An Australian volunteer who was doing whatever volunteers do in PNG.
I was there for 2 years until Dec 2005 .. I hope I made the most of it.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Let's All Be Autonomous

Every time I seem to open one of the daily newspapers here (which is not that often) I stumble across another article about another provincial government wanting to be Autonomous. It seems to be the fashion that has started since Bougainville had their successful elections in June and wrestled a substantial amount of control of their destiny back from Port Moresby.

Leading the charge from the other provinces has been my own province of Morobe and its - for want of a better word - 'charismatic' leader, Luther Wenge. I am pretty sure Wenge is never happy unless his mug appears in the paper somewhere, and he does a good job of continually getting in there with various court cases or telling the PM to resign, now he is hitting new headlines saying Morobe should become Autonomous.

He wasn't the first either. It seems that all the island provinces have joined the band wagon and don't want to be left out if it turns into an autonomous free-for-all. East New Britain has said as much, West New Britain has been saying in kind and Manus doesn't want to be left out either. Call me a cynic but it seems to me that everyone wants a piece of a bigger politician pie.

And now along with the autonomous runaway train there is the current cry for a new breakaway province in the Southern Highlands, called Hela. Looks like there are plenty of people not so happy with the current situation.

OK a couple of things I am thinking, firstly all the provinces can't become autonomous, can they? Or can they? How would this work, would it be like a federation? And how does this differ from what is in existence at the moment? It also seems to me that what this country needs is a less complex structure of government not a more complex one. There has to be one of the highest politician to per-capita ratio here in the world. Creating autonomous provinces, or even new provinces, will not go about decreasing this.

My idea is why don't they reduce the number of provinces by amalgamating them together into states and then form a federation with them. The island provinces, without Bougainville, will obviously become a state. Mamose (Morobe, Madang and the Sepik provinces) join together. The highland provinces form and then the former Papua provinces form together.

Four new states together with Bougainville, ruled by independent autonomous governments and overseen by a national federal government. This is the current working solution for a lot of governments around the world and it will put the politician to population level here at a realistic level. Could this work?