Let's be friends to all & enemies to everybody

Papua New Guinea is a big country with big problems which could provide meaningful work for Australia's generals and politicians for decades. That Bougainville thing will especially rattle their brain cells

Global times
Cartoon by Global Times


TUMBY BAY - Whether it is at the clan level or the national level, human society seems to be most comfortable when it has a clearly defined enemy.

During World War II, Australia had Japan to hate and Europe had Germany. In the post war years we  feared the communists in Russia, and then in China.

Continue reading "Let's be friends to all & enemies to everybody" »

19m population shock was hidden from public

The 19 million population estimate rang alarm bells in Canberra and was considered so sensitive the PNG government initially refused permission for it to be published

Koki in Port Moresby  Papua New Guinea
Koki, a suburb of Port Moresby best known for its market and other commercial activities

| The Australian

CANBERRA - A new United Nations study has found Papua New Guinea could have a population of 17 million – almost double the official estimate.

The new population forecast would, if accurate, would slash measures of PNG’s living standards and ramp up concerns over its fragility as a nation state.

Continue reading "19m population shock was hidden from public" »

West Papua: first one, then two, now five....

West Papua, the last frontier where humanity's greatness and wickedness are tested and where tragedy, aspiration and hope are revealed



BRISBANE - On 30 June the Indonesian parliament in Jakarta passed legislation to split West Papua into three more pieces.

The Papuan people's unifying name for their independence struggle, West Papua, is now being shattered by Jakarta's draconian policies.

Continue reading "West Papua: first one, then two, now five...." »

The desperate & deadly streets of Moresby

“I'm afraid to live in this country. Police officers and army men think they're above the law and that they can get away with so many things. Corruption runs rampant in these streets” - Kaliop Ingirin Tomai

Least livable
Port Moresby is considered to be one of the world's least livable cities


PORT MORESBY – I am still on probation in my job and the pay is really not enough to live on. I spend half of it on bus fares to get to and from work.

But who am I to complain or quit my job when so many accounting graduates from the universities are roaming the streets doing nothing.

Continue reading "The desperate & deadly streets of Moresby" »

The lone and level sands stretch far away

Ozy 1


ADELAIDE – It seems indisputable that the ruling and business elites have given up on climate change.

By their calculus, the potential cure (massive decarbonisation and an associated massive restructuring of the economy) is much worse than the disease because it will necessarily restrict their ability to make a great deal of money.

Continue reading "The lone and level sands stretch far away" »

Kiap nation builders do not need a memorial

When we are gone, the books by Ian Downs, Keith McCarthy, Jim Sinclair and others will continue to tell our story. The archives and libraries around the world record our history. What better memorial could there be?

Census patrol  Pilitu section  Goilala district  1974
Census patrol,  Pilitu section,  Goilala district,  1974



SYDNEY - I read ‘The Forgotten Australian Patrol Officers’ by Luke Gosling OAM MP and wondered who had misled him and who determined that the majority of kiaps supported a memorial for kiaps.

I am one of the former kiaps who think the memorial concept is a nonsense.

Continue reading "Kiap nation builders do not need a memorial" »

There are hidden traps in helping others

Biting the hand that feeds you is an unpleasant quirk of human nature that is hard to understand. It must trouble those generous and unstinting volunteers who are subject to it

Image by Rodney Dekker  Oxfam
Photo by Rodney Dekker, Oxfam


TUMBY BAY - There are vast numbers of volunteers out there in the community. They are all doing good work and most will derive a lot of personal satisfaction from this.

Very few of them expect monetary recompense for what they do. Or even recognition.

Continue reading "There are hidden traps in helping others" »

The ‘wicked problem’ of B'ville independence

An independent Bougainville will be an impoverished mini-state lacking the economic foundation to be much more than a subsistence-based economy, although there may be wealth creation opportunities around mining and tourism

Bougainville fighters  1997
Bougainville Revolutionary Army fighters in 1997 with World War II weapons recovered from the jungle. The 10-year civil war saw the BRA repel PNG police and military forces at terrible cost before a peace treaty was agreed


ADELAIDE – Poor Richard Marles. Australia’s deputy prime minister and defence minister had merely stated his support for Papua New Guinea as it moved through the thorny issue of Bougainville independence.

The general statement of support for PNG attributed to him was pretty much all he could say.

