This afternoon, having won an election with a commendable level of political organisation and strategic understanding, O’Neill was elected 94 votes to 12 in his own right as prime minister. Absent was the taint of a job deviously obtained and a parliament fragmented by internecine strife.
As new beginnings go, this is a promising one.
O’Neill has forged a coalition of considerable strength and he has shown that, in pursuing and attaining group leadership, coolness and reasonableness are more potent traits that aggression and volatility.
On the opposition benches sit Belden Namah and his men; Namah with time to reflect on whether boisterousness and threat are worth perpetuating if he is ever to realise his goal of leading Papua New Guinea.
I can’t help but feel that, despite the many flaws of the election just past, we have witnessed a new maturity and sense of proportion in the way Papua New Guinea has assembled its new government.
Much of the credit for this must be given to O’Neill but, as I have mentioned previously in PNG Attitude, when you see the calibre of so many of the new members of this parliament, you see a new breed of politician emerging.
This new generation certainly owes something to clan and tribal loyalties, but it also reveals a strong connection to experience in the world beyond – to education, career and interaction with modernity.
From this group of men and women, O’Neill has a wonderful opportunity to put together a ministry of talent and past attainment.
Sure, he will have to pay attention to the political composition of a complex coalition – such is the case in most governments these days – but the chance of great change is there.
There are some rogues who will need to be kept in check, and maybe even brought to book, and this will be a test, but overall this government looks like a very good one indeed.
The people of Papua New Guinea have done well in this election. We all know they deserve better in the future. Let’s hope the promise of this new group of politicians can be delivered.