Big men, big egos in ‘greatest democracy’

| Pearls & Irritations

Image by The Cartoon Movement
Image by The Cartoon Movement

CANBERRA - In May 2023, I was approached by media sources for a comment on the cancellation of a visit to Papua New Guinea (and Australia) by US president Joe Biden.

Biden was travelling to attend a G-7 meeting in Japan and the cancellation was prompted by a domestic US crisis resulting from the failure of Congress to pass the budget.

Continue reading "Big men, big egos in ‘greatest democracy’" »

PNG business hall of fame established

| PNG SME Magazine

Image courtesy of  PNG SME Magazine

PORT MORESBY - Since 2020, the PNG SME Awards, an initiative of Strategic Communications Limited and the publisher of the PNG SME Magazine, has celebrated the success stories of Papua New Guinea’s small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

These awards recognise the hard work, excellence and innovation of this vital sector of the economy.

Continue reading "PNG business hall of fame established" »

PNG's rugby league growth challenge


Bolkin - Iobuna Kouba under 16 girls in their yellow uniform prepare for the grand final (Inaka Image)
Under 16 girls players of Iobuna Kouba (yellow) and Morata (blue)
take the field for a grand final (Inaka Image)

PORT MORESBY - Pacific Islanders supply 45% of the players in Australia’s National Rugby League some of them are paid a million dollars a season.  They earn every toea of it.

Papua New Guinea, a Melanesian country with a bulging youth population, has rated rugby league as its national sport - but the sport has never lived up to its promise.

Continue reading "PNG's rugby league growth challenge" »

Refugees trapped in PNG for 11 years

| Convenor, Refugees Off PNG Working Group

Refugees Off PNG (Refugee Action Coalition)
Image by Refugee Action Coalition

“It is extraordinary that these refugees and people seeking asylum are still trapped in PNG after more than 10 years; unable to see their families, unable to build a new life for themselves. The endless waiting and hopelessness has taken a huge toll on their mental health” - Dr Kevin Sweeney

NEWCASTLE - On 19 July it will be 11 years since prime minister Kevin Rudd announced that asylum seekers who arrive by boat will never be resettled in Australia. This resulted in the offshore detention of asylum seekers on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea and on Nauru.

There are still approximately 50 refugees and asylum seekers in PNG and they have now been trapped there for eleven years.

It has been revealed in a recent Guardian article that Australia is negotiating a new agreement with PNG to provide support for the remaining refugees and asylum seekers trapped in PNG. This is good news but it is only a small step forward.

Hopefully, it means that the refugees and asylum seekers will again receive essential supports and will not starve to death or be put out on the street.

It takes the situation back to where it was before November 2023 (when the supports were withdrawn by the service providers in PNG).

Let’s hope that the Australian Government manages this agreement better than the last one so that the funds are actually used to provide support to the refugees and that the supports are adequate and appropriate.

However, it does not solve the fundamental problem that the refugees and asylum seekers remain trapped in PNG, their physical and mental health is being harmed, some are seriously ill and need urgent mental health care that is not available in PNG, and that only some of them have any chance of resettlement in a third country – and this resettlement is proceeding at a snail’s pace.

We need to keep raising these issues with the government and demanding a just and humane solution.

Will you write a letter or email to Minister Clare O’Neil, plus a letter or copy to Minister Andrew Giles, Minister Penny Wong, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, and your local MP.

An individually written letter/email has more impact than a pro forma letter/email.

You can write about any aspect of this issue that you like. To assist, I have provided a suggested focus and some dot points below.

If you choose to use these dot points please rewrite them in your own words.

It would be wonderful if you could take up this call to action.

Suggested focus

There are around 50 refugees and asylum seekers who have been trapped in PNG for eleven years. This is unjust and inhumane. They need to be brought to Australia while awaiting resettlement.

Dot points

(You only need to choose a few of these to make a compelling letter)

  • These refugees and asylum seekers were sent to PNG by the Australian Government eleven years ago and remain the responsibility of the Australian Government
  • For eleven years they have been trapped in PNG
  • The endless waiting and uncertainty has taken a huge toll on their mental health
  • They have been unable to reunite with family and to build a new life
  • They have been denied adequate medical care
  • They have been subjected to violence, robbery and assault and continue to live in very unsafe conditions
  • The Government of PNG has not been providing adequate support
  • The local providers of supports in Port Moresby withdrew their services in November 2023 as they had not been paid by the PNG Government for more than 12 months
  • The refugees and asylum seekers have had no food, money to buy food, electricity or gas, safe transportation or medical care provided since November 2023
  • They have only been able to survive because of donations from concerned Australian citizens
  • I understand that the Australian Government is now developing a new agreement with the PNG Government to provide support and funding for the remaining asylum seekers and refugees. This is a very welcome step and will hopefully alleviate their current dire circumstances. The Australian Government will need to manage this agreement better than the last one so that the funds are actually used to provide support to the asylum seekers and refugees and that the supports are adequate and appropriate.
  • A small number of the refugees are being resettled in third countries, but this is painfully slow and will take years for those who are eligible to actually be resettled
  • Some are not eligible for NZ, Canada or the US and have no resettlement option
  • Others are too ill to participate in any resettlement process
  • Leaving them in PNG is actively harming their mental and physical health