Continue reading "The ‘wicked problem’ of B'ville independence" »

The continuing struggle of the book author

More than 80% of authors have attended university and almost half have completed a postgraduate degree – a high level of education that is not matched by high income


| The Conversation

SYDNEY - Most Australian book authors do not earn enough income from their creative practice to make ends meet. They rely on other jobs and other support, such as a partner’s income.

In the 2020-21 financial year, the average personal income in Australia was approximately $A70,000. Only one-third of authors earned this amount from all their sources of income combined. The average total income for authors, including all sources of income, was $64,900.

Continue reading "The continuing struggle of the book author" »

Society & civilisation ruined before our eyes

It feels like we have had our society ripped from under our feet and that those in power are just waiting for us to get out of the way so they can take control

In 2013 the news broke that a 1,500-year-old hub of an ancient civilisation, completely unknown to historians, had been discovered near Uluru in central Australia. But there had been no ancient empire that had gone into decline.. The story was fake


CLEVELAND – It’s very clear that Australia’s political system is fractured and no one has any idea how to fix it.

We’ve been watching the watering down of a new Integrity Commission. Both sides of politics – Labor and Liberal National – conspired to do that. What have they got to hide?

Continue reading "Society & civilisation ruined before our eyes" »

The puzzle of development: Is it good or bad?

Neo-liberalism favours a relatively small number of wealthy people and marginalises and deprives the majority. Neo-liberals hate government intervention leading to unregulated economic growth and environmental and social destruction

The Greek legend of the Trojan horse cautions people to be wary of unexpected gifts. The Greek army was at war with Troy and gave the city a fake peace offering - a hollowed-out wooden horse statue secretly filled with their soldiers. Troy's leaders fell for the trap and rolled the wooden horse into the walled city with a disastrous result


TUMBY BAY – This may surprise you, but it’s a statement of truth: Many countries we term ‘developing’ don’t need development to create democracy.

And this is because traditional societies in countries like Papua New Guinea were always democratic, possibly more so than countries like Australia and the USA which boast about their democracies.

Continue reading "The puzzle of development: Is it good or bad?" »

Can Pacific rugby league edge out China?

If a Pacific team was included, it would almost certainly have no one from PNG if based on merit. Yet the widespread assumption created by Albanese and Marles is that single Pacific team would be led by PNG

Pacific png v fiji
Papua New Guinea and Fiji scramble for the ball. Yet it's Samoa and Tonga who are the best Pacific Islands teams

| Pearls & Irritations

SYDNEY – Australia’s defence minister Richard Marles and prime minister Anthony Albanese would like to see two Papua New Guinea rugby league teams join the Australian club competition as a way to counter China’s growing influence.

Instead of banging on about China, why not start a new regional competition including one or two Pacific Islands teams, New Zealand and Australia? Sport will deliver much better foreign policy dividend if it is not used as a crude geopolitical instrument.

Continue reading "Can Pacific rugby league edge out China?" »

PNGAA establishes school scholarship fund

The PNGAA has established a fund to provide secondary school scholarships to selected Papua New Guinean students. It was decided to focus on West Sepik Province, one of the least wealthy provinces

Pngaa top

| President PNGAA

SYDNEY - Earlier this year, the Papua New Guinea Association of Australia began exploring ways to increase its active involvement with PNG for the benefit of PNG and its people.

Several potential activities were examined but in the end, it was decided to establish a fund to provide secondary school scholarships to selected PNG students.

Continue reading "PNGAA establishes school scholarship fund" »

Rivers threatening the villages of Panguna




PANGUNA - Sometime in 2017 or 2018 I wrote an article for the PNG Post-Courier office at Arawa warning people that the Panguna mine pit could turn into a lake.

Twenty years of earth being chipped away by small scale alluvial gold operations had brought the Kabarong river perilously close to breaching the pit wall.

Continue reading "Rivers threatening the villages of Panguna" »

Marles' words anger Bougainville president

“The Australian government trained and armed the PNGDF to wage war on the citizens of Bougainville and it was they who supplied gunships to wreak havoc and mayhem on Bougainville” - Ishmael Toroama

Richard Marles at a press conference earlier in 2022
'Words are bullets in foreign relations.' Richard Marles at an earlier press conference in Japan in June 2022 (Shuji Kagiyama, Reuters)

| East Asia Forum

CANBERRA - The relationship between Australia and the Autonomous Region of Bougainville is in repair mode following remarks by Australia’s deputy prime minister and defence minister Richard Marles.

