I happened to catch this on Radio National during the week, and found it fascinating and troubling. Many Australians of my age have memories of one kind of connection or another with Papua New Guinea. My father, and the uncle I am named after, were both up there at the time I was born. Papuan objects were about the house as I grew up, and my father even taught us a little Motu. In fact he wrote a song partly in Motu which was broadcast on the ABC as part of a special program celebrating the Queen’s 1954 visit! Then in my teens and twenties I knew so many missionaries and other workers who were coming and going to Papua and New Guinea, and also met a few Papuans who came to Australia.
One can’t help thinking, especially after listening carefully to this program, that the decolonisation of Papua New Guinea was rushed through for ideological reasons in 1975, without sufficient thought or preparation. PNG has certainly had its problems.
Guests on this program were:
# Michael Somare
Prime Minister, Papua New Guinea
# Joseph Ketan
Pacific Institute of Advanced Studies in Development and Governance, University of the South Pacific.
# Hank Nelson
Research School for Pacific and Asian Studies, Australian National University
# Helen Hughes
Senior Fellow at the Centre for Independent Studies (What she said was often insightful, albeit filtered through her particular Howardite stance.)
# Allan Patience
School of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Papua New Guinea