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The hypocrisy of mateship, fair go & human rights in Oz

ERASMUS BARANIAK

I HAVE DISCUSSED PREVIOUSLY and at length the merits of the Australian values of ‘mateship’ and ‘fair go’ from a Melanesian perspective.

I described their humble nautical origins and essential veracity from a convict mariner’s perspective, and how then prime minister John Howard attempted to squeeze from the survival catchcries of convicts in cramped, crowded and disease infested convict ships, a set of values that would become the rite of passage for a modern state and its people.

What has become increasingly clear about these egalitarian notions of “mateship” and “fair go” is the underlying admission that everybody is not having a fair go in Australian post-convict society.

This is certainly true in the case of Aborigines, Torres Strait Islanders, refugees and other minority groups in terms of health, education, social services, social justice, criminal justice, human rights, and social equity. They are not treated like mates and accorded the basic minimum of a fair go.

Australia has one of the worst social justice and human rights records of any country in the developed world in its treatment of indigenous citizens, and the magnitude of oppression meted out to them is right up there with history’s hand on Jews, Kurds, Armenians, Tibetans and, closer to home the East Timorese and West Papuans.

A dismal human rights record has been exacerbated by successive governments, both Liberal and Labor, who treat boat people cum refugees with contempt and brand them as “illegals”.

The treatment meted out to boat people who are fleeing injustice and turmoil in their own countries is nothing short of criminal. I don’t know of any instance in history where it has been made a criminal act for an individual or a family of oppressed persons, fleeing persecution, and in some cases possible death, to seek a better life in another land.

This is particularly so if, for instance, where these are people from war ravaged areas like Afghanistan, Iraq and Sri Lanka.

In the case of Afghanistan and Iraq, Australia parades itself as the liberator, a beacon of freedom, bringing the hope of democracy to these countries by waging war against them, ostensibly to liberate them.

In what appeared to be a noble quest, which started in Iraq, to rid the world of weapons of mass destruction, Australia is partly responsible for slaughtering, or causing to be slaughtered, half a million people in under ten years, bombed to rubble the cities and villages of Iraq and destroyed the way of life of millions.

The WMD basis for the invasion of Iraq has now been discredited as a huge lie perpetrated by the US government and its Coalition of the Willing (to lie and cover up). There were no WMDs, and the US knew this, but chose to lie to the whole world.

Bishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa recently announced he is prepared to sue, and put on trial, former US president George W Bush and former British prime minister Tony Blair for war crimes against the people of Iraq.

Bishop Tutu is taking issue with the US and UK governments because of the blatant lies they told the world to give them license to kill and destroy a nation. Bishop Tutu says that was absolutely un-Christian conduct on the part of the US and UK.

In Afghanistan, in a bid to rid the world of Talibanism Australia, has participated in the slaughtering of well over 300,000 people. The number of people slaughtered is increasing every day, and is justified on the basis of the Coalition partners wanting to give these people the noble and wonderful gift of democracy.

Looking at the number of deaths, you have to ask, is democracy so noble that it has to be paid for by the blood of innocent children, mothers, fathers and grandmothers?

When Afghan people flee their homes and turn up at the doorstep of Australia to be part of this democratic utopia, this paradise of freedom, they are either allowed to drown at sea or captured and imprisoned either in Australia or in some remote Pacific location such as Manus Island, where they will have no access to Australian media and Australian courts.

Even the once independent Australian media has been compromised. With the active encouragement of their government, the Australian media have joined the Canberra chorus, seeking to demonise genuine refugees by calling them illegals, queue-jumpers, or wealthy middle-class Arabs, Iraqis or Afghans bribing boat captains and crew in Indonesian ports to claw their way into Australia.

It is curious that, apart from the Aboriginal landowners of the Australian continent, the convict settlement of Australia was by people who arrived illegally and uninvited. They were the first boatpeople. They were the first illegals. They have no better standing or claim to Australia than others who came subsequently by boat.

Yet they seek to haul their offensive layers of lies and trickery before us in Melanesia, masquerading as just laws by a just government to give them dignity beyond their true status, all the while living off the fat of Aboriginal lands in the existing Aboriginal nations.

The slaughter of ancient Aboriginal nations, the shifting of tribes away from their homelands, the taking of children and the creation of internment camps were all organised by the British under what they believed to be correct legal premises.

