Home > Corruption, Human rights, mining, Papua New Guinea > At last ‘bikhet’ Garnaut put in his place!

At last ‘bikhet’ Garnaut put in his place!

January 16, 2013 Leave a comment Go to comments


Sharon Isafe | PNG Mine Watch

Prof Ross Garnaut, perhaps Australia’s most infamous academic-entrepreneur, has lashed out at Prime Minister O’Neill for his expulsion from PNG.

He claims, “My ban was a low point for Australian diplomacy generally, a low point for PNG development, and a low point for Papua New Guinea democracy”.

Without denying the ‘trauma’ Prof Garnaut must feel at his travel ban – though he seems to forget, Australia regularly bans people from entry who fail a character test – I humbly suggest PNG may have had a few lower points than this.

  • Does Prof Garnaut remember 1989? Prime Minister Namaliu, now a Director at BCL, sent in the RPNGC and PNGDF to brutalise and murder landowners who opposed the Panguna mine owned by BCL – all with a helping hand from Australia.  Could this have been a lower point for democracy, diplomacy and development than Garnaut’s travel ban?
  • What about 1984, this was the year Ok Tedi began producing one of the worst environmental catastrophes in the world, that will be felt for hundreds of years to come by people along the Fly River. Could this possibly be a lower point for democracy and development than Garnaut’s travel ban?
  • Or what about PNG LNG? By the government’s own account the agreement with Exxon was rushed through without proper consultation. Now we are lumbered with a massive gas project, run by a company with alleged links to serious crimes against humanity in places like Indonesia, who are employing mobile squads to repress landowner dissent in the Highlands. Could this be a lower point for democracy and development in PNG than Garnaut’s travel ban?

For a corporate high flyer like Prof Garnaut I suspect the answer to all three questions is NO. How could the flagrant violation of the right to life, environment and culture, for hundreds of thousands of Papua New Guineans ever compare in gravity with a modest violation of one corporate executive’s right to exploit.

Elite hubris at its very best!

  1. Tony Flynn
    January 16, 2013 at 3:04 pm

    This is about a corruption of our society where rural people cannot get ahead. They get the occasional cabbage or Kaukau market thrown their way. This is not enough to satisfy their ambitions hence the exodus to settlements.
    Please edit this to suit your readership.
    The contest between PNG and Australia in imported Grains is a David and Goliath contest where David will always lose _ unless _ see below.
    An economist may be able to prove that the multuplier effect can make this idea a plus for the economy.

    Subject: Tariff assistance on Agricultural products as it may affect rural business opportunities.

    There is a lot of lip service given to developing the rural areas of PNG. The distribution systems are undeveloped for anything other than servicing the expatriate dominated sectors. This has led the Government advisers to promote SABLs and the alienation of land for major export crop production. Under this regime the developers will do most of the work themselves relieving the pressure on the Government. It will of course result in the intensification of the plantation economy and mentality; PNG will continue to be an importer of goods that should be produced locally for internal consumption. Because of continued lack of local development in the rural areas there will be a constant supply of agricultural labour for such major export crops. In effect the villages will continue to subsidise the export crops just as they have to the present time. The villages will become labour production units; where the price of labour does not reflect the actual cost of maintaining the labourers’ family. The family is maintained by subsistence gardening back at home. (There are references to this in the various literatures).

    I would like to refer to how the agriculture sector started in Australia. I am not an academic with a back ground in historical agricultural economics; this letter will hopefully start a productive line of thought to benefit PNG agriculture.

    The efforts of early farmers in Australia have been described in various books. That they had a hard life is indisputable; they did, however, have a benefit that is not mentioned clearly. They were competing against imports that came a long way by quite inefficient sailing ships; they came to the main centres in quite poor condition and at a relatively high price. They had no need of tariffs or of tariff assistance.

    This tyranny of distance effectively acted as a high tariff on imports. The early farmers of Australia, who were very inefficient by our standards of today, did not need an actual tariff to compete against produce from developed parts of the world. The cost of transport to Australia and the poor quality product was an effective high tariff; this produced the viable farming communities.

    When advisers talk of breadbaskets, Markham, Papuan Coastal Plains, increasing food production they are all thinking of food for people. The market is limited; it is undersupplied due to distribution problems not due to lack of productive capacity. (See Dr John Guise Ag. Policy below.)

