Election Blues by Garry Juffa, Oro Regional Member Elect

By Garry Juffa

This whole journey, this election, this amazing adventure of experiencing the beauty and despair around PNG, the hope, the happiness and sadness, outrage and the frustrations has all been worth it. I wish to take time to thank all my friends and those who may not be friends and who may be critics and even enemies, I hold nothing against you, life is really too short. I thank you all for your patience, words of encouragement, sticking up for me, standing by me, helping me with your criticism, constructive or otherwise and your wisdom and humor.

As I sit here, writing yet another piece of my usual rant and watching the final episode unfold I am optimistic but aware that there are always possibilities and impossibilities that occur in life. I may succeed, I may not. Either way, I have committed myself to helping out where I can, where ever my possibilities will allow until I move on to the next chapter, as a friend says “to solve that great mystery”.

I have learnt much along the way, that our nation is a great nation, that we are truly blessed with this nation, this land of milk and honey, that there is much joy in simple pleasures, that our simple people who toil so hard and innocently unaware of this world and its ways and have varying expectations, finding their way through this ever increasingly complex world, need leaders.

I have put my hand up. I am not all powerful and do not claim to possess a magic wand or mystic powers of observation, management and action, I am just willing to work. If it comes to be that I succeed, it is merely the first step on yet another adventure, an adventure of securing our future, protecting our land and being a voice for those that do not have a voice, our people throughout our nation and even others such as our flora and fauna who also deserve to live in this great world, on this earth, this planet, this gift, we call home.

The coming years will be important in our short history as a nation and indeed it will also be of significant consequence to us as a people, as Melanesians, Polynesians, Micronesians that occupy this territory that is known throughout the world as “The Land of the Unexpected” – Papua New Guinea. Future events that transpire will most certainly determine whether we as a nation, survive or falter and become in the near future and beyond, merely history of little consequence, thoughtlessly spoken off by political, economic and history buffs and those who engage in rhetorical small talk about geo politics at whatever events.

Yet to look around us and examine events transpiring around the world, it can also be said that there is an air of uncertainty in so far as life on earth is concerned. It seems that throughout the world, regardless of economic size, political government or race or geographic location, crisis after crisis strike the earth and its inhabitants, natural and man made. It seems the earth is hurting more then ever before in its history. Global warming, environmental destruction and non sustainable exploitation of natural resources, the extinction of species of animal and plant life, many never to be seen again, ever. Warfare and financial uncertainty, emerging destructive ideologies and rampant greed surge to the fore of humanity like a herd of wild beasts.

Where is PNG in all this? Will we be adequately prepared for a crisis should it strike us or will be be unable to mitigate and find ourselves on the ledge of existence so to speak? Will we become victims and trodden under the hooves of globalization and its effects?

These thoughts and others of this nature occur to me from time to time as I await the results of the 2012 National Elections, Papua New Guinea. I scan the political landscape forming and I am at once anxious and hopeful. It appears that ignorance, our greatest enemy is winning several battles and many who should not return, who have lied and stolen in the most blatant fashion or in cunning subtlety, will be returned by a population of voters that seem to either not care or be truly stupid, of course there is that greater portion who were easily persuaded with all manner of promises, goods or services. I sift through what is the murky uncertainties that shroud this political territory and standing like beacons of hope are what look like leaders emerging, genuine leaders who actually possess the compassion and zeal and the ability to care and act for their people. Anxious and hopeful. Good and bad. Could it be that there is sufficient good to counter the bad? Could the people truly be represented (even those who cast their vote with no thought or little appreciation of the ramifications)?. Will their views and interests be appropriately captured and debated and at all times championed in parliament by those they have elected? In many instances the answer is a resounding, echoing no.

Papua New Guinea is but a restless vessel, adrift on stormy seas of globalization heading in a journey to the uncertain future. It has been battered and thrown around for the last 37 years but it is now entering waters that are ominous and where its very survival is threatened more so then ever before. Who are the crew and who are the officers? Where is the Captain and does he have what it takes to guide this vessel and survive this journey or at least stay afloat? Will our vessel along with our hopes and ambitions, aspirations and dreams be battered and destroyed by the winds of exploitation? Will our vessel be burdened yet even more by dependence and aid and will we lose our way carried by the strong current of ignorance to even stormier seas?

