BY TREVOR FREESTONE
Trevor Freestone, who believes in backing up his views on Australia’s PNG relationship with action, has just written this letter to Australia’s prime minister Julia Gillard
ON A RECENT VISIT TO WATABUNG in the mountains of the Eastern Highlands Province I was very concerned with the living conditions in the rural villages.
The Papua New Guinea government has ignored the living conditions of its rural communities in spite of the resource boom.
AusAID also seems to have taken very little interest in the rural villages. I believe aid money should be directed towards rural communities who have little or no chance to better their conditions due to their very low or non-existent incomes.
As children receive an education they tend to gravitate towards the towns looking for work. Some find it but many don't.
Due to the poor living conditions in the villages they are reluctant to return. If living conditions were better they probably would return and live a much better life than the one they find in the towns living in poverty with no income.
My question is, now that we have a new foreign minister how does the government believe our aid money to PNG should be used?
Do you intend to direct AusAID to take a greater interest in rural communities to encourage a more balanced society thus avoiding many of the problems one currently finds in the towns.
To be an elderly citizen living in poverty in a village without clean drinking water, sanitation or easy access to healthcare should be unacceptable.
These very people were the ones who stood by us in our hour of need as neighbours and deserve better.
Please think carefully on how AusAID can help these rural villagers.
PNG Attitude will report on the prime minister’s response