The man of nature

September 30, 2012 at 7:41 am (Commentary, Papua New Guinea)

(Double click on The man of nature below for photo)


The man of nature


— TOMORROW, a government of dreams!

The man of nature sits in his hut undisturbed

while the urban elitist quarrel over

how to set him free from his rustic, tranquil life.

Deborah Ruiz Wall, Angoram, 1973

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How can there be no funds for rural health?

September 29, 2012 at 10:54 pm (Commentary, PNG Health)

Post-Courier 28/9/2012

The powers that be in PNG should take a lesson from the ‘terrible’ colonial times when most villages and hamlets were visited by health patrols at least once a year and often more so.

Get some patrol boxes and fill them with essential medicines and send them out by foot, canoe or car to the villages with medical assistants, orderlies, doctors or nurses. Just do it as it was done years ago!

Don’t sit around and talk about it. How long is it since Kekten in the upper reaches of the Keram River been without being visited by a medical patrol? I would think years!

Where are all the aid posts that existed in the old days?

Most PNG people live in rural areas, so surely they deserve health services.

Let’s forget the constant dribble we are all subjected to in the media and elsewhere about the evils of colonialism and get real about what exactly post-colonial administrations are actually delivering to their people.

But then again, I don’t want to get too carried away heralding colonialism as I’m sure many PNG people feel like Milton’s Lucifer, “It is better to Rule in Hell, than Serve in Heaven”.

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The Angoram Club

September 29, 2012 at 12:53 am (Commentary, East Sepik District, expatriates, Sepik River)


(Click on Angoram Club below for photo)

Angoram Club

“Angoram, New Guinea; 1969“Angoram is a chapter out of Somerset Maugham or Evelyn Waugh, the Yoknapatawpha County of Melanesia, belonging to the past, but intensely alive, full of color & characters, all gathered nightly in the Angoram Club, playing billiards under the Queen’s portrait (flanked by dartboard & crossed spears) or relaxing in broken furniture left over from World War II: crocodile hunters, gold prospectors, missionaries, adventurers, traders, remittance men, all drinkers & most smugglers, full of false dreams of the past & baseless hopes for the future, each sustained by some private dream of riches without labor. Such towns need their gold rush or illicit diamond trade: in the Sepik, it’s primitive art. Looting the Amboim caves of archeological treasures netted big money, and while little of this reached the looters, it put the smell of treasure in the air, bringing the town to life, corrupting officials & missionaries alike, creating an atmosphere of intrigue & wealth & great conversations.“The Angoram Club’s volunteer bartender is a sensitive, witty Australian builder who, having failed at both architecture & suicide, abandoned his past to become the government carpenter in this remote outpost. His thirst for the printed word had reduced him to reading can labels, equipment instructions, even currency, until he discovered a set of the collected works of Aquinas, abandoned by a mad-missionary-turned-dealer-in-pagan-art. Late conversations usually end on some fine Thomistic point.”

Pages 74-75
Oh, What a Blow That Phantom Gave Me! by Edmund Carpenter
Holt, Rinehart and Winston – New York, Chicago, San Francisco
Copyright 1972, 1973 by Edmund Carpenter

“The sun lowered as a great red ball and, like its ghost, a pale full moon came up in the east, while the blazing orb was still above the horizon. We arrived, with the dusk gathering in the river bank casuarinas, at Angoram.

“The Angoram Club has a bar and a billiard table in a hall big enough for dances. It has no staff whatever, and no cash-register. On the bar is a book. When you come in you put down a pound note and write your name in the book. All beer is served by the bottle and, for spirits, you help yourself. The barman tells you when your quid has cut out and you put in another. The barman is the member whose turn it is to be barman that night. His duties finish when nobody wishes to drink any more.”

Colin Simpson Islands of Men Angus & Robertson Sydney 1955

“The Angoram Club was the meeting place for the expatriates and the town’s few mixed-race residents. It had a shabby spaciousness about it and was situated next to the hotel facing the river. The amenities consisted of tables and chairs with a bar, record player and billiard table. There was enough space to hold dances from time to time and the bar was largely run on an honour system, with members serving.

“On this evening most members were present and James was welcomed by the president, Allen Warburton, a man in his fifties with a dignified air and a clipped spoken accent, a mixture of educated Australian and colonial British.”

