Tim Blair


New Criterion



Sunday, June 15, 2003
TALK OF THE EFFECTIVE RE-COLONISATION of the Solomon Islands, temporary we hope, creates a particular problem for the left, as Pastor Terry Lane reveals in his Sunday Sermon on Radio National today.

How has the liberation of these half million people from British oppression led to such a pathetic result? A lawless, insolvent, hopeless basket case, a kleptocracy constrained only by incompetence and disorder.

The Pastor thinks it's all a matter of size and remoteness. This should lead him to advocate the immediate dissolution of the State of Tasmania in favour of rule from Canberra. After all, the rest of us are already paying most of the bills.

His talent, journalist Marie-Louise O'Callaghan who is married to a Solomons Island MP, blames it on the former Colonial power. Britain left the tropical paradise ill-equipped for governing itself, no doubt at the insistence of every right -minded commentator.

Take the lack of political education, she says. Expectations were raised, especially among the young, but 'they didn't know what they should be able to demand from their political leadership' (Uncle's paraphrase), a faultlessly leftist interpretation of how to promote the public good.

Neither the Pastor nor his talent will point out to you some more powerful forces for backwardness. Like the cosily collectivist culture. And the lack of clear title to land on which investment might be based.

Like indigenous people everywhere, the Solomoners have the right to cultural maintenance, but should not be expected to cop the consequences. They are, after all, victims.

And who's going to pay for this rescue? The Australian tax-payer of course. How much? Your guess is as good as mine, but I suggest you work in multiples of $100mill.

Uncle has a good idea where to find the money. And I don't mean our aid budget for East Timor.

What about those south east Asian countries who think Australians are crude, ignorant, insenstive, smelly and over-paid, if we are to believe the conclusions of the Pastor's next guest, Alison Broinowski. Especially Aussie women.

It seems even Australians of Asian background think their white-skinned compatriots are trash. Or is it just those Asian-Australians whose writings are funded by the Australia Council?

None of this is surprising. The average Chinese mainlander would think that about Europeans generally. I doubt that the average Greek migrant to Australia thinks of his native-born compatriots as his equals.

The Pastor, as a good communard, must agree with the Asians about the faults of his fellows. "Astonishingly insensitive" is his description of John Howard's approach to our neighbours. We can't help the Solomons says Broinowski, unless we get the support of ASEAN. Otherwise Mahathir the Mad will be rude.

Not to worry. They won't be hounded by the anti-vilificationists in HREOC. That bludgeon is just for use on whities.

And inter-marriage is going gang-busters.

Perhaps Alison Broinowski has chosen a skewed sample of commentators to base her report on, and attitudes straight out of Foreign Affairs.

Clearly our overseas aid hasn't helped our image, if the Pastor and his guest are correct. Let's re-direct the money to the Solomons where the people at least smile at us, even if they cut off the occasional head.