SOME PAPUA NEW GUINEANS have taken offence to the recent article by Geoffrey Barker in The Australian Financial Review, calling for Australia to intervene in Papua New Guinea.
The article feeds into the stereotype that PNG is a failed state. On the other hand, some Papua New Guineans have used the article to fuel the stereotype that Australia is this nasty neo-colonialist trying to destroy PNG.
The problem with both sides is that it is usually the elite that has the vested interest.
The Papua New Guinean elite has rightly accused Australian private companies of profiteering from the so-called aid funds that would flow from Australia as a result of an intervention.
The Papua New Guinean elite, however, has a vested interest in being in power and would not want to be subordinated by Australian consultants.
And it is these two money-hungry, power-hungry groups on both sides of the Torres Strait that mess up relations between our two countries.
At the political level, folks like Somare, Namah, Marles, Carr, Howard, Downer, etc have not acted constructively.
But there are also good people on both sides who want to build a mutually beneficial relationship. That has been the case since the Kokoda Campaign during World War II.
In recent times we've seen Kevin Rudd cutting the crap out of the air conditioned corridor aid workers living at Fort Shitscared - the Australian compound in Port Moresby.
We've also seen Julie Bishop, Shadow Foreign Affairs spokeswoman, call on the Australian government to ease visa restrictions.
So is PNG a failed state? No it is not!
Does PNG have problems? Yes we do!
When I was recently in Brisbane, I helped Rotarians pack two containers of medical equipment and supplies for Madang and Kokopo.
The most poignant moment for me was seeing birth kits being packed for mothers in remote areas of Madang Province.
PNG has very high maternal mortality rates and the Rotarians in Queensland understood something that both the Australian elite who oversee aid to PNG, and the PNG elite who steal and run down the country, do not.
The well being of any nation is determined by how well it takes care of its women.
Women take care of men and children, so if a child or man is vulnerable they get supported by women. But if women are vulnerable; who takes care of them?
PNG's high levels of violence against women and high maternal mortality indicate a broken society that Australia cannot fix. It is really up to Papua New Guineans to deal with the reality of life in Papua New Guinea or be like Belden Namah blaming Australians.
It's time to move on from the colonial past and dust of the cultural baggage of big men egos that prevent the elite from accepting criticism for their incompetence and hinder the shaping of a future for this nation of ours.
The article in The Australian Financial Review reflects badly on Australian aid to PNG and highlights the profit motive of those companies hoping to make a killing out of Australian taxpayers’ money. By the same token it also highlights the failures of those who have run this country over the past 37 years.
Like the people of Pomio who protested by refusing to vote, many Papua New Guineans couldn't care less if Bob Carr were to carry out his threat to impose sanctions.
Both the Australian and Papua New Guinean governments have failed the Australian taxpayers and the resource owners of PNG. A lot of tax revenue has gone down the sewer.
Demonising Australia won't get us anywhere, nor will further Australian intervention be any good.
When Australia handed back sovereignty to the indigenous nations of PNG in 1975, it left behind power structures that allowed the elite and their families to prosper at the expense of the rural majority.
Australia and the Papua New Guinean elites must accept that they both are part of the problem and as such power must be transferred back to the province, districts and tribes.
There are a few of us who see the Darkness of the Neon Lights that the Constitutional Planning Committee saw in 1974.
Many of the Committee's predictions are now coming to pass. Dame Carol Kidu has called for Constitutional reforms and I join her in that call for a redistribution of wealth and power in Papua New Guinea.
What these Constitutional reforms mean is that we as a nation pick ourselves up from the ruins: dust off the past, and move forward as a people confident of our place in the global community and hopeful of a bright future for our people.