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03 February 2013

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Yes, Phil, I recognise all of those and plead guilty as it was in general usage at that time.

I also recall playing cricket on the Murray Barracks Oval in the early seventies and having the opposition indigenous wicketkeeper referring to my batting in less than complimentary terms and me as a "white bastard!" I told him to "get stuffed" and kept batting.

Because of the regular usage, no-one appeared to take offence. Or maybe it was just that I was never in a situation anywhere in PNG where offence was taken at my use of words or words were never used with bitterness against me.

The wicketkeeper and I shook hands after the match and had a beer together. And, by the way, he was right about my batting!

Racism is a difficult thing to define. We tend to think of its blatant expression but it can also be very subtle and insidious.

And it is often not based on colour but rather on cultural difference.

With Australians it is sometimes difficult to distinguish from their natural, knockabout openness.

I've always been impressed by the sense of community and shared experience that exists between indigenous and white people in the outback.

I strongly suspect that the heartland of racism in Australia actually lies in the suburbs.

If you're looking for rednecks in Australia try the Sydney north shore or the wastelands of the western suburbs, both seem to exhibit similar views.

Terms like 'boongs' and 'rock apes' were in common usage among Australians in TPNG prior to independence, especially in the highlands.

Slightly less derogatory were the expressions 'oli' (which you still hear in places like the Yacht Club) and "Aki Poivi', a sort of caricature of the Papuans.

These days you also hear what is euphemistically termed 'reverse racism' where 'black bastard' turns into 'white bastard'.

And now the term 'kongkong' has achieved expletive status along the lines of 'mick' and 'wog'.

I've also got a sneaking suspicion that Michael Somare is a racist.

I guess it's just human nature to fear the unfamiliar.

Yes one does become tired of academics, media spinners and ex-urban dwellers who continually lament our "colonial racism and paternalism".

Having worked in both (T)PNG and Australia with the indigenous peoples, I can certainly say that I encountered both racism an paternalism and the worst of it was not in (T)PNG by a long shot.

Australians who sling mud at our past efforts in (T)PNG are certainly "crying stinking fish in their own back yard".

The excesses that occurred in Australia far outweigh anything that happened in (T)PNG

I've just returned from a month in the Sepik. My many friends there realize what a terrible mess the country is in!

The common call I heard in Angoram was, expressed in various Pidgin phrases, but all meaning that the country has gone to the dogs,and when is Australia coming back?

The greatest disservice Australia did to PNG was granting independence in 1975.

Matthias Toliman, Tei Abal, Pita Simogen, and Michael Somare's father, Tom, could all say from the grave, 'we told you so!'

When I get over the 'kus mi kisim', I want to write about what the Sepiks really think about the so-called colonial time, and their present 'elites', who have largely presided over the demise of government services, and enriched themselves and their families - they can go overseas for medical treatment and educate their children in prestigious institutions abroad.

It's about time Australia recognizes the near chaos in its neighbour, and forget about places like Afghanistan!

Excuse me for going on,and my comment might be immaterial as appropriate to Anthony Radford's book, but the colonial period compared with the present PNG situation was utopian!

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