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58 posts from August 2008

The Holman Collection goes on sale

Warrioredit For the first time, the splendid art works of the man who designed the Papua New Guinea crest, Hal Holman OAM, have been made available in a limited series of four numbered prints featuring selected images of PNG subjects.

Haldane Sinclair Holman is famous in Papua New Guinea, having been a commando in World War II and returning after the war as senior artist for the PNG Government.

Many of his artworks and sculptures are to be found in Port Moresby, including busts of PNG's six Prime Ministers since Independence that grace the grounds of Parliament House and a bronze of Queen Elizabeth II at Government House in Konedobu.

Hal’s sculptures can also be seen in the Botanical Gardens and on the Supreme Court building. His largest work is the five metre high stainless steel Bird of Paradise that dominates Sir John Guise Drive in Waigani.

Hal Holman has been associated with PNG for nearly 70 years and still visits frequently (he has returned from his most recent trip just in the last few weeks).

BOP2edit In the course of his visits, he has produced hundreds of oil paintings, pastels and watercolours - landscapes, portraits, flora and fauna. His real passion is seen in his images of the Bird of Paradise and his impressions of the heroic features of the indigenous people of Papua New Guinea. Hal’s paintings and drawings are in private collections and in galleries throughout the world

For further works visit Hal's website here.

The price of each of the originals runs into thousands of dollars, but these quality prints, at $50 each, are indistinguishable from them. They’re A2 size and printed on 200gsm art board. They are supplied unframed and dispatched in mailing tubes.

You can order prints from Clive Troy at this email address, or phone him on 02 9868 2123 or write to PO Box 23, Thornleigh 2120, Australia.

Photos: Two of the outstanding prints from the Holman Collection - 'Central Highlander' and 'Red Bird of Paradise'

Revealed: the bird men of ASOPA

Steege Gordon In the latest issue of Una Voce, mailed to Papua New Guinea Association members last week, Bill Brown writes an intriguing article on the bird men of ASOPA, the 30 or so former World War II air crew – including fighter ace Gordon Steege [left] - who attended the School and went on to careers in PNG. This is just one of many fascinating stories that make Una Voce a ‘must-have’ journal for anyone interested in the history of PNG.

You can receive the quarterly journal only by becoming a member of the PNG Association, for the incredibly economical membership subscription of $20 a year. Sign up here now.

By the way, the PNGAA has made it easy for you to participate electronically in decision-making about its future direction and structure by going to the consultation document on the Internet here.

6.3 magnitude earthquake hits PNG

A major earthquake shook Papua New Guinea late yesterday afternoon. Officials say it is too early to say if there had been damage or injuries. The quake struck 70km northeast of Lae, according to the US Geological Survey. The epicentre was 56km below the surface. Lae has a population of 120,000.

Source: Agence France-Presse. Thanks to Paul Oates

Time once again for teachers’ tea time

Murray Bladwell

The annual get-together for PNG education colleagues and friends has been scheduled for lunchtime on Saturday 11 October. The venue and dining arrangements will be the same as the 2006 highly successful luncheon attended by a record 84 former educators, partners and friends.

As many of you may be aware, the 2007 luncheon was not held due to the large number of PNG reunion dinners scheduled in October that year.

The lunch will be held at the Jindalee Hotel entertainment venue on Sinnamon Road, Jindalee in Brisbane. It will commence at 12 noon for 12.30 pm sit down.

We will have our own private function room (the Windermere Room) with waiter and cash bar service available. The room has wheelchair access.

To keep costs at a level to suit all pockets, we have selected a fixed menu of three main courses and three desserts, which will be served as a three- way alternate drop. Those people with special dietary needs should indicate this on the reply form.

The cost of the meal will be similar to previous years, $32 per head plus $2 to cover postage, email and material costs. All meal payments by cheque to Murray Bladwell or cash on the day.

A cash bar service will operate. Wines can be purchased by the glass. ATM facilities are available.

Please note that any cancellations after 4 October 2008 will have to be paid for, as this is the venue’s cut off date for final numbers.