Well it started out as a rant on the experience of the elections but as usual I have allowed my mind to wander down obscure and uncertain paths. Perhaps it is just the Election Blues…perhaps it is just anxiety and stress, taking its toll on the mind and the body. Perhaps it is too much available information about the events that are occurring seemingly in the blink of an eye throughout the world and here. Perhaps…

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4 thoughts on “Election Blues by Garry Juffa, Oro Regional Member Elect

  1. GARRY JUFFA- EVIL TRIUMPH WHEN GOOD MEN DO NOTHING.
    Juffa has obviously penned this in reflective mode, but before he was declared Governor of Oro, to inherit the horror that was left behind that religious brother or uncle of his who was his predecessor. What an uphill climb it will be for him to unravel rampant mismanagement and distrust by the public and business community alike for the government of Oro, and rebuild the broken bridges literally and metaphorically.
    To Garry Juffa, congratulations my brother! Doubt you not, you are a national Leader of Papua New Guinea. How you deal with Oro will define you for the rest of your political career. It’s the small things that matter my brother, don’t forget that. Your advocacy for this nation, the weak and down trodden will be important, especially at a time when politicians in their pragmatism are willing to sell out the national interest for private interests. It is time to stand up and speak for this nation. We need champions for PNG, to triumph over what appears to be present paradigms and designs of helplessness imposed on us and our people with the tacit consent of Politicians who are really betrayers, Judases, of the people’s trust. We need champions like Garry Juffa in Parliament, and Toes Wisil on the sporting field, to lift our flag to greater heights. Evil will certainly triumph when good men do nothing.
    To you Garry Juffa- Oro Oro Oro!!!!
    Our moments of triumph on the Olympic stage have not been many, so full marks to Toea Wisil for her triumph is our triumph indeed! We have had our moments over the last 37 years in the regional sporting events like the Commonwealth Games, the Arafura Games, the South Pacific and the Mini South Pacific Games. In an Olympic year, we are contemplating playing host once again to the next South Pacific Games and the government and the ONeill-Namah political Leadership has not been serious about what is and what ought to have been a matter of priority and pride. The nation is about to face its moment of truth on the regional and international stage. We are about to reveal once again for all to see what we have been about for the last 37 years, at least since the last time we hosted the Games here- then courtesy of the generous people of the People’s Republic of China. At least we had a Sir Anthony Siaguru to lead us out with a committee of equally talented people, showcased and acquitted well of the nation they represented. Oh how the red gold and black fluttered in the steady South-Westerly, and our hearts were instantaneously lifted to greater heights of palpitations, as our athletes triumphed. We could believe once again in ourselves, and the social contract we signed in 1975 to be one nation, one people and one country. And oh how we triumphed then hauling in more gold silver and bronze than ever before, or since! Every Kiwai, Tolai, Highlander, Wopa, Siwai, Orokaiva, Orokolo, Sol and Tasi walked out of that stadium proud. We savoured those precious few shared moments of triumph with tears streaming down our faces, we looked at each other wide eyed and teary faced, and we laughed tears of joy and elation.
    We knew we will always be one people, a people cast together by history, a people held together by our ancient agrarian ways, thrust almost prematurely into the limelight of 21st Century to sink or swim, live or die. Together we chose life. And but whilst the odds were always staked against us, and some called us stone aged primitives, while others whispered,”… they won’t make it…”, it is in rare moments of sporting triumph like this, pitted against their best, on a clear sky blue day and level playing field, we have come together and asserted resoundingly that we have arrived on the world’s centre stage!
    We have asserted that we are an ancient people, a strong people, the largest nation in the Pacific Islands, the land link between the tiger economies of Asia and the Pacific, we are the pre-historic home of Melanesia, we are a serious people, and we shall be taken seriously by our other Melanesian, Polynesian and Micronesian neighbours. Whether they like it or not, whether they like our way of doing things or not, we are here and we are asserting ourselves, and assert we did at that and every other SP Game since.
    Who would have predicted how we would turn out as a nation and a people in 1973 when we were granted Self Government so hurriedly by the Gorton/Whitlam Governments of Canberra?
