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  • Writer's pictureThe Beagle

Editorial March 24th 2023

Welcome to this week’s editorial, The vexing question this week is what to do with that vote you have. We are all encouraged to vote and assured that our votes are valued and that they can make a difference to our lives. This being the case one wonders why so many choose to draw penises or write naughty words on their ballot paper, or do a Donkey Vote by putting their Number 1 in the first box, uncaring as to who it might be. Possibly it is in protest. Possibly against a system they no longer respect or believe in. And who could blame them. The health system is under immense pressure with resourcing issues and a backlog of 100,000 surgeries. The education system is seeing an exodus of staff as resources diminish and teachers come under more abuse from parents and students. Across the board we hear of a building chaos that is laid at the feet of our politicians. The very people we are meant to vote for on Saturday who claim to be able to fix the wrongs of their predecessors. “Vote for me and I will make it right again!!” seems to be the general spiel. But what is right? Coming from Papua New Guinea I have the fondest memories of their transition to Independence and the politics of it all. In the leadup they had the House of Assembly. It was a practice run for what was about to happen. The members of the House represented their provinces. These provinces were tribal. Given the ongoing tribal conflicts on the ground it was often the case when you would see them enacted in the House with members leaping across the chamber to biff each other. It was passionate. And it was tribal with everyone there expecting more than their fair share for their own province. In order for the members to be elected they would promise the world. “Vote for me and I will deliver all kinds of mana from heaven”. That then expanded to hand outs of pigs, money, tobacco sticks and beer. In PNG they call this Gris (Grease) and they call politicians (Gris Man). In the leadup to Independence the good folk of PNG were promised that they would benefit from the spoils of the mining and timber projects that were reaping vast profits and returning little. They were told that this vast revenue would be distributed to improve living conditions, health, education and services such as roads, waste management, safe water and improved housing and national security by way of police and army. Wonderful “Vote for me” promises were made in that first round. The country was hopeful that a new day was beginning. But alas the very nature of humans and politicians turned it all upside down leaving the country far worse off than it has ever been. The greed of multinationals plundering the country side, the corruption of the politicians benefiting from the Gris by way of graft or the pleasures derived from ego and power. It is little wonder that the country has an abysmal health service, a failing education system, an under-resourced budget to attend to infrastructure builds and repairs, and the sad case that what little infrastructure they do own is by way of loan, or is owned by, a foreign country. On Saturday we are being asked to vote for a new leader. Most likely the winner will be of a dominant tribe, as is the case in PNG, and most likely the leader will be looking to favour those of his tribe and those who voted for him (or her). In the lead up we heard all the “Vote for Me” pledges. “Vote for my tribe because it is the best Tribe”. “If you vote for us this is what we will give you”. But the reality, as we all know, is that there is a major gap between the promises and the delivery. It turns out that there isn’t enough money to deliver on all the promises. This being the case one would imagine that the essentials are met. Health delivery by way of resources aspiring to deliver the best health outcome possible for all. Next would be education, paying respect to the benefits we gain from being an educated country able to build our own capacity and deliver our own solutions. Ideally the next focus would be on delivery of the infrastructure that keeps the engine going. Roads, rail, water, power. The vital links to keep the economy running. All of that should be top priority and certainly at the top of our expectations. But for one reason or another the bucket of money we give for the task, by way of taxes and charges, is redirected. But not to lesser priorities but to projects that best suit being re-elected. In Australia they call it Pork Barrelling. In PNG they call it Gris. In both countries it is legal. It is immoral, unethical and pretty disgusting but as our previous Leader told us. “It’s not something the community likes ... but it’s an accusation I will wear. It’s not unique to our government. It’s not an illegal practice. Unfortunately it does happen from time to time by every government,” she said. The disappointing thing about elections, either in Australia or in PNG, is that irrespective of what the dominant “Tribes” promise the reality is that they rarely deliver, or do so at a token level, enough to apply enough spin that they stayed true to the “promise”. Meanwhile, whilst in power, they managed to continue to allow all the things that we collectively have concerns over. Our nation is still being plundered for its resources with little return that benefits. Our national infrastructure, paid for through taxes, is still being sold to offshore companies and we are still failing in the provision and maintenance of our critical infrastructure that keeps the country running from the nbn to our roads. Our education system is underfunded and we are a dumber nation for it. Our health system was world first. It too has slid to levels well below our expectations, delivered by underfunding and under resourcing. PNG has a few other expressions around politicians and elections. Gris is the first but closely followed by Maus warra (Mouth Water) for political spin or tok pekpek warra for someone who toks (talks) verbal diarrhoea. Man Gamman (man lying) is another popular expressions. In all it offers an insight into why PNG people also draw penises and write naughty words on their ballot papers. But my vote is too valuable for me to waste. I want my vote to count. I want to vote for a government that can truthfully best represent its people. I want a government that respects that my hard earned taxes availed to them are used to deliver the essentials before the luxuries. I expect a well resourced and funded health system. I expect an education system that will serve the country well into the future with the skills and capacity we need to develop the industry and the services we need. And I expect the delivery of an infrastructure that keeps the country running and delivers equitably to regional ad metropolitan. What I don’t want is the grubbiness, the lies, the subterfuge, the pork barrelling, the deals, the sell outs, the manipulation of laws, acts and policies that enable one group to benefit at the cost of another group. I want a government that recognises the environment and realises that the environment needs to be represented as much as the humans who inhabit it. The test will not be in the electioneering panel discussions, the announcements, the handshakes and baby kissing or which leader knows the names of a State football team. The test will come Day 1 after they are elected into office. The test will be if they keep all the promises they made behind closed doors to their backers. To the developers, the land clearers, the koala killers, the polluters, the resource miners, the gamblers, the pharmacy lobbyists, the zealots, and every other subset who actually run the day to day decisions being made. Will Saturday offer a new beginning or will we still be led by an elite group of Gris men (and women) who Gamman and tok Pekpek warra tasol (that’s all). I hope your one vote goes towards the future you hope for, not just for yourself but for your family. Meantime I will do my best to vote for that too. May the best Tribe win. Until next—lei

1 Comment

Unknown member
Mar 24, 2023

Self serving and self interest is all it is these days .


NOTE: Comments were TRIALED - in the end it failed as humans will be humans and it turned into a pile of merde; only contributed to by just a handful who did little to add to the conversation of the issue at hand. Anyone who would like to contribute an opinion are encouraged to send in a Letter to the Editor where it might be considered for publication

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