Asylum-seekers left mentally scarred by years of detention
A Kiwi police sergeant’s letter home from Bougainville

I allowed myself to dream of life without politicians

Phil 2015
Phil Fitzpatrick - 'we could live without poiticians but like cockroaches they'd come creeping back'


TUMBY BAY – I find it tempting to contemplate what life would be like without politicians.

It’s a concept that would have been unthinkable and impossible only a few years ago, but events of late are showing us how increasingly irrelevant and mistrusted politicians are becoming.

Of course, a lot depends on how you define what makes a politician. At its widest interpretation it means any apparatchik or self-styled big man, even ones operating out in the rural wilds. At its narrowest it means our elected representatives in parliament.

It is the latter who seem to be rapidly losing touch with the real world.

There are plenty of examples to demonstrate how politicians are increasingly swimming against the tide of public opinion and how, in this globalising world, they have lost control of key elements of traditional governance, most notably economic one but others – like social equity - also.

Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, for example, and yet many states of the USA have independently re-endorsed the agreement’s goals and, in practice, have even surpassed them.

In Australia there has been a grassroots revolution in renewable energy that has left the federal government and its climate change deniers and coal champions stranded like shags on a rock.

In Papua New Guinea the provincial government in Oro has taken on rapacious loggers and is winning where the national government has failed.

On Manus the provincial government is thinking about life after the detention centre closes and has embarked on a study to identify its prospects as a tourist destination.

(There is a website, delightfully full of grammatical and spelling errors, extolling these beautiful islands.)

Such developments pose an interesting question: Is it possible to have a government simply made up of the people’s elected representatives as opposed to party-focussed politicians?

There is actually quite a difference between the two.

A politician these days is usually someone toeing the line on a particular ideology and linked (some would say chained by bonds of gold) to the machinery of a political party.

Elected representative are individuals dedicated to representing the needs of their people and who are not subordinate to political parties.

If we got rid of the party politicians and replaced them with elected representatives in both Australia and Papua New Guinea, would life be better?

If there were no party politicians in our parliaments, would our often thwarted elected representatives be able to do a better job?

Possibly, but if we purged our governments of politicians I wonder how long it would be before they came back. A week, a year, who knows?

Whatever the time span, one thing is for sure, they would wheedle their way back like cockroaches no matter what we did.


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Raymond Komis Girana

I believe a careful study of our culture and values can assist us (PNG and other Melanesian/Pacific Island states) in creating a governing system that best suits our countries. PNG is corrupt because it is struggling to cope with democracy, a foreign adopted system. Today we are being referred to as weak or failed states because we are being judged from an economic point of view by economic powers. We will get to nowhere if we continue to battle with a system that is foreign. Should we take some steps back and explore our traditional systems, I am sure we can come up with something; a best possible kind of lifestyle that suits us. In this way, others can also learn from us.

Chips Mackellar

Yes Barbara, you may think that there is no better arrangement than representative democracy, but half the world's population does not agree.

Look what is happening in Iraq and Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East with the exception of Israel. These countries are the cradle of civilisation, but they have never been the cradle of democracy.

China has an equally historic civilisation but it has never been a democracy, and never will be.

Traditional PNG was never democratic and what is disguised as "democratic" in the PNG government today is just a continuance of what it always was, and what it always will be.

We should accept their way of doing things, and not expect them to copy us.

Barbara Short

I still can't think of any better arrangement for running a country than representative democracy. Heaven knows what the Chinese get up to.

Maybe there is a process that goes on in all developing countries when it comes to developing a good political system with good debate.But I guess it all depends on the quality and honesty of the elected MPs.

Interesting to see what is going on in Brazil at the moment.

Look at the mess in Venezuela.

What on earth happened in Rwanda?

Paul Oates

Francis effectively demonstrates what the problem for today's PNG is. The gap between traditional tribal organisations and a central supposedly representative government made up on the introduced concept of a national awareness is merely being played out in the PNG political area.

People who thought this would not happen, given such a short time between opening the country up and creating a new nation possibly also believed in fairies at the end of the garden.

If history has taught us anything at all it's that any process that succeeds must be built empirically on firm and thoroughly tested foundations.

Francis Nii

PNG is made up of smaller nations who had their own governing system of which leadership was not dictated by political parties as there were no political parties in those times but the government did exist and functioned to benefit the people before the western system of government came and destroyed it.

So the idea of politics without political party is not new. However, how that can possbly function in the modern political context can become a dilemma.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)