In 1975 Papua New Guinea gained formal independence from Australia. However at no time since Australia took over control of the former British and German colonies has PNG been free of the domination of Australian Capital, particularly the mining sector. Australia accounts for two thirds of the foreign investment in the country, and successive governments have rarely so much as sneezed without first checking with the Australian ambassador. So, when PNG police shot six anti-globalisation protesters, it was not only PNG Prime Minister Mekere Morauta with blood on his hands. The Australian government is equally guilty. Opposition to Morauta’s massive privatisation program threatened Australian profit.
“Structural Adjustment” is the World Bank/ International Monetary Fund term for the process by which successive PNG governments have been removing barriers to global capitalism. As elsewhere, all the downsizing, destruction of services and job cuts have achieved is a continuous deterioration of PNG’s economy. From 1994 a coalition of students, workers and community activists has opposed capitalist globalisation and privatisation. They have gained support from sections of the military and the trade union movement. They know who their enemies are: during a protest march on PNG’s Parliament on June 21, participants chanted “Rausim (throw out) Australia, Rausim IMF, Rausim World Bank!”
When Swedish cops opened fire in Gotheberg, wounding one protester, it made headline news across the world. But media racism and Eurocentrism have effectively buried the story of the first martyrs of the global anti-capitalist movement. This is a mistake that working people must not repeat. Just as we have learned from each others’ protest tactics, so can the authorities. If the Australian-backed murders in Port Moresby are not strongly protested, then it’s only a matter of time before we are burying our own dead. Canberra needs to know that its actions in PNG and elsewhere are being closely watched. Australia/IMF/World Bank out of PNG. Compensation for the families of the murdered students. End Structural Adjustment. Down with Morauta’s privatisation program.