Papua New Guinea
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Thinking about the big vote in Australia that’s coming up

The constitutional referendum in Australia regarding its first nation’s people – the indigenous Aboriginal race – is an internal matter.

May they decide well! We’re in the same region and Australia is giant so what are the implications, if there are any? Just thinking aloud, the Kanaks of New Caledonia who want independence from France say Australia, New Zealand and the US are their friends (ABC Pacific Sunday 24 July) relayed by NBC. Then there is of course West Papua.

Pacific is not only the world’s biggest ocean but it is currently at the centre of world attention; chiefly for two reasons – China, a world power pursuing strategic partnerships with Pacific Island nations and the Pacific islands under threat of calamity from climate change.

The regional politics involving China’s growing influence incredibly is disdainful to the climate dilemma brought on by industrialised nations who are undecided on how much and how soon they will reach their zero Co2 emission targets with figures ranging from 20 years to 70 years. By the time they are all done, some of the atolls in the Pacific may be history.

Sea level rise is already inundating coastlines and threatening water sources and encroaching on doorsteps. That is the thorn in the side of this complicated politics. Activists from Fiji have taken their climate justice message to Australia saying, as the ‘mother country’ Australia needs to do more.

Australia, heavily dependent on coal for its domestic energy needs is not in a great hurry; at least not the way islanders would like to see. Climate change in this regard is “hearing the voices” and ironically, there is a voice issue in Canberra right now that is like a metaphor.

Looking further afield, peace has become a huge problem in the European continent with borders closing in an attempt to deal with unwanted immigration and refugees fleeing in search of safety and peace of mind. Australia as a big country has a liberal policy in terms of taking in immigrants. But the migrants will always want to keep their original values in some form or another.

The First Nations people also want to keep their identity and to keep their land in good shape. The climate change issue is far- reaching in this regard and this is the political connotation for them if they do not speak up. To deny them this voice because of some kind of unexplained fear will be counterproductive in the long term.

The history of early settlement and how the First Nations people were treated have left indelible scars so a loss in the referendum will only result in more physical and emotional scars with bitter resentment; at least for those who feel defeated.

Peace in the world will be sustained if the material culture of some societies become more accommodating to groups that want to live in harmony with nature or their culture is still strong. We can only hasten our own destruction by being inconsiderate in that regard.

At the heart of this matter is organisations, institutions and corporations whose beliefs and values divide the world and deny dignity of peoples, races or cultures who are on the edge. While Governments are trying to deal with climate change, these organisations are not saying much. Looking at it holistically, there is no way the world will clean up what has been sent up to the skies.

That is the other side of the same coin in the climate crisis debate. If anything, we’re sending more debris up there.

Back to Papua New Guinea, the facts are these:


Papua New Guinea became independent at a time when decolonization was sweeping the globe under the watchful eyes of the United Nations. Now; in the case of the Kanaks of New Caledonia, they’re caught in a situation where their colonial power seemingly wants a presence in the Pacific; well, that appears to be the case.

The Melanesian Spearhead Group have not come clean on West Papua while PNG, a Pacific nation is close to Asia. More questions than answers. What is disconcerting is the pathways to finding answers are running parallel, making peace in the region volatile. Is that the way to build peace in our region? Hopefully not.

Back to the world stage, the United Nations Security Council has so far been unable to stop the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Now; why was the United Nations started?

It was the result of First World War, wasn’t it? Millions of soldiers were killed and the world economy left in tatters resulting in a great recession.

And why was First World War started in the first place? It was over the inability to reach agreements, wasn’t it? Politicians start wars.

Aren’t we contradicting ourselves? Is humanity full of contradiction? Perhaps societies that have preserved their age-old customs and values have options to offer humanity? At least in down-to-earth thinking. The writing is on the wall, however.

There are individuals who are starting to live off the grid by going back to hunting and gathering lifestyle. Watch ‘Alone’ on the History Channel and see for yourself.

These very survival tactics ‘Alone’ participants try to understand are elementary to First Nations people all around the globe. We may not all go back off the grid but the point is; there must be options to choose from.

Whether it is now or tomorrow can only be decided by history. But until you make the decision, you won’t know what the future holds. And that is true in a tricky situation.

How tricky; is in the simplicity of a monumental question where only a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer is to be ticked in the box provided. Just with one sweep of the hand and the future will be decided.