Such premises never made allowance for the law of the land (Aboriginal law) to determine the rightness or wrongness of this trespass upon Australia.

It has been stated that this was the fundamental miscarriage of justice upon which Australian society was founded. To this day, without proper recognition of this wrong, without just and fair recompense to the Aboriginal tribes of Australia, the government and its institutions are based upon a felony. The very notion is a continuous act of criminality. White Australia has taken what the Aboriginal people never gave.

It is true that white Australia has not in recent times carried out raiding parties on Aboriginal communities with guns and bayonets as it did in the massacres of the late 1800s and early 1900s. It does not have to.

It has set up a system of government and welfare that annihilates a people just the same, a system that condemns indigenous people to illiteracy, poor health, substance abuse, dysfunctionalism, hopelessness, and gradual but certain death.

The current human rights record of Australia toward its indigenous people is such that there is very little hope in sight for these people who currently fall way below any internationally accepted standard and indicator.

Just go out to Alice Springs on a summer’s night by the Todd River course and you will see played out before you this ritual of deprivation and subjugation that has become an acceptable way of life. Today, many groups are calling upon the Australian government to increase the dole so that people can simply afford a loaf of bread every day.

In the country town of Nowra, just south of Sydney, once bustling with orchards and dairy farms, there is a flood of indigenous former dwellers of inner city Redfern, forced from their place because Howard’s Australia didn’t want Olympic visitors to see indigenous people living in squalor in city slums.

They line up in the dole queues of dysfunctional Nowra, a town where you can even smell death and despair in the breeze knifing up Junction Street.

In Walgett, a country town in western New South Wales, there is 99% unemployment amongst indigenous people; many of them third, fourth and fifth generation indigenous unemployed.

They are mostly illiterate and given birth to children who form a whole new generation of dysfunctional and illiterate people, addicted to substances and subject to every other abuse imaginable.

Almost 95% percent of indigenous youth in Australia have little or no chance of advancement to university, nor completing high school. The healthcare and sanitation standards among indigenous Australians are third world and nothing like what most white folk take for granted.

For many remote indigenous communities around Australia a quick audit of basic human rights compliance will reveal that Australia, as a first world developed country, has failed miserably in its treatment of its black people.

Australian families in suburbia treat their pets better than their government treats the original landowners. This is a sad indictment on a country that is seeking to bring health, education, law and order, equal opportunity and rights advocacy to the Pacific.

It has no solid foundation to work from in terms of real successes with its own black people. Australia practices symbolism with indigenous people, but is not serious about addressing its own real injustices, discrimination, prejudice, inequality and race based social injustice.

Some 20 years ago, over 95 Aboriginal deaths in custody were reported by a Royal Commission of Inquiry. In each case it recommended the prosecution of members of the Police for causing the deaths. To this day not one single Australian policeman has been charged. That is hardly what one would call a fair go.

In the recent case of a Palm Island Aboriginal death in police custody, Cameron Doomadgee died of broken ribs and a torn liver within half an hour of being arrested. The Queensland Director of Public Prosecutions attributed the death to an “accidental fall” and concluded the police had no case to answer.

This decision was totally contrary to findings of a detailed coronial inquest that suggested foul play by Police. How does a person ‘accidentally’ die of four broken ribs, a ruptured portal vein, a liver almost cleaved in two, a black eye, bruising to the forehead and back of his head, bruising to the upper part of his back and on both his hands, all taking place in a police station where a very fit and disproportionately large policeman had earlier in as much as confessed to a ‘fight’ between himself and the deceased on a videotaped police interview?

The policeman, who had earlier confessed to falling on the victim, was later allowed to change his story to falling beside him.

How does a slightly built man, slightly inebriated but happy moments earlier, whistling and singing, ‘accidentally fall’ and sustain such a large number of injuries, most of which could not be sustained or explained either scientifically or clinically by a single fall from a stand up position?

The events and the incongruous findings smack of funny business in the Australian justice system and are well documented by Chloe Hooper in her book, The Tall Man.

The predominantly white police force in Queensland, as a sign of solidarity and mateship, threatened to boycott police services to Aboriginal communities in protest over the subsequent prosecution of the white Palm Island police officer.

