Last Friday, 16 September, Papua New Guinea celebrated the 36th anniversary of its independence.
The last 36 years has been an endlessly fascinating journey for a country with which Australia has had an abiding interest. Yet you wouldn’t know this from our media. With less Australians based in PNG since Independence it seems PNG’s profile in our national discourse has diminished and this has to change.
So last night PNG’s Independence Day was marked in the Commonwealth Parliament through the inaugural PNG Independence Day Oration.
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It’s not long ago that when people talked about the Federal Budget, the discussion was about more than hand-outs or who got what. It was about what the Budget meant for the nation, what it was going to leave for future generations, and how it was going to make Australia a better society.
This year’s budget hasn’t pleased everybody – Budgets never do. Some might have found it a bit underwhelming, but given the Government’s priority of returning the budget to surplus, it was not going to have the money for major projects.
What has surprised me is the nature of the debate in the media – the seeming obsession with minor changes to eligibility for family payments – and the lack of interest in how the budget deals with the challenge of getting people into work, improving the nation’s skills or fighting mental illness.
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