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O’Neill & Polye polar opposites on the state of PNG’s economy

Polye_and_oneillKEITH JACKSON

OPPOSITION Leader Don Polye has challenged Peter O'Neill’s government to take immediate corrective measures to save PNG's worsening economy from further deterioration.

"The worst is yet to come; the economy will shrink and life will be tougher, " Polye said.

But O’Neill has countered, saying PNG has a positive economic story to tell.

“The facts are that the economy is growing and that is obvious to anyone who wants to be honest,” he said.

“Look around you, the country is changing and the country is developing. We are facing challenges like all economies right now with lower commodity prices, but our economy is in a much stronger position that some people want to admit.

“There is no need for people to talk the economy down and hurt jobs.”

Polye said the government must cease borrowing, encourage concessional financing, eliminate unnecessary costs and remove state liabilities.

"Stop unproductive spending, and concentrate the limited resources on maintaining key services and improving delivery systems," he said, particularly noting health, education and infrastructure maintenance.

O’Neill said that he and Treasurer Patrick Pruaitch have been managing PNG’s economy between them for almost 10 years and this has delivered results.

“The fundamentals of our economy are strong and we are attracting investment to our country,” he said.

“This is different to the years before in the previous government where government assets were mortgaged and we lost our share in Oil Search.

He said the government has a clear focus on policy areas that matter to the nation instead of misaligned and uncoordinated policies of past decades.

“Over the past five years our government has focused on delivering education, expanding healthcare, promoting law and order and delivering infrastructure and advancing economic growth.

“We have maintained our focus and not been distracted.

“Our national programs are aligned with local level requirements and this is delivering for our people.”

O’Neill welcomed debate on the economy but said he sought sensible discussion on the floor of parliament.

“As a government we will give credit where it is due and we will expect the opposition to do the same,” he said.


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Rashmii Bell

Daniel - is that an explanation or some kind of justification?

Daniel Kumbon

In the highlands when a man gets married, all his relatives contribute towards paying the brideprice but they can never tell the bridegroom how, where or when to sleep with his wife.

Rashmii Bell

Appreciate that great explanation, Chris.

Using that, it is quite worrying how the public and voters might be swayed by the language used by O'Neill.

Bernard Corden

Edward L Bernays is often considered the godfather of propaganda and his influential book entitled Propaganda in 1928 addresses the complex relationship between human psychology, democracy and corporations. He expanded his argument into economics and recognized the positive impact of propaganda in the service of capitalism and he was heavily influenced by the work of Walter Lippman.

Lindsay F Bond

Struth Chris! Thirteen times tru! Who'd a believe less a strewth!

`Robin Lillicrapp

Perhaps some info is flowing both ways betwixt PNG and places to the North:
China’s Technocrats Launch Dissent Smackdown Harshest In Decades

Who would be surprised that this would happen after social scoring was introduced just a few months ago.
Social scoring involves analysis of all of your online activity to determine how loyal you are (or not) to the government.

Philip Fitzpatrick

To paraphrase you Chris - 'whatever your government is telling you is highly unlikely to be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. The safest assumption is that the government is lying until proved otherwise.'

Which makes you wonder about motive. If the country is going downhill at a rapid rate, what's in it for the government beyond embarrassment, being voted out and possibly criminal sanctions?

The only thing I can think of is sustaining the pillaging for as long as possible and then a quick exit to parts unknown.

Chris Overland

Dr Josef Goebbels was the Nazi Minister for Propaganda from 1933 until his death in 1945.

Goebbels is widely credited with being the first politician of the modern era to fully understand and utilise the potential of the radio, print and film media to propagate political messages to the masses.

In particular, Goebbels understood the power and persuasiveness of relentlessly repeating statements and ideas. He reputedly boasted that no matter how big the lie, it's relentless repetition would eventual persuade most people that it was the truth.

The psychology behind this thinking is that a lie can be converted into "the truth" provided enough people come to believe it is true.

Fast forward to now and politicians across the globe have long since understood that Goebbels was essentially right.

So, politicians everywhere now often rely upon "Spin Doctors" whose sole task is to help them convince electors that certain ideas or propositions are either "true" or "untrue", depending upon the circumstances.

Thus politicians will repeat a slogan or accusation or proposition ad nauseum because they know that, eventually, it will stick in the minds of their target audience.

There is an adage in advertising that it is not until the target audience is absolutely sick to death of hearing a message that you can be sure it is finally getting through.

This brings me to Peter O'Neill and his collaborators who wish Papua New Guineans to believe that they are living in the best of all possible worlds, notwithstanding the evidence to the contrary.

They are using the tried and true formula of relentlessly repeating that "the facts are that the economy is growing strongly and that is obvious to anyone who wants to be honest".

This statement contains two keys ideas: firstly, that "the facts" support the government's position and, secondly, that "honest" people would know this is true.

Of course, the facts which supposedly support the government's position are either not referred to or are restricted to information which the government itself holds or, more likely, simple creates.

As for the issue of honesty, there appear to be no objective sources of data or commentary upon which Papua New Guineans can rely in order to understand what the country's economy is actually doing.

This enables the government to label doubt or scepticism about its statements as dishonesty or political opportunism or an example of "talking down the economy".

Papua New Guineans are not the only people on the receiving end of this sort of Orwellian manipulation of language and ideas.

It is a stock tool of trade in politics, advertising, business and even education.

Consequently, to use a mining analogy, anyone wishing to understand the world around them has to mine and process a lot of ore to find a few nuggets of truth.

However, as a general rule, whatever your government is telling you is highly unlikely to be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

It's statements about anything contentious or sensitive are more likely to be carefully nuanced interpretations of selected facts, which can fall just short of outright lying. Evasiveness, diversion tactics and waffle are depressingly common as well.

The so-called independent media may or may not be better depending upon their own political bias.

So, the old Roman adage of "caveat emptor" (buyer beware) might be usefully applied to anything a politician says, especially if he or she has a vested interest in suppressing inconvenient truths.

In fact, a true cynic might say that the safest assumption for a citizen to make is that the government is lying until proved otherwise.

Kenta Pora

As an ordinary citizen of this country, I am already feeling the effects of reckless decisions that have been made by our government so far.

We know what is happening in our country. We can now no longer be treated like fools by the politicians.

We now know who is telling the truth and who is making gross public statements trying to save his own ass and manipulating the public to continue accepting his lies.

You can make as many public statements as you can to deviate from the truth, but facts are facts, they can not be changed,facts will always remain facts.

William Dunlop

Phil, I think he's alternating between Joyce's Ulysses and Finnegans Wake. It's certainly not We of the Never Never.

Lindsay F Bond

Sensible discussion where numbers jig is played?
Sensitive display whether services risk dissolution?

Philip Fitzpatrick

I wonder which parallel universe O'Neill is living in - it sure isn't PNG.

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