IT IS regarded as a bit impolite to say so, but Papua New Guinea is an almost, if not entirely, broken state.
Almost broken in the sense that, partly thanks to us, it has never really made it successfully to statehood. Corruption remains a big problem and a direct problem for us in terms of our aid budget.
PNG is by far our biggest aid recipient and the handouts increased significantly as a result of the deal struck in 2013 - but regularly updated – to have PNG host an offshore detention centre for asylum seekers on our behalf on Manus Island.
Everything is always connected to everything in this world so just think about how Manus Island has distorted our relationship with PNG in the past three years, and curbed our capacity to influence events there, or demand answers about how our aid dollars were being spent.
When things went bad on Manus, various ministers would announce in barely coded language that they would be starting regular, even monthly, meetings with their PNG counterparts.
The subtext was that heads would be knocked together, pressure applied etc etc.
But the reality, conceded privately, was that every time Australia went to PNG in an official capacity and wanted something, the hands would come out for some more money.
Extract from ‘America’s earthquake has reshaped all our debates’ by Laura Tingle, political editor of the Australian Financial Review, 18 November 2016. (Full article available only if you buy the newspaper, as I did - KJ)