Recent Notes 19: Defence pact challenged
Recent Notes 21: My new pacemaker friend

Recent Notes 20: Our malignant future


Former Canberra Times editor Jack Waterford is getting on a bit in years (he’s 71) but remains one of the most acute commentators doing the rounds.

You can read his thoughts regularly on John Menadue’s Pearls & Irritations – the irritations being that P & I too often goes so far left it falls over the precipice of pretension. But not Jack, who is a prince of proportion. [Enough alliteration - Ed]

“Modern governments are bipartisan in not being big on the vision thing, long-term thinking, or even the planning thing,” he wrote recently. “John Maynard Keynes said, 100 years ago, “The long run is a misleading guide to current affairs. In the long run we are all dead. Economists set themselves too easy, too useless a task if in tempestuous seasons they can only tell us that when the storm is past the ocean is flat again.’’

Keynes has been interpreted as implying the long term didn’t matter. Instead he was advising that economists (and politicians) in the middle of economic turmoil should not do nothing on the assumption that soon things would get back to ‘normal’.


Phil Fitzpatrick

The appalling photographs of naked bodies of tribal mercenaries being dragged behind a vehicle in Enga Province that were splashed on the front pages of the Murdoch papers in Australia and PNG have engendered a debate on the Ex Kiap websiteThe intent of publishing the photographs was both sensationalist and racist, implying ‘look at what these savages in New Guinea are doing’. That the photos appeared on the front page of The Australian in Queensland but not on the front page of its South Australian and possibly other state editions seems to indicate that it was targeted to where the most racist outrage might occur.

The evolution and brutality of tribal warfare in New Guinea seems to have reached a tragic equality with similar events in the rest of the world. In the days of the kiap, tribal warfare in the highlands had strict rules of engagement. Few people were killed and women and children were rarely harmed. That has all changed with the advent of high-tech weaponry and the monetising of warfare. From illegal arms smugglers to hired mercenaries, hitmen and the involvement of vengeful and corrupt politicians, PNG has caught up with the rest of the world. There’s big money to be made out of warfare. And of posting lurid images of it for Australian racists.


Bee Duresi (the stage name of Barbara Angoro who now sports a new PhD from New Zealand), writes the splendid Duresi’s Odyssey blog which she says is for “Papua New Guineans interested in the proper use of medicines and appreciating this journey called life. Life is a gift - may we learn to celebrate the successes, learn lessons from the trials and be good to one and other”. Most recently, Bee has addressed the issue of the standard treatment guidelines (STGs) provided to PNG health professionals to great common illnesses.

“Recently I took my elderly dad for his review at a private hospital,” Bee writes, “and realised the treatment regimen for high blood pressure is not consistent with the PNG standard treatment guidelines.” She also observed that many other prescribed drugs including antibiotics are not in line with STG and give the PNG distributor an effective monopoly, resulting in high costs.

This got her questioning why private hospitals don’t follow the standard treatment guidelines and asking who is responsible for ensuring the price of medicines are properly regulated. Bee writes: “I believe that, if our people are paying extra for health services with a relatively short turnaround time, they must be provided according to PNG guidelines and charged fairly.” She now will undertake research to find out (1) if private hospitals should be following the guidelines and (2) the identity of the person responsible for regulating pharmaceuticals in PNG.


PNG Business News reports that five Melanesian leaders including PNG’s James Marape, Vanuatu’s Alatoi Ishmael Kalsakau, Fiji’s Sitiveni Rabuka, Solomon’s Manasseh Sogavare and New Caledonia (FLNKS) spokesman Victor Tutugoro attended the 22nd Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) leaders’ summit in Port Vila recently for talks covering the Pacific environment, climate change mitigation, security and nuclear waste disposal management.

You’ll find no mention here of West Papua, the continuing MSG agenda item the leaders choose to evade. West Papua’s Indigenous people are Melanesian but their government in exile’s desire to be part of the MSG keeps getting kicked down the road by leaders who are very susceptible to Indonesia’s vigorous opposition. The MSG decides there will be “further high level talks” on the issue.


Could it be the US that has persuaded PNG to join the small group of countries supporting to change Israel’s capital from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the holy city whose status is one of the major issues of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This support is about to take the practical step of relocating what is a PNG consulate in Tel Aviv to a fully-fledged embassy in West Jerusalem. PNG established diplomatic ties with Israel in 1978 and maintains a consulate near Tel Aviv. Marape now says it will open its first embassy this year

Last October Australia’s foreign minister Penny Wong announced that the Labor government had reversed the decision of the Morrison government which recognised West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. She reaffirmed “Australia’s previous longstanding position that Jerusalem is a final status issue that should be resolved as part of any peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian people. Australia’s embassy has always been, and remains, in Tel Aviv” she said.


“According to the direct instructions of the global project on Cybercrime, internet pornography and child pornography at large,” the email said, “the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary hereby summons you on the Detailed file case charges of cybercrime attachment below against you. You are hereby Summon through the Chief Commissioner of Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary.”

Unfortunately the said “file case charges of cybercrime” were not attached as promised nor was there any information about where I could collect my one-way ticket to Port Moresby to enable me to prostrate myself before a “Chief Commissioner” who does not exist and therefore cannot take “direct instructions of the global project on Cybercrime”. Pity, I was looking forward to defending my innocence of the charge.


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Ross Wilkinson

Aahh, I'm in exalted company! Keith and I are partners in crime as I also have been served with 'Judicial Summons 911'. Anyone else?

Like you, I suppose, Ross, I'm trying to figure out precisely what I'd done to excite the attention of judicial officers. By the time I'd written four and a half pages my writing hand was spasming so I decided to give up.... - KJ

Lindsay F Bond

re: Recent Notes 20: Our Malignant Future

'Boomalaka Boomalaka bing bong bah.'

For ye alitterists, olde Townsville State High School spectator spoof at sport.... Live life long on laughter.

Bernard Corden

re: PNG Attitude Unmoved by ‘Judicial Summons 911’

Dear Editor - Buimo Road kalabus long Lae igat gutpela kaikai na plenti braun rais, tapiok na 777 tinpis.

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