Aussie MP "Australia has not done enough to help PNG"

Aussie MP "Australia has not done enough to help PNG"

wantokboi
wantokboi

March 21st, 2006, 1:16 am #1

From: PostCourier Focus

New South Wales State Member of Parliament Charlie Lynn, who has been a regular traveller to Papua New Guinea since 1979, has written a submission to the Australian Federal Senate Committee on Seasonal Contract Labour from the Pacific Region calling for a rethink of the present Australian Government policy on this matter. Here is an edited version of that submission.

Re-think on ‘labour’ issue

Background
I first went to Papua New Guinea in 1979 on a mission with the Australian Army. Since 1991, I have been leading groups across the Kokoda Trail and have established a foundation to have the track proclaimed as a national memorial park. We are working with the World Wide Fund for Nature in Papua New Guinea, the University of Technology Sydney, the PNG Tourism Promotion Authority and the Kokoda Track Authority to develop a model of sustainable tourism for Papua New Guinea. As a Member of the New South Wales Parliament, I have elected to use my Commonwealth Parliamentary Association research entitlement on our relationship with Papua New Guinea. I have travelled to Port Moresby, Goroka, Lae and Madang as part of my research and have held numerous meetings with ministers, members, departmental secretaries, provincial and local level government representatives and numerous clan leaders and landowners. There is no doubt that we have made serious mistakes in our relationship with Papua New Guinea since independence was granted in 1975. There is also no doubt they are a very difficult people to “help” given the complexities of their “wantok” system and their adherence to “the Melanesian way”. I doubt that we will ever understand these complexities and we certainly will not solve them in our lifetime. What we can do, however, is to begin to workshop ideas that allow us to better understand each other; to develop pilot programs based on educational-economic partnerships; to develop political partnerships to administer our aid budgets and to develop long term leadership programs for leaders yet to be born. “Given the youth bulge in most island nations, the issue of employment generation will become increasingly urgent in the Pacific in coming decades and there is growing discussion about the potential to address it through greater international labour mobility. “The pressing need to find jobs for Pacific Island workers coincides with the emergence of gaps in the labour force of developed nations. In countries like Australia, lower birth rates, the ageing demographic profile, increased personal wealth, the provision of social welfare, sustained economic growth, low unemployment and higher levels of education have combined to reduce the supply of workers who are available (or willing) to undertake physically demanding labour for relatively low pay. This has opened up the debate about the potential for temporary employment schemes for Pacific Islanders to work in overseas labour markets, particularly in seasonal pursuits in agriculture.

Preamble
The Senate inquiry into seasonal labour from the Pacific region is a welcome initiative. However, the terms of reference seem to be limited because they do not address the impact of labour mobility on our relationship with our Melanesian neighbours in the Pacific region. These nations comprise the island chain from Timor in the north-west through West Papua, Papua New Guinea, Nauru, Vanuatu, Kiribati, the Solomons and Fiji have been referred to as our arc of instability.

It is certainly our international area of responsibility
Recent reports from the Centre of Independent Studies, the Menzies Research Centre and the Australian Strategic Policy Institute have traced our historical ties with each of these nation states and the impact of our withdrawal from anything smacking of neo-colonialism in the 1970s. More ominously they have highlighted the failure of our aid policies over the decades since they were granted independence from their colonial administrators. Those with expertise in the region warn of catastrophic consequences for Australia and the island nation states if the impending crisis is not arrested. This realisation has led to our direct intervention in Timor and The Solomons, a change in our aid policy from a “magic pudding” concept to a “tied-aid” policy formula, a more forthright role in the Pacific Forum and the implementation of an Enhanced Co-operation Program (ECP) for Papua New Guinea. Our relationship with Papua New Guinea is particularly important given our historical links as a colonial administrator, wartime ally, fellow Commonwealth member and closest neighbour. More recently the threat of terrorism, the sharing of a border with Indonesia, the impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, crime and widespread corruption has led to many commentators issuing dire warnings about its future.