What about the case of David Hicks, five years incarceration without any charges in a foreign prison? Hicks, an Australian who confessed to training with terrorists, was allowed to languish in Guantanamo Bay by then Australian foreign minister, Alexander Downer, without any due process of law. 

Nowhere in the case of Hicks was the spirit and values of “mateship” and a “fair go”. Whatever happened to democracy and the law that requires a fair and speedy trial, let alone the presumption of innocence until proven guilty in a proper court system?

It was curious that most of the judges on the US Supreme Court appointed by successive Bush (father and son) administrations were disturbed enough to find it judicially profane to endorse the antics in Guantanamo.

If Australia believed in the rule of the law in a democracy, then the ruling of the US Supreme Court should have bothered both John Howard and Alexander Downer. .It obviously did not.

What is the content of ‘fair go’ and “mateship” in a modern democracy if it does not consist of due process for the likes of Hicks and the likes of boat people arriving on the shores of Australia?

What could possibly be at the heart of this generation of politicians, both Liberal and Labor, that compels them to instantly abandon the values of democracy, human rights and due process, let alone mateship and fair go, and summon such capacity for callous indifference?

What has become of the condition of man that he abandons his state of enlightenment, the gains of the last 200 years, and takes on the cloak of profanity, of a wayward and misguided being, and retraces his footsteps into that long forgotten darkness of the Stone Age and the Middle Ages from which we have evolved?

For the Pacific countries, especially the Melanesian States, Australia’s human rights record and its treatment of its indigenous people is a measuring stick for realising that no matter how much money Australia spends on the Pacific, it has no real values to guide it as a nation.

It has had little or no practical or policy success in dealing with its indigenous people, especially in education, health, economic advancement, social justice and equality.

If Australia does not understand and care for its own indigenous people, with successful and humane policies that work, how can the Pacific people, especially Melanesians, expect that anything good will come out of Canberra, in particular for Melanesian people?

How can Melanesians trust a white Australian government that does not deal fairly and equitably with its own black people?

How can Melanesian landowners and resource owners trust Australian companies and the Australian government who have stripped the black people of Australia of their lands, their resources and their way of life?

How can we trust a nation of people with no values, whose only affinity is to dollars and cents?

Comments

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Harry Topham

Erasmus - On first reading your thoughts seem to espouse some deep seated antipathy to your Aussie neighbours but on reflection maybe John Fowke is right when he observes that you feelings may be born out of frustration and your feints perhaps misdirected towards the hand that feeds you.

So maybe it is time for some reflection on the writings of your namesake Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus in particular some of his more notable quotations as follows:

There are some people, who live in a dream world, and there are some who face reality; and then there are those who turn one into the other.

Concealed talent brings no reputation.

He who allows oppression shares the crime

Nature, more of a stepmother than a mother in several ways, has sown a seed of evil in the hearts of mortals, especially in the more thoughtful men, which makes them dissatisfied with their own lot and envious of another s.

Nothing is as peevish and pedantic as men's judgments of one another.

What difference is there, do you think, between those in Plato's cave who can only marvel at the shadows and images of various objects, provided they are content and don't know what they miss, and the philosopher who has emerged from the cave and sees the real things?

Em tasol

Peter Kranz

Just one thing to say. This is about both countries acknowledging their dues.

And these have not been light - see Bruce Kingsbury.

Get over it...

The look upon their faces
would make you think Christ was black
Not a move to hurt the wounded
as they treat him like a saint
It's a picture worth recording
that an artist's yet to paint.

Many a lad will see his mother
and husbands see their wives
Just because the fuzzy wuzzy
carried them to save their lives
From mortar bombs and machine gun fire
or chance surprise attacks
To the safety and the care of doctors
at the bottom of the track

May the mothers of Australia
when they offer up a prayer
Mention those impromptu angels
with their fuzzy wuzzy hair.

Johnny Blades

Hey Warwick, no worries about the length of your comment. It's all about robust debate I guess and some issues need to be fleshed out fully.

Thanks for the reply and also thanks Erasmus for prompting these discussions with your post.

Warwick Brandes

Johnny Blades - Apologies about the length of my previous comment.

I felt it important to not pick and choose those issues raised that suited my opinion and argument and be seen to ignore those that do not.

Hence the length of my response was proportional tho the length of the original article and issues raised.

I do have some concerns to the “queue jumpers” not using one of the countries they have travelled through as a place of refuge. Australia is not the only safe place on earth and a lot are far closer to the departure point of their journey.

