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.