ADELAIDE – It is a sad reality that Papua New Guinea's leaders have stolen, mismanaged or squandered much of its wealth, leaving its people vastly under serviced and resourced.
This is consistent with the all too familiar pattern in post-colonial societies.
Thus the moralistic and principled rhetoric of freedom fighter Robert Mugabe turned out to be nothing more than wind once he was safely ensconced in the presidential palace.
Mugabe and his cronies rapidly remodelled the once flourishing Rhodesia into the moribund basket case now called Zimbabwe.
The same pattern has been repeated over and over, with the same tired and threadbare promises of imminent wealth and plenty being endlessly repeated by the usual suspects as they scrambled to secure the perks of power.
Policy prescriptions that have been presented to naïve, credulous and sometimes desperate electorates as ‘socialism’ have turned out to be nothing more than the installation of kleptocracies or oligopolies.
Venezuela is a stand out example of how quickly this can turn a moderately wealthy country into a disaster zone.
Compounding the catastrophe of home-grown corruption has been the ruthless exploitation of the former colonial world by international capitalism largely free of legal constraints or moral scruples.
Today's massive international corporations and financial institutions are so powerful that they have effectively captured the government instrumentalities meant to regulate them.
They are literally too big to fail, at least until someone screws up the courage to let them do so or, alternatively, finally exerts effective control over them.
The great winner out of the last 40 odd years of unbridled neo-liberal capitalism has been China.
It has deftly deceived an unduly credulous western world to beg, borrow or steal the knowledge and technologies needed to create a modern economy based upon socialism with Chinese characteristics.
Now China has revealed the steel claw that was hidden in the velvet glove of its formerly cautious demeanour and diplomacy.
And, in western countries, Covid-19 has ripped away the camouflage that disguised the inequitable, unjust and fragile nature of neo-liberal capitalism and revealed the awful truth of the inadequacies of our political elites.
The question for all of us, whether in PNG, Australia or elsewhere, is what we the people will do about this.
If history is any guide a global crisis such as we now confront will ensure that change will come, whether wanted or not. It is really just a question of time.
Whether that change will be for the better is very much an open question.