BY KEITH JACKSON
WHEN JULIE BISHOP IS SWORN IN as Australia’s foreign minister after the next federal election – the Labor Party having ignored the lifeline offered by Kevin Rudd – let’s hope she and her staff show some real enthusiasm for PNG-Australia relationships at the level of us rank and file citizens.
As readers of PNG Attitude will know, we are in the throes of organising an extended visit to Australia for Martyn Namorong following his appearance at a PNG conference at Deakin University in Melbourne.
Readers have been enthusiastic in their support of what we have termed Martyn’s Take the Truth to Australia tour.
But not so the federal government, from which we have sought a small amount of funding, despite the fact that in the past parliamentary secretary Richard Marles has told me this is just the sort of thing he’d like to encourage – greater interchange between PNG and Australia, that is.
Let me illustrate with this email quote from a factotum in Marles’ parliamentary office:
Your idea certainly sounds interesting - a good opportunity to maximise Martyn's visit to Australia.
But I suspect there may be complications in sourcing extra funds for this proposal, given the AusAID funding being considered for Martyn's presentation at the PNG Symposium is part of a larger AusAID allocation for the PNG Symposium…
Also, securing ad-hoc funding from AusAID in the order of $3,000-4,000 would be difficult, given the much larger amounts the agency normally deals with and the processes involved in allocating AusAID funds.
In saying that, assuming Martyn receives financial support to attend the Symposium, your supplementary program could be added to his existing commitments with Deakin on 12-13 April.
For administrative simplicity, as long as it starts and ends in Melbourne, we could look into delaying his return flight to Port Moresby to enable Martyn to do some extra activities funded by donations.
This could at least de-fray some of the costs of flying him to Australia in the first place.
In other words, the most that can be expected from this arrangement is that Martyn will be permitted to extend his visit to Australia beyond the conference – maybe.
It will be a public relations disaster if he isn’t, I think I can add from the safe position of long professional experience.
Meanwhile Linda Koerner and Jo Chandler in Melbourne, Murray Bladwell in Brisbane and I in Sydney will be organising Martyn’s visits to those cities – and his public and media engagements.
And, if you’re in a position to contribute financially to Martyn’s tour, email me here for further details.