    In the late 1960-70s in one of those South Pacific Commission Meetings held in the capital of one of our Polynesian countries, the Paramount Chief of the Chimbu people, and he may as well have been the Chief of all the Highlanders, because he was a tall towering and imposing Simbu, who stood as tall as the mountains, and firm as his native rock of Elimbari. When he spoke, his dozen wives and multitudes upon multitudes of tribes men far and near came and drank of his words in utter silence, words that flowed seamlessly like the Waghi giving life to a deeply farrowed land. But this time, his solemn maiden Chiefly address to the South Pacific Commission in tok pisin was mocked, perhaps because of his earnest but equally farrowed facial features. Perhaps it was because he didn’t understand a word of English,or because they couldn’t understand him, and couldn’t reply. He did look like someone out of the stone age, but his heart was earnest and his composure sure and demeanour true, but nevertheless he felt the bitter sting of a thousand wasps buzzing around his head. He couldn’t speak English. Realizing, from the laughter and the polite nods that he had just become the laughing stock of the Pacific, and realizing he carried with him, not only the pride of the Narengu tribe of Chimbu, the pride of the Highlands, but also of the then Territories of Papua and New Guinea he represented, Kondom Agaunduo stood up and spoke in pisin and uttered those famous lines… ” yupela harim ah! Nau mi kam long hia na toktok na yupela lap long mi. Em I orait. Tomoro bai mi salim ol pikinini bilong mi i kam. Taim ol I kam, bai yupela no nap lap long ol! “ With that he sat down.
    Paramount Chief Kondom Agaunduo now lies in silent repose in his village on the side of the Highway named after an equally imposing political force of the Simbu people, one of the finest sons that Chief Kondom spoke of. Kondom was a man before his time. He was a Chief and Luluai, a cultural hero who brought progress to Chimbu in the early colonial period. He was the first Simbu coffee grower, father of the Chimbu Coffee Cooperative, Member of the District Advisory Council, Observer to the First Legislative Council in Port Moresby. Before his premature death from a car accident, he was truly a pioneer who craved education and progress for his people so that they could meet or match the whiteman, a man without pigs, on his own terms, and triumph. He was resolute and uncompromising in this cause. His leadership, punctuated by long eloquent speeches, was impeccable. There was no ounce of self interest in his cause. His cause was that of every Chimbu to advance.
    Our moments of triumph on the sporting field have been shared together, as highlanders, Momases, NGIs and Papuans- groupings that came as we tried to define ourselves along our natural geographic regions. Yet these groupings sit very un-comfortably with our own assertion and notion as one people and one nation. Today we have indeed become one people and one nation with complex intermarriages. When corporate greed threatened to blow us apart, and it did for many years for thousands on Bougainville, one man, a soldier and a national hero from Karkar Island, stood up and defied all odds to put a stop to the blood bath that was about to unfold. He underwent a period of self-examination and self-assessment for some time. After all that was done, he stood up, and he stood by the oath he took before God and man to protect the Constitution, his nation, his people in Bougainville and on the mainland. He realized in time that if he didn’t stand up, he would by his conduct have revoked the Constitutional framework that held us together as a people, and cut adrift the people of Bougainville. He defied vulgar political direction and greedy corporate puppetry from outside. When Jerry Singirok triumphed personally over the evil that was about to be served, a chalice of blood, a slaughter that appeared inevitable, the whole nation triumphed. We all exhaled in great shared relief! Whew!
    Many a child who was born in the 1980s, educated to feel equally eloquent and masters of their own destiny, deserving of a great future in this country, find themselves having to invariably come to terms with political legacies and historical events like Bougainville, constantly nagging at them with them having to ask themselves this question- what was all that about? The mothers of Bougainville, who survived, who suffered through loss of their own sons, daughters and husbands, are still asking that very question to this day.
    While the fallen soldiers were draped in the red black and gold, the fallen in Bougainville lie scattered all over those islands of sorrow, and their spirits still wander unrequited. Deep down, every mother in Bougainville still ask, why did the nation turn its guns on our sons? Why did Bougainville become the Islands of sorrow? Can we as a nation triumph together in sporting fields like the coming SP Games and in other spheres if we do not deal with Bougainville, look at our brother in the eye and honestly feel the same blood pulsating through our veins?
    How can we explain Bougainville to our children that they, as intelligent human beings with inquisitive minds, can make sense of it? How can the fatherless and the motherless children of Bougainville who also struggle daily with their permanent condition be consoled? And how do they further explain it to their children?
