Friday, May 22, 2009

AusAID comments




One observation I have been forced to accept regarding the salaries paid to AusAID personnel, is that they are not the only ones on this sort of money. Have you looked at the United Nations salary and allowances scales for PNG? Have you asked what the USAID and NZAID or JICA people are getting? The difference is not enormous.

It is also worth looking at some other realities ... a public servant in Canberra can rent a home for around A$350-450/wk at the modest end of the market. Here in Port Moresby, even a basic 2-3 bedroom flat that meets the minimum standard that the Aussie High Comm sets for its personnel, costs anywhere from K2500-4000/wk (that's A$1000-1850/wk mate -A$52000-96200/yr out of that salary and allowance package just for starters. Then look at school fees in the only schools that the AHC lets staff send children too ... somewhere from K20000+/yr (A$9000) per child! Public school fees in Australia are a tenth of that.

Now look at an internet package ... if you take the 5Gb wireless service from Daltron your are up for K1200 + 10%GST/mth (A$550-650 or thereabouts) - the SAME package is available in Australia for a mere A$39.95/mth from Telsta's BIGPOND service.

Add in the cost of a motor vehicle when the AusAID family arrived for their 2 year tour - K100,000+ for a new 4WD + on-road costs & taxes - split over the two years that's K50000+/yr (A$23500 or so), with arguably a chance of recouping some of that when you leave ... but the same vehicle in Australia would be about 30% cheaper, and you'd have 4-5 years to pay it off with finance, rather than just 2 years.

Now mate, these are just back of a napkin calculations, but they do take a dent out of the fat paycheck all the same.

Now consider that to get these families to come here, you have to dangle a big enough carrot to get them to leave the safety, comfort and lavishness of urban Australia - with its shopping malls, picture theatres, sporting venues, clubs, etc, etc ... the cold hard reality is that if AusAID and other development agencies, didn't dangle the huge carrots they do ... nobody would come at all. Port Moresby is as we both know ... a lot different to Bondi Beach or suburban Brisvegas.

What you have to factor in next mate, is that even if that AusAID guy or gal works there butt off here, and provided the relevant PNG counterparts with the very best advice in the world, the most practical and implementable solutions ... what really are the chances that anyone will listen or even read the report?

Next to none.

And you can trust me on that because I have a wealth of experience in providing advice to at least one government Department, and having had nothing but the sounds of crickets come back at me.

My report on the antivenom problems here has been on the Health Secretary's desk since the day he arrived in office - it was on his predecessors desk for 6 months before that. Action taken = NONE.

My reports of corruption were formally handed to the Police Fraud Squad in mid-2007, complete with documentary evidence. Action taken = NONE. Nine years of advice to PNG Health that blacksnake antivenom was not needed, and that continued use could result in patient deaths ... yet as recently as 2 weeks ago, health centres in Mekeo and Gulf had in-date stocks of this product in their fridges... And I could give you many more examples.

I encourage you Malum to be ferocious in your reporting and commentary, but I also urge you to look beyond the sound bites, and be balanced and fair in what you say.



Cheers mate




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