The thin looking-glass veneer
Still the bell tolls: Brisbane’s Kristallnacht

Australia: More PMs than PNG but….

James Marape and Scott Morrison. By the end of June both may be out of a job

| Academia Nomad

PORT MORESBY - Australia and Papua New Guinea head to the polls - in May and June respectively - and Australian prime minister Scott Morrison and his PNG counterpart James Marape risk losing their grip on power.

If PNG appoints a new prime minister, it will be our fourth since 2002. If Australia gets a new PM, it will be it sixth over the same period.

That’s Australia six changes in 20 years compared to PNG three.

This could give the impression that Australia is more politically unstable than PNG.

But diving deeper, PNG’s instability is more pronounced than just counting how many times the PM changes.

In Australia, even though the PM changed more times, only two political parties - Liberal National (which I will refer to here just as Liberal) and Labor - held power.

From Howard (Liberal) to Rudd (Labor) to Gillard (Labor) back to Rudd (Labor) and then to the Liberals when Abbott was elected until toppled by Turnbull (Liberal) who was himself felled by Morrison (Liberal).

So in Australia we see the prime ministerial post alternating between the two major parties and revolving within the same party.

This has meant only two major shifts: from Liberal to Labor in 2007; and from Labor to Liberal in 2013.

In Australia there have been more changes of prime minister but only two changes of party

Prime ministers change but the core party values remain.

It is also the case that, because there are two dominant parties, even when the PM’s post goes to another party, voters know what to expect - it’s always Labor or Liberal.

In PNG, with every change of PM in the last 20 years, a PM from another party was elected: Somare (National Alliance) from 2002–11; O’Neill (People’s National Congress) 2011–19; and Marape (Pangu) 2019-22.

And each time, the executive was replaced in its entirety.

So as PNG and Australia go to elections, we know that the next Australian PM will come from Liberal or Labor.

In PNG, on the other hand, our PM will come from one of 44 political parties currently registered.

And what is worse, you don’t know what any of these parties stand for. You don’t know what you are voting for.

So even though Australia replaced more PMs than PNG, the changes of PNG PMs caused more uncertainty than in Australia.

In PNG, voters don’t vote based on party policies. Parties do not have distinct ideologies or policies.

Furthermore, across these many parties, MPs switch very easily from one to another.

For example, in the most recent parliament of 2017-22, the PNG Registry of Political Parties & Candidates reveals that no less than 45 MPs switched parties, even at the highest level of prime minister.

If this seems bewildering it’s because the whole process is just that.


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Kindin Ongugo

Scomo will have to get lots of botox injections before attending the next meeting with his Pacific family should he return as PM.

Harry Topham

No need for further comment, the smirk on Morrison's face tells it all.

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