White Australia — Black Melanesia
During a meeting with a senior minister in the current PNG Government in Port Moresby, I asked how Papua New Guineans were treated whenever they applied for a visa to come to Australia. “Like lepers!” was the candid response. This issue is one that bites deepest in our relationships with PNG. Over the years I have heard Australians complain of their “treatment” when they arrive in Britain as visitors. They claim there seems to be no special recognition for us as a former colony, wartime ally, trading partner and fellow Commonwealth member. Many of those aggrieved by this treatment have become vocal proponents of the call for an Australian republic. So it is with PNG. Many see Australians as disinterested visitors who travel to PNG, participate in meetings, join a conducted tour, perhaps visit a village, offer some patronising advice — then leave! A review of the number of times Australian politicians have chosen PNG as a destination for their overseas study trips over the past decade would be a good indicator of our dinkum level of interest in the country. Australia has reciprocal arrangements for working holiday visas with Belgium, Canada, Cyprus, Denmark, Eire, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Korea, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Taiwan, and the United Kingdom. But none with PNG. As a Commonwealth nation, young people from PNG are eligible for working holiday visas in the United Kingdom under the Commonwealth Working Holiday Scheme — but not in Australia. When an Australian travels to PNG for a visit they stand in a line at Port Moresby airport, get their passport stamped and immediately obtain a visa. When a PNG citizen applies for a visa they have to fill out a comprehensive application form, provide bank guarantees and detailed itineraries. If they live outside Port Moresby (as 87 per cent of the population do), it becomes even more complex and can involve multiple trips from remote mountain villages to the Australian High Commission in Port Moresby due to acts of bureaucratic bastardary. On January 30, 2005, the Sydney Sun-Herald reported that the shortage of seasonal labour for fruit and vegetable picking was so chronic that the Sunraysia Mallee Economic Development Board is planning to import 10,000 Chinese temporary workers. Eighty-five per cent of PNG citizens live in rural areas on a subsistence basis. They have been harvesting fruit and vegetables for generations over thousands of years.

Labour Mobility in the Pacific
A research paper titled
“Labour mobility in the Pacific: creating seasonal work programs in Australia” and presented to the Globalisation, Governance and the Pacific Islands conference at the Australian National University (October 25-27, 2005) is deserving of special consideration by the Senate Committee. Authors Nic Maclellan and Peter Meares address the issues of remittances, Pacific development, modelling of seasonal work schemes in Australia and the requirements for effective seasonal workers schemes. The paper notes that in its 2003 inquiry on Australia’s relations with the region, the Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee received numerous submissions suggesting schemes to bring workers from the Pacific and recommended “a pilot program to allow for labour to be sourced from the region for seasonal work in Australia”. In its formal reply to the Senate report, the Australian Government simply “noted” the recommendations for a pilot study, adding a one line response: “Australia has traditionally not supported programs to bring low skilled seasonal workers to Australia.’’Maclellan and Mares conclude that the obstacles to such a scheme are political and bureaucratic. I believe it reflects an appalling lack of understanding and empathy with Papua New Guinea; a lack of political will to address the issue and a deep seated racial bias against Papua New Guineans in the bowels of the Canberra bureaucracy. The paper examines the political and bureaucratic objections to seasonal labour schemes and relates them to Canada’s seasonal agricultural workers program and their experience with the issues concerning regulation, labour rights and social impacts which would have to be addressed in Australia if seasonal work schemes were to operate “without evoking memories of blackbirding”.

Village – Farm Relationships
One of the major concerns in Australia is the fear of seasonal workers overstaying their visa’s. This would be ameliorated by the development of a disciplined program in partnership with Papua New Guinea to ensure participants are carefully selected, medically screened and that they undergo some in-country pre-employment training. They should also be assisted in establishing a system to ensure there is a saving element with their remittances and that an appropriate amount is directed to their family.A long-term strategy to develop partnerships between village areas in Papua New Guinea and farming communities in Australia would also have mutual benefits. If Papua New Guinea seasonal workers know they will be able to return the following year for work, it will remove any incentive for them to overstay. Training would also be an integral component in any such scheme. This would involve pre-embarkation training in Papua New Guinea and vocational/on-job training in Australia.

Conclusion
Australian policy makers cannot ignore the dire warnings in recent reports regarding our relationship with our Melanesian neighbours who form the “arc of instability” to our immediate north. This is our international area of responsibility.

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lewa
lewa

March 21st, 2006, 2:06 am #2

geez, could the article be long enough and anyway...what about what we could do for ourselves? forget about foreign help...we have to elp ourselves before anyone else can help us.
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Mauswara
Mauswara

March 21st, 2006, 2:10 am #3

From: PostCourier Focus

New South Wales State Member of Parliament Charlie Lynn, who has been a regular traveller to Papua New Guinea since 1979, has written a submission to the Australian Federal Senate Committee on Seasonal Contract Labour from the Pacific Region calling for a rethink of the present Australian Government policy on this matter. Here is an edited version of that submission.