A response sheet can be downloaded here for RSVP by Thursday 25 September.  Download response_form.pdf

WWII airman found on Kokoda Track

Richard Jones

The Kokoda Track is in the news again, this time after a walker found what could be the remains of a World War II airman. A Victorian policeman photographing flowers along the track snapped what could be the skeleton of an airman, suspended in what appeared to be a parachute harness.

An Australian Defence Force spokeswoman said the remains were still hanging from jungle canopy close to sites used by Allied aircraft during World War 2. But at this stage it was still too early to say who the airman was fighting for. “A number of Allied aircraft had been reported as missing in the area, in particular B25 Mitchells and a number of Kittyhawks,” she said.

The ADF is preparing to visit the area to confirm the identity of the remains. “We are gathering information and making plans to visit the site to confirm the reports,” the spokeswoman said. Japanese officials in Port Moresby have viewed a videotape of the policeman’s find, but because the body is heavily covered in moss they said, at this stage, it was impossible to identify any nationality.

American, Australian and Japanese planes flew near the site of the discovery on the track, where Australia lost 600 soldiers fighting the Japanese in bitter hand-to-hand battles. Guide David Collins from Australian company No Roads Expeditions was leading the Kokoda trek when the moss-covered remains were discovered.

“We had a few police officers on the 19-man trek. One was taking photographs with a large lens of the trees and flowers. He then discovered what looked like the remains of a body. I couldn’t make it out at first. It wasn’t until the wind blew that you could really see that it was in a harness,” Mr Collins said.

“There were goggles and it appeared to be caught up in cables so presumably it is an airman,” the trek guide added. Mr Collins said the remains were found in the jungle canopy at the top of the Owen Stanley Range, almost halfway along the 96-kilometre Track.

Source: Melbourne Herald-Sun and agencies.

PNG – in the bones & across the nation

During my stay in Canberra this week, not only have I met with a number of old Papua New Guinea buddies who, if they’re not members of the PNG Association as I write this, soon will be, but I also met for the first time Dr Chris Ballard and Prof Clive Moore, respective chairs of the Association’s steering groups in the Australian Capital Territory and Queensland.

I was delighted to learn that Chris is the son of Prof John Ballard, now resident in Canberra, who during the mid seventies taught me political science at the University of Papua New Guinea. Chris grew up in PNG and, through both his academic work and personal interest, maintains strong ties there. As he says, “It gets in the bones”.

Chris is lining up a dynamic steering group in Canberra, which I’m sure will successfully guide the development of a PNGAA branch in the national capital. He has a number of first rate ideas for the development of the Association nationally and for the expansion of its membership to not only include younger Australians but also the many Papua New Guineans who live in Australia (there are 27,000 and few are PNGAA members).

One who is a member, and one of 300 or so Papua New Guineans in the ACT, is Diveni Temu, a librarian in the RG Menzies Library at the Australian National University. Diveni told me the PNG community in Canberra is not only very cohesive but has also been very active culturally for many years. He’s excited about the Association’s plans to embrace a wider and more diverse group of members.

With work powering ahead to set up PNGAA steering groups in Queensland, the ACT, Victoria and South Australia, the Association is being well served by members who have jumped in to assist its efforts to be more expansive and more active.

You can join the Association for just $20, receive its superb quarterly journal, Una Voce, and assist its growth by going to its website here and clicking on to the membership application form.

PNGAA can play positive role - Kerr

On Wednesday, in my role of president of the Papua New Guinea Association, I met with Duncan Kerr, Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs. His political adviser, ‘Alopi Latukefu, also joined the meeting; of particular interest to ASOPA habitués of the early 1960s as he is the son of Dr Ruth Fink Latukefu, the Anthropology lecturer highly regarded by her erstwhile students.

Accompanying me to the meeting was Prof Clive Moore, head of the School of History at Queensland University and chair of the PNGAA’s Brisbane steering group which, along with groups in other States and Territories, is being consulted on constitutional change in the Association.

The hour we spent with Duncan Kerr was encouraging in terms of his positive attitude to the role the PNGAA can perform in making its views known on matters affecting the Australia-PNG relationship.

Mr Kerr says the relationship with PNG is very sound at a political level and that personal links are being restored. There are few issues of disagreement between the two countries.