Marles visited Papua New Guinea in October for negotiations over an Australia–PNG defence treaty.

Continue reading "Marles' words anger Bougainville president" »

At last an intelligent approach to China

From an Australian perspective it makes sense to be friendly terms with all countries in our region, including China. We need them and they need us

The US will base six of these long-range B-52 bombers at Tindal in the Northern Territory but Australia seeks a balanced approach in its relationships with the US and China (Ahn Young-joon,  AP)


ADELAIDE - I have a huge amount of respect for John Menadue and thus accept that his comments in ‘Xi & Albanese: Can we seize the opportunity reflect his long and deep experience in dealing with China.

I also entirely agree with his remarks on the former Liberal-National Party government, which was spectacularly inept in its dealings with China, although its criticisms of China were not always entirely without merit.

Continue reading "At last an intelligent approach to China" »

Development is difficult & culture is beautiful

In the past Engans lived within customary codes of conduct and natural laws that served as guiding principles during the time when there were no written laws. This was the beauty of Engan culture: binding factors that held the people together



Beauty of Enga Culture: Untold Stories by Tony Sulupin, Edited by Daniel Kumbon & Barry Taverner, Independently Published, 2022, 206 pages. ISBN: 9798364376510. Available here from Amazon USA, US$13.78

LAGAIP – After I completed my schooling in 2007, a new chapter in my life began when New Britain Palm Oil Limited in Kimbe hired me as a plantation supervisor.

I completed my industrial training with the company and enjoyed the work immensely but a nagging thought kept disturbing me.

Continue reading "Development is difficult & culture is beautiful" »

Xi & Albanese: Can we seize the opportunity?

Whilst I hold Australia rather than China most responsible for the tension, our media has played a big part in promoting hostility. It has been a shameful performance from many ‘senior’ journalists and I don’t exclude ABC journalists with their attack dog style


| Pearls & Irritations

SYDNEY - The meeting between president Xi Jinping and prime minister Anthony Albanese could result in an overdue improvement in relations between China and Australia.

Real improvements will take time and a lot of goodwill. (But will deputy prime minister Richard Marles be a stumbling block?)

Continue reading "Xi & Albanese: Can we seize the opportunity?" »

Opposition grows to deep sea mining threat

“Deep sea mining is not wanted! The PNG government should be following in the footsteps of other Pacific states like Fiji, Samoa, Palau and the Federated States of Micronesia calling for a pause, moratorium or complete ban”

Kanamon Goup top
Alliance of Solwara members are leading the push against deep sea mining (Jonathan Mesulam)


PORT MORESBY - Community leaders from atolls and coastal communities in the Bismarck Archipelago and Solomon Sea region are calling for a ban on seabed mining and the cancellation of all seabed mining licenses in their Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

There are hundreds of communities in New Ireland, East New Britain, Manus, Madang, Bougainville, and Milne Bay provinces whose EEZ holds the fishery and tuna stock for Papua New Guinea.

Continue reading "Opposition grows to deep sea mining threat" »

The many complexities of Aboriginal heritage

Advocating for the protection of Indigenous heritage almost always takes place in a politically charged environment. Such endeavours are not for the faint hearted and can be a minefield for the uninitiated

Pipalyatjara in the Tomkinson Ranges
Pipalyatjara in the Tomkinson Ranges, South Australia


Fitz - Full Circle coverFull Circle: A Personal History of the South Australian Aboriginal Heritage Branch 1974-1994 by Philip Fitzpatrick, Independently Published, November 2022, 264 pages. ISBN-13: 979-8361714131. Paperback $14.39, Kindle $1.00. Available here from Amazon Books

Phil Fitzpatrick's Introduction to Full Circle

When I arrived back in Australia in late 1973 after completing a six-year contract working as a Patrol Officer in Papua New Guinea I decided that I had three options for the future.

The first was to accept an offer to renew my contract and go back to Papua New Guinea, the second was to complete the degree I had started by correspondence the year before by going to university full time and the third was to look around for a job.

Continue reading "The many complexities of Aboriginal heritage" »

The time when we were innocent sorcerers

The potion we received had five warheads: to make the person dumb, have the person drop dead at work, kill his wife, cause a car accident resulting in death and to have termites destroy his home



PANGUNA - Sorcery is a belief system that is as old as Bougainville itself. It’s an integral part of the Bougainville people.

