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03 June 2012


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Colin - For the record, the British Empire became a 'Republic' was named 'the Commonwealth', our reigning Monarch is limited, no longer of absolute power, a kind of high Guardian Patron now.

The Democratic Commonwealth Republic was based mostly on 'Common Law' considered as having nominally a Christian based foundation ...not absolutely perfect, but has provided a high achiever for top Individual freedoms over generations for most of its common wealthers' (but not always all, nor did other coloial empires ever had 100% protection for all either!).

A Socialist-Red Republic is based on Athiesm or Marxist religion.

To me the US has a Presidential Republic - still chooses a top Man, but elected - not an inheritance system, lame ducks can occur. Which is better can be quite debatable!

I know which one preferable. Certainly each has its ups & downs.. which has the lowest downs, or the best highs? Which one is best to give ones allegience unto? The one with a more solid/stable foundation of course.

Sadly in PNG we got a trimmed down Westminster system. The GG last year lacked powers to be a real empowered umpire for a sticky time.

I think PNG needs an alloy mix of inheritance rule and democracy to work the best here. Fiji has a good way to elect the GG from the Chiefs' association. I pray we can get some fine tuning done here in PNG.

God Bless everyone in PNG & all supporters afield. Thankyou Queen Elizabeth for your oversight and prayers, God save you.

Peter Kranz - I like your similar analogy! Ceremonies and singsings Pom+Png samesame!

For heavens sake. What in God's name does Elizabeth Mountbatten have to do with this subject of Bob Carr.

Talk about confusing, confusion has now taken over maxima confusion. I suppose dear Pauline Hanson would say "Please Explain"
Anyhow, what I have seen on the TV news (only) is that everything went according to plan. Pity good old Phillip wasn't able to enjoy the whole spectacle. That was a bummer and a pity.

I actually felt very sorry for Liz and she has, even though I am a republican, done a bloody good job. However, she has been trained to the teeth to do so. Will Charlie boy, be able to?

Republics still do belong to the Commonwealth.

Talking about Liz in St. Paul's. I thought there were some pretty relevant things said during the church service, about people "in public service" serving the community, and devoting their whole lives to the good of their country, things often mentioned by the previous GG in PNG, Sir Paulias Matane.

If that concept got through to all PNG (and Australian) politicians and public servants, wow, wouldn't that be great!

Well the ceremony for Liz in St Paul's is pretty amazing. Even Ogio is there. But it strikes me as remarkably similiar to a PNG ceremony - maybe a highlands singsing.

Here we have the chiefs dressed in bilas (complete with bird of paradise feathers), accompanied by tribesman dressed in their best, all accompanied by traditional music.

And then I realised the UK ceremonies are but a copy of PNG rites and traditions.

The Poms may have fancy dresses and cathedrals and old music, but in PNG we have Haus Tamburans, the best bilas in the world and Really Old Music - like 10,000 years old!

I think the Poms are just copying PNG.

Francis - You are right to feel uneasy. 'Poverty' is a loose term thrown around by Westerners. Definitions and meanings are a nasty weapon - often used to promote an interest.

Don't let them control your language.

Sometimes the 'poorest' people are the richest.

(And please don't call me Mr.)

(Nogut mi tok 'Sir Francis'.)

Francis - Perhaps you have a good point. While PNG may not have a high per capita income in monetary terms the social capital indicators would be far ahead of many so called western countries.

Mekim save wantok!

Poverty is an ambiguous terminology. In terms of statistics it would be correct but still in question.

I don't trust most western-based indicators. I may be rude but I found such statement made by Carr including others uneasy.

Thanks, Mr Kranz.

Harry - PNGians' relationship to the UK Royals is indeed a strange phenomenon.

In, I think 2006, Princess Anne visited PNG. The streets were locked down, there were around 100,000 locals lining the roads, and even the kids down the road at 2 Mile were waving union jacks. Bands played, soldiers marched, crowds cheered.

I must admit that the Poms like the Kiwis have a far more relaxed attitude to PNG than the Australians and maybe are more respected because of it.

And in theory I'm a republican!

And note - more UK Royals have visited PNG since independence than Australian Premiers.

Says something, I think.

Peter - Dead right on Liz's party. The Poms really know how to throw a party. What a class act.

Makes their old US cousins in Hollywood's efforts to produce spectaculars look like a kiddies party .

And Francis - who is a 'foreigner'?

A Kerowagi in Gembogl? An Engan in Simbu? A Morobean in NCD? A Chinese in Hagen? A white man in PNG? Or a US President making comments about Iraq?

Francis - I believe this characterisation is based on statistics of average per capita income compared to other countries.

This is currently estimated to be around $2,200 p.a. for PNG. By contrast for Australia it's around $38,100.

Per capita inmcome is calculated by taking a measure of all sources of income in the country and dividing it by the total population.

Sure it doesn't match projections of State income from gas/mineral projects, or the wealth of the few percent of the rich elite - which says something about how uneven wealth distribution is (eg. how can the deputy PM put K30 million into the election campaign?)

