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The Forum > Article Comments > Army of well-paid advisers keep Pacific poor > Comments

Army of well-paid advisers keep Pacific poor : Comments

By Helen Hughes, published 24/2/2010

Taxpayers should be concerned that egregiously high salaries are paid to aid-funded advisers in the Pacific region.

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Good article, sums it up well.

The UN has a lot to answer for here as does the Whitlam ALP government - the UN insisted that all the 'colonial" powers get out of their colonies int he pacific when they were also pressuring nations in Africa - similar result too, except the pacific nations have few resources outside PNG.

Whitlam did a whistle stop tour of PNG before he was elected and became an instant expert, and promised immediate independence if elected.

There was law and order, health services, public transport and it was safe before the independence of various nations.

Anyone going to places like Port Moresby should be paid a fortune and have a squad of SAS to protect them, it is primitive and very dangerous.

There are no social services, the various mission groups go into the bush, educate people that cannot use the education and the young once they learn some things about the world want a piece of it so gravitate to cities - to no support, crime and poverty.

So the usual has happened, a few strong men here and there rule by force, no surprises.

Well done UN, at least you got all those nasty colonials out! I'll bet all those countries int he Pacific would welcome back a protecting force more so if they were allowed to set up beneficial governments and services, except the corrupt few and their advisers.

BTW - NG was not a colony of Australia, it was trusteeship territory of the UN, the Solomons were previously the BSIP, British Salomon Island Protectorate.
Posted by Amicus, Wednesday, 24 February 2010 11:03:52 AM
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your BTW was only half right it was a it was trusteeship territory of the UN but the administration of it was Australian.
Having actually grown up in that country during that time it was exploited shamelessly by Australia . Australia was roundly criticised by the UN for its colonial ways by not teaching the locals.

You are right to point to exploitation by other nations and the appalling lack of equity. But one is left with the abiding question what do you suggest.

I can't speak about all pacific nations but with regard to PNG you are dealing with a tribal civilization and upward of 600 separate internal nationalities.

I'd be fascinated to read in detail your comprehensive solution.
You seem to underestimate the size of the tasks involved if you are to avoid simply replacing one elite with another.

I have severe reservation that the international corporate
mind set is appropriate.

I well remember one high profile Adelaide not so long back a real estate agent/developer's address to a Rotary club. Where he said that because the pacific island accepted our aid our government should insist the islands use the Torrens system of land titles so we Australians (he)could develop, They owed us.(BTW) he was a key conservative in Adelaide.

My point is that no business or few developed country, well educated people will go to these countries and work their without inducements.

Sadly corporate inducements are ever more profit and exploitation if not there the next unprotected/desperate country.

As for Barney well.....he is in THE most conservative party he simply wants to stop OS aid in favour of the his voters.

Contemptible as it is "it's the system dummy"
Posted by examinator, Wednesday, 24 February 2010 5:17:45 PM
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All of this is true, but the problem is more basic.

You see, many of the pacific people are just plain lazy. There is good reason. We work all our lives so we can retire in our old age. What we do when we retire, is very similar to what they do, all their lives. A bit of fishing, even some hunting, but not too often, & some house repairs perhaps.

Every now & then, a big job clearing a bit of new area for the garden. Heaven on wheels realy. I never could understand how we ever got them to take jobs in town.

In PNG, when a plantation owner near Rabaul wants some workers, he never gets locals, they won't work. No, he goes 400 miles to the Sepic [river] area, & brings workers back from there. Ridiculously, when a Sepic plantation owner wants workers, he's likely to get them from the Rabaul area. Don't ask me why, but it works.

In the 70s, before & after self government, & independence, much of our aid to PNG was being used to buy plantations back from Ozie planters, to give them to the local village. They found they could not afford to keep doing it. It killed exports.

They found the villagers did not run the plantation as a business, & the employed labour would not work for them. So the individual villagers would work enough copra to get the cash they wanted, & no more.

Most of them didn't want much, some batteries for their transistor radio cassette, & a couple of bags of rice. This would turn a 30 ton per month copra plantation into a 3 ton a month mess in just a few months.

The small volume made the drying kilns inefficient, & much of the product was poor quality. It also meant the monthly copra boat would only come a couple of times a year, or perhaps not at all.

Posted by Hasbeen, Wednesday, 24 February 2010 6:15:59 PM
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It got harder to get even 3 tons a month, because no one would slash the plantation. Soneone else should do that. Then the tractor battery went flat. It couldn't be charged, because no one would pay for more fuel for the plantation generator. It wasn't their gen set, so why should they.

So now it's getting hard to find the nuts in the regrowth, & with no power, the radio won't work, so you can't call for help, if it's needed, or to order "stuff", to come on the copra boat, if it still comes.

You have to order "stuff" because the plantation trade store closed when the planter went. You now can't even get rice, or batteries for the tranny.

One of the locals tried to run a trade store, but the culture beat him, as it does most locals. It's a great system for a tribal setting, but hell for a business.

Basically, the "one talk" system means that the only thing privately yours is what you can carry in your little dilly bag. Anything else you have you must share with your fellow villagers, & in theory, your language group. If you have food, & they have none, you must share. If you have a canoe, you can't refuse their use of it.

Now, start a business. If they have no money, but want something you sell, it's theirs. If they never pay, that's too bad, you can't refuse your one talk.

If the area has a few village owned plantations, offering enough business, a chinese owned trade store may be established, otherwise it's back to the stone age. These places have little of value, except produce. There are only so many tourists.

You may now understand when I mentioned that the people of Nugeria atoll married their princess, & the plantation owner. They knew they could not afford to loose him, even though a few of them were better educated than he was, at his insistence.

If there is any answer, it's going to take decades to find it, much has allready been lost.
Posted by Hasbeen, Wednesday, 24 February 2010 7:12:49 PM
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Seems like we don't need to go out into the Pacific to find problems. The same sort of thing is happening here at home in the tribal areas of Qld., NT and WA. only there, they are actually paid to not work.

Posted by VK3AUU, Wednesday, 24 February 2010 7:22:58 PM
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Goodwill is the thing that is most undermined at ground level in Aid programs as it is in Welfare. I am not happy about the comfort zone of management workers. The ways that policy protects the elite workers yet leaves the energy of mothers, youth, most community groups who have the most to contribute, and gain through their own development high and dry in the process of delivery.

I have no time for Barney Joyce. As one who once advocated for him, I consider his leadership a huge disappointment. I feel he does next to little in advocating the reality of regional disadvantage. Life on the ground. He lacks insight when it comes to regional issues and frustrates any way forward for women in Australia who otherwise could offer much more through Australia's National Party.

Imagine the connection throughout regions in rural Australia and the Pacific that could otherwise be made and shared if Women had more of a voice in the elite factions of Australia's National Party. Health - Education and Trade. Curbing the issues we are having with Youth, Mental Health and Drunk Driving.... thinking through the conflict of price, water and drought on the land for example. The value of micro-economics in Development. The issue of Climate Change and solutions rather than the relentless barricades.

Men - specifically among the elite be in in Aid and or Australia's National Party are token tickets self serving their own silo. Millions of dollars and pounds, so much hot wind wasted advocating a lack of equal representation which feeds into uneven development and poor outcomes because their thrift lacks common sense where it counts within communities at ground family levels.

Unaccountable in politics, unaccountable in Aid and Welfare programs across Australia and the world, due to the failed representations and therefore focus on equity values.
Posted by miacat, Thursday, 25 February 2010 4:35:27 AM
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