The kiaps: After dedication, melancholy
Debt repayment: Tough year 2020

PNG – we can’t go on like this

In the National Housing Corporation corruption is rife. The stench from those who feed off the misery of evicted  Papua New Guinean families is sickening 


LAE - All the systems we put in place must serve the people.

We can pull our people out from the quagmire of poor health and low literacy. We can educate more women, reduce violence, build great infrastructure, strengthen our internal and external security.

We can be a learning hub for our Pacific neighbours with world class university campuses that use the research and the skills to mitigate the effects of climate change.

We can pull our 10 million people out of poverty, change mindsets and build a country of wealthy families.

We can build a great military that focuses on nation building and protects our national borders with pride and builds the characters of our young.

The noble concepts of free health and free education can work beautifully.  We have the people, the natural resources and the means to do it.

We have land enough to provide housing for all our people. We have the systems that can do it.

But we can’t achieve all that if the people running the systems are selfish and corrupt.

Selfishness stems from an inward looking mindset.  It puts self ahead of the rest. It prioritizes taking instead of giving.

Our education system can be among the best in the world. Yet the people who run it steal from it, starving our future generations of what is theirs.

Many commentators defend the tuition fee free education as an important policy for rural families and their children. Yet the truth of the matter, is that a large number of those schools did not get TFF money.

The infrastructure component meant for new buildings never went to them.

It was either diverted of stolen. This in itself needs investigation.

There are ghost names on the payroll.  Teachers are posted to schools that are closed or teachers who have not showed up to teach for years. 

The case of the late Grace Gavera killed by her de facto partner, Andy Baro, exposed part of a network that involved the production of fake IDs linked to the education payroll section. Baro had several names and was a teacher according to the fake IDs found in his possession.

Travel agents charge 15% processing fees for leave fare entitlements transferred to their accounts by provincial administrations. These are travel agents who don’t even have to work for the money they get. How does that happen?

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has exposed the corruption within the National Department of Health. It exposed a department secretary who depended on and trusted bad advice by his ‘technical team.’

The PAC exposed a ring that thrived on bribes. It also showed how defective tender application documents that quoted more than K600,000 for sea and air transport for medicine deliveries in the City of Port Moresby went through.

Why would the health department choose the most expensive service providers to deliver and supply medicines, and on the other hand tell the PAC that it was trying to save a few thousand kina by not testing for the quality of drugs in Australia?

In the National Housing Corporation corruption is rife.

The stench is sickening and those who feed off the misery of evicted  Papua New Guinean families walk around unpunished. They’re still doing it.

Towards the end of the year is when they start issuing eviction orders again.  Don’t think we don’t know. 

Their customers are foreign business owners looking for cheap properties to buy.  Documents appear legitimate and, like the health department, they are aided by NHC insiders.

We can’t live like this.

We can’t continue to be the butt of sarcastic jokes at diplomatic and corporate functions.  We can’t accept the corruption and continuously expect things to go wrong.

We have to stand up and expose the people behind it. Name them, shame them and make them run for cover.

We have to be willing to fight for our country and demand that those in positions of trust and authority do the right thing.

We can’t accept the rot and expect to continue living life in a cocoon.


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Lindsay F Bond

About "living life in a cocoon", this brings to mind a 'silky envelope', that is, some sort of covering to protect life developing within.

Fast forward one year and we learn of one cocoon somewhat shredded.

The very department that is to protect (and earn some kina) is unhoused. Is it true? What would Governor Gary Juffa say? Amazing.

If a PNG PM has any clout, collecting customs and protecting borders is what's all governance ought be about.

Arthur Williams

There were quite a number of airstrips in PNG even in 1980s that were, and quite likely still are, only available to mission planes.

I think that almost all had been constructed by local hand labour using picks and shovels and brute force to make them suitable for a plane to land.

Many were only accessible by the single engine planes that were the main workhorse of Christian aviation units.

Without them there would have been very long walks, dinghy trips even canoe journeys to get staff into the developing aid posts and schools of remote PNG villages.

