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Australia must plan for the celebration of the 50th anniversary of our legacy of independence to Papua New Guinea now

By Jeffrey Wall - posted Friday, 14 October 2022


In just under three years Papua New Guinea will celebrate half a century of Independence and half a century since our colonial rule of PNG ended.

We both have a lot to celebrate and there are one or two glaring Independence errors we can rectify.

On the day of Independence, 16 September 1975, the Prime Minister, Mr Whitlam, announced our independence gift to the new nation would be a new national library. It was to cost just $2 million to construct.

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When I joined Iambakey Okuk, the new PNG Opposition Leader, as his Chief of Staff in mid-1978 he took me for a drive to the suburb of Waigani. We stopped at a nondescript building, which turned out to be the National Library.

He asked me what I thought of Australia's independence gift. I was unimpressed to say the least.

Fifty years on we need to do much better!

Today Papua New Guinea is very much engaged constructively with Australia.

We need to use the next three years to build on that.

Our independence anniversary gift to PNG needs to be substantial. Unlike the mean spirited $2 million national library given to a new nation, a nation in which over 60 per cent of the population could not read or write!

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Today Papua New Guinea is suffering from increased power blackouts in every urban city, including Port Moresby and Lae. Not only is electricity unaffordable it is just not being delivered reliably.

The electricity system is hopelessly inefficient, something Iambakey Okuk warned about over 40 years ago, stating then it was inevitable the whole power supply system would hold back national development if there was not substantial investment in it.

Today the power generation and distribution systems have been hijacked, with China being the latest bushranger to do so.

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About the Author

Jeffrey Wall CSM CBE is a Brisbane Political Consultant and has served as Advisor to the PNG Foreign Minister, Sir Rabbie Namaliu Prime Minister 1988-1992 and Speaker 1994-1997.

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Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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