Stuff you need to know about PNG Attitude
One of the main bits of stuff you should know is that some of the views expressed in PNG Attitude may be shared by the publisher whereas others he finds off beam or just plain silly. The bottom line is we publish material that is reasonably well written and well argued whether we agree with it or not. That, after all, is what freedom of expression is all about.
PNG Attitude was established to address a major issue: the silence that, for too long after PNG Independence in 1975, existed between ordinary Papua New Guineans and ordinary Australians.
The politicians still talked, the business people still traded, the missionaries still preached, but rank and file citizens - people like us - didn't much communicate with each other.
And this was after we’d spent 40 or 50 years thrown together by the winds of colonialism – a period during which many of us got to know each other very well indeed.
That post-Independence silence denied what was a great friendship and a close relationship.
The purpose of PNG Attitude is to play a small part in ensuring that the silence is replaced by a mutual conversation between the people of our two countries.
To a large extent we have managed to address this challenge. Just read our columns to find out how.
PNG Attitude is committed to strengthening the people-to-people relationship between Papua New Guineans and Australians. That's it.
It does not seek to impose a world view or ideology on its readers. Its simple aim is to provide a forum in which people interested in the PNG–Australia relationship can exchange opinions, stories, ideas, methods, hopes, recipes, whatever.
We want Papua New Guineans to know that there are many Australians who are not unmindful or insensitive of their concerns and issues. We want Australians to get to know Papua New Guineans better.
PNG Attitude provides a link, however flimsy, between two close neighbours.
PNG Attitude is motivated by your support and the thought that we may be able to do some good.
Our bias is towards Papua New Guinea and especially towards its people. We believe the PNG government should be doing better for its people. Much better. We believe the Australian government should be doing better for PNG. Much better
PNG Attitude is not a material entity. It is mainly information. If you gave PNG Attitude a shovel, it could not dig a hole. If you gave it an SP, it could not drink it. But, that said, it does do some good works.
Activities like The Crocodile Prize national literary contest, mentoring promising writers, providing charitable support, bringing long-separated people together and events promotion lend a practical aspect to our role.
But our primary function is te exposition of words and ideas - the provision and exchange of information and opinion - and using these to maintain a relationship.
Do not expect PNG Attitude to solve many problems. But it will raise them, debate them and it will espouse answers (the vast majority of which it cannot effect, even if they are half sensible).
Amongst our readers are many people in positions where they can achieve things. But most of us are on the sidelines. That said, each of us is vital to the task. As John Milton put it, 'They also serve who only stand and wait'.
ASOPA is the acronym of the Australian School of Pacific Administration, which you can read more about in Attitude Extra.
The original website occupied by this space and begun in February 2006 was called ASOPA People, a historical connection retained in our website address as http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people
ASOPA People was established to commemorate and keep alive the traditions and comradeship of ASOPA, an institution which trained many young Australians to pursue careers in Papua and in New Guinea when both were Australian territories.
PNG Attitude is not a formal organisation. It is one publisher, a hundred and more contributors and about ten thousand readers. PNG Attitude doesn’t do meetings. There’s no annual report. No one gets paid. No one’s ordered around. We just get on with it.
People read us because they want to, access us without charge and contribute when they feel like it. We are fortunate to have many experienced and talented contributors who regularly share their views and insights.
PNG Attitude is published from the editor’s computers at his office on the Sunshine Coast of Queensland, Australia. The view from his window is of blue sky and Pandanus palms.
You can contribute to either of these sections of PNG Attitude.
Main Page. If you have a story, article or poem on a subject related to the purpose of PNG Attitude you can submit it for publication (email the editor here.)
Recent Comments. The best comments are short and to the point. Insert them directly into the website by clicking on the Comments link at the end of each article. All comments are mediated by the editor before publication.
PNG Attitude not only welcomes your contributions, it depends on them to maintain a lively, relevant and informed website.
But there are some rules. (There are always rules.)
Rule 1 is that, when it comes to publishable material, the editor’s word is final. If you do not like your words being edited, this is not the place for you.
Most contributions are edited. Why? Because it is a simple truth that people who write are not always the best judges of how their words will be understood by people who read.
Nor are most people familiar with the laws of defamation. And people sometimes mistake their strongly held beliefs for more general truths. And they do not always fully comprehend the effect of their words on others.
That said, PNG Attitude admires its contributors. We are deeply grateful for their knowledge, commitment and passion. And we are humbled because they give a damn. They care. They have our unending gratitude.
Your contribution to PNG Attitude may be edited for any one or a combination of these reasons:
Defamation. We use the defamation laws of Australia as our guide when deciding whether or not a contributor may have gone too far with personal criticism of another person. You always need to be careful when accusing someone of a crime or of poor character. But, if you’re not careful, we’ll be careful for you.
