tough love key to nauru's future | the australian

COMMENT ... an astonishing opinion piece from Australian academic Helen Hughes, calling for Nauru to be reduced to the status of "country shire" in "association" with ... Australia. So? First, Australia helps strip Nauru of bulk phosphate through corrupt means, then, secondly, Australia helps strip Nauru of sovereignty. Less than four decades later, a brave experiment in independence is over! read more | digg story


Meibitobure said...

I am forever left incredulous after reading Helen Hughes articles. Her facts are as outdated as her thinking; typically from the colonial period. So: if her facts are bad, how well formed can her opinions be?
Firstly, to a correction of the facts: Banaba has not been 'abandoned'. It is home to several hundred Banabans who serve to protect it from ever being taken over again. If it has been abandoned, it has been done so by Australia; but this didn't happen until 1980 when they had removed 90% of the island's surface to enrich the phosphate-poor soils of their homeland. As for Nauru - she has a population far less than 13,000 – that figure was accurate before the repatriation of most of the other pacific islanders. That happened almost 18 months ago. Nor has phosphate 'run out' on Nauru; indeed latest assessments indicate at least two more decades of mining is possible if the government chooses to do so. After that, there is the promise of secondary and tertiary mining. If the government choose not to pursue further mining, there is a fishery which has been under-exploited.
In today's article, she does not mention that in addition to the $2.5billion wasted on 'pretensions' of statehood, there was billions more lost to unjust enrichment of Australian coffers, in direct violation of their mandate to trusteeship. Or perhaps this is the sum she refers to as being, simply, stolen. And was it not her own advice to the Nauruan government which promised unrealistic returns? The sight of 80 Collins St must be an incredible elephant on her dinner table. How the architect can blame the inhabitants of the house that she designed for its defects is beyond me. She has an incredible level of arrogance if she believes her work here was good. It is unfair to compare Nauru to an almsman but more favorable than having my nation compared to a thief, methinks.
It's true that educational levels have declined steeply, and diabetes, hepatitis and obesity are rife. And she is correct in her assertion that much of the health problems can be attributed to salty, fatty foods imported to the Pacific by unscrupulous profiteers because there would be no legal way to sell these products to Australians. It in untrue that our living conditions are abysmal. It is unfair to describe our living conditions particularly as she has not dared step foot on this soil in years, much less spent enough time to see how anybody lived. And should she ever do so, she will observe us from high on snob hill or from the air-conditioned comfort of her hotel room. She knows nothing of the Nauruan condition.
Professor Hughes writes creatively of some Nauruan economic refugees who have 'escaped' to other countries. Creative, romantic; but entirely untrue. There are a handful of Nauruans living in Australia, most who have been there for over a decade, long before there was any need to look for alternative sources of income. New Zealand, there are even fewer, and most have been there for just as long, whilst Fiji hosts the bulk of our overseas students. Any number of Nauruans in the US could be counted without taking one's socks off. The biggest population of Nauruans outside Nauru and Australia must be that group of people living on Majuro, where they hold many strong family links to the Marshallese people. Her idea that we would benefit from 'escaping' to Australia is in fairly stark contrast with the repeated rejection of repatriation. Alexander Downer was the last to suggest Nauruans move to Australia wholesale; a survey conducted by the Media Bureau suggested that the idea was an affront to most Nauruans. It is telling that even those with dual citizenship to not emigrate.
The idea that the Australian finance team and police commissioner run Nauru is even more ridiculous, but it is borne from Hughes' desire that it were true. It would be ideal for her; Nauru would 'stop pretending to be a country' and finally succumb to the infinite wisdom of the mighty white man. She is, of course, not alone – even among Nauruans – in her belief that the Public Service is far too large.
The smug superiority she feels oozes onto her page as she even details how we could first find work in Australia and then bring our family tailing behind us. If only she could make up her mind; she had previously written ( about her fears that Pacific Islanders working in Australia would bring HIV-AIDS, tuberculosis and other infectious diseases, organised criminal gangs who would prey on other workers (presumably Australians). She wondered who would foot the bill for deporting workers who didn't work out and worried about the cost of their health insurance. She couldn't even restrain herself from playing on the fear of these savages overstaying. If only her blackbirding ancestors were so conscientious.
This latest article from Helen Hughes shows just how far from reality her depiction of Nauru is; she makes no effort to find up-to-date information or to disguise her white superiority complex. It is clear from a review of her writings that only white, conservative, English-speaking people are of any worth and the continued existence of peoples not in this category is an inconvenience. If nothing else, Hughes seems to argue that brown people have been putting on airs of grandeur for long enough; pretending to have a right to self-determination will not make her any happier.

avaiki nius agency said...

Atawaiwolo - many thanks for your comments, they are most welcome. It would also be good to hear from Helen Hughes, in response to fellow authors, over these questions of shared Pacific history, ay?

Meibitobure said...

It would be lovely to one day hear from Helen Hughes. She can go on and on about how incompetent we are; how feeble our attempt to exist; how badly we have done for ourselves. But she can not escape the fact that she was one of the chief architects to the current situation. Nor can she escape the fact that Australia owes us far far more than the aid they give us, both financially and morally. She pretends to have the solutions to all of the Pacific's problems, yet is happy having a few hundred thousand aboriginals living in the third world whilst she drivels on from her ivory tower. The woman is nothing more than loathsome.