PNG ATTITUDE first appeared (under the masthead ASOPA People) in February 2006 and its mission soon evolved to be the creation of a dialogue between Papua New Guineans and Australians who were interested in the well-being of Australia’s former colony.
Over its 10 years of publication it has not only presented news, information and commentary but offered insights into the colonial period and PNG's history and heritage; all of this material preserved in the archives of the National Library of Australia.
The blog also has brought together people separated by distance and time, encouraged the emergence of many new PNG writers, provided funding for a host of worthy causes in PNG and, most eminent of all, innovated, incubated and driven forward the Crocodile Prize national literary contest in collaboration with author and ex-kiap Phil Fitzpatrick.
The Crocodile Prize has now evolved as a PNG entity and we will see what becomes of it.
We’ve achieved all this – and probably more – in a spirit of mutual respect and cooperation, critical only of institutions, authorities and individuals who have adopted untruth, incompetence, hypocrisy or corruption as their modus vivendi.
There are a number of reasons why I believe this is the right time for PNG Attitude to be allowed to reach its terminus. I am 10 years older and 10 years more weary; a process which is gathering pace.
PNG Attitude has occupied much of my waking life, often to the abandonment of other important or pleasurable things; and a rebalancing is in order.
And Papua New Guinea has changed. Under Michael Somare it was far from perfect but 10 years later its leadership is venal. In 2006, social media was in its infancy and Papua New Guineans lacked a public voice. That is not the case today.
Now it is necessary for middle class Papua New Guineans to pivot their disappointment, frustration and anger into tangible, protracted and coherent action. So far this has not been evident. Perhaps the corrupting of the Big Man culture has diluted a sense of purpose.
And, while the middle class fails to organise and act, so the leaders will continue to misbehave and fail to deliver and we will continue to see a great people – a wonderful almost magical tribal people - held back. The Papua New Guinean people do not deserve this.
To the outsider, especially those of us who have known and loved PNG, this is incredibly, almost unbearably, disappointing.
I feel I’ve done my bit. From a naïve, excited, enthusiastic 18 year old making my first PNG landfall to a wiser, beaten up, pragmatic 70 year old, ready to pull up stumps.
It’s been an intensely intriguing and often exciting journey. Our contributors and readers, to whom I am very grateful, have made it so much better.
The final edition of PNG Attitude will be published some time in February, so keep those articles, stories and poems flowing until then.