Re-think on ‘labour’ issue

Background
I first went to Papua New Guinea in 1979 on a mission with the Australian Army. Since 1991, I have been leading groups across the Kokoda Trail and have established a foundation to have the track proclaimed as a national memorial park. We are working with the World Wide Fund for Nature in Papua New Guinea, the University of Technology Sydney, the PNG Tourism Promotion Authority and the Kokoda Track Authority to develop a model of sustainable tourism for Papua New Guinea. As a Member of the New South Wales Parliament, I have elected to use my Commonwealth Parliamentary Association research entitlement on our relationship with Papua New Guinea. I have travelled to Port Moresby, Goroka, Lae and Madang as part of my research and have held numerous meetings with ministers, members, departmental secretaries, provincial and local level government representatives and numerous clan leaders and landowners. There is no doubt that we have made serious mistakes in our relationship with Papua New Guinea since independence was granted in 1975. There is also no doubt they are a very difficult people to “help” given the complexities of their “wantok” system and their adherence to “the Melanesian way”. I doubt that we will ever understand these complexities and we certainly will not solve them in our lifetime. What we can do, however, is to begin to workshop ideas that allow us to better understand each other; to develop pilot programs based on educational-economic partnerships; to develop political partnerships to administer our aid budgets and to develop long term leadership programs for leaders yet to be born. “Given the youth bulge in most island nations, the issue of employment generation will become increasingly urgent in the Pacific in coming decades and there is growing discussion about the potential to address it through greater international labour mobility. “The pressing need to find jobs for Pacific Island workers coincides with the emergence of gaps in the labour force of developed nations. In countries like Australia, lower birth rates, the ageing demographic profile, increased personal wealth, the provision of social welfare, sustained economic growth, low unemployment and higher levels of education have combined to reduce the supply of workers who are available (or willing) to undertake physically demanding labour for relatively low pay. This has opened up the debate about the potential for temporary employment schemes for Pacific Islanders to work in overseas labour markets, particularly in seasonal pursuits in agriculture.

Preamble
The Senate inquiry into seasonal labour from the Pacific region is a welcome initiative. However, the terms of reference seem to be limited because they do not address the impact of labour mobility on our relationship with our Melanesian neighbours in the Pacific region. These nations comprise the island chain from Timor in the north-west through West Papua, Papua New Guinea, Nauru, Vanuatu, Kiribati, the Solomons and Fiji have been referred to as our arc of instability.

It is certainly our international area of responsibility
Recent reports from the Centre of Independent Studies, the Menzies Research Centre and the Australian Strategic Policy Institute have traced our historical ties with each of these nation states and the impact of our withdrawal from anything smacking of neo-colonialism in the 1970s. More ominously they have highlighted the failure of our aid policies over the decades since they were granted independence from their colonial administrators. Those with expertise in the region warn of catastrophic consequences for Australia and the island nation states if the impending crisis is not arrested. This realisation has led to our direct intervention in Timor and The Solomons, a change in our aid policy from a “magic pudding” concept to a “tied-aid” policy formula, a more forthright role in the Pacific Forum and the implementation of an Enhanced Co-operation Program (ECP) for Papua New Guinea. Our relationship with Papua New Guinea is particularly important given our historical links as a colonial administrator, wartime ally, fellow Commonwealth member and closest neighbour. More recently the threat of terrorism, the sharing of a border with Indonesia, the impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, crime and widespread corruption has led to many commentators issuing dire warnings about its future.

White Australia — Black Melanesia
During a meeting with a senior minister in the current PNG Government in Port Moresby, I asked how Papua New Guineans were treated whenever they applied for a visa to come to Australia. “Like lepers!” was the candid response. This issue is one that bites deepest in our relationships with PNG. Over the years I have heard Australians complain of their “treatment” when they arrive in Britain as visitors. They claim there seems to be no special recognition for us as a former colony, wartime ally, trading partner and fellow Commonwealth member. Many of those aggrieved by this treatment have become vocal proponents of the call for an Australian republic. So it is with PNG. Many see Australians as disinterested visitors who travel to PNG, participate in meetings, join a conducted tour, perhaps visit a village, offer some patronising advice — then leave! A review of the number of times Australian politicians have chosen PNG as a destination for their overseas study trips over the past decade would be a good indicator of our dinkum level of interest in the country. Australia has reciprocal arrangements for working holiday visas with Belgium, Canada, Cyprus, Denmark, Eire, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Korea, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Taiwan, and the United Kingdom. But none with PNG. As a Commonwealth nation, young people from PNG are eligible for working holiday visas in the United Kingdom under the Commonwealth Working Holiday Scheme — but not in Australia. When an Australian travels to PNG for a visit they stand in a line at Port Moresby airport, get their passport stamped and immediately obtain a visa. When a PNG citizen applies for a visa they have to fill out a comprehensive application form, provide bank guarantees and detailed itineraries. If they live outside Port Moresby (as 87 per cent of the population do), it becomes even more complex and can involve multiple trips from remote mountain villages to the Australian High Commission in Port Moresby due to acts of bureaucratic bastardary. On January 30, 2005, the Sydney Sun-Herald reported that the shortage of seasonal labour for fruit and vegetable picking was so chronic that the Sunraysia Mallee Economic Development Board is planning to import 10,000 Chinese temporary workers. Eighty-five per cent of PNG citizens live in rural areas on a subsistence basis. They have been harvesting fruit and vegetables for generations over thousands of years.