I briefed Mr Kerr on the changes we’re seeking to make to the PNGAA. emphasising our key objective of strengthening of the Australia-PNG relationship at civil level. The Parliamentary Secretary is very supportive of this.

Overall, a useful initial meeting if not one big on tangible achievement. The Government sees the PNGAA as an important party in informing Australians about PNG and in helping to strengthen the relationship between our two countries. That’ll do for starters.

The PNGAA is consulting people about its future role. Download the discussion paper here.  Download ConstitutionQuest.doc


Seeking Jeffrey Matthies: Rabaul 1970s

John Hocknull

As a result of a story the ABC did on me and a subsequent follow up to be aired on the 19 September, the Corporation has asked if I could use my contacts to find the father of a woman born in Rabaul. Here’s her story:

“My name is Jodie and I was born in Rabaul, Papua New Guinea in 1971 and left for Tasmania in 1973 with my mother due to PNG's Independence. I have never seen, met or talked to my father and am hoping and wondering if you can help?

“My fathers name is Jeffrey Matthies. Unfortunately, I don’t know a lot about him but, I do know that I have an Aunty Jess and an Uncle Elvis amongst others. My father and his family would know me as Natasha Joanne and my mothers name is Susan Irvine. I have been looking independently but any help is good help!"

Anyone with information can contact me and I'll pass on the contact to the ABC. Any assistance would be appreciated.

John is the Director of Education Development Office Management Services and you can contact him by email here.

Washing the dirty linen in PNG

Paul Oates is a thoughtful and realistic observer of the Australia-Papua New Guinea relationship. Who knows, some day his talents may be chanced upon by some of the bureaucrats whose job it is to advance that relationship.

Paul has taken to task comments by a company called Millennium Card Ltd (MCL), which has branded the recently-announced seasonal worker scheme as demeaning for PNG. MCL executive Alan Bodger said (from Western Australia) that the Australian government was imposing unnecessary requirements that made it hard for him to enlist professional PNG citizens to work in Australia.

"The process is hard and the obstacles are political. The seasonal workers scheme is demeaning to your nation as it focuses only on placing unskilled and semi-skilled workers," Mr Bodger told the PNG National.

Mr Bodger said his company is working to have some PNG nurses registered and approved to work in Western Australia. He said he’s also trying to recruit 100 security guards to work in Perth. He said his company had applied for entry visas for more than 400 skilled and professional PNG people but the Australian government was not helpful. "The unfortunate issue is that the Australian government obstructs at every stage and increases bureaucratic procedures that have to be fulfilled. It is only paying lip-service to your Government and will willingly promote Filipino and Chinese (Asian) workers in preference to your people," he told The National.

And that last comment was more than enough for Mr Oates. “Exactly what is Mr Bodger doing to help the situation or is he just trying to inflame it to feather his own nest”, asked a feisty Paul. “There seems to be a real conflict of interest here and Australia's image is not being helped by this kind of 'dirty linen' being aired in the PNG news”.

Towards a more action-oriented PNGAA

There was a view in the Papua New Guinea Association of Australia that had a long tradition: that it would not involve itself in issues. This was another way of saying it would eschew engagement in some of the real challenges of developing the civil relationship with PNG. As an ordinary member of the PNGAA, I couldn’t understand this approach. It seemed to defy the very name of the Association.

One of the central features of the move to update the PNGAA Constitution is a revised set of objectives that will make for a more relevant, purposeful and action-oriented organisation. This will not only be a good thing in itself, it will also give the Association more appeal to a new generation of potential members.

At present, the Association faces the prospect of dying on its feet. Something like 90% of members are over 60 and 55% over 70. The average age is about 70. I believe greater engagement with PNG, which the PNGAA should be undertaking anyway as its central purpose, will give it more relevance and help it attract more members.

So how will the new objectives look? Well we’ve just started a process of consultation, so there’s no definitive answer to this yet. But here’s my version, a slightly revised set of objectives from the present Constitution with my additions in bold. The revision shows clearly the challenge. The revision represents the difference between an organisation seeking to build a relationship with PNG and an organisation content to cater to members who once lived there.

