On 16 September 1975, the Australian government granted PNG its political independence. But financially we are still looking up to Australia, for grants and aids. Because of the large sum of aid money injected into the country, the government has been trying its best to pay back the money by reaping the country’s mineral resources, without considering what the five National Goals and Directive Principles spell out. We’ve been having our very own indigenous people in the parliament who haven’t been considering the five goals fully in their decision-making arenas. So, since 1975 these goals seemed to be in the preamble only to add flavour to the Constitution.
Sadly, the fourth National Goal has not been considered by our governments. The history of mining, logging and other extractive industries in PNG shows this clearly. The initial part of the process includes the clearing of the forest which destroys the home of the wildlife; these species go into extinction since they cannot adapt to the environment they are left with. Within the time span of the mining operation, so many issues and or problems arise especially socially, economically, politically and psychologically.
That is, the relationship of the people with the nature is cut-off when the trees are all cut down, leaving nothing for future generations. Economically, the landowners get a very small portion from the production by the company which causes political chaos between the government and the people, while losing their land and resources which would provide for them and future generations for all time. Psychologically, the environmental victims are left traumatised when their cries are ignored by the leaders.
Why would a mother leave her own child to starve to death? This clearly shows that the fourth National Goal has not been serving its purpose and just collecting dust on those papers. Now the question is: were the National Goals written for the sake of intellectuals putting their knowledge on paper? No. Their relevance lies to guide decision makers to make better decisions which will not serve the interest of the rich class only but all Papua New Guineans, despite language and cultural differences. Generally, we can say that we Papua New Guineans have been blindfolded by money and tend to forget our national guidelines in international arenas or discussion tables.
Decision Makers must use the fourth National Goal to weigh the benefits, consequences and follow up tests before signing contracts to allow the operation of such activities that reap off our land. But individuals must also take ownership of these goals, too. Change starts with individuals first. I strongly believe that PNG has a brighter future in the years to come if the mindset of individual Papua New Guineans is set right by taking the National Goals and Directive Principles as our footstools.
– Eleanor Maineke, Divine Word University, Madang