Labour Mobility in the Pacific
A research paper titled
“Labour mobility in the Pacific: creating seasonal work programs in Australia” and presented to the Globalisation, Governance and the Pacific Islands conference at the Australian National University (October 25-27, 2005) is deserving of special consideration by the Senate Committee. Authors Nic Maclellan and Peter Meares address the issues of remittances, Pacific development, modelling of seasonal work schemes in Australia and the requirements for effective seasonal workers schemes. The paper notes that in its 2003 inquiry on Australia’s relations with the region, the Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee received numerous submissions suggesting schemes to bring workers from the Pacific and recommended “a pilot program to allow for labour to be sourced from the region for seasonal work in Australia”. In its formal reply to the Senate report, the Australian Government simply “noted” the recommendations for a pilot study, adding a one line response: “Australia has traditionally not supported programs to bring low skilled seasonal workers to Australia.’’Maclellan and Mares conclude that the obstacles to such a scheme are political and bureaucratic. I believe it reflects an appalling lack of understanding and empathy with Papua New Guinea; a lack of political will to address the issue and a deep seated racial bias against Papua New Guineans in the bowels of the Canberra bureaucracy. The paper examines the political and bureaucratic objections to seasonal labour schemes and relates them to Canada’s seasonal agricultural workers program and their experience with the issues concerning regulation, labour rights and social impacts which would have to be addressed in Australia if seasonal work schemes were to operate “without evoking memories of blackbirding”.

Village – Farm Relationships
One of the major concerns in Australia is the fear of seasonal workers overstaying their visa’s. This would be ameliorated by the development of a disciplined program in partnership with Papua New Guinea to ensure participants are carefully selected, medically screened and that they undergo some in-country pre-employment training. They should also be assisted in establishing a system to ensure there is a saving element with their remittances and that an appropriate amount is directed to their family.A long-term strategy to develop partnerships between village areas in Papua New Guinea and farming communities in Australia would also have mutual benefits. If Papua New Guinea seasonal workers know they will be able to return the following year for work, it will remove any incentive for them to overstay. Training would also be an integral component in any such scheme. This would involve pre-embarkation training in Papua New Guinea and vocational/on-job training in Australia.

Conclusion
Australian policy makers cannot ignore the dire warnings in recent reports regarding our relationship with our Melanesian neighbours who form the “arc of instability” to our immediate north. This is our international area of responsibility.
I think we should struggle on our own feet to do something for our country instead of being beggars. We are sitting on a pot of gold yet we tend to look abroad without considering what we can do domestically. The citizens have to play a major role in development. That means we have to be responsible citizens, respect one and other, respect the law, assist law enforcement officers in apprehending criminals, respect infrastructures, respect lives, do away with the hand-out mentality etc. There's lots to do internally. I suppose it will take time and certainly there's need for more citizenry awareness in how to behave as decent citizens. It begins from small things as putting rubish in the right place, avoid spitting betelnut everywhere, using consensus to resolve problems instead of resorting to tribal fights and the list goes on...

Australia will never save PNG, so forget looking South and blame ourselves for our predicament.Unless we fix ourselves internally there's hope that we can progress successfully in our external endeavors.

Sampla tingting!
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Ralph Hamilton
Ralph Hamilton

March 21st, 2006, 5:01 am #4

Interesting,
but I sometimes wonder if the opposite might not be true. Maybe we have tried to do too much.

With tied aid, we are undermining the government authority. Various aid agencies are mapping out PNG's future as they see it, with no recourse to the Parliament, or the people. Perhaps we should have sat back more, and only helped if we were asked.