Lots of medivacs from these tiny mission airstrips have saved many lives. I often loaded the Kawito based MAF Cessna on these mercy flights. Some at crack of dawn on a Sunday.

Asia Pacific Christian Mission's Arufe airfield in the west of the Lower Fly was the nearest place for an even more remoter school where the hard working teachers were dropped off before a wearisome daylong trek carrying their mattresses, pillows, kero stove, clothing etc with them over the arid plain to their primary school.

Incidentally the Pasuwe store at Arufe would soon be depleted of basic stock almost within a day of our goods being flown in by MAF. If they heard the plane landing, the government workers at Morehead would drive their 4WD Toyota across from their often almost forgotten or neglected station.

I once flew into Morehead with Alan Judkins the MD of Pasuwe when we were negotiating a plot at Morehead to try and help the government before I left for Buka.

Some of these misso strips were extremely nasty to land on as they had been hand hewn onto the sides or ridges of mountains.

Pangoa in the middle of Lake Murray was one where you had to land up a fairly steep grass hillock to the 'terminal' at the top. You obviously took off downhill assisted by gravity.

I think Mougulu, not far from Nomad was also restricted during my time in PNG. The first missos with local carriers walked in parts of a tractor from Rumginae to be reassembled to make construction a little easier.

Awaba High School on the Aramia River even had its own grass/mud strip which enabled the first Western kids from all over the province to get delivered directly to their new school.

Though some intrepid Kiwai families from the Daru area would brave the dangerous waters across the delta of the Fly R. then the long trip up the Bamu R., with its dangerous bore, before the seemingly unending run up the serpentine Aramia.

Without those many misso strips rural development would have been far slower and life for people working there far more unpleasant

Philip Fitzpatrick

That adage was mostly applied to missionaries, John.

On the other side of the border the Dutch administration made a fatal mistake by allowing missionaries to be the first into new and unexplored areas.

The missionaries, many of them fundamentalists, then proceeded to build fiefdoms where they controlled just about everything. Government officers had to get their permission to land on their airstrips for instance.

In PNG the intent of the administration and the missions was at least benign. Most of the day-to-day outrages were committed by private enterprise.

Unfortunately private enterprise had more influence than anyone thought.

John Mackerell

Not all the Australians of the colonial days were as pure as the driven snow. Some were mercenary. Remember the old adage: "He came to do good and he did very, very well." Bad examples as well as good were followed after independence.

John Gordon-Kirkby

PNG is little different to other ex colonial nations.
Those of us who served in pre the independent days, did our duty and more, to the best of our ability. Of course we left with the task unfinished. Those in power had the option to progress or regress..
It seems that the latter course was chosen.
Therneeds to be strong moral leadership if the present course is to be halted.

Philip Fitzpatrick

All those good things that Scott lists that PNG is capable of doing pretty much align with the opportunities that Australia had lined up before they pulled out in 1975.

Many of those things were already in place or on the cusp of developing.

The truth of the matter is that PNG, through a combination of incompetence and corruption, slowly destroyed all that promise.

Maybe that was Australia's fault because it didn't prepare a big enough educated elite early enough. Maybe it was because of the UN's aggressive decolonisation program. Maybe it was because the small educated elite in PNG at the time thought they were smarter than they really were.

Whatever the case, PNG screwed up big time.

Now it has to be fixed.

A good way to start would be to bring Peter O'Neill to account. O'Neill, after all, stands for all that is bad in PNG politics.

He is corrupt, incompetent and lacking in empathy.

Bringing him to account would be a salutary lesson and symbol to all his cronies who are still happily stealing and stuffing up the country to run for the hills.

Lindsay F Bond

Great, Scott.

And yes there will be folk who will scoff at juxtaposition placement of two words and search for implied criticism. Well, those are folk who fail the Scott pub-lashing (publishing) test.

Staggeringly straightforward, a severity in every sentence, a scything of all cynicism. Disgust dominates and demands not discussion of derision; it demands first decision, a stripped-down, eye-balling mirror-on morass, decision. A decision of national importance.

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