Shane helps out in the Highlands

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Shane Rattenbury, in traditional dress (collar and tie), at the opening of the Greens' office in PNG.

MLA Shane Rattenbury was in Papua New Guinea last week opening the Highlands’ first Greens office.

The overseas, self-funded trip, usually reserved for Greens Senators, was offered to Mr Rattenbury, due to his past experience with Greenpeace and their forest protection campaigning.

Mr Rattenbury said it was only early days for the Greens in PNG, but the country was open to change and looking for something new and honest.

“There’s a real sense of anger, that the government has failed in the sense of the people,” he said.

“They want an end to corruption, improvement of environmental protection and ensuring the wealth of the country goes back into the wealth of the people.

“My sense when chatting to people, in my own travels and with the work I was doing for the Greens, was a desire for change.”

PNG’s biggest industries include, the mining of oil, gold and copper, and timber. The country is also the biggest recipient of Australian aid.

Mr Rattenbury said in past PNG elections, votes were based on personality opposed to policy.

“The traditional way of thinking is ‘I vote for you if there’s a benefit for me’,” he said.

But according to Mr Rattenbury, the change has already begun with the leader of the PNG Greens party, Dorothy Tekwie, the first female leader of any political party in the country.

He said as well as the official ceremonies and dinners, he also worked closely with party members to share his political experience leading up to their election next year.

“Election campaigning is just totally different up there,” he said. “The party members thought door knocking with the funniest thing they’ve heard of.

“They don’t have suburbs up there, they live in traditional huts, so the thought of getting chased by dogs and having the door slammed in your face was very funny to them.”

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