“The PNG Government is taking steps to fight corruption and I look forward to discussing progress in this area with Minister [Kerenga] Kua, including PNG’s progress to establish an Independent Commission Against Corruption,” Mr Keenan [pictured, pick the deliberate error] said.
The visit follows hard on the heels of what has been termed “a lecture” by Australia’s foreign minister Julie Bishop on corruption and lack of development in PNG.
Ms Bishop, slammed the PNG government claiming corruption is rife and lamenting the country’s backward slide on the Millennium Development Goals.
Anonymous blog PNG Exposed said this “would be fine, were it not an act of complete policy schizophrenia. Because, while the Australian Foreign Minister tut-tuts at PNG, her government – and those before it – pursue an economic agenda in PNG that fosters corruption and undermines community-led, sustainable ‘development’.”
PNG Exposed went on to say: “What’s more ‘aid’ is a key weapon employed by Australia to engineer economic arrangements in PNG it says will alleviate ‘poverty’, but which in reality have fostered corruption, a growing criminal economy, epic land grabs, a bloated extractive industry, lunar landscapes, and a decade long war.”
PNG’s relationship with Australia appears to have entered a new and more fragile state since the election of the Abbott government.
There are growing signs of Australia’s intolerance for corruption in PNG as was seen in the slashing of $38 million in funds to PNG after the government awarded a tender to Borneo Pacific Pharmaceuticals in what many people saw as a shady decision.
Justice minister Keenan said his visit, which comes just a fortnight after Ms Bishop’s first ministerial visit to PNG, will “reinforce Australia’s priorities in supporting PNG’s initiatives that improve law and justice conditions and the broader social environment.”
One of the key issues seems certain to be the laundering of corrupt PNG funds through the Australian banking system and property markets.
PNG Exposed wrote: “In reality [PNG] has built a fictitious economy resting on the rents generated by a bloated extractive industry; facilitated a black trade in land and forestry resources; and allowed a national elite, embedded in illegal enterprises, to consolidate their power and wealth-base, creating a stranglehold on the top jobs in government.
“And then what happens when our honourable leaders park their ill-gotten gains in the Queensland economy, to the cheers of real estate agents? It falls on deaf ears in Australia.”
Meanwhile, Barbara Short reports that a video has been produced on the PNG “fake medicines” scandal and she is calling upon friends of Papua New Guinea to distribute it through the internet.
“This video would be worth putting on the blog,” she writes. “It is well put together.” I suggest you watch this video and send it on to everyone you know who is online."