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Juffa’s advice for fellow parliamentarians – ‘don’t be fooled’

Gary-JuffaGARY JUFFA | Asia Pacific Report

ORO - My advice for Papua New Guinea’s new MPs and their staff, minions, hangers on and supporters. Some words about the middle bench. It’s a myth.

I should know. I was there believing that myth for the first two years of the last term of parliament.

The middle bench is government.

I attended government caucus from time to time and made critical reviews of government decisions. If you are allowed to attend government caucus, you are government.

Why did I not choose the opposition at that time?

Because I believed the myth of the middle bench.

And I saw little difference in either side at that time, with the government seeming to be a slightly better option.

I hoped I could do more to influence government decisions for the better. How wrong I was. The benefit of hindsight has since proved otherwise.

Well at that time both government and opposition seemed like bad choices, just flipsides of the same coin, and I honestly thought there was a special place in parliament for neutral ground or a third way from government or opposition.

Well, I was wrong. I was naive.

Fact: ‘There Is No Neutral Ground’.

Surprise surprise, there is no middle bench!

Anyway my continued critical review of the decisions made by prime minister Peter O’Neill’s People’s National Congress (PNC) government were pissing many off so eventually I was removed.

That’s right, by the ruling party PNC.

As I said, some of its members resented the critical review I provided. They despised my outspokenness on national issues and questioning their self-interest in most decisions.

They lobbied hard and then the ruling party met and decided unanimously to kick me out. That’s right. They can do that. Which means they are in control of that part of parliament.

Which means the middle bench is a myth!

Soon after I was quietly asked by a government MP to inform the government I wished to remain and would not make trouble.

If I could do this, I could stay but must remain mute and support all government decisions, good or bad.

So I decided to move to opposition.

I felt I was elected to speak for my people. All of Papua New Guinea. Not be a puppet and follow others blindly even when they were wrong.

So I left.

It dawned on me that the middle bench was only in my head, not a reality. So if you are there, you are in government.

And if the government holds control over that area, they own that territory. You are their territory.

You can pretend and be quiet and they will allow that pretence to be projected to the people. But speak up too often and you will see who has control over that area and you will soon see that you are there at their will and whim.

All the best.


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Lindsay F Bond

Aha. Sam Basil denies joining 'government' and doing so, suggests that there is much of rumour around.

Bravo Mr Basil and the Alliance.

But was the rumour an attempt to destabilize the Alliance and the strength of Opposition?

The politics remain murky - it is still too early to pronounce with any clarity what is going on here - KJ

Lindsay F Bond

In support of advice by Gov Gary Juffa and those who now provide a great opportunity for PNG politics to develop a contributory opposition worthy of respect now and into the future, sorrow comes today at seeing report: "Bryan Kramer confirms Pangu split with 9 MPs including Basil joining O'Neill & 7 remaining with a now seriously depleted opposition #PNG".

So, PNG - a land of principals, even prince-iples, but not principles?

William Dunlop

Gary. You got the direct Aussie aid and got those desperately needed bridges in Oro built by Robyn Murphy's Canstruct Construction.

Murphy a long time B4 Works & Supply Engineering Manager in Mt Hagen in the late 1960's is a world recognised bridge engineer and builder.

That's what I call real achievement, particularly in the face of PNG fashion K/$ political adversity.

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