BY KEITH JACKSON
SAM RIORDAN is a bright young man who works with Australia’s shadow foreign minister, Julie Bishop, as an adviser specialising in PNG affairs.
Sam accompanied Ms Bishop on her recent successful visit to Papua New Guinea. And, by the way, I’m told he’s a keen reader of PNG Attitude.
On Thursday he met with my colleague Bob Lawrence in Canberra, and he’ll soon be paying me a visit in Sydney to discuss matters of concern to all of us who read and contribute to PNG Attitude.
So here’s an invitation, especially but not exclusively to those of you who are in Papua New Guinea: What issues would you like me to raise with Sam Riordan? What policies do you think the Australian government should be pursuing in PNG? In what areas do you think the Australian government is failing at present? What are the priorities for action?
Now I think any of us who read this website regularly would have a pretty good idea of the answers to those questions, but it’s probably useful to focus on them in the context of conveying a strong message to Australia’s alternative government, which sits just a breath away from taking office.
I must say that, along with many other observers, I’ve been impressed with the way in which Julie Bishop has come to appreciate the importance of the PNG – Australia relationship.
Kevin Rudd was supposed to be the key man but, as one reader pointed out recently, he’s been too busy pursuing a seat for Australian on the UN Security Council to give the region the attention it merits.
I’ve met with Julie Bishop’s advisers on a couple of times previously, and I’ve been impressed both with their grasp of PNG affairs and their ability to make things move on the policy front.
Last year, on a visit to Canberra, I met Richard Marles, the parliamentary secretary for Pacific Island affairs, who subsequently penned a number of articles for PNG Attitude.
These were savaged by readers who saw them as evasive and uninformative and, despite his senior adviser indicating Mr Marles would make a further response, he did not and that seemed to be the end of the relationship.
But with the Gillard government faltering, here’s another opportunity for readers to provide an input to Australia’s political thinking on PNG.
The invitation is out there and I look forward to reading your comments and suggestions.