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Australian academic says aid has made PNG’s situation worse


PROFESSOR Allan Patience of the University of Melbourne's Asia Institute has said that there has been a worrying blurring of the separation of powers in Papua New Guinea and that Australian aid seems to have worsened the development situation in PNG.

Prof Patience, speaking with interviewer Geraldine Doogue on ABC’s Radio National, said it was “especially worrying” that Taskforce Sweep which was doing good work in tracking down corruption had been swept aside.

He was also concerned that former Attorney-General Kerenga Kua, “who was one of the best ministers in the Cabinet and one of the most balanced”, had been replaced by somebody likely to do the prime minister's bidding.

Prof Patience added that it was also of concern that prime minister Peter O’Neill had intervened in the police force.

“Normally, Cabinet appoints the Chief Commissioner of Police and the Chief Commissioner is able to appoint his deputies. The Prime Minister is now taking over that role,” he said.

“We've got to remember that PNG has got this long tradition of systemic corruption at all levels and that includes nearly all of the politicians,” Prof Patience said.

“Billions of dollars of Australian taxpayers’ money has been sunk into the country since independence and we've got nothing at all to show for it.

“The illiteracy rates are increasing, the maternal and infant mortality rates are amongst the worst in the world and so on.

“The whole development project shows that PNG has got a long history of weak incompetent governance and Australian aid dollars seem to have made that situation worse, rather than improved it.”


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Paul Oates

It has been suggested that there is simply a difference in perception of what it a functioning economy and a viable state. It's all in the eye of the beholder.

Taking a helicopter view of the PNG economy, it often seems to resemble two funnels joined at each of their narrow base.

All the aid and tax money goes in one end, gets condensed and manipulated by those in the know and comes out through the other funnel to buy imported goods and services, toys for the boys and overseas 'investments'.

As has been pointed out before, the average PNG villager isn't really affected one way or another except when some small largesse 'dribbles' down from above and is used to buy imported material goods and foodstuffs.

Viewed in that context, this is a viable economy folks.

Peter Turner

Yes, NEC appoints the Commissioner of Police and it also appoints Deputy Commissioners.

Joesse Gardner

Whether there is a tradition of corruption or not, fact is, there is corruption.

Yes, to a certain extent, Australian aid is helping, and yes, it is in Australia's best interest to ensure that PNG does not become a Pacific Island basket-case, but the fact of the matter is, is that for the billions that have now been sunk into PNG, the country has not progressed, and if anything has done the exact opposite, regressed!

I have taught young Papua New Guinean school children, and the level of education they presented with was 3-4 years behind where they should have been.

The letters I received asking for employment; or the reports that I read at middle-management level were appalling; the number of "askims" that I had for money for "haus-sik"; the number of women who come to me saying that they can't come to work, looking down ashamedly for the black eye and bruises and cuts to their faces, for the number of children who had the measles, because they had run out of vaccines that year....

The roads that have deteriorated and the bridges washed out so that the price of basics are inflated, but never go back down when the temporary repair has been carried out; the mamas that have been raped in the kaukau gardens, or on their way to work walking along the road to catch a bus, to earn a wage that barely covers the bus fare to work in town each week.

I can tell you all I've seen of Australian aid is highly qualified Australian workers flying around the countryside to report on the progress of areas that they themselves are afraid to travel in without security personnel tagging along; and then heading down to the RPYC to congratulate themselves on the job well done, touting statistics that are just that, statistics, in a rural PNG that I just see falling apart, over a G and T!

Grand buildings and grand programs are essentially ill-designed - without input from genuine stakeholders, expert advice that is taken is from experts who do not have PNG in their hearts, because at the end of the day their pay-checks flow back to the country of their origin.

All funds are controlled by the elite in Port Moresby and those who do it just as a job.

Frankly, the best thing that Australian money could be sunk into is building a highway from one side of the country to the other, so that rural Papua New Guinean constituents of Members can get to Parliament House and confront their member about why nothing has improved!

Guy Murray

A long tradition of corruption? I do not believe that less than forty years qualifies as a long tradition.

Australian aid is definitely helping and is as necessary for PNG as it is for Australia.

Ever looked at a map? PNG and Australia will sink or swim together. As shown in WW2.

Jimmy Awagl

It's a timely comment since the prime minister is acting in his own interest to maintain these corrupt practices.

It's great to see Kerenga Kua applauded as the most balanced leader in the cabinet but removed to serve their personal interest. inets.

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