O'Neill: PNG's social indicators are deplorable
24 September 2011
PRIME MINISTER Peter O’Neill has described as deplorable Papua New Guinea’s poor social indicators.
Giving a post-mortem on the country’s progress as a nation in a speech to mark 36 years of independence, Mr O’Neill said Papua New Guineans continued to miss out on basic services and live in a country that lacked infrastructure.
“Regardless of where you are, if you look around you, our infrastructure like roads and bridges, airports and wharves are in a shamble. Our health and education facilities are in a deplorable state.
“Our poor social indicators reflect this, and it’s a shame that we continue to lag behind many of our small pacific neighbours,” Mr O’Neill said.
He added that Papua New Guineans continued to be observers in nation building despite the country’s “rosy economic growth”, warning that the marginalising of the people could be a recipe for disaster.
“These [growth figures] are meaningless unless the people contribute directly and become active participants. We have fallen short of our national goals and principles enshrined in our constitution.
“The sum of our budgets in the last three and a half decades shows that we are by no means poor. We have simply squandered wealth we have been blessed with.”
According to the Manila-based Asian Development Bank, PNG ranks last among its Pacific developing member countries on both the UN Human Development Index and Human Poverty Index.
The drop in PNG’s social indicators and the failure by the National Alliance Party-led government to address the deterioration was the major reason behind the change in government, according to Mr O’Neill.
“This has happened because control of the nation’s wealth was concentrated in the hands of a powerful and reckless few. A government lacking participation by all means the nation was going to suffer. Change therefore, had to happen, and Parliament voted overwhelmingly for change on August 2,” he said.
However, the O’Neill government is in a race against time to right the wrongs of the NA government before the 2012 general election, a challenge he is willing to embrace.
“My government recognises the tough challenges ahead. With seven months to go before the general elections, time is not on our side. But we will not deviate from our responsibilities. We came into government to do a job, and we intend to do it diligently.”
Source: PNG Perspective, 16 September
Harry, aren't the words of the Oath of Office something like "I will well and truly serve".... etc.
The word and meaning of 'Service' is in the eye of the beholder. We get a bull to 'service' our cows, for example.
What is needed is an Oath that will put the acid test on any intentional contempt and dishonesty while 'serving' the people as their representative.
The Oath of Office I'm suggesting is not new and must be taken as a prerequisite prior to being elected. It must be legally binding on the aspiring politician IF they are elected.
The new ICAC being proposed by Mr O'Neill can then apply the test on any 'public service' being undertaken while in Office.
Posted by: Paul Oates | 25 September 2011 at 08:04 AM
Hang on here Paul, don't PNG pollies - like their Ozzie counterparts - have to take some form of oath before the GG when they are duly elected?
The problem is, as I see it, that the Ombudsman role is not really suited or meant to be that of having to play policeman on the goings on of the politicians and, without an upper house in existence, what's probably needed is a form of judicial commission which has the full backing of the judiciary to have all complaints of wrong doings by politicians referred to.
That way the Ombudsman's untenable position as a single entity without any real teeth could then be utilised as a referral agent thus removing any possible delaying tactics by aggrieved politicians through subsequent injunctions to the high court.
Posted by: Harry Topham | 24 September 2011 at 03:25 PM
PNG is not unique in having political liars elected.
The problem is, once they are elected, you then have to wait until the next election to get rid of them. In PNG's case, that's a five year wait. In Oz, even 3 years seems far too long.
If only we could have a Charter of Honesty that must be signed as a prerequisite to being elected.
Then if those elected could be held legally liable, a simple presentation of facts by the Independent Commission Against Corruption could depose them.
The real problem is that politicians are so frightened of saying anything that they can be held accountable for they have developed a 'double speak' whereby they actually say very little except platitudes and utter nothing of any real substance.
What's the answer? What about electing only those who have a proven record of achievement and who know they will be positively be held accountable.
Guess what? A cynic might say you'll never get anyone in their right mind to nominate.
Posted by: Paul Oates | 24 September 2011 at 10:59 AM
There seems to be a big difference between Peter O'Neill and Michael Somare.
O'Neill is actually talking about the problems of common PNG people, unlike Somare, who was in denial that anything was wrong.
This might be some sort of spin with the upcoming elections in mind but I think its more sincere than that. A politician without a big ego is a valuable thing.
Even if he has a few question marks over previous financial dealings, O'Neill certainly seems like the best game in town.
I heard an interesting story while in Moresby. When they were about to depart for NZ for the Pacific Islands Forum Peter's wife, Linda, refused to travel on the Falcon jet because she thought it represented everything bad about the previous government.
Apparently it took Peter a while to convince her that the jet had been handed over to Air Niugini and that his government had actually paid to charter it.
She eventually agreed but reported that the plane was in a terribly dirty condition inside; the result of it being used to shuttle around the country buying taro and kaukau and being sent back to Moresby to pick up things the Somare's had forgotten on their way home.
Its only a rumour but seems to be a believable one.
The Prime Minister's wife seems to be a gutsy lady.
Posted by: Phil Fitzpatrick | 24 September 2011 at 10:02 AM
Right man! Those before him, especially the power-hungry old man, Sir Michael, whom I hate for a few remarks he made to us Bougainvilleans in the 90s, are very good at boasting about 'positive economic growth' whilst the socio-economic indicators paint a negative gait.
PNG should always get its development position in the villages, slums, urban streets and the daily lives of our people and stop conning the people.
It will be good if we start getting rid of liars in 2012.
Posted by: Leonard Roka | 24 September 2011 at 08:42 AM