Today in PNG: Covid roll call a shocker
‘Patients are lying everywhere, the situation is dire’

How the political class gives us crap leaders


TUMBY BAY - I noticed when I first went to Papua New Guinea in the 1960s that the people tended to be guarded in their interactions with expatriates, but among themselves were quite open and not afraid to display their emotions.

Of course, this was a general observation. Judging people in such a way has its limitations because, at the end of the day, we’re all individuals.

After I’d been in what was called The Territory for a while and learned a little more, I was able to venture past the defensive wall to get to know people better.

I found a people who were not afraid to express themselves. The old aphorism fitted well: “What I saw is what I got”.

Observing PNG today, that openness - what some might incorrectly describe as naivety - is still there, particularly among politicians and leaders. This is in marked contrast to what we encounter in Australia.

Australian politicians and leaders are famed for their ability to never give a straight answer to a straight question.

More often than not they give a non-answer to a straight question. And their little smiles of smugness when an interviewer finally gives up can be very infuriating.

It is deviousness delivered with fake earnestness and a most annoying habit.

I have a list of Australian politicians I ignore because I know what they say on any question will be pure obfuscation. The list includes all the party leaders and deputy leaders.

Through secretiveness and smugness they effectively discount themselves as people worth listening to or heeding.

When I see or hear them in the media an instantaneous off switch immediately trips in my head.

This is learned behaviour of the worse kind. Who knows, beneath that charade there may be honourable men or women. Alternatively there may be cheats and carpetbaggers.

Unfortunately, because they present themselves in such a similarly repellent fashion it is hard to tell. Best not to trust what any of them say.

But generally this is not so in PNG. It is much easier to pick the good ones from the bad ones.

Through people’s actions rather than what they say, it’s possible to easily identify fakes and con men.

There are, of course, members of the worldwide collection of politicians who are downright stupid, morally challenged and pushing questionable agendas.

But whereas these sorts of people in Australia are adept at initial camouflage, in PNG they stand out like sore thumbs.

I imagine most ordinary Papua New Guineans are well-aware of who is a good leader or politician and who is not.

Australia once had down-to-earth leaders and politicians who were not afraid to say what they thought and wanted to do, and there are still a few rarities of the breed around.

Unfortunately, they are a dying breed that became an endangered species in the latter part of last century.

That was at about the same time Australia’s political demography changed, especially on the left side of politics.

Instead of drawing leaders from the working class on one hand and the privileged on the other, the politicians developed their own class and gave us not much of a choice.

This is slowly becoming the case in PNG but has not yet fully flowered. Perhaps it’s because Papua New Guinean leaders and politicians from the professional middle class have always been a minority.

Maybe Australia can get back to those better days when politicians came from a class of people whose day job since their teens had been outside politics.

Perhaps in the forthcoming election, Australians will replace these disconnected politicians with independent candidates who have a background in that real world beyond politics.


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Lindsay F Bond

Electrically meshed
Elegantly mushed
Elusively muffed
Electorally mashed.
A lad sadly lost resulting from governance not perceiving its connection.

Out there in the land of well meaning distribution is the product of provision that equipped distant towns and burbs with 'best price' installations and 'phot-opportunity' openings. Ongoing from that objective of occasion is the obligation of care and maintenance. (Was that in the tender price?)

Not everybody's cup of tea or froth, and obviously difficult to implement and administer, is the tedium of attendance, adjustment and action by appropriately skilled trades folk able to effect repair, renovation and respectful engagement in communities.

'Phot-opportunities' there are as scarce as the fundings.

Bernard Corden

Dear Lindsay, many thanks for the link

Despite recent reforms in several jurisdictions coronial inquiries are often an anachronistic and dishonest forum and merely an adversarial wolf in inquisitorial sheep’s clothing.

The entire process can be superficially beckoning although it is usually disappointing and provocatively painful for the bereaved families.

The egregious performance of the Queensland state government with its handling of the Dreamworld theme park disaster provides ample evidence:

Lindsay F Bond

"What politicians tackle overpopulation" or indeed the population at large?

What politicians understand equitable distribution and the care that entails?

Even in Australia shortcomings are revealed like an electrical 'short'.

"The Power and Water Corporation had no systems to check that the connection was completed to Australian Standards," coroner Greg Cavanagh said in findings..."


Crying shame that an 11 year old lad is now no longer running and climbing and laughing.

Failure of a system of governance and provision and attendance in this case was not of the "bloke holding the hose" as one politician said as he sought to evade questioning of his comprehension of care.

Lindsay F Bond

A problem not yet dying in Australia is of the so called aged care sector and the historical clutch by federal governance that Covid has opened like the proverbial bedsore.

If Australia’s generosity (?) of pension for ageing persons cannot be separated from provision of accommodation (called aged care) then the discontinuity might continue in respect of State based Health provision and (well, basic) planning.

Or is this the best that pollies can muster?

Paul Oates

Reading Prof Diamond's latest tome, 'Upheaval', it seems clear to me there is a generational change that has taken place in Australia as far as awareness and savvy is concerned.

Direct first hand experiences from an older generation were once listened to and learnt from (hopefully at least). The Spanish Flu (there's always been pandemics to trim over populations) and wars (WW1 and WW2), The great and lesser Depressions (1930's and Howard's 'mopping up surplus liquidity') and never ending inflation (Whitlam and Fraser et al) where more wages equals higher prices, over and over again.

Our children have apparently either been duped or never been taught or learnt about these significant lessons of history and will therefore now go on to recreate the same circumstances through basic ignorance of what history can teach. These young people are being clouded in their ignorance by those who either want to obfuscate those lessons of history to enhance their own warped agendas or who just haven't learnt from their parents and grandparents first hand experience.

While a genuine reflection on our history is essential and should be included in a broad school curriculum, children at school are now taught different lessons. It's a bit like a table with four legs and having one then removed. The table will only remain upright until something is put on it or an increasing a biased amount of misinformation and BS is loaded on the the one side to maintain it in an upright position.

Invasion Day and denigrating Captain Cook, who wasn't such a demon as is portrayed. Removing statues on Civil War generals and public figures has become excessively emotional, as if that will expunge the sins and lessons of the past by actions made today?

Our young people and those without much interest except demonstrating their ignorance, are being deluded into believing that the world will be a better place if they just go out and voice their frustrations at everyone rather that sit down and try to grapple with the serious problems of today. That includes to vax or not to vax.

If you don't agree to be vaccinated (for what ever reason), and then fall sick or die from Covid, will you then be prepared to pay or your estate if there is one, to pay for all the cost of the medical equipment and treatment or rely on others who did have their vaccination to pay for your treatment and your funeral?

What politicians are prepared to tackle overpopulation? No votes there it seems. Over use of water to grow crops? Sorry, the farmers are not to be trusted. Have another cafe latte and grumble. Grow vegetable meat and get rid of animals that provide meat and clothing. Well there's always paper clothes and fish from the sea... or will there be?

What does it take to produce what the younger generation demand as their right? Energy, farmers, industry and workers. What are we short of? Energy, Industry, and workers.

And... before PNG escapes the spotlight of attention. Where are the lessons of history being taught in PNG schools or anything taught about what it was REALLY and truthfully like before 1975?

Em nau. Tok save na liklik bel hat bilo mi pinis nau.

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