I hope the average PNG voter will draw conclusions about this disparity and vote accordingly in the forthcoming elections.

Why do most foreigners characterise PNG as a poor nation?

Honestly, I don't like this tag. Use appropriate diplomatic terminologies.

Keith, you sure hit it right on the head. A sinecure of a position enabling extra pay, bigger Canberra office, more travel allowances, bigger and more costly staff.

And when we read how "unimpressed" young Martyn was with Richard Marles and his knowledge of PNG situations,
then one must shake his/her head in amazement.

Ah, the wonders of the politics and bureaucracy of Canberra. Not that Canberra is a "shag on a rock" in this department.

Surely a senior diplomat in the Foreign Affairs department with advice from sensible Pacific islanders from the "grass roots", could be employed or those of Australian background who have lived in these
Pacific Island countries to advise.

Young Martyn comes to mind, as do a couple of other PNG resident correspondents.

What now we have in Canberra and other capitals in senior positions probably wouldn't be able to point to a world map and locate PNG.

Trevor - Unless Bob is flying back after his Burma visit, from Yangon (ex-Rangoon) to Fiji, he won't be able to look out any plane window and see PNG.

I think the responsibility for "Pacific Islands" nations, comes under the domain of Richard Marles, who in turn reports to Bob Carr.

Bob is responsible for everything foreign. Marles has a tiny slice of the action relating to the Pacific but has no power to act unilaterally and is dependent upon Carr. Such is the somewhat meaningless life of a parliamentary secretary - KJ

I see that Bob Carr is going to Burma on 6 June in spite of the Australian government's Smart Traveller website advising travellers to exercise a high degree of caution - indeed they recommend one not go.

Burma has strict rules preventing anyone from criticising the government or even taking photos: so what does Bob hope to achieve?

He's not flying over Papua New Guinea so won't be able to look out the window to bring himself up to date.

Come on Bob PNG is not dangerous like Burma and is of much more concern to Australians than Burma.

We must not tell PNGns how to run their own country but a visit to determine how Australia can assist would be desirable.

Maybe when you visit Fiji you will be able to look out the window but knowing our luck it will be cloudy and you won't see anything.

Well you can forgive us (adopted) Poms for getting a bit teary about Liz's diamond jubilee river procession.

It is pretty fantastic.

And we did spot a PNG flag being carried on one of the cadet boats, and on the fire barge.

PNGians are some of the strongest monarchists I have met - I don't really know why, but my good PNG Newcastle friends are now glued to the screen wiping tears from their eyes.

Bloody hell - give me strength!

How much does a Logohu cost these days - just asking?

Don't know about today, but in 1915 logohu (bird of paradise) plumes cost $32 an ounce - the same as the price of gold - KJ

Keith - You have got me intrigued. When did the lads in Canberra agree to the date of official handover?

I cannot recall anyone publicising that forthcoming event and telling their counterparts in PNG of their decision.
By 1972 that were still offering six years contact extensions so was in the know so to speak.

I know not, but the Coalition certainly did not oppose it. Indeed Peacock has named PNG independence as one of the highlights of his career in politics (even though he was in opposition at the time) and was later awarded the Order of Logohu by the PNG government (as was Whitlam) - KJ

Let's be realistic about Bob Carr. He doesn't give a stuff about PNG.

The only thing Bob Carr is interested in, just like his predecessor, is mixing it with the big boys so he can line up a lucrative sinecure when Gillard comes crashing to the ground next year.

Ignore Carr and Marles and their egos and, for better or worse, turn to Bishop. She'll screw it up too but there may be some gains to be made before that happens.

Interesting comments. If foreign minister Bob Carr finds this all confusing, so do the rest of us.

Trevor Freestone has made good points re a Bob Carr visit, but don't count on this to be forthcoming.

Harry Topham: Yep Harry, it was a Cook's Tour by Julia Bishop.

Should be interesting to know what the GG of PNG has to say when he has his private audience with the Queen for the Diamond Jubilee celebrations on present affairs. I dare say, she will also join the queue of "head scratchers"!

Crikey, some of you are hard to please. In her two visits to PNG Julie Bishop has managed to get as far afield as Bougainville and the Southern Highlands. Last I looked Cooks' Tours did neither - KJ

Keith - Sorry mate but I was there in Rabaul when Gough visited and I overhead his comments in addresses given which certainly were not bipartisan in nature.

No, despite tempted, I won't go there any further as the gentleman concerned is still alive.

Not what I wrote, Harry. I said there was bipartisanship in the decision regarding the timing of independence. Whitlam and Peacock (Fraser) saw eye to eye on that. I too was in Rabaul around the time you were there and know the vituperation with which Whitlam's words of 1969 were received. But that was not my reference point - KJ

Sorry Barbara. I don't see that a joint committee of Australian and PNG representatives will come up with any better solutions to the current imbroglio.

That is unless those who may be co-opted from other than a PNG background understand Melanesian customs and requirements.

