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01 March 2014


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Overland-I have relatives at Choiseul and it is that feeling I am putting it out in this piece. For me as a Bougainvillean, listening to my relatives and island south, east and west of south Bougainville coasts, we are one since time immemorial. Read book, Bougainville, before the conflict and the early chapters is dedicated to the Solomon Islands as a whole; reading all these we feel pain. Books about Bougainville and arriving in Bougainville today is changing our ways of looking at Solomon Islands and PNG.

Wow, Leonard, you are giving voice to a profoundly non-politically correct idea, being the creation of a nation where citizenship is determined by ethnicity or, specifically in this case, by skin colour.

Expressing such an idea in most of the world is usually howled down pretty smartly. We have laws in Australia, whereby it is unlawful to express ideas that may merely cause offense to someone of another ethnicity or colour.

PNG Attitude could conceivably be censured for even publishing your poem on the basis that someone, somewhere, might be offended.

Still, it doesn't mean that the sentiments expressed aren't understandable in a certain context, nor does it mean that the Republic of the Northern Solomons is not at least theoretically feasible.

You might have a spot of bother with the PNG government though!

Australia's current Racial Discrimination Act makes it unlawful "to insult, humiliate, offend or intimidate another person or group in public on the basis of their race". While the Roka poem may be politically incorrect, and its central idea unpalatable to many people, it offers a personal, introspective idea of separateness rather than an externalised threat to others. Offence would have to be implied by a sensitive other and my own experience before the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal some years ago (where the radio station I managed was accused of 'causing offence') suggests that this is an insufficient ground for an allegation to be upheld - KJ

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