Thursday, April 30, 2009

Somare lies to Australia and the world about poverty in PNG

Below is part of the transcript of a press conference held by Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and his Papua New Guinea counterpart Sir Michael Somare. Here, we see that Somare tells a lie to Australia and the whole world, that there is no poverty in PNG. Get real Chief, walk the streets of any of our major towns and cities, see the beggars, scavenging the streets for food, living out of cardboard boxes. Two months ago, I took a French journalist and an Australian photographer to the Baruni Dump in Port Moresby, and they were moved to tears to see school-aged children looking for scrap of food among the tonnes of rubbish. Children do not go to school because their parents can’t afford school fees, people die because they can’t event afford the hospital fee, while Sir Michael can fly to Australia when he has a small headache. I will be walking the streets of Port Moresby to profile its poverty…Malum


JOURNALIST: I have got a question for Mr Somare. As a witness to your country’s poverty, I know that there are children starving, scavenging the streets for food, living out of cardboard boxes. Can you guarantee Australians that every cent of their $300 million is going where it needs to? And Mr Rudd are you 100 per cent satisfied that $300 million is being well spent and that Papua New Guinea is fulfilling its role under the United Nations Millennium Development Goals?

PM SOMARE: We have of course people in the streets of Port Moresby, the streets of Lae who don’t have, who don’t reside in their villages, come and of course their parents may be looking for work and you find that there are (inaudible)

You find, if you compare Papua New Guinea, with starvation, I think you have got it completely wrong, because our people have plenty in their villages. We have village society, we live in our traditional villages.

When one village is poor, the other village helps. In Port Moresby it is a different situation. Now you may have just visited Port Moresby recently and witnessed what is there. There is no-one in Papua New Guinea starving in the traditional villages. You probably see one or the two in Port Moresby - kids who come to look for opportunities for education and health, when they miss out, then they of course roam the streets.

We have catered for all our provinces and our districts. We, when we allocate the budget, it’s first time in the history of Papua New Guinea since I know Papua New Guinea from the beginning, it is the first time we have allocated amount of almost 980 million kina to concentrate on the districts, improvement of village, farming, infrastructure development, education and health.

Most people, most people live in the villages. What you see in Port Moresby is similar. If you look around, you look around some of the other countries like Papua New Guinea, maybe third world countries, you look at, see what is happening, what is being televised by CNN in Ethiopia, in Africa, in these places.

We don’t have circumstances like this in Papua New Guinea, and I can assure you, what you have seen, what you probably have seen in Moresby are kids who did not have places in schools, maybe because of the expansion of the population, influx of more people coming in, looking for opportunities in Port Moresby, could not get chance for them to provide food.

But everywhere in Port Moresby alone, if you have been in Moresby, you see the hills and mountains, people have gardens, they have sweet potato gardens, they have tapioca gardens, they have bananas.

And I don’t think anyone in Papua New Guinea starves. If you are talking and you might be talking about the people who come into the city looking for job opportunities and bring their kids along with them and I think that could be the kind of people you are talking about.

But I just want to give you assurance that Papua New Guinea, no one is starving in Papua New Guinea. We always have something to eat.


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