Australian or overseas so called 'experts' are often blinded by their own experiences, culture and lofty training in areas like the law that they are unable see the trees and myopically keep talking about the microscopic consistency of the wood.

PNG has its own Constitutional Review committee of highly regarded people. While this committee might choose to draw upon whoever they might think could assist them, the Committee should be respected and permitted to get on with expediting their recommendations.

Hopefully, the next PNG Parliament will then be allowed to debate the Committee's proposals in due course.

Excellent comments, Trevor and Paul. Bob Carr was always known for his "spin".

With the coming PNG election, hopefully of lots of new members of parliament, here is a golden opportunity for him to do something more than spruik "spin", something really helpful to set PNG on a better path.

There are obviously many Australians who have worked in PNG in times past, who have kept up with PNG since it became independent, and who could advise the Australian foreign minister about PNG affairs, especially what has been going wrong with the parliament, the constitution etc.

Australia could offer to pay for a joint committee of people from PNG and Australia to investigate all the constitutional problems in PNG since mid-2011.

They could then submit their findings on possible changes to the way the country should be run,to the new parliament.

Many people in PNG still look on Australia as their "mother" country (sorry if I have said any "motherhood" statements, Paul) and would accept Australians on such a committee as helpers.

It is obvious that the PNG top lawyers and PNG politicians need to get together more and work together more to solve all the problems that have arisen in how the country is governed.

Maybe they could also help us solve the problems that have arisen in a "hung parliament"!

Paul - Maybe all that old Bob needs to do is sit down and have a cuppa and a chat with Auntie Julie Bishop, after all she has been there albeit in a somewhat Cooks Tour manner but at least she shows an interest in the country.

Nothing wrong with a bit of a bipartisan approach on this issue if the players can for a moment put away the score card.

But then again maybe not as no one likes sharing anymore as I recall that Old Gough when in opposition did not take a bipartisan approach when he visited PNG all those years ago.

But there was an important bipartisanship in Australia over the question of independence for PNG in 1975 - KJ

Our current Foreign Minister needs to doff his bifocals and don a pair of genuine fake Bolles and he might then see what is happening and be somewhat less ‘confused’.

Looked at in a rather more simplistic way, PNG is merely experiencing Melanesian culture trying to cope with a political system that does not fit the requirements of the situation.

When Somare and his cartel were in power, they handed out the goodies to their supporters (i.e. ‘big man’ custom).

When it looked like Somare couldn’t return to power, a new ‘Big Man’ had to be found who would continue the process.

When Somare returned, those who had deserted him then knew if they split from their new leader, they would be unlikely to return to the Somare fold unscathed and there was little possibility of the good old days returning.

When you don’t have the support of a nationwide political party, any discipline, loyalty or honesty is impossible to maintain. When you have a plethora of political parties and factions and, um, ‘nominal independents’, support will naturally be attracted by the most lucrative offer.

Hmmm… Mr Carr, for some reason that scenario seems strangely familiar to many in Australia at the moment.

The essence of the problem is that the system of government and the structure of the PNG Parliament is not attuned to Melanesian customs.

In addition, the ameliorated Westminster model created at Independence by Somare, Guise, etc. presumably never imagined that the Speaker of the House could and would manipulate his position and power or his acting position of Governor General to suit himself.

Note I say ‘ameliorated’ since the PNG model is not the same as is in Australia or Britain.

Australia’s Head of State, the Governor General, is far more removed from Parliament and theoretically, party politics.

Therein lies the nub of the problem. PNG’s Parliamentary model has been proven to be unsound in practice as a Westminster system when the Speaker has the power to refuse to open Parliament, close down effective debate, and to control who is PM when acting GG.

The current system is therefore effectively proven to be unstable and open to personal whim and potential corruption.

Those currently tasked with recommending a better system need to urgently go back to the drawing board. Those like Mr Carr ‘on the outside looking in’, just need to get better advisers.

If Bob Carr really wants to become aware of the whole situation in all of PNG he needs to spend a lot of time there. So far he cannot be bothered settling instead for second hand limited information.

Bob go to PNG. This is your job which we are paying for. Don't just visit The main centres. Go out and meet the villagers who are doing it tough. They will tell you what is wrong and suggest how Australia can help.

Go and see how these huge money generating resource mining and logging companies have failed miserably in helping the villagers who actually own the land these companies have plundered.

You should take someone like Martyn Namorong to be your interpreter, someone who understands the hurt that is occurring in the rural areas, someone who understands the extent of the corruption that occurs amongst a few people. Someone who understands PNG.

A few don'ts. Don't travel by road in many places as the roads have been neglected; don't rely on the electrical supply to recharge your mobile phones; don't get sick and go to a hospital and expect the same level of care as you would find in Canberra.

Don't wear dark sun glasses as you need to see what is really happening in the rural areas; and finally don't talk to some TV stations as they find reporting on Bali drug smugglers far more important news than anything happening in PNG. Have a good trip.

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