The objects for which the Association is primarily established are:

(a) to work at a civil level in Australia to strengthen the relationship between the peoples of Australia and Papua New Guinea;

(b) to promote friendly association among all members and to foster and encourage contact and friendship with Papua New Guineans;

(c) to foster and maintain an interest in contemporary and historical events in Papua New Guinea;

(d) in its own right or in conjunction with other agencies, to provide assistance in the form of financial or in-kind effort to projects of benefit to Papua New Guinea;

(e) to publish journals, newsletters, websites, books and other media to educate and inform people about Papua New Guinea and to provide a means of communication among members of the Association and others;

(f) to encourage the preservation of documents and historical material related to Papua New Guinea, including the production and recording of the oral and written history of Papua New Guinea;

(g) to continue to safeguard and foster the retirement conditions of superannuated members of the former services.

You can participate in the consultation about the future direction of the PNGAA. Download the discussion paper and questionnaire here. Download pngaa_consultation.pdf

PNG collaborator tragedy still stormy

The hanging of Papuan collaborators by Australian authorities after World War II remains a matter of controversy. Were the executions justified by pro-Japanese treachery or were they an extreme example of the victor’s spoils? John Fowke is convinced that the crimes justified the outcome; others – including the ABC – think otherwise.

Of course, it should not be up to the ABC to cast a vote one way or the other on such issues. But the national broadcaster does act as policeman, judge and jury from time to time, using its corporate weight to support journalism that can be, and let’s be moderate, specious.

You should read John Fowke’s ‘The War in Papua – The Executions at Higaturu’, which you can download below, for a counterpoint view on an ABC program that, whatever its other strengths, seemed to lack a sense of balance.

I can’t get too deeply into the issues in these Notes, so a vicarious extract from John’s article….

Each man was given the chance to speak, and each did so. Grahamslaw recalled that Embogi's speech had a profound effect on all present. He had a sonorous voice and was a gifted orator. He stated he had done wrong, and that he was conscious of this. He said he was an uneducated man, and had not known better. He stated the punishment he was about to receive was just, and urged his people to heed the Government and to obey its laws.

Grahamslaw wrote; "I lay awake most of that night listening to the drums beating and the wailing of the mourners in the village adjacent to Higaturu, and I relived the events of the day. I had seen death in various forms during the preceding 12 months, but nothing affected me as deeply as the hangings of Embogi and his fellow murderers."

As a young man in the then Territory in the fifties I knew the late Bill Gordon, again a scion of an old Port Moresby-based Australian family, for whom the modern-day suburb Gordon’s Estate is named. Bill was the hangman in all but a few of the Northern Division executions, although not in case of the first five executions at Higaturu. An officer of the Royal Papuan Constabulary sent from Port Moresby for the purpose officiated here. Bill Gordon, an alcoholic whose later life was governed by his addiction, once said in his cups “I don’t care about the Japs. I hung lots of them, too. But those natives, bad bastards and all that they were, I still see ‘em. Still see ‘em.”

‘The War in Papua – The Executions at Higaturu’ was originally published in The (PNG) National. You can download the complete article here…..  Download the_higaturu_hangings.pdf

Don’t forget to participate in the PNGAA consultation. Discussion paper and questionnaire here.....  Download pngaa_consultation.pdf

The unsung heroes of PNG assistance

Occasionally in ASOPA PEOPLE we discuss development projects in Papua New Guinea that are not the initiatives of institutions – whether governments or major international aid bodies - but private projects, conceived and developed by individual Australians who feel they should do what they can to assist the people of PNG.

There are many such projects, and often their progenitors go unrecognised. I’d like to change that, and get some official recognition for these efforts. But that’s a challenge for another day. In the meantime, we can provide simple acknowledgement here.

Previously in these Notes we’ve mentioned the doctors who travel to the Simbu Province each Christmas to provide ophthalmological services; Colleen Neville’s efforts to raise funds for the Alotau Hospital; Friends of Rambutso, providing assistance to a remote island in Manus Province; the team of ex-broadcasters who helped establish a community radio station in Bougainville; and other people who gather and containerise books, medical equipment and other materials for schools and hospitals in PNG.