The points I raised about climate, population and demographics of Australia were intended to highlight Australia’s limited financial position to accommodate increasing numbers of welfare dependant residents.

My concern is if we allow a system of increased welfare dependence, the financial viability of Australia in the global economy would deteriorate to a point where Australia looses it’s ability to be economically sustainable.

Examples of overspending of EU countries should be fair warning to the results of not maintaining a responsible fiscal position.

There was nothing “smug” about my comment regarding Sri Lankan people deciding to return home. The comment was directed at highlighting potential inconstancies in the whole premise that they were escaping persecution as a justification for trying to travel to Australia.

I am sure there are countries where with better environments (natural, economic, social, etc)than our own yet this does not mean people have the right to land unannounced in the particular country demanding the same.

Consideration should be given to the return on one’s contribution being evaluated upon that contribution. The alternative is a system chasing itself to the lowest common denominator or to “go to hell in a hand basket” *

In regard to my comment about the loaf of bread and your comment ““what these people are spending their money on”. You assume so much…”

I put it out to you PNG Attitude readers again. May I ask what are these people are spending their money on currently which prohibits them from affording a loaf of bread?

I think a few readers may have a fair idea of what is being bought. My question was in fact open ended. I in fact assume so little.

So roll out the “Rightwing Chestnut” if you must. The beauty of being Australian is the right to have an opinion and freedom to express it without fear no favour.

In terms of Bon Scott and Dennis Lillee, yes they have some of the biggest hearts, and so do many others who contribute so much assistance and support to the unfortunate, but their personal contribution from their personal wealth and assistance from the goodness of their hearts are a far cry from legislating for increasing the spending of public funds on welfare.

Thank you for serious consideration of the points I have raised.

Have a happy day.

* A situation headed for disaster without effort or in great haste. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/To_hell_in_a_handbasket

Flintstone Segeben

Dear Erasmus - I really enjoyed reading your article. It shines light on part of Australia's culture that most indigenous people of the Pacific are not familliar with.

I love the picture you paint of the ironies associated with 'mateship' and 'fair go'.

It was also evident in politics with the Somare sandal incident at Brisbane Airport and in the bullying of the Sogavare government during the Moti issue, where AFP personnel searched the Solomon Islands PM's Office.

Not to mention the response by Howard and Downer when the Australia's ECP Program to PNG was cancelled by the PNG Supreme Court due to its unconstitutionality under PNG law.

They publicly stated that PNG should change its constitution! What, to accomodate the Aussie interests?

So do you call it mateship when you bully your neighbours?

Thank you Erasmaus...keep it coming!

Johnny Blades

Warwick - You’ve made some fair points but it’s hard not to come away from your lengthy comment with a sense of your disdain for the less fortunate, especially the so-called queue jumpers, those conniving devils who have the temerity to, as you point out, travel through multiple countries sometimes in their desperation to try and reach Australia.

As if they have the luxury of being able to apply and wait for residency.

It’s the same sort of lack of empathy oozing from your remark about the 46 Sri Lankans who preferred to return home. “Perhaps the persecution wasn’t so bad?” you asked in a kind of smug belittling of these asylum seekers’ problems.

I hadn’t heard that particular report but if you’re talking about them wanting to leave Nauru, it’s probably testament to the utter hell hole of a situation that Canberra’s seen fit to forward them to. I guess the deterrent is working.

Then you’re banging on that old rightwing chestnut about people on the dole not deserving of more state help when times are tough because of “what these people are spending their money on”. You assume so much…

I have to say that I think Australia is a great country. Among the gifts they’ve given the world are Bon Scott and Dennis Lillee, two of the coolest cats and biggest hearts to ever walk the earth.

To me they epitomise Australian hard graft, brilliance and leadership but notably, in their personal and professional lives, they have endorsed the concept of "fair go" and reached out to others in need.

With this in mind, your defensiveness about “boat people” strikes me as being rather un-Australian.

Chalapi Pomat

Hey Warwick - who says you are not a writer. You are great. I too believe in the "fair go" that allows you to get off your backside and have a go.

At the same time, I subscribe to my other strong belief, which is: "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." Matthew 25:31-46.