Offence. Abusive language, racist remarks and other words designed to hurt, generate excessive conflict or cause unreasonable offence to other people are not tolerated and will always be edited. We encourage the expression of strong opinions, but we want contributors to be fair in presenting them.
Length. The average reader spends about three minutes reading PNG Attitude each visit. All our editing is done from the perspective of this typical reader. We do want people to read what you write, not give up halfway. Therefore, contributions which are so long they make an excessive demand on readers will probably be trimmed - unless they are very important or so well written they are a sheer delight to read.
Clarity. If you’re not thinking clearly, it’s unlikely your words will emerge clearly on the page. Big words are not necessarily good words. Long sentences do not triumph over short sentences. Five ideas in one paragraph do not get a special prize. If we do not think you are communicating clearly, we will do our best through editing to try to make sure you do.
Relevance. Some contributors, eager to grind their pet axes wherever they can, think just because they mention ‘Papua New Guinea’ somewhere in their writing that they have attained the state of grace known as ‘relevance’. They haven’t.
Truth. If we believe that a statement may be untrue or non-factual, we will attempt to establish the facts and vary your contribution accordingly.
Spelling, grammar and punctuation. If errors in these departments detract from the content of what you have written, or inadvertently make you look foolish, we will correct them.
Repetition. Is boring and will be eliminated.
We believe, in general, that it is better to have matters out in the open where they can be addressed rather than lurking in the dark as shabby untruths that people may believe because they know no better.
By nature the publisher is not a censorial person. But PNG Attitude will protect its own position and reputation by eliminating defamatory remarks and words that provide great offence. While we do try to retain remnants of defamatory and offensive articles, contributors should not test our patience too much.
If we believe a contributor is abusing the privilege of reaching an audience through this website, or is in some other way undermining the integrity of what we do, it is possible this person may be electronically ‘blocked’ from accessing the site. This has happened only twice in our nine year history.
We discourage the use of pseudonyms (false names), initials, first names without last names and pen names (e.g., ‘Concerned Mother’), and may reject your contribution in such cases. Any contribution with a false email address will be deleted upon detection.
There are some cases where people are legitimately concerned that the publication of their name may endanger them or in some other way be a threat to them. In such cases, you should let the editor know the circumstances and your case will be treated with great consideration.
Sometimes people use false names to cover up disinformation (which by its nature is unethical) or to avoid disclosing the true motives of people or organisations which may have a vested interest or a conflict of interest.
False names may also be used as a shield behind which people who do not want to be associated with their own views for whatever reason feel they can launch cowardly attacks on others without detection. In all such cases, we will delete your contribution.
PNG Attitude treats each case on its merits. But a credible, believable and persuasive contribution will almost invariably appear under the real name of its author.
Let us know if you wish to use a 'pen name', and provide us with your real name and email to show us you are well intentioned. We will not disclose your name if there may be some real threat to you in doing so.
Readers do not generally object to conflict (after all, the mass media thrive on it), but in PNG Attitude we draw a line at that point where conflict becomes personal and turns readers off instead of switching them on.
Sometimes a public forum represents a tempting way to lash out at someone you dislike or whose opinions you despise. On these occasions we scrutinise how views are expressed and, if legitimate criticism turns to abuse, the offending words will be removed.
PNG Attitude adopts a general view that comment is free but facts are sacred. So we do not necessarily edit misconceived comment, unless it is likely to mislead to the extent that harm may ensue. Let’s face it, eccentric views do exist and they do have a right to be expressed.
It is always the case in public discourse that wrong and unfair things are said and that sometimes villains are elevated and good people traduced. This is not something of which we approve and we will always use our judgement to determine whether a particular view offers fair comment or is unfair and needs to be moderated.
Given the professed intention of PNG Attitude to build stronger links between our two countries, it is proper for readers to ask why we often take a critical view of PNG's political leadership and of Australian policy towards Papua New Guinea.
We have no particular axe to grind with individual politicians. But we are deeply concerned with how ordinary people are affected by the decisions and actions of politicians and public servants.
We support entrepreneurship, but we have no truck with business people who exploit or harm ordinary people in the name of free enterprise.
What PNG Attitude can do, and will increasingly do as its readership grows, is to influence people to do the right thing. This necessarily means that, from time to time, we will be critical.
We are especially critical of corruption, which is an unfortunate part of life in PNG and which harms and denies the rights of ordinary people.
Let's be blunt about it, plagiarism (that is, taking someone else's ideas or words and claiming them as your own) is a pretty low act. It's no better than stealing, really.
Plagiarism is bad at any time but becomes of crucial importance where something hangs on the result: like stealing someone else's words and submitting them to the Crocodile Prize literary contest. Where we detect plagiarism, it is exposed. Thankfully, we have had very few cases.
This document will be added to and amended from time to time. Please feel free to comment on it or suggest ideas that may improve or augment it in an email to the publisher.
Updated October 2013
Updated January 2015