Today I want to tell you about another project of this ilk. The Oro Community Development Project was established after the loss of life and destruction caused by Cyclone Guba in November 2007. Following the catastrophe, a group of Australian educators decided to work with people in the Province to provide sustained and targeted assistance in the areas of education, health and agriculture.

The initial undertaking includes support to Hohorita Primary School, Gona Primary School and St Christopher’s Mechanical Training School. When improvements have been achieved in these schools, the project’s focus will shift to other areas. In addition, planning is well advanced for specialist teams to visit Oro later this year to deliver mentoring and other professional services.

The objectives of the Oro Community Development Project are to improve access to quality education and community health and to improve agricultural practices. It was launched in Sydney in February by PNG High Commissioner, Charles Lepani. Since then, support Warren Riley bases have been activated in Australia and PNG, a detailed on ground assessment made and planning meetings held at ANU. The Project was legally incorporated in June, with Riley Warren AM [left] accepting the position of inaugural President.

Three Sydney independent schools have already raised funds and, while it is still early days, $1,500 has been pledged to St Christopher’s Mechanical Training School for the purchase of tools and textbooks for 25 students. Elijah Sarigari is coordinating activities in Oro Province and John Kleinig has assumed responsibility for operations in Australia.

The partners in the Project are the PNG Anglican Diocese of Popondetta, Lindisfarne Anglican Grammar School, Reddam House, Shore Preparatory School, William Clarke College, St Paul’s College, University of Sydney, Modern Teaching Aids and many individual people in PNG and Australia.

Quite simply, I find this stuff inspirational.

Don’t forget to participate in the PNGAA consultation. Discussion paper and questionnaire here. Download pngaa_consultation.pdf

PNGAA’s future: your views required

Logo I’ve mentioned in these Notes a number of times previously that the Papua New Guinea Association of Australia is embarking on a major overhaul of its constitution – the most comprehensive since it was founded nearly 60 years ago. The review is being managed by a four-person group: Ross Johnson, Andrea Williams, Riley Warren and me.

The Association is seeking input to this process, which it is hoped will conclude in April next year when a Special General Meeting will be asked to vote on changes.

The review is sweeping in its scope and covers fundamental changes like:

- updating and refining the objectives of the Association

- introducing new classes of membership

- comprehensively restructuring the organisation

- clarifying procedures governing the conduct of elections

- defining specific roles for the eight national officers of the Association

These and other issues are canvassed in much more detail in a discussion paper you can download here.  Download pngaa_consultation.pdf

You are invited to provide responses to me by 2 January 2009. But, of course, the sooner you get on to it, the less I’ll have to harass you. Email responses to me here, fax me at 02 9904 0960 or mail them to me at Jackson Wells Pty Ltd, PO Box 1743, Neutral Bay NSW 2089.

PNG relations: breaking the Gordian knot

Paul Oates

Oates Paul John Fowke’s erudite article is very close to the thoughts of many of us. The question that hangs in the air is: how can we change the status quo? It could well be that Somare is losing his grip and his cartel will be swept aside, but who takes over? More of the same or something different?

The bad old days in South America comes rapidly to mind, where one dictator was continually replaced by another under the guise of a revolution of the people. People power is just that: leaderless and disorganised. If Sir Mekere Maurata, Sir Julius Chan and Bart Philemon were to lead a coalition (and it does have to be a coalition) to power, will they be any different than the present lot, given the traditional way political power has to be won and kept?

What has changed with DFAT since John Fowke wrote his piece in 2006? Not much, if anything. Sure there has been a change in government, but there doesn't seem to have been a regime change at AusAID nor in its methodology.

The essence of the problem is that there are at least two different and independent impediments to changing the current impasse. While the causes of each impediment might be worlds apart, each conspires to keep the other in place. The 'Doyens of DFAT' (and this includes hangers on) and the ‘traditional PNG bigman culture' may be dissimilar in background yet they are distinctly similar in their desire to prevent change. They are both doing very nicely, thank you.

Why change if we don't have to? That's the nub of the problem. So what's the answer? There's only one real response: agreed responsibility and accountability.

