‘Check out the SI, Aus should rethink aid’ - Solomon Star News

‘Check out the SI, Aus should rethink aid’

10 January 2013

Australian Aid at all destinations should be reviewed, perhaps through a Royal Commission.

For example I saw former PM Howard announce AUS$800 million aid for Solomon Islands but a later SMH report stated $600 million never left Australia. Google "phantom aid" and "boomerang aid".

Solomon Islands people virtually have no money. An experienced SI economist has said the SI economy now needs to be monetized. Stimulated is a more modern description.

Eight hundred Aus million would have likely provided the stimulus but instead Aus sent the RAMSI force to collect guns and force the peace.

Now RAMSI is about to leave but the poverty continues and is acute, chronic - long term, especially amongst out of town/rural people.

Australia should look carefully and applying real aid through management with knowledge and skill instead of through an AusAid councillor with no decision authority.

Only this year have SI people been allowed temporary farm work in Australia yet the SW Pacific Islands are a tourism drawcard especially for cruise ships to the region that absolutely includes Australia.

Peace in the region is vital, so too is humanitarian aid to offset the now chronic poverty that is even linked to a 69 percent increase in anaemia linked maternal mortality. Protein deficiency malnutrition is involved due to island fish depletion /devastation.

There is a food sustainability crisis in the Pacific but the impact on humans is virtually ignored.

Why not delay the Australian $40 billion NBN and borrow $400 million from there instead of taking it from AusAid?

Peace and prosperity and health in our region is essential, instead of worsening poverty and disease.
Go check out SI. Travel around. Virtually no Australian aid development can be seen.

SI provides example of Aus Aid outcome.

Sure RAMSI has forced the peace but what now with a nation of really good people plunged into real poverty, traditional island seafood no longer available?

Why should phony refugees be given assistance and not our malnourished and sickened neighbours?

I am sometimes now based in SI and have background there since 1973.

Times have changed, fundamentally changed because subsistence living in Solomon Islands is no longer possible. You see the fish are no longer abundant and available to be caught by hand or from a hand paddled canoe. Yes canoes with an outboard can travel and eventually find and catch a few fish but who pays for the petrol?

Previously fish used to be abundant and fresh and free but not anymore. Baitfish were always available but not anymore. Fish used to be like money, including shell money but not anymore.

Shell for shell money is now even imported by Malaita Island shell money makers, from the Western Province and it has to be paid for.

Five weeks ago I was asked for $80 SI to buy batteries to find and catch reef fish sleeping at night. The reefs are being devastated due to need for food to feed families.

Australians should learn about complete protein, the protein with amino acid and whatever else not found in rice or potato.

SI people now need properly paid employment to buy alternative food that costs the same or more than in Australia. They need money for developed world petrol to get to shops or to transport stores back to a local shop.

But Australia has had them locked out of worker programs while people from rich nations can come and work virtually as they want. NZ people do not even need a Visa.

And I know Australian farmers who desperately need viable labour in their remote rural and outback regions where Aus people do not wish to work. e.g. True Aus Aid could be involve more than just paying out money.

SI economics, oh yes. Chinese shops have even closed and gone recently in Munda due to lack of enough trade to pay rent.

Thriving plantations yes they were given back to locals because the price fell out of copra, so no wonder locals could not afford to keep them cleared.

And the coup that developed from ECONOMIC tension that media calls ethnic tension,led to plantation cattle being eaten, so no more animals to help clear plantation undergrowth.

Coconut trees are now very old, less productive, less viable. Example, a man collected and husked and dried 41 bags of copra in one month and took it to Noro by canoe and was paid $700 SBD, and out of that he paid $350 SBD for petrol to get to Noro. At the time $1 Aus was about $4 SBD. Really, do the numbers.

Aus Aid and Australian government and media has no right to gag or suppress information of substance about the real devastated state of marine environment and impact and consequences.

In my opinion according to experience and empirical evidence, new information about the collapsed and collapsing state of Pacific Ocean food supply and sustainability is not even officially reaching the Peace Corp, or Australians.

Australian people are not seeing the need for real aid for our neighbours because people are not being informed about cause of the need. e.g. UN World Environment Day 2004 – Seas and Oceans wanted dead or alive, did not even get a run in Australia media or government news during 2004. Check library records.

Most people affected? Many people affected?

How many sick and dead humans are required before due action is taken? And that is saying nothing about starvation of marine animals on Australia's western Pacific Ocean shores.

There is need for a BIG re think, especially by Aus government and AUS AID.

John Fairfax
Ughele, Western Province.



The above opinion is John Fairfax’s on the article written by Rebecca Barber (top). Fairfax, an Australian now married to a Solomon Islands woman and is living in the Western Province.