Today an article was published in The Australian Financial Review newspaper by Australia's Defence Force's captive Journalist/analyst, one Richard Barker, painting a dark picture of PNG and how it has become a failed state, needing Australian Ramsi style intervention immediately as a favor to PNG.
In a recent article posted on the Masalai Blog, readers are being asked to comment on whether Australian Aid given to PNG under the watchful eyes, management and supervision of Australia's giant Aid conduit, Cardno Davies, has been an unmitigated failure or not?
Recently this blog published the public accusation made by the Deputy Prime Minister, Hon Belden Namah, accusing Australia of masterminding an election failure.
Hon Belden Namah's accusation of Peter O'Neill, his Prime Minister, and Australia is not an easy accusation to make, even for a man who storms the Supreme Court and orders the arrest of the Chief Justice. For a start, both actions call for a lot of thought and courage. It calls for prior knowledge and understanding. It calls for intelligence and then the gumption to act upon that intelligence. Like in the case of the arrest of the Chief Justice, Namah already knew that the Chief Justice was going to call for Namah and certain Lawyers' arrest that day.
In the bold accusations that Namah has made against Peter O'Neill and Australia, Namah has inside information. He is kept well abreast of whats been happening with the Australian Military team consisting of Afghanistan and Iraq combat teams here in the last 3 months trying to take full control of the country's Police and Defence, and thereby operational command of the elections and the joint forces command away from the country.
The Australian Army's latest bid with ulterior motives to take control of the PNG Police and Defence Force through the pretext of electioneering was detected earlier by gallant nationalist elements within the Forces, who warned Peter O'Neill of trouble if he allowed it. Peter O'Neill had to step in and officially ask the Australian SAS team to leave. They were to have officially left, but they are all still in PNG, doing what they came here to do, which Peter O'Neill himself had earlier approved and invited Australia to do.
Richard Barker's article today is really a call to arms by the Australian Defence Force, signalling publicly what is already a military strategy within the corridors of public service in Canberra, and at the same time misleading the unsuspecting Australian public and the business community that a genuine case exists for Australia to use military force to invade and take over PNG. Richard is seeking public endorsement, creating public awareness and conditioning the Australian minds of this unenviable but necessary task Australia must perform.
Well, nothing could be further from the truth than Richard Barker's little performance. If only the Australian public, and indeed, the rest of the world knew the real truth of Australia's engagement in PNG and indeed the Pacific- about Australia's part in using aid to hot-wire many of the Pacific countries, including PNG to fail or pass.
Richard Barker hasn't lived in PNG for any number of years, so his talk of PNG 'going down hill since Independence' is absolutely misleading and is a blatant misrepresentation of the facts.
For example when Australia granted PNG Independence in 1975, there were less than 20 University graduates, if that. These were generally inexperienced men and women. There were almost nil indigenous doctors, lawyers, accountants, public administrators, local entrepreneurs, no locally owned businesses, no indigenous middle class. PNG only had plantation workers by the hundreds, office clerks, cooks and commonwealth drivers. Only a handful of tradesmen trained by BCL were just coming through.
Independence for PNG was a rushed affair. This is a fact that even Australian leaders over the years have admitted. It was then Prime Minister John Gorton, who after a visit to Port Moresby in the early 1970s with his wife, having been greeted by a white pig and a placard with the caption " WELCOME TO PNG, PRIME MONSTER OF AUSTRALIA" that upon his return to Australia, he unilaterally made the decision to be done with the two Territories. The pig and the caption was authored by a diminutive pocket rocket from the Trobriand Islands.
When Gough Whitlam became Prime Minister of Australia, he saw the sense in Australia letting go of a very difficult country, relinquishing total political responsibility, but remaining fully engaged economically. In other words, Australia can afford to let the black fellas make all the mistakes, it can sit back and jeer, (as it does), see we told you they couldn't make it! What a failure! What shambles they are!
The policy for taking no political responsibility, but having stooges in place in PNG who will listen to Australia, and allow Australia to take advantage of PNG economically, has worked well over the last 37 years. If you look at the trade imbalance, it is lopsided on almost 25-75 in Australia's favor. The capital outflow to Australia is enormous, so enormous that the PNG Central Bank has been told not to release the figures. Of wealth of all the mines and oil and gas fields in PNG, only less than 10% of the real value remains in PNG, 90% goes out of the country, and Australia is one of the main beneficiaries, through resources policies and legislative frameworks designed by Australia, with Australian technical persons employed through Aid and otherwise in the key sectors and Departments to maintain this gravy train for Australia.