People believe in it, talk about it, kill each other over it and our society periodically dissolves into conflict because of it.

Continue reading "The time when we were innocent sorcerers" »

Australia & China reset rocky relationship

“China and Australia are both important countries in the Asia Pacific region. We should improve, maintain and develop our relationship" - President Xi Jinping

Albanese xi
Anthony Albanese and Xi Jinping

| Australian Associated Press

SYDNEY - Australia and China have taken a first step towards mending their diplomatic relationship following a “constructive” meeting between the two nation’s leaders.

Australian prime minister Anthony Albanese met Chinese president Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Bali yesterday.

Continue reading "Australia & China reset rocky relationship" »

Reluctant kiaps: 'We don't want hero status'

"The kiaps’ role in the bringing to independence of PNG was undoubtedly unique and important and that should bring with it a certain sense of pride, but that is as far as it goes"

Don Kennedy  with his wife Glen  of Mitchells Island  is presented the Australian Federal Police Overseas Service Medal by federal MP David Gillespie
Don Kennedy with his wife Glen is presented the Australian Police Overseas Service Medal by federal MP Dr David Gillespie, the National Party member for the seat of Lyne on the northern coast of New South Wales


TUMBY BAY - Early this month, the Australian Institute of International Affairs published an article, The Forgotten Australian Patrol Officers’, by Luke Gosling OAM, the Labor member for Solomon in the Northern Territory.

“What the kiaps did for Papua New Guinea is today called nation-building in official jargon,” Gosling wrote.

Continue reading "Reluctant kiaps: 'We don't want hero status'" »

Life itself is threatened by the profit motive

We have created a civilisation capable of destroying the environment on a global scale and that is exactly what is happening.  The warning bells from history are ringing loudly but our leaders and too many of the rest of us are not listening



ADELAIDE – The proposal by Newcrest Mining and Harmony Gold to dump plans to dump hundreds of millions of tonnes of mining waste into Huon Gulf shows why the people of Planet Earth are collectively doomed to disaster.

There is no chance this side of hell that international capitalism will stop despoiling the planet as long as there is money to be made.

Continue reading "Life itself is threatened by the profit motive" »

Albanese mission to fix Morrison’s problems

Albanese recognises is Australia needs to embrace the reality of an aspiring China and also enter new arrangements with the USA that can better protect Australia

Illustration by Global Times


ADELAIDE – Australian prime minister Anthony Albanese has articulated a view of Australia' long term defence requirements that is based upon a pragmatic and realistic assessment of history and current facts.

Albanese does not characterise China as an enemy, nor is he advocating that Australia become a humble supplicant to the USA.

Continue reading "Albanese mission to fix Morrison’s problems" »

Morobeans resist mining waste ocean dump

“The legacy we want to leave our children is simple. We want them to be able to live in an environment that is clean, healthy and safe. We do not want an ocean full of toxic waste” - Reverend Yasam Aiwara


| Say No to Wafi-Golpu

LAE - A coalition of Papua New Guinean and Australian civil society organisations has launched an international campaign to stop plans to dump hundreds of millions of tonnes of mining waste into Huon Gulf.

The Say No to Wafi-Golpu DSTP group is fighting to protect the ocean, marine ecosystems and coastal communities of Huon Gulf from becoming a dumping ground for the Wafi-Golpu copper and gold mine, one of the largest in the world, operated by Newcrest Mining and Harmony Gold.

Continue reading "Morobeans resist mining waste ocean dump" »

Francesca’s mission to empower the needy


Semoso top
Participants in the Bougainville-UNDP Entrepreneurship and Innovation Course

| United Nations Development Program (UNDP)

PORT MORESBY - Francesca Semoso has made it her business to empower Bougainville’s women and youth to develop their entrepreneurship and good ideas by using simple resources in their communities.

Francesca is a revered and legendary female leader from the coconut fringed beaches and crystal-clear waters of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.

Continue reading "Francesca’s mission to empower the needy" »

The bold ambitions of a foreign policy PM

“I spoke to Albanese on the day the Chinese foreign ministry criticised plans for Australia to upgrade the RAAF Tindal base to accommodate six US B-52 strategic bombers”


| The Australian | Edited extracts

SYDNEY (5 November 2022) - Anthony Albanese may look and sound a mild man, and that is one of his strengths. But he has an ambition that no Australian leader has had for decades.

