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« The Kitoro | Main | PNG is not Pasifika – we are not so much of the ocean »

11 April 2019

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Paul Oates

Good heavens. Has Mr Marape been reading this blog today and decided to take precipitate action?

Paul Oates

Everyone who is involved with this dilemma has a fair idea what the problem is. It has increasingly developed into the classic gunfighter scenario of 'who blinks first?'

European nations sorted this out some time ago by legislating that natural resources in and on the ground belong to the State. The income or royalties then are distributed to the rightful owners via government services.

There are other methods of establishing ownership of natural resources however. In the USA, landowners can directly benefit but then pay tax on the revenue.

The real issue is what comes first? The revenue stream or the process of determining who gets the loot? In this case, the loot has arrived before the process was formally sorted out and agreed. Greed has then raised its head in no small way.

The inevitable result is that political leaders are prone to keep putting off the inevitable dispute while ever they can in order not to get caught up in the inevitable fracas.

The longer that battle goes on, the worse it will get and the more confused it will get. Disputes like this can lead and have led to civil war.

It is impossible to deal coherently with a mob. All that leads to is mob rule and disaster. Representatives of each claimant need to meet and agree on a solution yet in PNG politics, who will accept an agreement that everyone personally has not shared a part of?

Even if there is a PNG traditional talk-fest, would those who take part agree beforehand, to accept a consensus? With potential millions on the table (or in the proverbial bank account), money for jam appears too good a prize to let go of any part of it. Prestige and standing is just as important as the eventual prize.

The classic issue of traditional PNG consensus versus representative leadership is one that will be continuously played out until PNG finds her own way through this morass. I'm surprised some haven't yet thought about blaming Australia for not changing the PNG customs when it had potentially the chance?

When visiting India a few years ago we were told that India's traffic chaos was entirely due to the British who designed the roads and roundabouts. That is true but the designs were done to suit horse drawn traffic and over a century before modern road users had to be considered.

No one ever said governing a nation was ever going to be easy. The real problem is that so far, the belligerents have been played off against each other. If real leadership actually arises and is able to promise believable results, lookout the rest of the country. There won't be any stopping the movement once it begins.

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