PAUL OATES’ RECENT ARTICLE, What should Australia do? What can Australia do?, serves to highlight the conundrum faced by Papua New Guinea and Australia.
It seems the socio-cultural disposition of our nation (certainly at a political level) is to deflect blame towards Australia for any failings incurred post-independence.
Whether it be the implementation of the failed Westminster system and its unsuitability to PNG’s social dynamics or the ineffectual aid programs that seem to haemorrhage funds at a great rate (with little or no return), it is apparent, through the eyes of many Papua New Guineans, that Australia offers nothing of real substance.
Conversely, there exists a continued call for Australia to intervene. Surely any additional assistance or intervention by Australia would essentially end in criticism and inadvertently help perpetuate a cycle that would inevitably see a return to the status quo – that is, a systemic failure of whatever was introduced with PNG again pointing the finger at the former colonial master.
The blame-game thrives as we attempt to identify the culprit responsible for PNG’s current state.
Australia cannot be blamed for mass corruption and misappropriation of our nation’s resources.
Nor can tribalism, as I know of no ethnic group within our country that actively promotes fraudulent acts as values one must possess in order to exist or succeed.
The ‘Melanesian Way’ is all too often used to deflect blame in a weak attempt to mask our own misgivings and incompetence.
Neither Australia nor tribalism is responsible for PNG’s current state. The true driver of corruption in its purest form is greed – nothing more, nothing less. Modern day corruption manifested through greed has no respect for tribal boundaries.
As Paul Oates succinctly states, ‘The impetus for that change must come from PNG.’
This will serve to guarantee that an organic solution is delivered, and ensure accountability rests solely on the shoulders of our leaders, removing the option of blaming Australia, which in turn serves to absolve PNG of responsibility.
Rest assured, any system introduced to or nurtured from within PNG, no matter how robust or agile, will be able to withstand an individual’s blatant intent to continuously defraud or circumvent it, in an attempt to benefit either themself or their cronies.
DSIP [district improvement] grants or free education, although relatively sound in concept, fail to deliver the intended benefits because people in positions of authority, manipulate the system for their own gain: Lae City roads, the Gumine-Karamui road and the deplorable state of the health system are examples of this.
Sadly it is the educated elite who conspire to defraud the general public of what is rightfully theirs whilst lacking the political will or conviction to inspire change.
They essentially practice politics without principle whilst achieving wealth without work (ironically two of Gandhi’s seven dangers to human virtue).
Too much thought is dedicated towards identifying complex solutions. As simple people, we Papua New Guineans respond to simple concepts. Keep it simple – enforce the rule of law in every facet of our society (political landscape included) to guarantee an individual’s security and inevitably public order will follow. It is upon this essential foundation that PNG’s future must be built.