don Hurrell, featured on last night’s ABC-TV News, he grew up in PNG and became a highly-ranking police officer in Queensland before returning to PNG on an AusAID program as a “justice adviser”.

Don is the son of former kiap, Lloyd Hurrell, and his discourse indicates he has an immaculate grasp of how to deal with the dysfunctionality that has crept into Highlands society in recent years, with land, compensation and other disputes debilitating both society and economy.

The lesson is that experience always counts.

And, astoundingly, AusAID has never used – as, for example, resource companies in PNG have cleverly used – the vast knowledge that still exists in Australia about how best to work with the cultural dynamics of rural Papua New Guineans.


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Robin Lillicrapp

After forwarding the latest pages of the blog to old friends overseas, past residents of PNG, their response came in reply:

"Interesting little video with Mr Hurrell. As one of the commentators mentioned the corruption at the top must be cleaned out before the folks on the ground will get anywhere.

"Also, I think that some of the decent, honest people see how those who straddle the fence have given up and joined the easy money crowd.

"The children see it and grow up not really knowing the difference. It makes one sad and mad at the same time. I would have loved to remain in PNG indefinitely.

"The fights in the Kagu area seem to be going very well, thank you. We found recently that two people with gunshot wounds were taken to Goroka and a week later they still had no treatment whatsoever, medicine, bandaged, checked wounds etc nothing, nil, nada, zilch.

"To me that would be enough to quit fighting, but obviously not to them.

"I am glad that, through Mr Hurrell's love for the country and the people, his interventions resulted in stopping some of the mini-wars.

"In my mind I can still see the huge pile of bows and arrows being burned on two occasions - once in Goroka, once in Chimbu. Strange what clearly and vividly sticks in your mind, huh?

"You know that we left part of our hearts in PNG…” - Hal and Ruth Williams

Robin Lillicrapp

The fact that Hurrell is is actively engaged in successful outcomes is of more import than there not be outcomes.

Just like home-grown vegetables taste better, picked when ripe, so is the PNG-grown leadership capacity, represented in Don's involvement, the catalyst to inspiring and promoting the next generation of leaders to do the same.

D Marchant

If anybody with half a brain thinks any AusAID input will work in PNG without fixing the issue of high level corruption they are dreaming.

Did I miss something or did I read highlands resolutions meetings are to arrange compensation! Give me a break what's new about that. Typical AusAID spin.

Get Don to donate half his salary, that would fund at least six health aid posts.

Reginald Renagi

Fully agree with Peter Warwick on this aspect. Let's go for it!

Peter Warwick

KJ - AusAID is run by very well educated and well intentioned people (PhD's abound) from the corridors of Canberra who lack the savvy on PNG.

I can think of 20 ex-kiaps and others who have been here a long time (in all sorts of capacities), who if consulted would be able to give aid planners the street smarts on PNG.

AusAID would do better flying a selected lot of them to Moresby and, in a week of deep consultation, would have a blueprint for aid design.

Indeed, these people would be great project managers, and would love to be involved in aid design, delivery and management.

They are here because they have an affinity for the place, live and work with the very subjects of aid need, and have learned by bitter experience what works and what does not work.

KJ, a letter from you representing them to the Aid Minister would be good.

When Australia gets its new aid or similar Minister, I'll arrange a meeting to talk through this and some other relevant matters - KJ

John 'Moses' Fowke

Yea, verily thou sayest, o spinmaster and truthteller. In the last par, actually.

For years past, I've been a voice in the wilderness vis-a-vis AusAID in PNG's media about this aspect of Oz's engagement with PNG and the rest of the Pacific.

Also in advocating the creation of an orientation course (available either from Crawford School at ANU or from James Cook) to bring all Oz emissaries to these regions up to speed on culture, customs, language and how to fit in and engage properly.

It's long past time that Oz made a big effort to attract people with an interest in this important region to form a specialist group within DFAT/AusAID and to encourage selection by contractors based upon experience in the real world of Melanesia rather than the ownership of such encumbrances as PhDs and MBAs (Must Be Avoided, I always think).

These small, currently friendly, nations are always going to be our closest neighbours.

Colin Huggins

I taught Don's younger sister, Susan, in Grade 6 at the Wau "A" School in 1968.

Don, at that stage, was at boarding school down south. He was a pretty bright young fellow even then.

Lloyd and Margaret would be very proud of his achievements.

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