Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | News Flashes | Scoop Features | Scoop Video | Strange & Bizarre | Search


New Direction - Old Attitudes - Deadwood = ?

New Direction
- Old Attitudes
- Deadwood Personnel
= ?

By John Roughan
29 May 2006

Solomons’ newly elected government is to be congratulated on its determination to turn the fortunes of our country around by focusing the state’s many and varied resources on rural people’s daily lives. But it’s completely out of character for me to simply roll over, heap lavish praise on government’s latest initiative and not mention a number of serious stumbling blocks along the difficult path it has chosen.

The above title says it all! No matter how wonderful and long overdue this new direction is, focusing major finance, plans, investment, personnel and other scarce resources to revitalize the lot of villagers (I much prefer calling them villagers, not rural people!), the proposed plan fundamentally operates within an atmosphere that will certainly kill the new direction before it takes two steps.

Old attitudes die hard if at all! For more than a quarter of a century the Solomons’ political elite and the bureaucracy have fondly held on to the basic belief that Honiara and all it stands for—the best of services, easy life, rich and varied food, expensive housing, lavish entertainment, sports, education, comfortable transport, etc. etc.—is what is meant by The Good Life. Now the new government is asking, no demanding, that that attitude must change and it must change NOW.

The Sogavare government states in no uncertain terms that it is determined to drag our nation out of its economic, social and political tailspin by requiring new thinking, a retooling of vision and revitalizing of understanding. Government personnel especially its political elite, for instance, need recognize that the nation’s basic wealth producers—copra cutters, cocoa growers, farmers, fishers, wood workers, real estate developers, home builders, family producers, etc.—are village people mostly.

The nation’s political elite, government personnel and bureaucrats, on the other hand, currently eat up this hard earned wealth production through a lavish life style, demands for greater services and living far beyond what the nation can afford. When belt tightening is called for, it’s the national elite that must raise its hands first. Ministers’ new cars, overseas trips with lavish grants, plush accommodation in first class hotels, never-ending requests for special allowances for gardener, house help, driver, etc. all help boost MPs and Cabinet members salaries far above the typical Solomons’ wealth producer.

Over and above the deadening effect of ‘old attitudes’ is the leaden weight of deadwood personnel. They are found at all levels of government bureaucracy, from the very top—MPs—right through to the Public Service to those at the lowest rung. A government worker fronting up at the office at 8:00 in the morning, really putting in a full eight hours and clocking out at 4:00 is a rare sight. But it is this very type of person who government expects to carry out its new-direction policy.

Government’s new direction policy—focusing national resources on improving villagers’ lives to create greater wealth—is bound to fail in an ‘old attitude’ and deadwood personnel climate. However, a regime of speeded up rural investment and substantial villager participation may be the best and only conditions for the policy to work!

Already New Zealand dollars flow to support rural education. EU pledges itself to the rural infrastructure of shipping, wharfs, roads, airfields, etc. Other donors must be convinced that a strong health sector of rural clinics, aid posts and touring ‘barefoot doctors’ are absolutely needed for the government’s new-direction plan to successfully pull through. Telekom is a vital ingredient as well. A cell phone culture reaching out to hundreds of villages and dozens of community radios speaking to people in language are the minimum vital communication links people need to get this nation humming once again.

The equation for government’s new direction policy to really take off is easy:

New direction
+ Rural Investment
+ Villager Participation
= The Basic Life for Solomons people.


© Scoop Media

Top Scoops Headlines


Werewolf: Living With Rio’s Olympic Ruins

Mariana Cavalcanti Critics of the Olympic project can point a discernible pattern in the delivery of Olympics-related urban interventions: the belated but rushed inaugurations of faulty and/or unfinished infrastructures... More>>

Live Blog On Now: Open Source//Open Society Conference

The second annual Open Source Open Society Conference is a 2 day event taking place on 22-23 August 2016 at Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington… Scoop is hosting a live blog summarising the key points of this exciting conference. More>>



Gordon Campbell: On The Politicising Of The War On Drugs In Sport

It hasn’t been much fun at all to see how “war on drugs in sport” has become a proxy version of the Cold War, fixated on Russia. This weekend’s banning of the Russian long jumper Darya Klishina took that fixation to fresh extremes. More>>


Binoy Kampmark: Kevin Rudd’s Failed UN Secretary General Bid

Few sights are sadder in international diplomacy than seeing an aging figure desperate for honours. In a desperate effort to net them, he scurries around, cultivating, prodding, wishing to be noted. Finally, such an honour is netted, in all likelihood just to shut that overly keen individual up. More>>

Open Source / Open Society: The Scoop Foundation - An Open Model For NZ Media

Access to accurate, relevant and timely information is a crucial aspect of an open and transparent society. However, in our digital society information is in a state of flux with every aspect of its creation, delivery and consumption undergoing profound redefinition... More>>

Keeping Out The Vote: Gordon Campbell On The US Elections

I’ll focus here on just two ways that dis-enfranchisement is currently occurring in the US: (a) by the rigging of the boundary lines for voter districts and (b) by demanding elaborate photo IDs before people are allowed to cast their vote. More>>

Ramzy Baroud: Being Black Palestinian - Solidarity As A Welcome Pathology

It should come as no surprise that the loudest international solidarity that accompanied the continued spate of the killing of Black Americans comes from Palestine; that books have already been written and published by Palestinians about the plight of their Black brethren. In fact, that solidarity is mutual. More>>


Get More From Scoop

Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news