At the end of October this year, I traveled to Papua New Guinea as part of the Lowy Institute's Leadership Mapping Project to interview Papua New Guinean leaders about their careers, motivations and aspirations for their country. I timed my visit to to coincide with the first real sitting of the new parliament following the elections in June, in which only 40 of the 109 sitting MPs were re-elected (37%) — a low number even by PNG's volatile standards.
Among the leaders interviewed was The Hon Sam Basil MP, Deputy Opposition Leader in this parliament, only the ninth since PNG's independence in 1975. This is Basil's second term in parliament, first elected in 2007 and briefly serving as Minister for Planning in the constitutionally-challenged O'Neill Government in 2011-12.
In this parliament, Basil has joined forces with Belden Namah, formerly O'Neill's deputy prime minister but not included in the new coalition government. Namah now leads the 17 MPs who form the Opposition in PNG's new 111-member parliament.
Above are some extracts from my interview with Basil, in which he talks about the problems confronting his nation, PNG's promise ('an island of gold, floating on oil') and the outlook for PNG's new generation of leaders ('they have their work cut out for them').