Both of these will always yield better "cohesive, effective society which encourages effort" and “standing on your own two feet”". This is the kind of place that I've come to love and respect.

Mrs Barbara Short

As an Australian I still believe in the values of "mateship" and a "fair go". At least it is wider than the PNG tribal "wantok" system.

It is a "love thy neighbour" concept, and the neighbour of course is "everyman". But as Robin says, a lot of the time it is up to the individual to put it into practice.

On Thursday I attended a citizenship ceremony at Parramatta with one of my neighbours, a Korean man, who I have been helping with spoken English for a few years.

He came into Australia legally on a working visa and
has been working here for the past 10 years, and recently applied for citizenship.

We all stood and made the affirmation - "As an Australian citizen I affirm my loyalty to Australia and its people, whose democratic beliefs I share, whose rights and liberties I respect, and whose laws I uphold and obey."

In the news at the moment is the fact that we have many people on the poverty line and the Commonwealth government needs to seriously think about raising the dole. This is the "fair go" concept. So "the rich will have to be taxed more to support the poor".

It's no good complaining about all the wrong things that have taken place in the past. One just has to work hard at getting things right now and in the future.

I can assure you that "mateship" and a "fair go" are good ideals and admit that we have not always maintained them in the past.

If PNG had "mateship" and "a fair go" as their values, then there might be less "korapment" and "bagarapment".

Warwick Brandes

Erasmus - Your bitter tirade against everything Australian absolutely astounds me. Grouping dissimilar issues into a melting pot of rage does not assist the situation and reflect Australian values.

You bring up a variety of issues each of which deserves separate consideration instead of being bundled into one continuous stream of vile insult.

There are values of ‘mateship’ and ‘fair go’ in Australian post-convict society and these are relied upon to develop a multicultural cohesive society.

It is easy for a person from a country with perhaps 60,000 years of indigenous ancestry to criticise a neighbour, it is harder to try to understand.

Australia’s colonial past was completely due to English policy to send the worst of convicts to a faraway place out of sight, out of mind to suffer and die.

In 224 years since the arrival of the first fleet Australia has developed into a first world country at the lead of innovation and a leader in demonstrating a cohesive society.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in fact have preferential treatment in access to social services, The concept of a “fair go” includes an expectation that you get off your behind and having a go – making an effort and reaping the rewards. A fair go is not a free ride.

These boat people you claim are fleeing injustice and turmoil in their own countries have in fact travelled through multiple countries on their way to leaky boat ride across from Indonesia to queue jump those who patiently apply and wait for visa for Australia residency.

A relation from Ireland complete with valuable work skills required in Australia took nine years to get a visa. Australian visas are difficult and should be difficult as we need residents and citizens who contribute to building our nation.

As one of the driest countries on earth, competing globally against low cost manufacturing countries such as China, India, Pakistan, Vietnam and Thailand, and having only 23 million inhabitants – a large proportion of which are moving into retirement age, the extra load on social services through illegal – yes Illegal arrivals will significantly affect Australian’s standard of living and their ability to support the Australian funded human rights initiatives in the Pacific you conveniently omit from your piece.

Australia is not the only country they can escape persecution, it is the grand prize the utopia of destinations and upon arrival, accommodation, education and social security payments are available. Once visa’s are granted, they can apply for their family members to also be sponsored out to live off the honeypot of Australian goodwill.

You write, “When Afghan people flee their homes and turn up at the doorstep of Australia to be part of this democratic utopia, this paradise of freedom, they are either allowed to drown at sea or captured and imprisoned either in Australia or in some remote Pacific location such as Manus Island, where they will have no access to Australian media and Australian courts.”

You fail to mention Australia spends incredible time and money trying to rescue these boats unsuitable for such voyages to prevent such drowning.

Manus and Nauru are intended as disincentives for the unsafe boat trips continuing. The refugees have rights to Australian immigration lawyers who represent their interests and media report accordingly.

Perhaps the media you discuss is not entitled to cover refugees burning detention centres, sewing their lips together or tearing down fences, but in a civilised county the courts are utilised to resolve issues – not civil unrest.

Interestingly, reported were 46 Sri Lankans who preferred to go back home. Perhaps the persecution wasn’t so bad?

In terms of Australian involvement in middle east, As you put it, “The WMD basis for the invasion of Iraq has now been discredited as a huge lie perpetrated by the US government and its Coalition of the Willing” and “Bishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa recently announced he is prepared to sue, and put on trial, former US president George W Bush and former British prime minister Tony Blair”.

