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15 November 2018


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Chris Overland

This unexpected transfer of funds is an implicit message for John Momis and Bougainvilleans that any promise of "autonomy" in the forthcoming referendum will be worthless if the province is effectively starved of the funds required to give effect to its decisions.

Putting trust in the word of the current government is like assuming that a crocodile approaching you is merely smiling and obviously harmless.

Lindsay F Bond

Summing up, O'Neill led pack expected the count to be troughed up...err...coughed up for those who side with O'Neill in PNG Parliament chamber. None would want to spoil that party.

Sumting downing flow from trough...err...back-off will roil expect-ants.

Summing then will then tend to drift across the chamber.

Philip Fitzpatrick

One of the tactics that the politicians of Papua New Guinea rely upon is the fallibility and short life span of public memory.

The way it works is fairly simple. When an uncomfortable truth is revealed about their behaviour they resort to bluster and threats and, if that doesn’t work, stalling in the courts until everyone gets bored and forgets about it.

The stalling in the courts is even relied upon as a regular source of income by a whole cadre of lawyers with questionable morals. That income is also usually supplied from the public coffers.

Prime minister Peter O’Neill is a master of this sort of tactical deception. It’s not his invention because there are many precedents for its efficacy but he has refined it to a fine art.

There are a couple of ways by which it can come unstuck.

The first is the pursuit of the issue by statutory bodies set up to monitor such things. Task Force Sweep was one of those.

Peter O’Neill soon realised how dangerous Task Force Sweep was to his nefarious dealings and quickly cut off its funding. In a similar way he has resisted the setting up of an Independent Commission Against Corruption.

That he defunded Task Force Sweep and refuses to advance an anti-corruption commission is like a flashing neon sign telling everyone that this prime minister and his government have a lot to hide.

The second way the tactic can come unstuck is through a conscious effort by the media to pursue anything it perceives as questionable in the way the government behaves.

It is one of the main reasons why any nation claiming to be democratic needs a strong and healthy media sector.

We have many fine examples of brave and dedicated journalists in Australia bringing the government to account. The most recent example was the journalism leading to the banking royal commission.

In the USA, President Trump’s campaign against the media tells us that he has something to hide and, as he pursues it, his credibility is taking a hammering.

In Papua New Guinea the mainstream media has been tamed by the government and the vested interests of business. Strong and brave investigative journalism has ceased to exist.

This is exactly how Peter O’Neill and his cronies want it.

The only place where there is a minor irritant that defies his control is social media. He is happy to let that mostly go however, because he knows that at best social media only reaches about 10% of the population.

Of that 10% a good proportion is represented by his cronies among the elites anyway.

Issues like the inexcusable squandering of public money on the APEC circus while people suffer in poverty without medicines and while schools are closing down and teachers not getting paid will be quickly forgotten.

Nobody is going to set up a Maserati watch to see where those unnecessary and expensive automobiles end up.

No doubt plans are being made to ship them to the driveways of the substantial residences the politicians own in places like Cairns but who is going to follow up that if the media is nobbled and ineffective?

And no doubt there will be many grandiose scams emerging from APEC after the professional talkfesters of the world have departed for the next party.

Peter O’Neill has already hinted at major announcements to be made. More roads to nowhere and more kina of debt no doubt.

Who will monitor these new outrages?

No one, of course. They will just tumble into the far reaches of public memory like everything else.

This switch in the way funding is allocated to the provinces is a classic case of O'Neill realising he cannot control the process and must therefore centralise it.

Its a kind of Waigani/Provinces seesaw that's being going on for years that people have long forgotten about.

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