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PNG’s fatberg politicians: Keeping the sunshine out

Photo by Towfiqu Barbhuiya on Unsplash
Photo by Towfiqu Barbhuiya on Unsplash


TUMBY BAY - My next door neighbours are quite elderly, more so than me even, and I occasionally help them with stuff that goes wrong in their house, leaking taps and suchlike.

A recent endeavour involved unblocking the drain beneath their kitchen sink.

When I took it apart I found that a great glob of rancid fat was the problem – too much fried and greasy food no doubt.

For some reason that little incident came to mind when I heard that Winnie Kiap had been bypassed for the Governor-General’s job in Papua New Guinea in favour of the recent five-year incumbent, Sir Bob Dadae.

Winnie Kiap not only had impeccable credentials for the job and no unsavoury baggage but the symbolism of her election would have been a tremendous fillip for the women of PNG.

It would also have been an unmistakeable signal that the politics of PNG were finally emerging from their kindergarten stage.

Unfortunately the signal that comes with the reinstatement of Sir Bob is that the male fatbergs in parliament will continue to block the pipeline of national maturity and gender equity.

In a recent article on the Guardian Australia website, journalist Nick Coyle made the point that Australia is wasting its money by providing PNG with aid dedicated to improving governance.

He said that aid money would be better spent on basic infrastructure and pointed out that governance was a matter totally in the hands of the Papua New Guinean people.

Until they start electing honest and conscientious politicians governance would not improve. 

Which makes you wonder what could have happened at the next national election had Winnie Kiap become Governor-General and inspired the huge untapped pool of talented women in PNG to seek to represent their country in parliament.

Following the recent federal election in Australia we know what a huge difference an even gender balance in parliament means.

Among other things we began thinking and acting much more sensibly on issues that extend beyond the economic.

Issues like social equity, climate change, the recognition of our Indigenous people and political integrity.

As the song, Aquarius, from the 1960s musical, Hair, put it: ‘Harmony and understanding, Sympathy and trust abounding, No more falsehoods or derisions, Golden living dreams of visions’.

Well, perhaps we haven’t quite got there yet, but I don’t think anyone can dispute that things have improved markedly now we have a half decent government in Canberra.

Unfortunately it now seems like any hope of an Age of Aquarius in PNG is still stuck in that great glob of patriarchal fat in its parliament.


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