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10 December 2012


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G'day David,

em nau poroman.

Perhaps the value of this new approach (regardless of how out of touch it might seem) would be that we in PNG are actually shamed into looking for workable solutions for ourselves.

It is a shame when our friends feel a need to come in and perform basic governance roles which we are very capable of performing ourselves.

Why can’t we have a PNG solution for our ongoing service delivery problems?

Here’s a wild idea to stimulate some thinking from the PNG side. Every college and university graduate should perform mandatory community service for a token salary at the district/provincial levels for at least two years after graduating before they are free to pursue their personal lives.

This should ensure our graduates get some real hands on experience of performing certain tasks and also reinvigorate the tired old public service machinery with the infusion of youthfulness, energy, enthusiasm and new ideas.

Of course this would require that the government takes care of everyone's cost of education up to university/college levels.

Nearly two years ago, I amongst I assume many others, made submissions on how to ensure Australia’s overseas aid actually got down to the kunai roots to help PNG people.

These were genuine suggestions that proposed practical alternatives rather than continuing to pay for a host of out of touch academics and high priced bureaucrats who produced unworkable and nebulous reports that only helped contribute to the ongoing ‘boomerang aid’ debacle.

A quotation in that report from the Development Policy blog at the time says it all:

“AusAID does not have an overarching strategy on implementing the aid effectiveness agenda and has not clarified how to report against aid effectiveness principles. It needs a strategy for reporting that sets out benchmarks and targets for country and regional programs in terms of aid effectiveness principles.”

Rabaul MP, Dr Allan Marat has declared Rabaul District a 'no go' zone for Australian advisers. If they are appointed to our district we will not co-operate with them he is reported to have said.

The PNG government, Dr Marat said, should first establish which districts are not performing and determine a strategy for improvement.

If this depth of feeling and resentment is evident elsewhere, it makes a mockery of any efforts by Australia to help our PNG friends.

Why oh why don't these AusAID people who are responsible for coming up with these ideas, first discuss these initiatives with those who are affected and run the ideas past those who may well have more practical experience of what may work?

Clearly the answer is incompetency. The problem is that neither PNG nor Australia benefits yet the aid money keeps rolling in while Australia's standing with PNG suffers.

Calling Mr Carr and Mr Marles.... Hello, is anyone listening?

Well said Paul. The new program needs careful planning, considering all factors as stated and implement it may be in 2014.

Go for it Paul, I think you are the only one who knows what you are talking about. 80 bloody pages eh?

I think the interest would be finished by page 3 at the most.
One can but hope that the present crop of politicans in the PNG parliament, their administrative office staff etc read very carefully and thoroughly your 8 steps for implementation.

I will take great interest in Bob Carr's generous gift and what happens to it.

I just wish some people who write in this blog would stop blaming Australia and look in their own backyard first.

As you say Paul, that is a very and unnecessarily complex document.

It must have taken the boffins in AusAID quite a while to put it together - although I suppose they've got hundreds of similar ones to pinch bits from.

They must have been working on it long before the ministerial forum was held. I wonder whether they spoke to anyone in PNG while they were cobbling it together.

It sounds to me that the "program" is another AusAID fait accompli foisted onto PNG.

Probably best to scrap it and get someone with a bit of nous to redo it properly.

I know some very good and dedicated District Administrators. I'm sure they will be appalled when this is dropped into their laps.

If someone offered me a job as one of the 89 advisors I'd run a mile.

Agree with everything you said Paul.

This initiative raises a lot more questions than answers, a lot more problems than solutions.

By the look of your very pertinent questions, we might end up managing the answers to these set of questions than actually effecting any sort of change on the ground.

Why can't the PNG government put its feet down and start dealing with its own delivery machinery - the PNG public service? If our own machinery has lost its mandate to be servants of the public, then deal with that problem.

There are many hardworking and honest public servants out there. And on the same token, there are some who are plain lazy and corrupt too. Deal with them!

Deal with their capacity issues too. Perhaps start restructuring the public servants' remuneration with a view to attracting good people from the private sector.

An interesting and challenging proposal - the real intent of which is?

Forget the 'soft' intents - is it to get more bang for the buck of foreign aid and rate performance against some KPI set and limit that to Australian aid, as one would be hard pressed to see Australians being accepted as 'judges' of aid provided by other countries.

Is it to mentor/teach/influence the local governance members, is it to 'support' the PNG National Government's effort to 'improve' society - the real riding instructions aka 'the orders' or the 'mission' to successful applicants will make very interesting study as will their achievements over time.

Given that the appeal to accept a position is going to determine the numbers of potential applicants, and their quality [that is their potential to deliver results consistently over time] and that some training / acclimatisation / familarisation / development will be necessary: one can reasonably forecast a need for some formal structure to achieve these necessary and essential entry skills to the positions.

The real question is where and by whom - have the appointees trained in isolation in Australia: not a good idea - have the appointees trained in country: better idea - who are the training staff is the next question?

A great deal of preparatory work looms ahead - one trusts that the Australian government through its various specialist agencies has the integrative ability to link with the PNG government and achieve the necessary building blocks for what should be a worthwhile and mutually productive iniative.

My experience is limited to Asia and India in the health area and experience taught me that maturity, patience, knowledge, communication skills, modesty, personal courage and a clear objective are the essentials for success in an advisory role working with local authorities.

Good luck.

As usual, the devil is in the detail. I wonder did any Minister actually read and understand this drivel (below)?

I defy anyone to read, or try to read, this document and clearly and easily enunciate who has the authority to do what?

The diagram on page 51 about management arrangements have more arrows in it that Gen. George Custer had in him at the end of the Battle of Little Big Horn.

Provincial and Local-Level Governments Program - AusAID


The document virtually ensures another dismal AusAID failure due to defused responsibility and lack of any clear accountability for performance.

If the current system doesn’t deliver and allows a publicly acknowledged 50% of the PNG annual budget to be lost to corruption, exactly how will any ‘adviser’ have the power to ensure this problem is corrected?

Of course there’s provision for some wonderful meetings that may allow some of those who attend them the impression they are actually doing something worthwhile and at the same time, gain a warm inner glow from their ‘contribution’.

Regrettably, that warm glow will never actually reach the ‘coal face’.

Any document that requires more than 2 pages to clearly set out a strategy and plan of action is obviously mere window dressing by those who clearly don’t have any idea of what needs to be done or how to do it.

Over 80 pages of confused motherhood statements and obfuscated ineptitude has obviously been necessary to justify the author's salaries and ongoing employment of their supervisors.

I agree with all you have said, Paul.

How are these advisors going to be trained so they will know how to give advise and have the right advise to give? What is the "right advice"?

Will the district administrators take much notice of them?

It is quite possible that the district administrators may be highly trained academically, have grown up in the local area, and have lots of ideas of their own on how the province should be run.

The Australian ministers sound a bit arrogant. I guess it is all up to Sir Puka Temu to see that all these possible problems are solved.

We in Wau had a volunteer town planner who got kudos for drawing up a town plan locating the new hotel in an area adjoining a deep barat.

One way to get rid of staggering drunks, I suppose, and it was quite close to the police station.

Are we going to get experienced personnel ar personnel getting experience?

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