    We cannot explain Bougainville, the shedding of innocent blood, the birthing of an Island of orphans and widows, in any other way than the sense of corporate greed, and blatant disregard for human lives and the rights of human beings by so called civilized nations, acting secretively through off-balance sheet black ops operatives. No one has gone behind the scenes to expose the people behind the people in Sandline. Faceless men in glass steel and concrete towers in faraway lands, powerful governments and their operatives, use money and influence and do deals and sign papers that instantaneously spill the blood innocent people all over the world. It was the South Americas yesterday, and today it is the Middle-East, with Africa the ongoing playground of those who want to pawn off the lives of the starving innocent using contentions of old tribal rifts and religious differences as convenient divisive tools. The death of the cold war has spawned new wars , wars that relate directly to control and exploitation of scarce resources and energy fields, that will see the rise and re-ordering of civilisation as we know.
    While those who conceived Sandline have long melted into the shadows, governments involved quickly cut off connections, wiped the paper trail and electronic footprints leading to their doorsteps, shredded the papers and claimed both ignorance and innocence; the Queen sits with a solemn smile on her throne in England, while the Kangaroos still graze peacefully on the brown meadows of Australia. Long gone are the sounds of machine guns and echoes of the cries of children looking for their mothers. Today, they come with bundles of Aid money to “help” the people of Bougainville. It’s the re-building and restoration program that they in their magnanimous generosity bestow on Bougainville that comes not necessarily without strings attached . How wonderfully generous the help is to us with roads that may one day carry our copper and gold out again, and ports that may see ships bearing all manner of colours once more berth, but let us not even contemplate that for now.
    For now, having put up his hand for Sumkar and lost to an Australian Naturalized citizen, Jerry Singirok, sits back on his Island home to contemplate and take stock of his gains and losses, his friends and his foes, especially those who pretended to be friends but were really against him. He savours the sting of deception, like the buzz and sting of a thousand urchins. No war would have prepared him for this public admonition. In the 2012 elections, more so than ever before, the Australian Defence and intelligence played a very heavy hand, and made no secret about the fact of who Canberra wants installed as the new Prime Minister. Jerry Singirok of all people was in a better position to know and understand what was really at stake.
    On the 2nd of August 2011, Australia engineered the disposal of Somare while he was in Hospital. They used ONeill’s ambition, Nape’s greed and Namah’s stupidity. Then when the courts were called upon to intervene, Julia Gillard used a political bulldozer to recognize ONeill’s government. She pre-empted the Supreme Court, the sole arbiter under the Constitution to deal with the question of legitimacy of Peter ONeill as Prime Minister. Having realized she stuffed up, she was not going to back off. She used High Commissioner Kemish, tons of money, and the full swag of intelligence tools at her disposal, including the complicity of the Post Courier, to push for Peter ONeill. Australia was instrumental in the smashing of the Judiciary and the Constitution. Australia moved its people into key positions within the Electoral Commission, and even brought in its military and SAS veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan to run a separate communications and operations capability parallel to the PNG security forces. All this was done to ensure one result- Peter ONeill to form the next government. Even after ONeill was declared Kemish moved a whole company of Army specialists into the Airways where ONeill team was holed up, as a show of alliance, and as a personal protection unit against anything that Belden Namah would throw. They moved huge amounts of firearms into PNG and the Airways Hotel on secret Australian Airforce Fights.
    It was a job well done for Ian Kemish, who unlike any other High Commissioner before him, was prepared to get his hands dirty, and do some of the work himself. As a diplomat, he has trod where even angels wouldn’t dare. What a brave man this Ian Kemish is, for he has successfully and almost singlehandedly displayed the full length and breadth of the power of Australia over Papua New Guinea politics. He has shown other diplomats in almost resounding terms, who owns this country! And for this he would have earned a long and well deserved holiday somewhere in Europe, and for sure almost endless career possibilities with the Commonwealth. A job well done in any one’s language.