    The really enormous amounts of produce entering PNG are not Tomatoes and Potatoes; it is Wheat, Maize, Soy beans and various feed mixes for animal feeds. PNG cannot compete with Australian highly efficient farmers on equal terms.

    WE need tariff assistance sufficiently high, in concert with a purchasing policy on the importers, that will enable our farmers to start the process of developing their skills to an adequate level to compete with the world. We have the land, we have the people, and we need the tariff assistance to enable us to compete with imports.

    Prices of products using agricultural imports may rise. When the price of labour was increased by the Government, businesses had to accept it for the benefit of the state. When the prices of meat products, snacks etc. increases, they will have to be accepted for the benefit of the majority of the people who share Papua New Guinea. After all it is a minority of people who are employed.

    The entry of the rural people into the produce market as opposed to the food market will have enormous benefits for PNG. There will be excess production that can be mopped up by an increase in livestock numbers. There will be more and cheaper food in the markets. When I was buying and drying Shitake mushrooms for some hotels, a noticeable amount was on sale at the Wau market; now they are rarely seen.

    Maize can be used as food more than at present. Nixtamalisation will enable dried corn to be an acceptable grain food and compete with rice as a food. Tacos, burritos, hominy etc. are extremely popular foods in the Americas. Cassava flour can be used in breads, biscuits and cakes up to 50% content. I am using Cassava flour with farm grown ground corn to feed weaner pigs, sliced raw cassava with chopped leaves and fish meal feed the adult pigs. I buy no feed, only the concentrate. My children like corn scones, the American Baptist missionary would be in the market for corn hominy.

    Tony Flynn

    The Government quite often miscalculates the effect of its policies on the rural sector. Keep in mind that farmers are conservative and do not forget the bad memories easily.

    I remember clearly when, pre-Independence, Dr John Guise, as Minister for Lands and Agriculture, presided over the scheme that would revolutionize the vegetable production in the PNG Highlands. I was friendly with the Expat manager of Lowa Marketing Cooperative in West Goroka.

    The Government undertook to buy all the vegetables that could be produced by the Highland farmers at a guaranteed price and so many million Dollars were allocated. Free seed was provided to places as remote as Obura Wanenara. It was a great success and so many vegetables were produced that they had to sell Kau Kau to Lahamenegu Plantation piggery at half the price that it was purchased for. Further loads of KauKau and vegetables were delivered to the Goroka Garbage Dump and to the end of the Lae wharf. The money ran short and Lowa Marketing was instructed to buy half of what was delivered by any single farmer. That is half of a bilum or a half of a truck load.

    The Law of Unintended Consequences had kicked in and the farmers received a low blow that has probably entered the Highland psyche.

    The lesson to be learnt is that if the returns to the farmer and the distribution are fixed we may all get a welcome surprise. Distribution is more easily fixed for dry produce, corn, dried cassava, soy bean etc than for fresh vegetables.

    1. Stuart Harris

    Article first published online: 16 APR 2012

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8489.1975.tb00154.x

    1975 The Australian Agricultural Economics Society

    Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics

    Volume 19, Issue 3, pages 131–145, December 1975

    Additional Information(Show All)

    Get PDF (1155K)

    This paper discusses in greater detail the case for tariff compensation set out in the Green Paper on Rural Policy. It considers a number of theoretical and practical arguments levelled against the principle, including those put forward in the Annual Report for 1973-74 of the Industries Assistance Commission. It concludes that despite the various counter arguments, the second best argument for tariff compensation applicable to low cost manufacturing as well as rural industries, remains valid in principle; in practice the extent to which any such partial compensation would be warranted needs to be assessed in the light of the appropriate substitution and complementarity relationships.

  2. JUDY
    January 16, 2013 at 3:55 pm

    JUDY :
    I am sooooooooooo Happy that at least someone has finally come to our peoples rescue,for so long I have expressed that this man has disregard for people who depend on the land for their survival and he calls himself a scientist…..Mr P.Oniel PM thank you for banning this person who has benefited hugely from the misery of our Papa ground.I pray he never ever comes back in.Enough of such rogues,and we have plenty of them,WOLF in SHEEP in clothing.

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