TUMBY BAY - When a society feels threatened it tends to withdraw into itself and usually does one of two things.
The first is to fall back into an innate sense of conservatism and the second is to bury its head in the sand and consign its fate to the gods.
In the past, when war has been imminent, we have seen nations withdraw into themselves and follow leaders who are by nature nationalistic and conservative.
When the war has passed and if they have proved victorious that same nation will then become much more progressive as a result of its optimism. This is essentially what happened in the 1960s in the west.
At the moment the world is facing turbulent times. The old economic paradigms are proving ineffective and climate change is posing a serious existential threat.
As the Labor Party in Australia has just learned such times are not conducive to social change.
Trying to convince wary Australian voters to accept progressive change at this time has proved disastrous for them.
At the moment the only time that Australians might contemplate a change in government would be if the incumbents proved particularly inept and/or corrupt.
If the media is any sort of guide Australians are preoccupied with their personal wealth, their cars, their houses and their stomachs. Anything that threatens those things they will react against.
If you take these analogies to Papua New Guinea the impact seems to be entirely different.
The incumbent government has proved not only to be disastrously inept but one of the most corrupt in the world.
Yet there is no reaction.
Papua New Guineans seem to have wholeheartedly adopted the second of the options noted above and buried their heads firmly in the sand in the hope of some kind of miracle which will probably never come.
To be fair they have a government that defies description in normal political terms. It is neither conservative nor progressive nor anywhere in between. It is a nothing government.
There is nothing that defines it politically. It has no policies. Instead it has spending targets. Its only features are incompetence, greed and corruption.
It is simply a wholly bad government. It is a disaster government.
If it was a government in Australia most of its members would be locked up in gaol.
Instead those members are now busily switching alliances and lining up to keep the gravy train going. For those few progressive members in the euphemistically labelled opposition this development must be soul destroying.
Unlike their Australian counterparts the voters of Papua New Guinea cannot retreat into conservatism because such a thing does not exist. The sandpit is their only option.
This lack of political choice is what characterises the difference between Australia and Papua New Guinea.
For Papua New Guineans there is no fallback position. There is neither a conservative nor a progressive party they can turn to for help.
This is probably one of the saddest political realities any nation can endure because it only leads to hopelessness.