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14 April 2010


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Keith, your third point (or 'real big issue' that you say has been avoided)) concerns the 'failure of resources to get to the grassroots'.

But the 'talk fest' (as you describe it) includes a discussion of the 'informal sector'. Isn't that where the 'grassroots' people make their living?

This segment of the program will present a draft national policy for the 'informal economy' that, if adopted by Government, would for the first time in PNG history set out a systematic approach to raising the productivity of grassroots economic activities outside the boundaries of the 'formal' economy. Part of that approach surely must include a genuine attempt to get resources down to the grass roots.

Why don't you suspend your disbelief for a bit and get on down to Lowy and find out what it's all about?

Fair point, John. But I'll wait to see the results. I'll also wait to see whether the other significant contextual issues I mentioned are addressed.

Fortunately Michael Baume will be there, fully primed to ask some tough questions - KJ

This is an excellent article Keith and I think, in my humble opinion, you have correctly identified many of the crucial issues facing PNG in your list of eight points.

Clearly Australia has put PNG in the too hard basket and is happy to just pour hundreds of millions of tax payers dollars down the drain each year while waiting for something to happen (and of course this keeps any army of Australian consultants very happy too)

But, the critical question is surely not what can be done to make Australia more responsible (just look an aboriginal issues or asylum seekers and you realise that is pretty futile anyway), but what can responsible PNG citizens (the vast majority) and their friends overseas do to address the issues themselves.

If the people can move then the Australian government will tag along in the end and surely better that the dog wags the tail rather than the other way around?

Keith you're rocking. Keep it going. Full support.

Keith - Could you please inform those in charge of the event (not including cocktails and finger food) that at least five mothers have died in child birth in PNG due to a lack of midwives and rural medical services and another six children under the age of five years have also died of curable diseases.

AusAID should contemplate whether their money would be better spent improving health or at least to provide some basics rather than on huge consultant fees.

Note your points Keith and will offer some general comments soon for discussion here.

I go along with Paul's suggestion about airing the issues debated on some of the good current affairs program like the 7:30 Report, 4 Corners, Asia/Pacific Focus.

Easier said than done, Reg. What Papua New Guineans need to know is that PNG rates very low on the Australian league table of issues.

What 'PNG Attitude' is trying to do, both through this website and other activitiey I will share with readers soon, is to push PNG higher up that league table, so Australia will take notice. And will care.

The Australian media report on what Australians want to consume by way of information. You don't get a story up and running just by asking for it to be published. Except on 'PNG Attitude', of course - KJ

Reg and Paul, my esteemed comrades in arms who have such an unquenchable thirst for knowledge, show understandable concern that we should stay in close touch with the Lowy Institute forum.

I'm sure my good friend and former Senator, Michael Baume, who also writes for the Australian Financial Review, will provide me (and therefore all of us) with a full report on proceedings.

But don't expect too many conceptual breakthroughs.

Ordinarily I would agree with you, Keith, but as Reg suggests, if all we stand back in disgust and do nothing, can we expect any change to occur in the status quo.

Your suggested topics are spot on and deserve to be addressed by the Institute rather than the high level waffle that is being proposed.

Is it not possible that some reader with some sort of influence might actually point this out to those who are funding this talkfest?

Maybe you could conduct a survey of PNG Attitude readers and forward it directly to those who aught to know? Maybe highlight an e mail address that people could respond directly to the Institute with their, er, thoughts?

What about suggesting the issues be debated and broadcast in PNG as well as Australia? If it isn't possible to get any changes to the program, perhaps the 7.30 Report, might be prepared to run a report contrasting the 'real issues' with those being presented by the Institute? They have to be topical enough surely?

Let's try and grab the steering wheel and give it a hard yank in the right direction?

Keith, you're so right to tell your learned mate that you will be wasting your time, but are you still going to attend? You might miss something from the AusAid mob.

These talk fests are all the same. All speakers will say more or less the same things in so many different ways. This is just to give the impression that what is being said is a new matter, but is really regugitating the old. I have attended many AusAid presentations before and they are so full of themselves.

They like to impress PNGeans (no it makes us quiet resentful in being patronized) in the audience telling all and sundry gathered there that with AusAid millions spent in PNG, they contribute much to its development; but avoid saying anything on the efficacy of the whole program or how it could be better improved in future. More money is not the answer!

There is a big problem looming with the LNG and other outstanding things on PM Somare's plate . PNG is now a failing state and will be a basket case soon unless something is done to prevent it. AusAid is part of the problem for many years and it must come up with a solution.

Can this planned talk fest come up with some possible solutions in the big question Keith asks his readers here: "What's Australia doing about this?"

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