  • Those who are seriously ill need urgent transfer to Australia for medical care
  • Adequate supports need to be promptly reinstated in Port Moresby – and I understand that there are negotiations underway to try to achieve this
  • All should be offered the option of being transferred to Australia while awaiting resettlement
  • Those who have been approved for resettlement in a third country need to have their resettlement expedited
  • This situation can be resolved by bringing them to Australia so that they are safe and can receive the support and medical care that they require
  • This was successfully done in 2023 for those who had been trapped on Nauru for ten years, and it can be done for those in PNG


The Hon Clare O’Neil, Minister for Home Affairs
PO Box 6022
House of Representatives
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600
[email protected]

The Hon Andrew Giles MP, Minister for Immigration
PO Box 6022
House of Representatives
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600
[email protected]

Senator the Hon Penny Wong, Minister for Foreign Affairs
PO Box 6100
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600
[email protected]

The Hon Anthony Albanese MP
Prime Minister
Parliament Office
PO Box 6022
House of Representatives
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600

Poor planning stunts health, education

| Act Now!

Act now
PORT MORESBY - The lack of proper planning at district level is a critical failure undermining the delivery of quality health and education services across Papua New Guinea.

Research by community advocacy organisation Act Now reveals that only 25% of districts have published a five-year development plan for 2023-27.

Continue reading "Poor planning stunts health, education" »

Lulu’s Story


“The loss of a twin is a pain that never goes away, but you still have to live
because you are living the life of and for another”

The pain that never goes away

Some people say that losing a twin is like losing a part of yourself, a part of your identity gone that can never be replaced because it is a void that can never be filled and a hole in your heart that can never be healed.

I lost someone so close to me that I hold dear to my heart, someone with whom I shared 9 months of my first days, and being a twin is like being born with a best friend for life.

Continue reading "Lulu’s Story" »

Flying, speaking & sharing the Gospel

| Samaritan Aviation

Seventh Day Adventist Church in PNG

WEWAK - We here at Samaritan Aviation fly people to hospital on our float planes but that's just half of what we do.

Communicating the Gospel to our patients and Papua New Guinea is our ultimate priority. How do we do that?

Continue reading "Flying, speaking & sharing the Gospel" »

Grief is Courage


The heartache lingers (Generated with AI ∙ June 25  2024 at 8.52am)
Heartache lingers (Generated by AI, June 25 2024)

I've watched old women cry
at the mention of twins.
And never understood the heartache
caused at mere mention of this.
Now I do.
Heartache of losing a dear one lingers.

There are times I sit and ponder that emotion
and again the realisation creeps up on me
I too bear those same deep feelings.
My first heartbreak came when my sister died.
Grief is a constant tug of war
between trying to move forward
and not wanting to at all.
Grief is the Courage to feel loss.

Beware! Rob’s on the writing trail again


Mutiny on the 37th day.  “We want to go home now.”   “Really.”
Mutiny on the 37th day. “We want to go home now.” “Really?” Painting by Rob Barclay framed in New Guinea Rosewood (in the collection of Keith Jackson)

Rob Barclay writes letters that are as cheeky and entertaining as his books. And as energised and colourful as his paintings. Rob's just let me know that the publishing date of his next book, working title Cannibals, “has been shunted to next year as I’m busy renovating our house including a two-metre square painting for a new conservatory.” The painting here, "Mutiny on the 37th Day. 'I want to go home now.' 'Really'" depicts a young Rob confronting unhappy carriers as they realise the patrol is just settling into its work and home will be far away for some time. I hope you’ll enjoy Rob’s words which I share below and perhaps find yourself able to respond to some of his requests for help (which I’ve highlighted in bold) – KJ

Continue reading "Beware! Rob’s on the writing trail again" »

Australia & China both mistaken in PNG

| Pearls & Irritations | Republished from The Diplomat

Illustration by China Times
Illustration from The China Times

PORT MORESBY - While Australia and China have very different approaches in Papua New Guinea, both are working primarily with political elites - and alienating the PNG public.

Two recent financial deals that seemingly benefit PNG indicate the problems at the heart of the country’s political and economic outlook.

Continue reading "Australia & China both mistaken in PNG" »

The poverty of PNG’s 6-question census



WEWAK - The national population census has begun in Papua New Guinea, with the entire process scheduled to be completed in two weeks by 30 June.

From what I heard from PNG’s development partners during a briefing at the World Bank office in Port Moresby, a census questionnaire usually has 70-80 questions.

Continue reading "The poverty of PNG’s 6-question census" »