If there’s one thing you made me realize, apart from the great Victorian beers and buildings, it is that Martyn Lives in Melbourne. Well, you know what I mean by “martyn”, the Papua New Guineans who live amongst the general Australian Population down under. You know, the Wantoks who braved the cold outdoor temperature and rain in Melbourne to attend a Barbie for a buai seller. They are true ambassadors of PNG, silently setting a great example of the dignity of Papua New Guineans.
I was also very conscious of the plight of my West Papuan wantoks. Meeting Ronny Kareni, and listening to his stories of the struggle of our people in West Papua got me thinking of the greater Melanesian story, not just a PNG story.
Clearly, as indicated by the West Papuan experience, we Melanesians are a victim of the colonial legacy. Regional powers like Australia have failed to mitigate the effects of that experience and instead perpetuated it to a certain extent. The type of Political reform being currently undertaken by Uncle Frank in Fiji, would not have been possible without a coup as self-serving politicians continue to bicker over parochial issues. If democracy is neocolonisation of Solomon Islands, illegal occupation of West Papua and the manipulation of Justice by PNG’s Parliament, then democracy is a failure trap in Melanesia.
During my stay with you in Melbourne I didn’t even think of you as Australian, except when you made sure I didn’t keep PNG time for those interviews and meetings.
In terms of landmarks of Melbourne that stick in my head, if say it would have to be that obscure building on the side of the road that had a sign stating “Ladies for Gentlemen.” I probably wouldn’t have gotten myself into trouble had it not been for a reminder about Craig Thomson’s credit card dilemma in Canberra.
And Aunty Linda thanks for the tour of the Crown Casino. I wanted to understand the significance of the Australia-PNG casino relationship as promoted by PNG’s finest examples of bad politicians.
I loved the match at AAMI Park between the Storms and the Broncos. As you already know, I hate both teams but in the spirit of diplomacy, everything was “GO THE STORMS’. I know being intoxicated by alcohol is not an excuse one can use in court but at a rugby match, hope I can get excused for cheering for Billy Slater’s team.
It was also in Melbourne that I did my first live TV interview. Thanks for sharing that experience with me at the ABC studios in South Bank.