    Somare and other elder statesmen have played the only card they could play under the circumstances. But their card no longer carries any personal ambitions. They have been there and done that. There is no anger or resentment left in Chan, Somare or even Wingti. They have measured ambitions, which involve issues of what form or shape of legacy will they all and each leave for this nation. How will they be remembered after they pass? Each one of them have had a by-pass operation. Each is living on time that has been graciously extended to them. And each of them has known what it is like to have and hold power, exercise power, and what a heady thing that is!
    The real issue for Somare Chan and Wingti, and others of the elder Statesmen around ONeill , is how much of the love for the RED GOLD & BLACK can they impart to Peter ONeill and get him away from the charms of money, wealth, fame and more fortune promised to him by those who now like cicadas whisper incessantly into his ears. To be sure, Papua New Guineans know the deals O’Neill has done over the years. We also know his various businesses that are run openly and under other people’s names. We also know of his associations with the likes of young George Constantinou and the Cragnolinis. We know the straight and the crooked deals he made over the years, just as we know the deeds of others around him. We also know of the deals, political deals, he has done with Australia in return for political recognition after the 2nd of August 2011 knifing robbery. The real question is, can he stand up for the RED GOLD & BLACK? Or will he be just another good native?
    The signs are already fairly ominous of a sell-out job done by Peter ONeill. It already appears he has sold his soul to Julia Gillard. He needs these next 18 months to prove to the rest of us that he is a true nationalist, that the genes of his native mother will always outweigh those of his Irish Father, that he will rise to be a better Prime Minister, and better at negotiating competing interests and triumphing over those who want to turn him and his office into their Post Office Box. He has 18 moths to show us that he is the Prime Minister of PNG and not the rubber stamp of Australian cross-interest in this country. He will have to do better than he has done so far to show us that our lives and our resources are safe from the marauding corporate raiders who are crowding his social calendar even now.
    He has to demonstrate that the mothers of Bougainville who lost their sons fighting for their land and resources have not died in vain. He has to show us that the blood of the innocent spilled on Bougainville was for a cause of equal worth, and that indeed he will use this term of Prime Minister-ship to initiate a ministry of healing of the nation., to reconcile us as brother to brother, that our blood can flow through our veins once again from one heartbeat. For Somare who signed the First Project Agreement for Bougainville and for Chan who signed to spill blood, this will be a fitting closure, for the past to be properly buried , and for the future to be welcomed together. For without properly dealing with these matters, we can never wipe the sorrow from the Islands of Bougainville.
    Is Peter ONeill one of the sons that the great Simbu Chief Kondom Agaunduo spoke of in his maiden speech to the SPC, or is he just another ‘yes’ man for the Australians, doing their bidding so that he can increase his own barns, while the rest of the country starve? Does Peter ONeill have the smarts of a modern education and business acumen to really serve the national interest, or will be be just another drunken politician, pandering to his mates, and the sharks and vultures already circling around and above the nation?
    While the nation prepares to host the next South Pacific Games, will we be proud to cheer our red black and gold? Does Peter ONeill possess the skill, courage, mental, intellectual and moral fortitude to rise to the call of the nation, not only give us cause to celebrate and showcase our nation in the games, but show those sharks and vultures that circle us, preying on us and our resources, that this is the land of an ancient people, a people of pride, strength and culture? That we will not be bought or sold for political or economic convenience? That the birth place of the Melanesian nations- the heart and soul of Melanesia is not for sale? These questions are only for Peter ONeill to answer, and prove his mettle. If he fails, then that will be his legacy, and his only, because we will not be bought or sold by anyone, and our sons will see to that, even as they did on Bougainville.
    It is therefore incumbent on men like Garry Juffa to stand up for this nation, just as the former Governor for Morobe did, to rule a line in the sand, and tell the hordes that prey on our people and their Leaders, to stay outside the line, and clarify their wish lists. These wish lists must be defined and measured against the national interest. If these interests are not defined, and made subservient to the national interests by our young Leaders like ONeill, then he will sell our people, and sail into the sunset with his gains, and we will be left to ponder what went wrong as we struggle to live with the manacles of slavery, control and poverty he has placed us under.