Do you suggest John Howard was also aware? If so say it or concede he too was misled.

The efforts of Australian soldiers in Afghanistan to train Afghani soldiers to build a society free from Taliban control and the right for women to be educated is one where Australians are putting their lives at risk. Do you really suggest the Aussies are out there carrying on like a duck hunt just shooting everything that moves?

Australian soldiers have clear rules of engagement where their response is proportional to the situation. Unlike roadside bombers and Taliban hiding amongst women and children. If you were being fired upon would you just suck it up and take it for fear of being labelled a murderer?. I think not!

You discuss Australian white settlement and injustices perpetrated upon the indigenous Aboriginal Australians of which, much is true.

The past cannot be undone and serious effort has been made to understand and accept white failures. On 13 February 2008 the then prime minister Kevin Rudd addressed the Australian Parliament with a speech acknowledging the wrongs perpetrated by white Australia and apologised for those wrongs.
http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2008/02/13/1202760379056.html?page=fullpage#contentSwap1

As an effort toward reconciliation and clearer dialogue to repair the damage of successive previous colonial governments, this is the first step in a journey toward a better more integrated and successful Australia.

You identify a “government and welfare (system) that annihilates a people just the same, a system that condemns indigenous people to illiteracy, poor health, substance abuse, dysfunctionalism, hopelessness, and gradual but certain death.”

There is significant truth in this, and solutions are not easy. There is a ban on liquor and legislated provision of “Opal” fuel (which does not give the “high” of regular fuel) and efforts to quarantine a portion of the welfare for food and clothing.

Some call this intervention a breach of human rights; others call it a step toward building sustainable communities. I will not go into which viewpoint is correct as I am – as a first generation Australian, not in a position to pass judgement. I will say it is difficult for a government being as we say – between a rock and a hard place.

You continue with example of Alice Springs, Nowra and describe the absolute hopelessness of the situations there. Again, is intervention the answer? Cut off social security and let people fend for themselves?

You claim “many groups are calling upon the Australian government to increase the dole so that people can simply afford a loaf of bread every day”. May I ask what these people are spending their money on currently which prohibits them from affording a loaf of bread?

Do you realise there are Australian students on student allowances of less affording share accommodation and transport to get the education that will free then from a life of poverty?.

Your examples of Nowra and Alice are (correct me if I am wrong) lower rent environments than Sydney, Brisbane or Perth where these student study.

There are retirees who, having worked hard their entire career and paying off their house cannot afford heating and food.

Your mention of deaths in custody and your position is valid. Police tend to be heavy handed and are not infallible. The death of Cameron Doomadgee and subsequent enquiry and finding has disappointed black and white Australians equally.

It highlights the inadequacy of the court systems, yet the system is better than a country without justice. A system fallible yet better than none.

The actions of a few should not be represented as the norm as there are many good police officers putting their lives at risk daily to ensure we uphold a safe cohesive society.

You write “What about the case of David Hicks”. What about him. He, as you put it “confessed to training with terrorists”. In a world where people are blowing up embassies, flying planes into buildings, blowing up tourists!?.

Thanks to these antics, we now go through metal detectors, have bags scanned and are under constant video surveillance. The actions of few have had a profound effect on our society and the way we live. We are told to “Be alert but not alarmed”.

I lost two friends 10 years and 8 days ago in Bali. For what? And Hicks is stupid enough to pose with rocket launchers and expect to be protected. While we are at it do we rush off and free Shapelle Corby because she was stupid enough to carry 4.3 kg of ganja into Bali?

So you come to three questions.

Q - “How can Melanesians trust a white Australian government that does not deal fairly and equitably with its own black people?”

A - The Australian government and people are guided by human rights NGO’s, a robust legal system and belief in developing meaningful relationships and desire for cohesive society. Australia contributes significantly to PNG health and community projects and strives for better conditions in Pacific and world stages. Australia has demonstrated its intention to address past wrongs and work with indigenous Australia in developing a better society for all

Q - How can Melanesian landowners and resource owners trust Australian companies and the Australian government who have stripped the black people of Australia of their lands, their resources and their way of life?.