The weak points of both camps (DFAT and the PNG elite) are their political power bases. To hold the collective conglomeration of our foreign aid programs accountable would be to attack the Gordian Knot. To get the Australian government to elucidate a workable and accountable aid program for PNG and the Pacific Rim is something to be worked towards.

The second, equally important initiative must come from the PNG people through their elected leaders. Here there may be a glimmer of hope as Sir Mekere and Bart Philemon actually started to effect worthwhile changes before they were white anted and ended up in Opposition.

If a responsible and accountable PNG government were to require the Australian government to effect overdue change to our ‘neighbourly’ foreign aid architecture, it would be a good forward step.

Similarly, if the PNGAA were to suggest a round table where interested organisations could be evaluated on their effectiveness in achieving results, maybe there might be some way ahead for a more positive outcome. What would not be productive would be to commission yet another 'talkfest'.

An agreed agenda with stated outcomes and benchmarks should be set in place prior to any conference taking place. Invitations could then be issued to all those who have something constructive to offer.

PNG advocate dies of heart attack

The chairman of Transparency International in Papua New Guinea, Mike Manning OL OBE, died suddenly yesterday. Mr Manning, 65, was visiting Rabaul when he had a heart attack.

“Mr Manning was a passionate anti-corruption campaigner,” said the Secretary of Transparency International PNG, Lawrence Stephens. “He brought energy and drive to the organisation and worked tirelessly for the cause of TI. He served with distinction and was recognised by his peers when re-elected to TI’s global accreditation board.”

Mr Manning had been Director of the PNG Institute of National Affairs and Executive Director of the PNG Growers Association. He ran his own agricultural consultancy business. He was also director of a number of non-government organisations including Peace Foundation Melanesia. He lectured at the University of PNG and wrote extensively on the economy and development issues and had a regular column in the PNG press.

“The people and country of PNG have lost a leader who served with tremendous distinction and commitment. He will be missed by all who knew and respected him,” Mr Stephens said.

Australia has to do much better for PNG

John Fowke

This article has been previously published (in 'Quadrant' and the PNG 'National') but richly deserves another airing. John Fowke has devoted 50 years to Papua New Guinea, and makes a plausible case that Australia is ‘getting it wrong'. This extract is reproduced with John’s permission, and you can also download the whole article [see below] - KJ

It is a characteristic both of AusAID and its partners - the private consultancies that plan and execute projects - that the word ‘memory’ is not in their vocabulary…. In fact the whole sisterhood/brotherhood of the aid industry, the departmental bureaucrats and the consultancies concerned, is collectively very quiet about what it does. This begs the obvious question: why?

Australians in general together with the breed described in the media as ‘Pacific Specialists’ really don’t understand just how different PNG society is from that which occupies Australia. The ‘Pacific Specialists’ upon whose advice aid programs delivered in PNG are based obviously draw from a Western matrix for their ideas, not only because this is usually the only basis they have, but also because it is the unstated but underlying objective of all these projects to Westernise the recipient society in some measure.

With only a superficial understanding of the groups of people they are working with it is natural that engagement and achievement also are superficial, together with results. PNG is a highly convoluted maze both in a physical and a conceptual sense. Nevertheless, there is a way into this maze, and it involves knowledge of both the culture and the language of the people targeted. An ability engendered by the interest and initiative needed to move freely and without fear in street-side and village society; to speak the lingua franca as it is spoken by the people.

To be accepted and welcomed as a friend by ordinary Papua New Guineans. Whilst the remnants of the old Australian School of Pacific Administration may have informed the early development of ANU’s School of Pacific Studies a continued offering of courses helpful to those of a mind to take up the Pacific challenge (if such people there are) is entirely lacking so far as this writer is aware. More’s the pity. The lack is so obvious, manifest in any encounter with a young Australian DFAT official or Australian project-consultant.

The writer has often had cause to feel angry at the bland and comfortable assumption that you can take a thirty-year-old MBA from a teaching position in some Godforsaken TAFE College in country Victoria and confidently put him in charge of producing a relatively complex set of results in a rural setting in PNG. Just watching these young men and women smiling uncertainly and speaking very slowly in what they imagine to be a form of broken English comprehensible to their little captive audiences is enough to make ones hair turn white.

