Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Ok Tedi, PNG Sustainable and Disappointment

Pictured is Western Province Governor Bob Danaya (left) with Ross Garnaut (Photos by Rocky Roe) .

Ross Garnaut Chairman of the PNG Sustainable Development Program was in Port Moresby today to launch the 2008 annual report.

More recently Garnaut is best known for his work on Climate Change, in particular top notch bed side read the Garnaut Report.

After a few scones at Port Moresby's ritzy 'three star' Crown Plaza, I asked Garnaut his thoughts on PNG:

Ross Garnaut: “I first came here (PNG) in 1966 as a student. I formed very close friendships and they remain amongst my closest friends in the world. They’ve never let me get away.

“You can be disappointed. Some things have not gone as well as they might have. You may be disappointed at some lost opportunities but if you’ve been close to it for more than 40 years, as I have, you also have to admire the achievements of PNG.

“This is a functioning democracy. When I first came to PNG I met the only graduate in PNG – Henry ToRobert, who later became governor of PNG's Central Bank, the week before I met him, he had just graduated as the first graduate of a university in PNG.

"At the time of self-government the number of graduates were very, very small and the number of graduates with any experience in government or business was tiny and for none of them was more than a few years.

“Well those young people became the leading people in government and business, in the political system and they’ve made a democracy work.

"PNG is not like the Solomon Islands not like Vanuatu, it’s not like Fiji, it has a government that subjects itself to elections every five years and government's change if the people tell them to change.

"It’s not like most of the countries of Africa, it’s not like the most of the Caribbean. It’s a functioning democracy with a functioning legal system, it has a vibrant civil society in which the churches play a major role.

"You have to weigh all that alongside the disappointments about waste of resources, about acts of corruption, about under performance in many areas.

"The whole picture is human achievement in unlikely circumstances as well as one of disappointments.

"There are many disappointments and in Western Province there is a great weakness in all the services provided by government. But let’s not get starry eyed about it, things weren’t great under Australian administration.

"It’s not as if you had a wonderfully serviced people with rapidly developing and rising living standards."

Below is the AAP story about the PNG SDP report and Garnaut's comments that the Ok Tedi closure in 2013 risks a "human catastrophe" for 50,000 PNG villagers who rely on the mine's infrastructure - bit ironic considering the environmental catastrophe the mine caused


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