Interview: Graham Supiri

Posted: November 9, 2012 in Uncategorized

The government can do more for development in PNG by focussing on families rather than mining projects, says the runner-up university entrant in the Our Pacific Ways National Goals and Directive Principles Essay Competition.

Graham Supiri, a third year Mathematics and Computing Science student at Divine Word University in Madang, said the lack of basic services available to families around the nation – particularly rural and remote areas – reflected the lack of equality and participation in PNG.

Supiri said it was clear governments had forgotten the wisdom of the National Goals laid down in our constitution, the second of which states that: “We declare our second goal to be for all citizens to have an equal opportunity to participate in, and benefit from, the development of our country.”

Supiri said he most clearly saw the absence of ‘equality and participation’ in the denial of basic services to rural people.

“The Government is putting all its focus on the towns and cities, while rural areas continue to lack basic services. There are no health facilities, no roads, no basic infrastructure in many parts of the country,” he said.

“So the rich are getting richer, while the poor are getting poorer.”

Supiri saw this clearly in his home province of Mendi, Southern Highlands, where people still suffer a lack of essential services – despite all the talk about the LNG project’s contribution to economic development.

“The LNG project is doing nothing at all in the Southern Highlands,” Supiri said. “It’s most clear effect has been the breakdown of families.”

Supiri believes the key to realising equality and participation in PNG – as envisioned by the Constitutional Planning Committee in 1974 – is for the government to focus on the development of families.

“Families are the backbone of any development,” he said. “The Government needs to get down to the level of the family, meaning that basic services necessary for families should be provided regardless of where people live.

“From there we can stabilise our communities and the broader society. But we have to start with families first.”

Read Graham’s winning essay here:


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