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PNG research: Oz lacks respect; China praised

When grass roots Papua New Guineans were asked about Australia and China, the results were not too flash for PNG's former colonial master


NOOSA - On the back of Australia's disastrous drubbing by China in the Solomon Islands, new research from Papua New Guinea has delivered more bad news for the Morrison government.

In 2021, a coalition of Papua New Guinean researchers embarked on an unprecedented endeavour.

They asked hundreds of ordinary people, including those living in a remote part of PNG, about the strengths and challenges of their country.

What they discovered was both fascinating and astonishing.

For example, people expressed concern for Australia’s ‘lack of respect’ for PNG sovereignty and culture.

And they thought China trumped Australia in its investment in infrastructure in PNG

The researchers also asked about people’s hopes for the future and what they thought the relationship between PNG and Australia.

This research, initiated by the Whitlam Institute, captured a wide cross-section of perspectives and experiences from grass roots citizens - voices rarely heard in official forums.

Overall, respondents were largely positive about Australia, widely praising Australia’s role in supporting PNG financially.

However, concerns about Australia’s perceived lack of respect for PNG sovereignty and cultural norms, were also expressed.

Significantly, China won out over Australia as the country perceived as investing the most in infrastructure in PNG.

WhitlamOn Thursday 28 April, a Zoom conference will be held to discuss the outcomes of this research and its implications.

The conference will start at 5pm, and you can register to participate at the Whitlam Institute here: [email protected]


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Susan McGrade

In Rabaul, my community could not be more vocal in their support for Australia and wish Australia could be more on the ground here with regards to health and education.
In fact, the Rabaul community were overwhelmingly generous in donations toward the fire disaster in return for all that Australia had done for us in the past.
This rot all starts in the muck that is Port Moresby. The academics, bureaucrats and politicians are anti-Australia because they want their cake and eat it too. They want aid but in cash & without ties.
Not the grassroots. We want roads, schools and health centres and access to employment in Australia.
Here in Rabaul we have adjusted to a new colonization that is well established.
Unlike previous colonisers, you do not see this mob joining the community or taking part in any way for the better of the Town apart from trading. There is no connection to the Chamber or Rotary or Clubs of any sort.. Instead, they are holed up behind their cash registers and lock up their 10 foot barbed wire fences early evening. What are they afraid of? Australians (the very few left) on the other hand roam freely at all times of the day.
Do not believe this so called 'reserch' . Its a load of balone.

Philip Fitzpatrick

We've been banging on about this on PNG Attitude for more than a decade Stephen.

We've collectively and individually approached DFAT and the conga line of government ministers responsible for the Pacific, Labor and Liberal alike, with no discernible impact except for meaningless platitudes.

One of the most useless of these ministers was Richard Marles, so expect the same platitudes to continue if Labor is elected.

That such an obvious measure to reinforce our relationship with PNG and the Pacific has never been instituted is entirely a mystery.

As Paul Oates often says, no one wants to listen to people who know PNG and the Pacific, they think they know better.

Kindin Ongugo

I can say as a doctor that tertiary care for a lot of medical conditions is lacking in PNG.

Unfortunately, it is impossible for the middle-class PNGian to fly under two hours to Cairns for a quick assessment.

I have referred patients to the Philippines for cancer treatment or coronary artery stents or a bypass - that is 6-7 hours flying from Port Moresby.

If one cannot sense genuine friendship then the door is open for a third party or even worse to act like Judas.

Stephen Charteris

Bernard Yegiora @BYegiora comments on Twitter:

"Australia & New Zealand need to make it conducive for Melanesians to migrate to Australia & New Zealand in search for economic opportunities. Melanesians do not have that opportunity similar to Polynesians. That is why Melanesian countries #PNG and SI see things differently."

I believe this goes to the heart of the matter. Bernard is quite correct. Rightly or wrongly the perception is Melanesians are discriminated against.

It is the elephant in the room and it remains swept under the carpet. If we believe we are part of the Pacific family then we need to act like it.

If Aust and NZ can't address this then both can be certain their influence will wane in Melanesia and others will fill the void.

There should be no impediment for Pacific citizens to get working visas in Australia & NZ.

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