David Wall Sepik Blu Longpela Muruk Swirl Bury St Edmunds 2007

By the nineteen eighties the club had completely disintegrated. The building had been dismantled and interior furniture purloined.

Sepik Robbie, Ralph Ormsby, Freddy Eichhorn, Peter England, Don Bosgard and Ron Lucas would be turning in their graves.

One past member would be particularly upset with the removal of the billiard table for it was on this fixture that he pleasured a young lady at the dead of night after closing time.

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Considered thoughts!

September 21, 2012 at 7:07 am (Adolf Hitler, Australian Politics, Catholic Church, Commentary, Human Rights, Middle East, Refugees, The Prophet, Third Reich)

A few European friends of mine were looking at the world and they deemed it was in a mess. One said it’s time we bring the Fuehrer (Fuhrer) back! By using an ouija board they contacted Adolf — “Der Fuehrer, we need you back!” There was a pause, and then he came on- line again. “OK, but next time around no more Mr Nice Guy.”

Pope John Paul II walking in the Vatican Gardens for quiet meditation suddenly encounted the Almighty, and they got into conversation. “Dear Lord, while I’m pope do you think there will be women priests?” God Almighty answered, “not in your time”. The next question the Pope put to God was dealing with the marriage laws of the Church. “Do you think the Church will ever relax its attitude to artificial birth control.” Again God told him not in his time. John Paul’s final question was: “Lord, do you think there’ll be another Polish Pope?” The Almighty answered in no uncertain terms: “Not in my time.”

I wonder if the Prophet would be proud of his followers in Sydney. It was said to me today that Australia should take the refugee policy that we follow about arrivals into our own hands — forget the international conventions and set a fixed figure on the number we would take each year They would be selected from the refugee camps around the world — don’t bother about off-shore processing — boats that turn up out of the blue would be sent back to their first point of departure — the pocessing would all be done in the refugee camps, and some sort of common sense should be exercised in the parts of the world we draw from — perhaps for a while we should give the Middle East a rest.

I recognise that there are humanitarian problems with the policy outlined above but there are many problems with our present policy — I suppose it’s hard to know what to do.

John Blaxell

These views are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editor of this blog. 

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Conservative State Governments are a gift to Federal Labor!

September 16, 2012 at 4:43 am (Australian Politics, Commentary, Julia Gillard, pre-Keynesian economics, Tony Abbott)

The recent successes of the convervative State Governments in gaining office are destined to do a lot of good for Federal Labor in the next election.

The trend against Julia Gillard’s Government, I forecast, will come to an abrupt end in the polls.

Premiers: Ted Baillieu, Barry O’Farrell, Campbell Newman, Colin Barnett and Chief Minister Terry Mills will all prove to be a boon to the fortunes of Federal Labor in the coming election.

The Tory policies of sacking public servants will prove to be more than unpopular with the electorate.

As things stand, Julia, our PM, is in with a bumping majority after the next election in 2013.

Conservative leaders just can’t help themselves with their pre-Keynesian economics comparing household budgets with state budgets. Their policies won’t work and will lead to more unemployment – all the above leaders are not quite as bad as each other, but to some degree they are all tarred with the same brush.

I strongly suspect that Tony Abbott is turning in his bed at night — not in a matrimonial sense but in distress — at the pre-Keynesian antics of his State colleagues — Tony is a bit more enlightened in his views about unions and the working class.

Unless these State Governments pull their heads in we will be landed with another three years and more with Julia and her lot.

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Thoughts from the top of my head!

September 10, 2012 at 7:42 am (Commentary, David Marr, Medical practice in Australia, Tony Abbott, Uncategorized)

I often wonder the way medicine is now practised in Australia — or at least in the capital cities and large regional centres.

It seems to me that the GPs are now mainly confined to writing out scripts and carrying out elementary examinations and should they find anything significant the matter is usually referred to a specialist. You can’t tell me that after eight years to get themselves registered as medical practitioners they are not capable of carrying out some basis surgical and medical procedures — is it the elitist structures within the profession that limit what GPs are allowed to do? Why do we have waiting lists for patients in need of many basic procedures when the skills of our GPs are underutilized and why aren’t GPs given hospital appointments where their patients can be followed up when hospitalized?

