PORT MORESBY - So let me backtrack. Economic segregation has been practiced for a long time in Papua New Guinea.
The so called ‘expat’, as defined legally for the private sector, was someone supposed to train local talent where relevant experience did not exist in an organisation.
But there is no foreign worker license which then perpetuates the ‘expat’ policy and attitudes. In other words we have institutionalised economic segregation.
When the Bougainville copper mine was established, the company did not just set up a mining project.
It set up an entire town with schools, hospitals and leisure facilities. Everyone, both Papua New Guineans and ‘expats’ lived and worked together in Bougainville with their families using the same facilities.
This was a utopian dream which became reality but it is no longer attempted or even dared to be dreamed of again.
Fast forward to today. Our socio-economic landscape makes it impossible to dream of such utopias however the Papua New Guinean middle class has now greatly expanded.
Papua New Guineans have attended every major university in the world including Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, the ANU in Canberra and Shanghai. We have multimillionaires like Jacob Luke and Robert Agarobe who employ foreigners.
So, prime minister James Marape, you are not going to achieve your dream if the best talent and most achieved Papua New Guineans are not allowed to live a normal global lifestyle in their own country.
Dual wage systems exist for the exact same experience and qualifications. Government contracts and senior jobs going to expats even though qualified locals are available. Local staff are treated like slaves.
And now with this housing advertisement blatantly telling us that only expatriates can live in their accommodation. Then seriously, what are we doing here?
Everyone in the chain is to blame.
Our legislation and visa policies for starters. We ourselves are to blame for not nipping these practices in the bud when they arise and allow everyone else to profit from economic segregation.
Why do landlords feel they can blatantly advertise like this? Why does the real estate company feel it’s OK to represent clients like this? Why does Hausples feel it’s OK to allow content like this on its website.
Hausples has purposely created a classification on its website for ‘Expat Rentals’.
You can be a smart person with qualifications coming from the poorest parts of the world but if you secured a job in Silicon Valley or anywhere else in the Western world you would be paid exactly what you are worth. Why do we not have PNG expats in Australia?
On a social level, when you attend a party or function, the night always begins with people huddled in their racial groups.
We have a huge imbalance in how our society operates and economic segregation like this does not help. In its worst form, it develops and perpetuates racist attitudes and behaviour.
This is not what a free, fair, democratic and egalitarian country should be about.