  2. Garry,
    You may not know this but you were annointed by God to deliver Oro. I have people whom I work with and they always comment on the mind you. Your vision and dreams will come to pass as you are the annointed. I am not religious (I don’t even go to Church) but I believe in God and believe that a person like you will really serve the people of Oro. Good on you. Awara chol.

  3. Australian government prepares “transition” for Solomon Islands intervention
    By Patrick O’Connor
    13 November 2012The Australian Labor government is preparing to modify its flagship neo-colonial intervention in the South Pacific, the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI). Nearly 10 years after first dispatching hundreds of troops, federal police and government officials to take over the impoverished country’s state apparatus, Canberra is winding down RAMSI’s military component. The “transition” is aimed at ensuring the continued domination of Australian imperialism over political and economic life in the Solomon Islands.
    RAMSI involves personnel from different Pacific countries, but is controlled by Australia. There are currently fewer than 100 Australian soldiers on Solomon Islands, nearly 200 Australian Federal Police (AFP) and more than 100 civilian personnel, including officials working in key positions within the legal system, finance and treasury departments, and other parts of the public service. All have immunity from local laws.
    The RAMSI operation commenced in July 2003, with the former Australian government of Prime Minister John Howard intervening in violation of international and Solomon Islands’ law. Cloaked in humanitarian claims about putting an end to civil conflict, the predatory operation was centrally aimed at bolstering Canberra’s hegemony in the South Pacific and shutting out rival powers from its “patch”, amid heightened geo-strategic rivalries across the region. The Australian government disarmed the Solomons’ police force and took control of its prison and judicial systems, central bank and finance department, and the public service.
    Now, in the most significant recasting of the operation since its inception, RAMSI’s military component will be withdrawn in the second half of 2013. Also next year, RAMSI will no longer have its own “development” agenda. Instead, aid and other programs will be run bilaterally, via the Australian High Commission in Honiara. RAMSI’s policing component, the Participating Police Force, will continue operations at least until 2014, and likely for much longer than that.
    The “transition” is being accompanied by rhetoric from the Solomon Islands government of Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo about the need to prepare for the eventual withdrawal of the entire intervention force.
    In reality, the Australian government has no perspective of ever leaving the Solomons. Foreign Minister Bob Carr visited RAMSI headquarters in August and declared: “Australia is going to be here to help Solomon Islands and its people for as long as they need our help … We’re not going to withdraw. And RAMSI’s police function is going to continue for a long time after the military function is phased out.”
    None of the underlying strategic issues that triggered Canberra’s decision to intervene in 2003 have been resolved. China enjoys closer diplomatic, economic and military ties with many South Pacific states than it did a decade ago. Moreover, the Obama administration’s “pivot” to the Asia-Pacific, involving an aggressive drive to contain Chinese influence, has placed further pressure on Canberra to fulfil the task assigned to it by Washington ever since the end of World War II—that of shutting out rival powers from the region.
    The modifications to RAMSI are aimed at making the intervention force more cost efficient. For some time, RAMSI troops have comprised mostly reservists, and their Solomons’ deployments have functioned as expensive training exercises.
    The AFP has long been Canberra’s primary enforcer on the ground in the Solomons, including its heavily armed paramilitary wing, the International Deployment Group. The federal police were centrally involved in the Australian government’s 2006-2007 regime change operation against Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare that included the persecution of his attorney general, Julian Moti. Sogavare and Moti were targeted after being perceived as threats to RAMSI’s untrammelled dominance in the country.
    Australian Defence Minister Stephen Smith, touring the Solomons in April, said the “orderly drawdown” of soldiers would leave “the very strong presence” of the AFP, which would “continue to be on the ground for any required response.” Smith added that the Labor government was looking to a new “defence cooperation program” in the Solomons, potentially involving regular Australian military visits or exercises.
    Contingency plans are no doubt in place for a renewed military intervention in the event that Canberra regards its strategic position under threat.
    It remains unclear how many, if any, of the Australian officials now implanted in different parts of the Solomons’ state apparatus will be withdrawn as part of the “transition”. So-called development assistance, which has included the lucrative salaries of AFP officers and RAMSI personnel—classified as Australian “aid”—will be removed from the intervention force’s brief. But RAMSI Special Coordinator Nicholas Coppel indicated this would allow for greater control from Canberra. “It’s been difficult to do very long term development assistance work when its horizon has been limited to a four-year budget cycle in Australia,” he stated. “Moving development assistance across to our normal AusAID bilateral program enables us to do much more long term planning for Solomon Islands.”
    One of the aims of the RAMSI “transition” is to boost Australian corporate investment. Coppel told the Australia-Solomon Islands Business Forum in Brisbane last month that the changes marked “a clear signal that Solomon Islands is back in business” and demonstrated that the country’s economy would no longer be dominated by “an interventionist, post-conflict model of development assistance.”
    Mining activity is being stepped up across the Solomons. A small Australian mining company, Allied Gold, now operates the Gold Ridge mine on Guadalcanal Island. Another Australian company, Axiom Mining, plans to soon begin work in Santa Isabel on one of the world’s largest nickel deposits, worth an estimated $60 billion. Mining companies from Britain, South Africa and Japan are exploring for gold, nickel, copper and other reserves, including on the seafloor. From the beginning, RAMSI was developed with an eye to ensuring that Australian transnational corporations received top priority in plundering Solomon Islands’ natural resources.

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