He wants to create a military force capable of defending Australia.

Continue reading "The bold ambitions of a foreign policy PM" »

Bougainville is heading the same way as PNG

We live in a neo-liberal system that greatly benefits the few while harming the many who live in increasing poverty. It allows foreign companies to exploit and an elite to flourish while it subjugates the ordinary people by imposing limits on how they can benefit from development. It is a system that is unsustainable

Buka passage
The Buka passage (Pinterest)


ADELAIDE - It’s wonderful to read Leonard Fong Roka’s words about his beloved Bougainville once again. His is a voice that deserves to be heard.

Earlier this week, he drew attention to the grievous failure of Papua New Guinea's ruling elites to deliver anything of real substance to the people who elected them to govern (‘Independence? Can We Get There From Here?’).

Continue reading "Bougainville is heading the same way as PNG" »

Uplifting poetry for those crushed by life

This book is for you who are struggling to get out of your abusive situation and escape the wounds of the past, Survive and Thrive will help disentangle you from victimhood. For you are not a victim but a survivor, a victor, a warrior

Lydia Gah
Lydia Gah - mediator, counsellor,  family law consultant, author, speaker

| Ples Singsing

Survive and Thrive: My Courageous Journey Out of Domestic Violence by Lydia Gah, Holistic Journeys, March 2020, 112 pages, paperback. ISBN-10: 1925884988. Purchase here from Amazon, $31.05

MOOROOBOOL, QLD - Don’t just survive through life – thrive in your life. In August 2020, I published Survive and Thrive, my account of surviving domestic violence.

Discover the secrets to living a life you desire – during and after your journey of abuse.

Continue reading "Uplifting poetry for those crushed by life" »

Independence? Can we get there from here?

The problem is not too few resources, a small population, a lack of investor confidence or some other excuse the politicians use to cover their incompetence. The problem is poor leadership



PANGUNA - Bougainville is a small island with enough resources for its population and we should be able to deliver good lives to ourselves.

Sure, there’s the crisis of global warming to harm her, but this is a world crisis which we do not face alone.

Continue reading "Independence? Can we get there from here?" »

Our Pacific heritage is now available online

It’s one thing for Pacific people to know they had their culture taken from them. It’s another thing entirely to not know the artefacts and records of that culture still exist


| Trove Partnerships, National Library of Australia

CANBERRA – The Pacific Virtual Museum at the National Library of New Zealand is a remarkable project that brings together Pacific heritage collections from around the world under the masthead of Digital Pasifik.

Digital Pasifik is a website that allows people to discover digitised Pacific collections that are held around the world. You can link to it here.

Continue reading "Our Pacific heritage is now available online" »

UN project addresses unsustainable farming

New Britain island is under threat from rapid forest loss due to agricultural conversion with over 450,000 hectares under permits for forest clearance

West New Britain dancers welcome delegates to the official launch (Clive Hawigen  UNDP Papua New Guinea)
West New Britain dancers welcome delegates to the official launch of the sustainable development project (Clive Hawigen,  UNDP )

| United Nations Development Program

PORT MORESBY - A project has been launched in West New Britain to promote sustainable land-use.

New Britain island’s ecosystems range from dense lowland plains to a central mountainous spine with peaks of over 2,000 meters.

Continue reading "UN project addresses unsustainable farming" »

Marles reignites B'ville suspicions of Australia

The angry reaction of Bougainville president Ishmael Toroama to what he termed Richard Marles’ “veiled threats” should be a warning to Canberra about the need to settle past grievances

Bville toroama
President Ishmael Toroama - suspicious of Australian motives

| The Interpreter | Lowy Institute

CANBERRA - During a visit last month to Papua New Guinea by Australia’s deputy prime minister and defence minister Richard Marles, a newspaper report on one of his press conference answers sparked a stinging reaction from Bougainville president Ishmael Toroama.

In response to the 13 October article, ‘Aust backs PNG on B’ville’, including a comment from Marles that “our job is to support Papua New Guinea and that’s what we are going to do”, Toroama issued an “angry” statement, warning that Marles was making “veiled threats”.

