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05 January 2017


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The government could help by making access to info more free, or being more transparent.

In June last year a well known PNG social media power broker sent me an email out of the blue, with a story being run on PNG Loop titled 'Do not report gossip: PM O'Neill' in which O'Neill responded to a report by
Radio New Zealand International that Papua New Guinea's government officers were visiting international financial hubs hoping to raise money on the offshore bond market.

This person didn't even include a message, just sent the story.

In response, I asked their advice on how to get the "correct story". As it happened, the report had already been confirmed to us by the Treasurer Patrick Pruaitch's office, and also the Reserve Bank Governor's office. And news of the bond market efforts was already being run on the likes of Finance Asia.

So if this wasn't really gossip, why was the government upset with RNZI running this report? And why was a social media stooge sending me such an email, like a slithery warning?

I never got my answers, and I never got the correction, despite sending various requests to the top govt comms people.

Now that Mr O'Neill has initiated a new era of glasnost and perestroika in PNG, I assume that the ABC'S Four Corners will be invited to take a long and forensic look at just how Australia' aid funds are being spent?

While the ABC is there, they could also examine the law and order situation in some detail as well.

I suspect that the resultant programs would rival Chris Master's famous program "The Moonlight State" on the corruption and incompetence that ruled in Queensland during the Bjelke Petersen era.

It would be interesting if journalists took a fresh look at PNG in 2017. I'm not sure that Peter O'Neill would like what they find.

Didn't Paul Flanagan and Sean Dorney do just that? Look what happened to them.

Uncontrolled? Nay. Corruption is process and equipping of control, both harnessing and harness.
Increasingly rampant chaotic decadent inefficiency will come back upon they who rein.

Someone whose opinion I value, recently referred to this blog site as being anti-government. That caused me to sit back and review my own input and comments made over many years.

As someone who spent the majority of my working life in what would be seen as government positions I would be horrified to think that that was the message I was perceived as having consistently espoused.

However, as someone who has seen and worked in government positions in both PNG and Australia I can truthfully say I believe in good government and isolating and advertising bad government.

I have gradually come to believe that the only yardstick to measure anything is hindsight. Have government decisions demonstrably worked well or not? If the answer is ‘not’, then why is this so?

My journey through life and with PNG Attitude has taken me through many different stages. As a Kiap, I could see what worked well for the PNG people and what didn’t. The results of actions taken spoke for themselves in an axiomatic manner. Then after a varied career in Australian government positions where I saw both good and bad decisions and actions being made, I felt I had some constructive suggestions to offer for consideration. I did not want to preach but to encourage what I saw as ideas worth considering.

Now if the PNG PM wants ‘foreign’ media to rethink its view of PNG it should behove us all to at least make an effort to do so. Clearly we wouldn’t be constantly interested in contributing to this blog if we weren’t primarily interested in PNG and that nation’s betterment.

As this point, many will now be saying; ‘Oates, say what you want to and stop waffling!’.

It’s undeniably true that many foreign news reports on PNG concentrate on the bizarre and the negative rather than what is good news. However, if PM O’Neill were to listen to our Australian news reports he would find them very similar in content. Most news reports could be summed up as bad news. People seem to have a morbid ability of finding bad news interesting. Good news is no news at all and less it’s the football or cricket scores. Reporters and journalists are encouraged to look for the angles and not just report what they see.

So in deference to PNG’s elected PM, I thought we should listen to what he and his government would use to define good government and how this should be reported in the ‘foreign’ media?

I would naturally expect detailed reports on how PNG was advancing in simple but verifiable terms that most of us could and would understand. Primarily, how PNG has advanced in caring for her people over the last 40 or so years and some clear benchmarks achieved of how life on a broad set of benchmarks is now better.

Similarly, one could expect the PNG PM to establish as a clear indication of his last five years in office, how he has been able to make his people’s lives not only better but establish how and where he has set the goalposts for the future.

In other words, how has his government been good for the PNG people and why?

So it’s over to you PM. What do you believe you have achieved for your country and her people during your time in office and how should we measure these achievements? Please, please forget about the hyperbole and any general and broad sweeping statements. Just the facts and how they measure up.

‘Sorry, we missed the initial points you wanted make. What was that again?’

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