Just a thought......Ralph.
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wanbel
wanbel

March 21st, 2006, 5:24 am #5

I think we should struggle on our own feet to do something for our country instead of being beggars. We are sitting on a pot of gold yet we tend to look abroad without considering what we can do domestically. The citizens have to play a major role in development. That means we have to be responsible citizens, respect one and other, respect the law, assist law enforcement officers in apprehending criminals, respect infrastructures, respect lives, do away with the hand-out mentality etc. There's lots to do internally. I suppose it will take time and certainly there's need for more citizenry awareness in how to behave as decent citizens. It begins from small things as putting rubish in the right place, avoid spitting betelnut everywhere, using consensus to resolve problems instead of resorting to tribal fights and the list goes on...

Australia will never save PNG, so forget looking South and blame ourselves for our predicament.Unless we fix ourselves internally there's hope that we can progress successfully in our external endeavors.

Sampla tingting!
Buddie, I dont know where to start but yes our peoples' attitude need to change.I have been living overseas for over ten years and every now and then I go back home to visit my old folks.Every time I am there,all my extended family come aroud to our house for a chat and the usual mauswara.Not only do they update me on all the happenings in the village but a list of all their debts, which include brideprice,comphensation,school fees etc... and their problems.The thing that gets my attention the most is during a normal day, the very people that come around complaining about their problems are sitting around at a public market place or somewhere similar doing absolutely nothing. Yet they 've big piece of uncultivated land just laying there to be worked on.How on earth do we explain that??????
I guess you know what I mean, anyway in the past I kind of listen to all their craps but now.....I tell them I am not allowed to bring foreign money into the country so I try to be like them too, ha ha ha.. trust me it does work.But instead I try and work in my parents garden just to make them change their attitude.I also tell my extended family that while I am gone my parents can have some food and money from what I am doing here in their gardens.
Ok em tasol ,that is one of my many experiences.
good luck to all who read this article,...
jtee sign off
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lewa
lewa

March 21st, 2006, 9:15 am #6

good points people...it is true that until we try to help ourselves...no- one will help us unless we show more inititive.
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pngen
pngen

March 21st, 2006, 2:26 pm #7

wanbel I agree with you.

We will never progress unless we help ourselves. The honor is on us tell and educate our wantoks that the hand out mentality will not take then out of their financial problems. The old chinese saying that `give a man fish and he will always come asking, teach him how to fish and he will have fish forever` holds true here.

I am make it a point to help my wantoks only when I see them trying to help themselves.
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Anonymous
Anonymous

March 21st, 2006, 10:37 pm #8

... whats wrong with a bit of help? What's wrong with a helping hand? By all means, lets encourage our people to be more proactive, to realise what wealth and reward can come from hard work and determination- such as Singapore, Fiji, Ryan Pini, Dika Toua... Yes, it is time to stop thinking that the only solution is to go to a neighbour for a handout... maybe we should realise that the agendas. Australia will always provide assistance to PNG. It knows what resource can be tapped in the highlands, and islands. It also doesnt want a failed state on its doorstep, so it will do whatever it can to ensure PNG remains democratic, and lawbiding (sort of).
Even though Aid comes to PNG in the form of skilled resource, or project funding, it doesnt mean we as a people can just sit back and let everyone do our work. Otherwise you will soon know what exploitation is all about. It wont be just logging, it will be in fishing, agriculture, mineral and energy. We will get little to no return on our resource... and our neighbours will reap the rewards. Look at the middle east - Saudi Arabia, Emirates... they have vast petroleum and energy resource, and they are rich. We have vast resource, and we are still poor. Singapore was a small fishing village when Raffles first arrived.... he had a vision for it as a major far eastern hub... Lee Kwan Yew took that vision, and together with the people of Singapore they worked hard to develop their nation.
If we work hard, maybe we too can reap the reward... but I dont have an issue with a little help along the way. emtasol.
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Anonymous
Anonymous

March 22nd, 2006, 9:20 am #9

there is nothing wrong with a helping hand. Christ teaches that we must be charitable and yes he also requires that we help ourselves. Let's not be too prideful to accept help from our neighbours australia and neither too reliant on aid. Let's face it we still need help as a developing nation, to say we don't is ludicrous. However at the end of the day we PNGeans must do the hard work.
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lewa
lewa

March 22nd, 2006, 9:37 am #10

i agree, there are the people who have too much pride accept a helping hand but then there are also the lazy people who just want hand outs.
we must also understand that the money we recieve in aid is taxpayers money...now they are ordinary people like you and i. put yourself in their shoes, would you like to see your hard earned money sent overseas as aid and, yet, to be squandered and used carelessly by greedy politicians and businessmen. i certainly would be up in arms about it.
until we get some honest people or some sort of transparency in our government, also people who are willing to say no to bribes, our government will still be percieved as untrustworthy.
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