Getting it right in energy deals
PNG manufacturers face tough year

Bad governance & lots of tok gris

Phil Fitzpatrick at mic
Phil Fitzpatrick - "Fake government applying Band-Aids and painting over them with  spin and empty rhetoric"


TUMBY BAY - When mounting evidence suggests that a government is corrupt and they fail to adequately address the evidence, what can be done about it?

The short answer, of course, is not to vote for them. But if they are electorally secure and their term of government has some time to run, well, other options are severely limited.

We currently have a situation in Australia where a clearly corrupt government minister has resigned and another is being investigated for using forged documents and being a party to illegal clearing of native grasslands.

In the first instance, the government accepted the minister’s resignation on a minor matter rather than on the substantive issue of corrupt and high level electoral pork barrelling using taxpayer funds.

To achieve this outcome the government used the dubious expedient of engaging a senior public servant aligned to itself to carry out the investigation.

In the second instance the minister is being investigated by the federal police but, we learned yesterday, will not be charged.

One would hope that the opposition, at least in the first case, would take the matter to court seeking to nullify the results of the elections in electorates where the pork barrelling occurred.

This is unlikely, however, because the opposition has a similar record of pork barrelling. Nowhere near as blatant and arrogant as this recent episode but nevertheless on the record.

In Papua New Guinea there is a relatively new government that espouses an anti-corruption platform but continues to allow members and ministers with very dubious records to sit on its side of the house.

Some of those individuals are currently being investigated but whether they will be expelled by the government if they are found guilty is not clear.

A lot will depend upon how the numbers stack up when the investigations are over.

The most probable scenario is that the investigations and any subsequent charges will be tied up in the courts well beyond the current electoral cycle.

Papua New Guinea is well supplied with lawyers who are adept at these sorts of tactics.

What is unfortunately apparent is that these old mates, Australia and Papua New Guinea, now have very similar problems with their governments.

As far as the public in both places is concerned neither of their governments are trustworthy.

Both countries are currently like rudderless ships in an increasingly hostile sea that abounds with many hidden and dangerous reefs.

Of the two countries, it is ironic that the one where the most effort is being concentrated on turning the ship around is PNG. It is the child that now seems to be teaching the parent how to act properly.

Getting our respective countries back on course is a fond hope but in the meantime what is left in both of them is a largely despondent population that views politicians, and the future they are creating, with increasing anxiety.

While both governments are preoccupied with patching up the dry rot and salt damp of their rickety internal structures, the big issues like climate change are being ignored.

So too are domestic issues like social equity.

At best, what is happening is fake government applying the liberal use of Band-Aids and other patches and painting over it with lavish applications of spin and empty rhetoric [tok gris].

As Hanrahan* famously said, “We’ll all be rooned before the year is out”.

Hanrahan may well be right.

* ‘Said Hanrahan’ is a poem written in 1919 by the Australian bush poet John O'Brien, the pen name of Roman Catholic priest Patrick Joseph Hartigan


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

Bernard Corden

An interesting interview with Professor W I Robinson at the University of California entitled "How Capitalism’s Structural and Ideological Crisis Gives Rise to Neo-Fascism" :

Chris Overland

Phil, you are reporting the symptoms of late stage neo-liberal capitalism, although none of the present political class seem to understand this, let alone the voters (in Australia at least), most of whom seem content to remain fat, dumb and happy in front of their TV or their clever electronic devices.

It is paradoxical that the marvellous technologies produced by science have allowed the anti-intellectuals, the venal and the just plain stupid to rise to the top in so many areas of life.

Just look at how the once great Republican Party which spawned Abraham Lincoln, the Great Emancipator, has debased itself to acquit the most contemptible president in history of using his office to further his own political interests, despite incontrovertible evidence that he did exactly that.

Little wonder ScoMo, Peter O'Neill and others like them feel emboldened to use evasion, obfuscation, weasel words and denial as their intellectual tools of choice for dealing with their evident dishonesty and corruption.

Maybe we lapuns need to just get with the program instead of worrying about trivia like climate change, the increasingly grotesque maldistribution of resources, the collapse of confidence in governments, the insidious erosion of trust in important institutions like banks and so forth.

As you have previously observed, at least most Papua New Guineans have little or nothing to lose if the current system collapses under the weight of its now very obvious flaws and contradictions.

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.)