I remember years ago talking to my father, an old-time GP, who did almost everything in his country practice, about what he would do if he no longer had a hospital appointment — he told me that in this event he couldn’t see the point of  continuing to practise if he couldn’t follow the medical progress of his patients in the local hospital.

In the public forum this aspect of present-day practice in Australia never seems to be mentioned — to my mind the on-the-spot discussion with a patient’s GP and a referred specialist in the hospital setting can only be to the good of the patient– the initial medical contact remains a reference point throughout the patient’s treatment.

I just can’t understand why we don’t make better use of our GPs!

I like the sound of this publication that came out today:

Quarterly Essay 47

Political Animal: The Making of Tony Abbott

David Marr

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“For Both Sides of the Arafura Sea” by Sylvia Lawson

September 7, 2012 at 11:17 pm (Book review, Commentary, Human Rights, Indonesian New Guinea, Papua New Guinea, Sylvia Lawson, West Papua)

I sent the following congratulations to Sylvia Lawson the author  of an excellent essay on

West Papua — For Both Sides of the Arafura   Sea:

Sylvia, this should be compulsory reading for all our policy makers!  
I often wonder what we are doing in Afhanistan and elsewhere when the   Melanesians
of West Papua, so near to us, are suffering so much, and to think   that in small measure
we (I mean Australia) are responsible for.
Congratulations to you for your piece and with all good wishes,   David
It is my firm belief that the Island of New Guinea belongs to the   Melanesians
and unless the stealing of half the Island is not eventually put  to right the whole region,
particularly PNG and Australia, to say nothing of   Indonesia, will all continue to remain
under a dire moral cloud.
The above mentioned essay can be found in:
Demanding the Impossible   Seven Essays on Resistance, Sylvia Lawson, Melbourne University Press, 2012

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Kaiser-Wilhelm-Spitze — I was there in 1958 — the highest point of the old German Empire

September 4, 2012 at 5:09 am (A.C.T. Marke, Adolf Hitler, Commentary, David Wall, Ernest Hemingway, expatriates, James Ward, John Bowers, Papua New Guinea, Sir Ernest Spender, Temlett Conibeer)

“Kilimanjaro is a snow-covered mountain 19,710 feet high, and is said to be the highest mountain in Africa. Its western summit is called the Masai “Ngaje Ngai,” the House of God. Close to the western summit there is the dried and frozen carcass of a leopard. No one has explained what the leopard was seeking at that altitude.”  The Snows of Kilimanjaro

I don’t know if Hemingway ever got to the top of Kilimanjaro but he immortalized the frozen carcass of the leopard and the eternal question of what this creature was doing at such an altitude in his wonderful work of fiction.

For me, since my descent of the peak of Kibo, some would say, all has been downhill, on the other hand who’s to know? What was I seeking? My carcass would not have been as attractive as the remains of the leopard. I can remember when I reached the summit, I left my name: Care of New Guinea Company, Rabaul, Territory of Papua and New Guinea — perhaps out of respect to the former German Colony of New Guinea.

What of some of the other ex-colonials from PNG and their aspirations — Is the Commander Twist Semites and swastikas awaiting the reincarnation of the Fuhrer? Is the Captain among the old diggers in Collaroy/Narrabeen looking forward to the Rapture and the coming of the Lord? For the Captain, it’s the beatific vision and for the Commander, it is Aryan beauty — both sublime and heavenly!

It has been said that a lot of ex-expats from PNG suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). I ,of course, don’t believe this — there’s nothing wrong with me, the Commander or the Captain. We are all quite sane, it’s just that what we want is not always what the rest of society wants. What does that make of the rest of society?

Getting back to my original question and Ernest’s, what was that old leopard doing at such a height? In Robert Browning’s words: “Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for?” The beast went beyond where food could be found and died. This will not happen to the Captain, Commander or me — we all live on pensions — we will die, but not, I think, from hunger.

The sheer scope of our endeavour, is in some ways alike to the leopard,  surely this is something to be admired.

Are we seeking a return of colonial glory in PNG? I’ll leave this question to my readers to answer.  Are we headed for the nuthouse or eternal life?

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