ADELAIDE - Reading Bill Brown's account of the development of Bougainville’s copper and gold mine at Panguna, you can only marvel at the number of red flags fluttering in the breeze.
Clearly, the great and the good in the Moresby and Canberra bureaucracies had decided the mine would proceed come what may, leaving Bill and his colleagues on the ground in Bougainville in a hopeless position.
Fast forward to today and it is abundantly clear that many of those same red flags are again flying, yet the same old script appears to be playing out.
More than 50 years later there are another lot of players, most of whom are even less equipped to know what is going on than their predecessors.
The Canberra based politicians and bureaucrats do not, as Paul Oates has observed, understand the truth about what is going on at grassroots level in Papua New Guinea and elsewhere in the Pacific.
Australia’s gross under investment in developing a genuinely deep and profound relationship with these countries for the last several decades is going to cost us dearly.
I hope our people in the foreign affairs department have the good sense to liaise closely with their New Zealand counterparts. The Kiwis seem likely to be more clued up because they have maintained much stronger relations for far longer.
Australia is just playing catch up, as evidenced by our prime minister's recent foray into the Pacific to announce we are back in town, so to speak.
I hope that someone in DFAT is paying attention to Bill Brown's narrative, at least to the extent of recognising that what the current mob in Moresby may be saying about Bougainville, and much else besides, is unlikely to accurately reflect what is going on amongst the Bougainville people.
Sadly, they no longer have any Bill Browns to give them the unalloyed truth, assuming that they want to hear it.