After the Annette Dean management debacle we held high hopes for her successor, Rod Hillman, who seemed to have a bit more charisma for the job.

We learned later that this was his first engagement in PNG and he was the product of a government environment, conservation, recreational parks background and had no previous experience in commercial business management, military heritage, pilgrimage or the Melanesian Way.

According to the former CEO, Warren Bartlett:

‘Rod Hillman had difficulty in gaining a work permit and employment visa so I suggested the CEO position with a counterpart national CEO, James Enage. This was similar to NASFUND arrangement with Dwayne Williams and Ian Tarutia, where Ian eventually became the CEO when Dwayne completed his contract.’

Whilst Bartlett’s advice provided a ‘quick-fix’ for the problem it highlighted a lack of knowledge of PNG Government protocols by Australian Government officials and led to the disastrous management system we have on the Trail today.

According to Rod Hillman’s Linkedin profile his previous work experience was limited to environment, tourism and recreational management within State Governments departments.

There is no record of any experience in commercial business management, Melanesian culture or military heritage.

Hillman’s ‘quick fix’ regarding the appointment of a PNG ‘counterpart CEO’ without any commercial business qualifications or experience, no tourism qualifications or experience, no military heritage credentials and no previous experience in trekking was to have dire consequences for pilgrimage tourism across the Trail in the longer term.

When confronted with the reality of dealing with Australian environment officials, National, Provincial and Local Level Government officials, the incessant demands of Port Moresby based landowners and more than 70 commercial tour operators Hillman reverted to the bureaucrat model of meetings, forums and workshops to create an impression of busyness.

There is no evidence of any outcomes from any of these talkfests!