BY KEITH JACKSON
And he will be reflecting on the calibre of some of the leading Australian political figures he met; being particularly unimpressed by parliamentary secretary for Pacific island affairs, Richard Marles MP.
Take the Truth to Australia was planned as an opportunity for a young Papua New Guinean intellectual to provide Australians with a somewhat different perspective of PNG than they may have been accustomed to previously.
A first-hand view of how the situation looks from the streets and from the villages.
Generally, Martyn’s messages fell on fertile ground.
The messages that Australia must do better for PNG in the area of more precisely targeting aid, reviewing how Australian resources companies operate, trying to understand Melanesian culture and identity, and ensuring that the people-to-people relationship works more productively.
Martyn was impressed by the interest shown in PNG amongst the politicians they met, as well as being somewhat surprised of the ignorance of PNG issues shown by a number of them, even by some members of the prestigious foreign affairs sub-committee.
This speaks of the failure of people like parliamentary secretary Marles to communicate more effectively, even to members of Parliament, about the strategic importance of the Australia-PNG relationship.
And the fact that foreign minister Bob Carr has yet to make his first foray to our nearest neighbour amplifies the “benign neglect” that Martyn Namorong wrote of in last week’s eloquent and stirring article in the Melbourne Age.
Early this morning Martyn 'tweeted' short grabs of his impressions of some of the political meetings he had yesterday. A couple of his comments are scathing:
I hope Bob Carr's advisor [Ed Vrkic] got the message I conveyed. No excuses for future stuff-ups.
Got great gifts [of support] from Senators Bob Brown and Anne McEwen.
Will never forget Alan Griffin MP; got real practical advice. Thanks dude.
Julie Bishop has certainly done a good job understanding PNG but she still has gaps.
If you thought John Howard was bad for Melanesia, try talking to Richard Marles.
Wherever he has gone on this tour, Martyn has spoken with elegance and intelligence about the real PNG. And because he is not a diplomat or politician and did not have to adopt weasel words, he could 'tell the truth' about the real situation on the ground.
This has been both a refreshing advocacy and a required realism.
In every one of his 10 or so radio and television interviews, he has given his audience clear insights into PNG as it really is.
Martyn is in Brisbane until he returns home on Sunday – more meetings, more speeches and more media.
He's been rather too busy to undertake any serious writing in the last little while – and, like you I expect, I eagerly wait to read in more detail his views of Australia and the people he met here.
But I think we can get a taste of what is to come from these brief notes on Facebook:
I have never felt so much responsibility my entire life. I have had to present to our colonial power the story of a people whose 50,000 year history has predominantly been one of an independent sovereign people....
Australians think PNG is a problematic place because they want to understand PNG from a western perspective.
Once you try to make them understand PNG from a Melanesian perspective they become defensive of their western world view and switch to 'patronising mode'.
An appropriate response for a Melanesian is to remind Australians that their western model of development has largely been a failure throughout Melanesia.
If you want to meet Martyn in Brisbane there will be an opportunity to do so informally on Friday from 3pm at the Sherwood Services Club, Corinda, near the railway station. Call Murray Bladwell on 0413 057 673