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20 April 2017


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Thanks for your response Paul. Please note I said "controlled mechanism" with regard to medications.

Thank you Dr Christie for more insight into the problem.

Yet even the tendering and supply and distribution of pharmaceuticals has recently been corrupted by the Minister and his senior Departmental staff, actively supported by the PM no less.

I wonder what would happen if all those responsible public servants actually had an anti corruption unit that would quickly and successfully prosecute all fraud and corruption that they see happening every day? Once an firm example is set, the house of cards will inevitably collapse yet who will start the process?

The inevitable problem is that who will 'finger' those responsible when they may be a 'wantok' or they are offered a piece of the action to keep them quiet?

Having grown up and trained as a medical officer in PNG and worked with the Health Dept. in senior roles from 1973 - 1984 and then coming back to PNG in 1994 as an AusAID funded adviser (Team Leader) for a ten year period, let me say that it is soul destroying work. Individual, well trained and motivated PNG health workers are battling to achieve change as corruption gains greater prominence and acceptance. PNG health workers are quite capable of taking advice; indeed are eager to receive help but have no sustainable mechanism to implement the advice. Technical assistance in the form of advisers should be abandoned until there is a sustainable platform for implementation of their assistance. Better to put the funding into the purchase and distribution of medications that are efficacious through a controlled mechanism. At least hospitals, heath centres and aid posts etc would be able to function without the chronic cry of "no gat marasin".

When will everyone be prepared to recognise what the actual problem is?

Will Self's comment highlights the issue. More 'advisers' only leads to more expenditure for even less gain. The current aid system is simply not working. Tinkering with a broken system won't change the system.

Are the PNG political leaders too proud or too vain not to acknowledge this fact? Are those contributing the so called aid unable to accept the obvious?

Until everyone on both sides are prepared to recognise the actual issue there will be no solution since external 'band' aids can't fix the internal hemorrhage.

The answer lies in proactive leadership on either side of the Torres Strait. The problem is that the solution is clearly unpalatable in both Canberra and Waigani.

Until both sides are prepared to recognise the problem they will continue to try and bail out the sinking boat using thimbles. Sure each thimble maybe possibly be useful in what it was designed to do but is clearly and totally useless in fixing the overall problem.

Perhaps the millions of aid money being wasted each year should in fact be initially diverted to buying spectacles of the right variety and gratuitously donate these to the responsible political leaders involved?

Husat dokta em inap lo tok stret lo displa 'marasin'? Husat lida em inap lo harim displa toksave, daunim sem bilo en na wokabaut lo nupla rot?

The best advice ever given to AusAID was from Mal Smith.

"We don't need any more f....g advisers. Buy them a house in Sydney and leave them there.

"Don't you think that if we had public servants capable of taking advice we would not be in the position we are?"

I've always thought that if you've got a leaky pipe you employ a plumber. If you need a genealogy done for an ILG you employ an anthropologist.

These people are essentially trades people and they deal in 'technical' matters.

The last thing you want to do is put them in charge of anything.

If PNG has a problem with a particularly tricky leaky pipe and hasn't got a technician to fix it they can employ someone from overseas to (a) fix it and (b) train one of their own people to do it in case the problem crops up again.

That to me is the essence of 'technical assistance'.

It certainly doesn't relate to things like policy development. That's something PNG can do by itself without outside help.

Like you Peter, I can't see how any 'tinkering' with the old aid adviser model will in any real way change anything or improve the desired results.

Therein lies the real issue. What are the desired results and in whose eyes?

What PM O'Neill's dictum really meant was that he had no use for any aid adviser that didn't toe his line (read: do it his way or else!)

It should go without saying that if PNG employees are standing back and letting overseas staff do the work then the problem lies with the supervision of PNG staff all the way up to the supposedly responsible Minister and not with the overseas advisers who apparently are trying to make a difference. Clearly that aspect wasn't the PM's area of concern?

So what's the answer? We keep repeating to quote attributed to Einstein: "To keep doing something that you know doesn't work is a stupidity"... or something along those lines.

I suppose it is the cynic in me, that Paul Oates spoke about in an earlier blog that motivates me here.

I cannot however see why any sort of "technical assistance" is going to do any good whatsoever in a political system which has degenerated to such a state.

Provided you have the numbers on the floor of parliament, it appears they can be made up of citizens found guilty of electoral fraud and that you can flout ad infinitum any law or conventions.

This is an ideological and cultural problem and can only be remedied by the citizens themselves, perhaps, dare I say it, in the Pacific Way that Fiji seems to have done so? Unless we have a latter day Lee Kuan Yew lurking behind the dusty curtains of Waigani.

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