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The PNG solution: Australia through Indonesian eyes

Australia goes to polls 7 September; PNG on agenda

MADELEINE COOREY | AFP | Extracts

Kevin-ruddAUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER Kevin Rudd has named 7 September as election day, hoping to complete a stunning political comeback by keeping his centre-left Labor Party in power three years after it ousted him.

Kicking off an election campaign set to focus on the economy and a decision to send asylum-seekers to Papua New Guinea and Nauru, Rudd met Governor General Quentin Bryce in Canberra to pave the way for the polls.

"It's on. A few moments ago I saw the governor-general and asked that she dissolve this parliament and call the federal election for September 7," Rudd said in an email to Labor supporters.

Rudd became prime minister for a second time in late June when Labor members of parliament voted to remove the nation's first woman leader, Julia Gillard, in favour of the former diplomat in hopes of saving the party from catastrophic electoral defeat.

Since then, he has introduced changes to asylum-seeker policy to refuse those arriving on unauthorised boats residency in Australia. Rudd has also made plans to scrap an unpopular carbon tax in favour of an emissions trading scheme.

"This election will be about who the Australian people trust to best lead them through the difficult new economic challenges which now lie ahead," Rudd told a press conference in Canberra.

"New challenges brought about by the end of the China resources boom. The boom of course has fuelled so much of this nation's wealth. That boom is over.

"This election will also be about who the Australian people trust to steer our economy through the great economic transition that therefore lies ahead.

"If, as a nation, we fail to manage this transition well, it will hurt the jobs and living standard of all Australians."

Comments

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Frank K Daosak

I agree David, today's newspaper headlines to legalise a 'wrong' decision by Pato and mob, and the ease with which they seemingly will no doubt have the constitution amended, is very alarming indeed.

Why would they want to change the law if their deal is the legally correct one in the first place..sounds like the 2011 Oneil/Nama days all over again....

David Kitchnoge

Rimbik Pato said to bring Constitutional changes for Parliament's approval to shield the AS deal from any legal and constitutional challenges.

He is seemingly doing this to shut out the Oppositions reinstituted legal challenge on this deal whic I think was struck out by the courts on the basis of a procedural error and not on lack of substance.

I have two problems with Pato's move: (1) he is using the highest decision making body on the land to score cheap political points without addressing the merits of the Opposition's desent, and (2)the ease with which our Constitution can be changed at the behest of politicians and their foreign friends with very little debate.

This democracy is turning into a mobocrazy!

Steven Gimbo

David Kitchnoge, I feel the same too! PNG has always been bullied and shoved, and yet our leaders bend over for them. I think Somare was the better PM in terms of our relation with Australia!

Peter Kranz

Carr and Bishop were in a debate tonight at the Lowy Institute. It was fair and well-mannered - in fact you could hardly pick up a policy difference between them.

But tellingly, Papua New Guinea only featured once, and was not the subject of any controversy. In fact both sides seem to be in agreement with the PNG resettlement policy.

There was no debate about the merits of this, and no consideration of the PNG or the asylum-seeker perspective, and no questions about this.

Which reinforces my belief that both sides of the major political parties in Australia sadly take PNG for granted.

David Kitchnoge

I'm feeling terribly cold towards the Aussies at the moment.

Rudd's so called "PNG Solution" has terribly rocked my boat. I've never felt this much hurt before.

I know it takes two to tango and our PM gave his consent to the deal. But the manner in which it was snuck up on us and enforced in record time is unacceptable to say the least. We feel terribly cheated.

I don't care anymore now about what happens to Australia and its politics. If there was a war tomorrow and Australia was attacked, I'd fold my arms and simply watch in amusement as a mere spectator.

Peter Kranz

What seems to have received little notice but will have a direct effect on PNG people wishing to visit Australia, is that the Government's pre-election economic statement issued on Friday includes the provision -

"Another rise in visa application charges to generate $540 million over four years;"

So what will the cost of, say, a tourist visa now be for PNG citizens? $300?, $400? (around K1,000) per application? (And you lose this if your application is rejected).

The same statement also unveiled the cost of the “PNG Solution”, expected to cost $632 million over four years, including nearly $200 million in capital to expand Manus Island. In addition, PNG will also receive an additional $420 million in aid over four years, primarily in health, law and order and education.

Peter Kranz

Perhaps PNG Attitude could ask representative of the major parties to outline their positions on PNG - eg, the Manus detention centre, resettlement of asylum-seekers, the impact of this on PNG people, and aid priorities.

Hopefully to spark an honest debate between PNGians and Australians, not just the usual spin.

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