A - Australian companies operate with obligation to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and are bound by Human Rights as defined in law. Australian Companies must earn their licence to operate and PNG Mines department can close operations down (in resource projects in country) if Australia Companies do not operate responsibly.Melanesians can trust in Australia working to the best of it's ability to develop a Pacific region capable of representing on the world stage the interests of the Pacific of which we share.

Q - How can we trust a nation of people with no values, whose only affinity is to dollars and cents?

A - Australian values are developed through time and the building of relationships working toward a cohesive, effective society which encourages effort and “standing on your own two feet”. Australia’s social security system is designed to assist the less fortunate and disabled. It is not designed as a honey pot for the “free riders” and to that end our affinity to dollars and cents is recognition of our existence in a competitive global economy reliant on trade. Melanesian trust in Australia to assist where Australia can to help their neighbours survive and thrive in this new global economy is earned through Australia’s commitments and contributions in the Pacific of that same dollars and cents that you so despise.

The glass is half full, not half empty. Lighten up. Be part of the solution not part of the problem. Have a happy day.

Andrew Brown

Is your treatment of the squatters around Moresby and Lae, or the Sepiks in Bulolo, for example, any better or different.

What is the Melanesian way that outsiders can trust? You speak of landowners but not the dispossessed with in your own country are they to be ignored in favour of the almighty papa bilong graun?

Erasmus Baraniak

KJ, thankyou for typeset and enhancing edits.

Let us keep shining the light on our human condition wherever we find it.

Chalapi Pomat

Wow - enjoyed reading your article Erasmus. But it does not mean that I agree with all of it.

Especially in light of what is occuring in Australian politics in terms of the filth, grubbiness and most personal attacks on each other that we get to read, hear and see almost daily.

There is only one team out there that is playing cricket. I can see the next election which is due in late 2013 would bring the filt and personal attach that we see now to a whole new level. It just means more "bagarapment".

Hey I like your style of writing. Done good.

Tony Flynn

"How can Melanesians trust a (Chinese) government that does not deal fairly and equitably with its own (Chinese) people?"

There is scarcely a government any where that is above reproach. How does the Malaysian government control the treatment of the thousands of Indonesians working in Malaysia.

Malaysian treatment of refugees is sub par. I saw a documentary of the Japanese sending refugees on their way by practically rebuilding the ship.

How do minorities get treated in our own country of PNG. You could write a good size essay on the ethnic cleansing that takes place in PNG. How can we produce an egalitarian society?

Many Papuans and Morobeans take serious issue on the influx of other cultures into their city. These same people do not see any ideological problem with their brothers making a living in other parts of PNG.

I suppose that the country that is targeted is the one that is disliked the most.

Robin Lillicrapp

Ah, the human condition!

You write convincingly of its power and presence in Australian society.

It is of course, a universal condition.

No doubt, there are Aussies who decry the inequities and iniquities of democratic society, longing and looking for solutions to the problems.

On the political level, it has been held out for decades now that this universal condition demands a universal solution; thus the UN was conceived to bring about a betterment for humanity. It might be argued however that they have more contributed to the misery than alleviated it.

I have a settled view that only Jesus Christ can and will remedy the evils you eloquently describe. Until He comes, though, we must occupy this imperfect environment (not long now).

Thankfully, yet, there is no bar to individuals expressing their views although that too is a diminishing resource.

I prefer to think that the people who matter in the remedial process are those who already serve in an individual capacity to bring about change for the better.

We all have limited tenure on this earth. It is good to have understanding of the big picture of oppression and injustice but it is necessary to boil down the soup from its watery consistence till it becomes solid enough to handle.

What each of us can handle is the utilisation of abilities to contribute to the whole.

I uphold this blog to be an incremental part of the solutions you long for.

I see the Croc Prize initiative to be a voice for PNG thinkers and doers.

I think of the small scale initiatives engaged in by groups from Australia and other nations who join with PNGeans to improve and enhance quality of life.

Despite the apparent hopelesness of the tragedy of life, there remains the contribution you and I can make toward improving the lot of our fellows.

It may be a soup kitchen, a helping hand with transport, teaching someone to read and write (OBE hasn't helped much) or to furnish literature to read. The list is endless.

There is no utopian idyll we, by our own efforts, will ever achieve though many across the religous and political spectrum will say otherwise.

The Almighty alone will bring that about.

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