Continue reading "Marles reignites B'ville suspicions of Australia" »

Bougainville’s nation-building goes off track

The government is telling the world about our forthcoming independence while in practice inviting foreigners to take over our available resources and turn Bougainvilleans into beggars

Village track (Jeremy Weate)


PANGUNA - From childhood and into maturity most Bougainvilleans have being subjected by our elders to the word ‘Independence’.

Especially around Panguna in Central Bougainville, my own mama graun, we grew up with all the associated politics of our island forcefully seeking to become a nation in its own right.

Continue reading "Bougainville’s nation-building goes off track" »

I’m grateful that I went to the School of PNG

I was languishing in an excruciatingly boring job in a bank when I saw the recruitment advertisement in a newspaper....

Careers with a challenge - cut down


TUMBY BAY - When I finished high school in 1965 Robert Menzies was Australian prime minister.

He had been in office for over 16 years and wouldn’t retire until the following year.

Continue reading "I’m grateful that I went to the School of PNG" »

Did Whitlam say this? And were you there?

‘Whitlam would have meant no offence. He probably used the term to emphasise the treatment of the people as second class or something like that’

Somare whitlam

CANBERRA - I have a memory of a published photograph and caption which I cannot find on the internet or after extensive searching on the National Library’s Trove and other archives.

I wonder if any of the editor’s connections on PNG Attitude can place it.

Continue reading "Did Whitlam say this? And were you there?" »

Our insane & violent love affair with sorcery

Why should an elected member of the government accuse someone of sorcery? Why should a pastor or padre come home after church and blame someone of sorcery?


PANGUNA – First I’ve got some people to thank for their effort against this insane Melanesian belief in sorcery and sorcerers that is now blighting Bougainville as well as mainland Papua New Guinea.

I’ll particularly mention Anton Lutz, Gary Bustin, the Tribal Foundation and the PNG Post-Courier newspaper.

Continue reading "Our insane & violent love affair with sorcery" »

Bougainville is becoming a poor copy of PNG

The PNG-Bougainville leadership and citizens were designed to be tax and rent collectors, not owners of natural resources. That is why we seem to value foreigners


PANGUNA - In Bougainville we live our lives listening to the sweet talk of the elected members of parliament in Port Moresby and here in Buka.

It’s the same old parley, and still the same old suffering that seems to get worse every day.

Continue reading "Bougainville is becoming a poor copy of PNG" »

Drug syndicates boost activity in the Pacific

The Pacific Islands are not only becoming a destination for drugs like methamphetamine and cocaine, they are places where criminals can take advantage of weak or out-of-date laws and police largely focused on local policing and public order

Pacific sunset

| Voice of America | Edited extracts

BANGKOK — The Pacific Islands are increasingly being used as a transit point for transnational crime, including drug trafficking and money laundering, experts say.

Criminal organisations from Asia and the Americas are exploiting limited law enforcement resources in the region.

Continue reading "Drug syndicates boost activity in the Pacific" »

Tragedy: Tribal fighting claims 32 lives

An all-out tribal warfare with spears and bush knives broke out between the two parties that led to 26 people killed from the Kuboma side and six people killed from the Kulumata side

Kaibola dancers on Kiriwina island,

| The National

PORT MORESBY - At least 32 people have been killed in an all-out war between Kulumata and Kuboma tribes in Milne Bay’s Kiriwina Islands.

Internal Security Minister Peter Tsiamalili Jr confirmed the killings that erupted early last month after yam gardens were destroyed.

Continue reading "Tragedy: Tribal fighting claims 32 lives" »

The right & wrong way of high level decisions

The electoral track record of governments operating according to ideology is dismal. The more contentious and difficult the decision, if it is based upon party ideology or orthodoxy the more likely it is the political class will hesitate before imposing it

'Opening of the first parliament’ in Canberra (Painting by Tom Roberts  1903)
'Opening of the first parliament’ in Canberra (Painting by Tom Roberts,1903)


ADELAIDE - Phil Fitzpatrick is writing a new book, this one on the Aboriginal Heritage Branch, an important and often controversial segment of South Australia’s public service for which he worked some years ago.

In his critique of the Branch (now the Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation Division) Phil correctly described some of the many elements that influence decision-making in the operations of a government department.

