BY KEITH JACKSON
THE TAKE THE TRUTH TO AUSTRALIA tour (with a program largely put together by Ben Jackson from Jackson Wells) is truly looking like a tour de force.
Tomorrow night blogger, writer and activist Martyn Namorong will hit Australia with his running shoes on fire.
He’ll have an intense two weeks of discussions, forums, media interviews and political meetings that will reach to the highest levels of the Australian government.
And the whole enterprise has been facilitated by PNG Attitude readers, especially Twivey Lawyers in PNG, who provided the funding to make the tour possible.
Australian politicians and journalists have responded splendidly to the opportunity to talk with a man who himself is not of high political, diplomatic, academic or commercial office and who represents nobody but his own people and nothing but their aspirations.
They are meeting with him because they want to hear, perhaps for the first time in their lives, from a young Papua New Guinean intellectual who seeks the best for his country and has shown himself ready to incur personal risk and hardship in doing so.
Martyn Namorong will meet with the man who advises Australian foreign minister Carr on PNG affairs (and may even touch fingers with the great man himself) and he will meet with Carr’s shadow, Julie Bishop, already signalled by PNG Attitude readers as a credible and formidable force in the Australia-PNG relationship.
It is instructive to note that parliamentary secretary for Pacific Island affairs, Richard Marles, has shown no interest in the visit.
Namorong will also meet with high profile journalists who write about PNG – people like Jo Chandler, Jemima Garrett and Rowan Callick – as well as media personalities like Phillip Adams, John Faine and John Highfield.
He will lead a seminar at the Australian National University and meet Rotary scholars at the University of Queensland. And so much more.
As I’ve remarked to anyone who will listen in recent days, this is the kind of interchange that the Australian government should be encouraging between our two countries – and which it has lamentably failed to achieve.
There have been some disappointments along the way – but none of them terminal.
The initial tour was postponed because of passport problems, but allowed the organisers to develop a richer itinerary – including an action-packed visit to Canberra.
Victoria University (which bills itself as an “international university”) shamefully reneged on its commitment of funding for the tour – a pretty disgraceful act – but we found a private donor to take up the slack.
You’ll be reading a lot about Martyn Namorong’s progress around Australia in the next couple of weeks. And whether you can make it to one of his gigs or not, we look forward to your participation through this blog.