4 Sep 2006

Former PNG leader says the country's failures cannot be blamed on Australia

6:54 pm on 4 September 2006

A former prime minister of Papua New Guinea, Sir Mekere Morauta, says PNG cannot blame its former colonial master, Australia, for its failures since independence.

He says, instead, the country must instead look to its "big man" culture and political leaders' use of state power and privilege for personal gain.

Sir Mekere says PNG's leaders had failed to make difficult decisions, invest wisely for the future and rein in waste and corruption in the public sector,

He says health standards are worse now than 25 years ago, the gap between the haves and have-nots wider, and population growth outstripping the government's capacity to provide services.

In a speech he asked why hasn't the country's wealth been used to promote real social and economic development.

Sir Mekere says waste and corruption in the public sector and the use of state power and privilege for personal gain are factors that have constrained PNG's development.