Continue reading "The right & wrong way of high level decisions" »

A tale of 3 families who found new life in PNG

Three families, seeking new lives of adventure and fulfilling careers, look for a paradise and find it in Papua New Guinea, experiencing the best and worst of times



Papua and New Guinea Life Stories by Hans von Chrismar, edited by Rita Spence. Windmill Publishing, 2022, 246 pages. ISBN-10.‎ 0645522007. Purchase here from Amazon: Paperback $77.04. Kindle $9.99

SYDNEY – ‘Life Stories’ traces the lives of three families that came to the then Territory of Papua and New Guinea: a Chinese family, a Dutch family and a British family.

It describes the traumatic effects of the Japanese occupation, which isolated the Chinese family for three years on a small island off the coast of Wewak.

Continue reading "A tale of 3 families who found new life in PNG" »

How political decisions often don't work

When the Minister and CEO part company on what is desired, usually the minister will succeed – electoral success often depends on giving the people what they want



TUMBY BAY - When things don’t work in government we tend to blame politicians. Believe it or not, sometimes they’re not the ones at fault.

I’ve been writing a book about the chequered history of the government’s Aboriginal Heritage Branch in South Australia.

Continue reading "How political decisions often don't work" »

How to stabilise PNG & other fragile states

Fragile states emerged as an area of concern in the 1990s in the fields of security and development. This book (free to download) considers the dimensions of fragility that can be influenced by policy action

nternally displaced persons
Children in a camp for internally displaced persons in northern Afghanistan (Eric Kanalstein, UN)

| Edited extracts

PORT MORESBY - Fragile states, amongst which I number Papua New Guinea, endanger the lives of citizens and expose societies to the risk of collapse.

When this happens, famine, violent disorder and economic distress can displace millions of people, with consequent impacts on surrounding regions.

Continue reading "How to stabilise PNG & other fragile states" »

The brutal life of West Papuan refugees in PNG

"Even in the hell of life, God reminds us of the beautiful gift of children. I reached out my hand as tears rolled down my eyes. Their gentle hands were rich in kindness, gratitude and smiles. I could not speak"

West Papuan refugees at Hohola with visitors from Caritas and the Catholic Bishops Conference who have supported them in Port Moresby and PNG’s border provinces (Reilly Kanamon)


PORT MORESBY – The plea from the West Papuan refugees in Port Moresby was resounding.

“All we long for now is a piece of land we can own. A piece of land that is all we need to rebuild ourselves, that is home to us.”

Continue reading "The brutal life of West Papuan refugees in PNG" »

How PNG gave us bananas 7,000 years ago

Researchers have gone bananas over this fruit’s complex ancestry. Most agree that Papua New Guinea is where domesticated bananas as we know them first appeared

Bananas An unusual type of banana showing white flesh with dark seeds
An unusual type of banana - similar to the species first domesticated in Papua New Guinea - showing white flesh with dark seeds

| Science | Edited extracts

WASHINGTON - People like to know where their food comes from, but even experts are throwing up their hands when it comes to the origins of the modern banana.

An extensive genetic analysis of more than 100 varieties of wild and cultivated bananas has revealed the existence of three previously unknown—and possibly still living—ancestors.

Continue reading "How PNG gave us bananas 7,000 years ago" »

Setting the record straight on Chard’s Kokoda

“I believe that those of us with a stake in PNG's history have a responsibility to call out this book. It is not history. I would ask that you consider publishing my review at PNG Attitude and reach an informed audience who may further spread the word” - Neil Gow



REVIEW - Presumably Daniel Lane’s book, ‘The Digger of Kokoda’, has been written and published to praise the qualities of the Australian soldiers involved in the Papuan campaign in 1942 and highlight these qualities through one man’s story.

These qualities are enshrined on the Isurava Memorial on the Kokoda Trail – courage, mateship, sacrifice and endurance.

Continue reading "Setting the record straight on Chard’s Kokoda" »

There are no more reds under the bed

"I think that it is an error to assume that because of our lamentable history of Sinophobia, this type of thinking therefore is still significant, socially or politically, in Australia"



ADELAIDE - Professor Colin Mackerras (‘Australia should rid itself of its fear of China’) rightly refers to how Australia's lamentable history of Sinophobia has, in the past at least, led to racially prejudiced and unjust policies such as the deplorable White Australia Policy.

I am old enough to remember the 'Reds under the bed' scare campaign that once influenced Australian political thinking, notably amongst conservatives.

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