After 37 years John Gorton's dream is already a reality in PNG. It is a reality that PNG's wealth has all been soaked up by outsiders. It is left with so many social issues and a growing population to deal with, without the resources to deal with it all.
It is also a time of change. It is a time Australia can no longer treat PNGians as simple minded people that need a benevolent minder. For since Independence, and suffering from lack of man power, PNG has been training its own men and women from some of the best institutions of the world. PNG has had to grow up and take a hold of its own destiny. Even Somare, and other leaders, lowly educated, realized the need for education and training and created the institutions and policies for PNG people to advance and succeed.
Today, where once there were few or no doctors, engineers, lawyers, accountants, welders, mechanics, electricians, pilots, teachers, nurses, etc, we have produced thousands of them- all in a space of 37 years! We have hundreds of PNGians with PhDs, and we have even people who discovered different chemical formulate previously unknown to the periodic tables of the world. We are flying A380s of the world without flinching, providing check and training to Australian British Indian and Arab pilots alike.
The Papua New Guinean has proven in such a short time, that given fair conditions, we will not only survive, but will succeed.
However, it is the unfair conditions that prevail in public perception and in Australian Foreign Policy coming out of the mouths of people like Richard barker that is so odious and so poisonous to truth about PNG.
PNG makes no bones about the fact that it is a country in transition and it has a lot of social issues to take care of. A lot of those issues have to deal with poverty. Poverty that is driven by lack of resources. Lack of resources relate back to the 90% of its wealth going out of the country- not necessarily to corruption, as Richard Barker wants us to believe, although its existence is undeniable. However, seen in proper perspective, PNG will find its way over time. That is the confidence and conviction of every thinking Papua New Guinean.
What is at issue here is the uncomfortable position Australia is in with the increasing awakening of PNG, no longer a naive boy in the woods, and the increasing attention of China, India and other players in the region. John Gorton and Gough Whitlam's policy has run its course. Australia's "Aid as a Hook" policy has also run its course. It is no longer effective to manage PNG, only because it was designed with ulterior motives and for it not to succeed. Under the guise of Aid, Australia has done everything, including designing a school curriculum for PNG called OBE system, used in Aborigine and Torres Strait Islander communities, that condemns their children to ignorance failures backward and dependent on mainstream Australia. PNG has rejected this after achieving over 90% failure rates in all schools.
Richard Barker and the boys have been called in to design a new policy approach in PNG. Its called military take over. But firstly condition the Australian public to accept another money making activity ( like Ramsi) for the commercial benefactors of both the Liberal and Labor parties. Project PNG looks like a good earner.
"Yeah Richo mate can you do a spill to pull the wool? Bloody Oath! Go for it mate!"
Well lets take a look at election failure that Richard is talking about. Firstly for the record, PNG has conducted 6 successful elections in the past despite difficult circumstances. It has never failed an election. However, the difference in these elections, is the overwhelming involvement of Australia in every phase of the elections. The elections have been managed by Australia. Australia has had 500 plus personnel involved in PNG elections. In election preparation, Australia has been heavily involved for the last 6 months, and despite protests by certain politicians that the rolls were not ready, Australia has strongly pushed for it to begin. Cardno Davies, AusAid consultants in the PNG ELECTIONS have been working in the Electoral commissioners office working on common rolls and other logistical issues. They have received and processed all complaints and warnings by candidates of possible problems.
If there is a failure or any problems with the elections, it would be a deliberately designed problem or failure by Australia by deliberate active design or omission.
There is no room in PNG for a Ramsi style operation as Richard Barker contends. PNG is not a case for Ramsi operation. Ramsi is a dismal failure in the Solomon Islands. Its very existence in unconstitutional under Solomon Islands Laws.
The problem with PNG is that many indigenous people still believe in the benevolent Australian father figure, but fail to see Australia for what it really is. Australia has been taking unfair advantage of PNG for far too long. It is about time it earned its money and wealth out of PNG honestly. Its about time Australia treated its largest Pacific neighbor with the respect it deserves. Its about time Australia changes its policy perspective on its indigenous neighbors. After all its own hubris and wealth is from the stolen lands and resources of its indigenous people!
By the way Richard, Australia must find a workable solution from 200 years of policy failure concerning the welfare of its own Indigenous people. Without this, it is ill equipped to deal with other Indigenous people in the region, and it will forever be perceived as only out for what it can get.