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Here’s a first: our readers' submission to Senate committee


THIS coming Monday I’ll be emailing to the Australian Senate a submission, The delivery and effectiveness of Australian aid to Papua New Guinea, which is derived from the considerations of a panel of PNG Attitude readers.

If you’re interested in the paper, and I think it makes good reading, you can download it here.

The Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade References Committee had asked if we were interested in making a submission and, in a first for PNG Attitude but well within the spirit of what is a well-entrenched collaborative spirit, we asked readers to provide input.

These views have now been assembled into a joint submission representing the panel of 14 who wished to make a contribution.

It should be noted that the submission is the outcome of collective endeavour and that all the conclusions and recommendations may not be shared by all panel members

As you can see from the list at the end of this article, the panel was well placed to comment on a number of critical issues involved in Australian aid to Papua New Guinea.

Aid, and its impact on Papua New Guinea since independence, is a controversial issue occasioning much debate in PNG.

Educated Papua New Guineans are aware that aid is disbursed on the basis of the donor's national interests and, in Australia's case, that it is also now enmeshed within the fabric of Australian politics.

There is a strong perception that Australian aid is more complex than the offerings of a Good Samaritan. The notion of “boomerang aid” (that where much of the benefit of aid ‘boomerangs’ back to Australia) is well understood in PNG.

There also exists a view that, except in certain specific locations, Australian aid offers minimal tangible benefit to the majority of PNG's rural people, 80% of the population.

For various reasons aid is not seen to be capable of accelerating PNG’s economic development: the flow is largely governed by factors outside PNG’s control; it is volatile; it is often inadequate to the task; and it is frequently mismanaged in-country.

The question was raised of how Australia can ensure its aid money is spent correctly and that the benefit goes to the people in need rather than being siphoned off by corrupt officials.

The panel believes that aid is best delivered through government-to-government contracts with predetermined achievement targets and intermediate benchmarks that allow instalment payments and a goal that must be met to allow final payment.

There must be regular independent auditing of aid programs made against benchmarks. Audit reports need to be transparent and publicly available

The PNG government needs to demonstrate its commitment to improve its management of aid. Current efforts to promote performance-based allocation of aid should be continued and deepened.

It needs to play a larger role in the design, management, and evaluation of aid activities. If the PNG Government shows little ability to improve its performance, aid should be refocused on enabling the non-government sector to meet basic needs and human capital investment.

Many thanks to the panellists whose names are recorded here….

The PNG Attitude Panel

Phil Fitzpatrick (social mapper, author and former PNG kiap)

Trevor Freestone (former PNG primary school headmaster)

Christopher Taylor Hnanguie (program economist, Asian Development Bank)

Keith Jackson AM (publisher and editor PNG Attitude, ex PNG teacher and journalist)

Mathias Kin (science graduate and former PNG public servant)

Chips Mackellar (author and former PNG kiap)

Dr Clement Malau (former PNG Secretary for Health)

Vergil Narokobi (PNG doctoral student, Victoria University, New Zealand)

Paul Oates (sometime administrator of Cocos Island and former PNG kiap)

Chris Overland (managing director, Vespasian Consulting Services and former kiap)

Max Rai (head of trade division, PNG Department of Trade, Commerce and Industry)

Gabriel Ramoi (former PNG parliamentarian and Minister)

Doug Robbins (Australian business volunteer deployed to PNG five times)

Barbara Short (former PNG secondary school headmistress)

Download The delivery and effectiveness of Australian aid to Papua New Guinea


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John Kaupa Kamasua

Well done and great job Keith, and the panel for their commitment and concern for aid effectiveness in PNG.

I have downloaded a copy!

Lindsay Bond

All power to initiative and accomplishment in the corresponded item.

Mathias Kin

We have developed a saying among us in the Simbu Writers Association: "The power of the word".

This request and the subsequent documentation goes to show that those high up there (Senate Committee) do read the Attitude and have respect for what they read of the contributions from our members. Good write up, Keith.

Francis Nii

Well done, Keith and all the contributors. The invitation from the Senate is a recognition of PNG Attitude and the power behind it. Congradulations!

Chips Mackellar

Very well presented, Keith. Congratulations.

It is not often that a Senate Committee actually seeks comment from people who know what the problem really is.

I hope this Committee takes note of your submission, and that as a result,the Australian Government will eventually deliver aid to PNG in a proper, sustainable and lasting method, free of the corruption and mismanagement we have seen in the past.

Paul Oates

Great submission, thanks Keith. Well done. That should keep the midnight oil burning in some dusty DFAT corner.

Chris Overland

Well written Keith: clear, concise and to the point.

Let us hope PNG Attitude can have a positive affect upon policy and not be dismissed as mere "maus wara".

Phil Fitzpatrick

That's a very good summary document Keith - covers all the submissions nicely - you should get a job with the public service, maybe the ABC.

Barbara Short

Thanks Keith, excellent work. We can but try.

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