The tumult and the shouting died, the captains and the kings departed, and now the real work begins. The annual general meeting of the Papua New Guinea Association of Australia elected me President today and I’m going to spend the week between now and the first committee meeting next Sunday pondering how to begin implementing an ambitious agenda while protecting the many good things about the Association that must be maintained.
In my pre-election address I committed myself as follows:
First, I want to emphasise fellowship and caring: not only organising social events but also focusing on the needs of senior members of the Association.
Secondly, I feel strongly that the Association should be active in strengthening relationships between the people of Australia and the people of Papua New Guinea. There seems no reason why it should not evolve as the leading civil body to protect and advance such relationships and I see this as a great opportunity for the incoming committee.
Thirdly, it is clear that the communications activities of the Association are integral to its effectiveness. Arguably the publication of Una Voce is our most important continuing function and I would like to see more people working with Andrea Williams and Ross Johnson on this important project. I also believe we can make the Association’s website a more vital channel of continuing communication. And I see a role for the Association in organising talks and seminars on Australia-PNG affairs.
Fourthly, I’d like the Association to play a role in history and scholarship: collecting manuscripts and documents, including those in private collections, recording oral histories and keeping an eye on revisionist historians. Some of you are aware that I’m trying to persuade our Federal politicians to develop the former ASOPA site on Middle Head as a regional centre and as a continuing symbol of Australia’s contribution to PNG. I’d like to see the Association join this challenge.
Finally, the financial, administrative and membership responsibilities of the Association must continue to be managed effectively. One of my goals is to increase the membership of the Association including establishing a corporate membership category to help strengthen our finances.
It’s clear the Association will need to restructure itself in a fundamental way to cope with the weight of these aspirations. I look forward to the task ahead. The vote is in. The mandate is clear. It’s time to get on with it.
Read Keith Jackson's address in full here. Download election_remarks.pdf