When the hypocrisy prizes are handed out at this year’s speech night, a firm favourite will have to be the various knee-jerk reactions to the possibility of a mine somewhere in the vicinity of the Kokoda Track.

The Prime Ministerial assumption of any sort of sovereignty over PNG is amazing, never mind the implications of some of the cheer-squad commentary that amount to the desirability of keeping the natives in quaint fuzzy-wuzzy bearer mode.

I haven’t attempted the Kokoda Track, but everything I read about PNG and hear from people there adds up to a miserable third-world existence for most of the locals. For all its other faults, the Ok Tedi mine at least brought education and health services to the mine landowners – too bad about what happened downstream.

Yet the “$1.3 billion Kokoda mine” story also deserves a prize for gullibility. Frontier Resources’ hopes of a project remain just hopes – a long way short of a probability yet, let alone an actual mine.

A quick look at Frontier’s annual report shows they are exploring and they have something worth investigating further – but that’s about all. The share price certainly isn’t saying the company has a $1.3 billion mine.

Good luck to them. One can only hope for the sake of the locals that they find a very rich gold mine that will pay for health, education and a future beyond the sorry story of falling living standards in PNG.

Peter Fray

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