On the other hand it is just as aggravating to be present in a hotel largely taken over for an Australian-funded police seminar, and to find that whilst the PNG police officers attending the seminar socialise together in the bars and bistro areas, the Aussie consultants presenting the seminar arrogantly dine separately in the hotel’s high-cost restaurant. Insulting enough in a Western setting, in Melanesia where the sharing of food is the basis for all meaningful interaction this sort of behavior is both outrageous and provocative. The writer has been witness to many such instances of the inability or unwillingness of Australian advisors and consultants to engage at a personal level.

Download 'Getting_it_Wrong_in_PNG'

‘Getting it wrong in PNG’ by John Fowke. The article was published in ‘Quadrant’ in December 2006 and in the PNG ‘National’ in January 2007.

Pardon, Mr Somare, you're being watched

Face It’s fascinating to read declassified documents that pertain to the era one lived through. They give a whole new meaning to the word ‘paranoia’. And, judging by the classified documents it produced in the years leading up to Independence in 1975,  the Australian Administration in PNG was certifiably paranoid.

Take this Police Special Branch report on Michael Tom Somare, destined to become the father of Independence. “He is an angry young man, overtly anti-European and anti-Australian, who has had numerous brushes with the authorities and is on record as having expressed sympathy with the Communist cause".

Somare had come to ‘prominent notice’ when, in September 1964, he criticised the Public Service Act. "At the same time, he made reference to the House of Assembly as being a 'puppet of the Administration', and added that if students were unable to achieve their demands by negotiation, they must do so by force.”

In December 1965, Somare was transferred to Wewak by his employer the Department of Information and Extension Services. A department officer who knew Somare as a "friendly, personable, cooperative individual" subsequently found him to be "sullen, with a chip on his shoulder and an anti-European attitude.

“Somare has been described by competent observers as being an angry young man. As far as is known, he has not indulged in any subversive activity and his loyalties are in no doubt. He has a propensity towards speaking out on matters concerning the conditions of employment of local officers regardless of the consequences, and could seriously embarrass this Administration by so doing. By virtue of his education and proven ability to speak and organise he could become a formidable force in local affairs in the near future."

Well, at least they got that right.

Editor finds business fame at last

BRW210808 The besuited cove looking corporately serious in this photo is your editor, being interviewed at his desk for the current issue of BRW. Tony Blackie wrote the story, which is about how business firms – even small ones – can effectively lobby government if they follow a set of very simple rules. Since this article is off subject for ASOPA PEOPLE I won’t take it further, but if readers want to share my tips for more effectively dealing with government, email me at my office here.

Baby Kevin and hermaphrodite goats

Ilya Gridneff

Baby Kevin 07 In March this year, Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd visited a small village in the Eastern Highlands of Papua New Guinea where he was mobbed, showered with gifts and treated like a rock star. That was strange enough but when I heard that to prove the extent of their devotion, the very next baby to be born into the village was named Kevin Rudd in his honour, I knew I had to go there to seek out this child. Here’s an excerpt from the diary I kept of my time there….

I am in Goroka, deep in the mountains of Papua New Guinea’s Eastern Highlands. I’m here to find a small baby named after the new Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd. The village I need to visit has no electricity or running water and is accessible only with a 4WD, but is supposed to be only two hours drive away. I’m in the car with Zachery, a local journalist who is fixing things for me (at the same rate that he’s screwing them up) and two cops called Miskem and Big Simbu, who’ve been brought along as protection.

The unsealed roads, the mud, the ascents, the descents, the river crossings and a stolen bridge, force many delays, but they’re not the only problems. Zachery tells me he wants to take me on a detour to get a better story, which I learn — whilst turning into a livestock farm — is a hermaphrodite goat they lovingly call ‘50-50’.

You can read the full fascinating article by Ilya Gridneff, an AAP correspondent in PNG, here.

Opposition divided on labour scheme

Hull Kay Federal National Party politician Kay Hull [left] has defended the Government's new Pacific island worker scheme against attacks from Opposition Leader Brendan Nelson. Dr Nelson says there should be enough unemployed Australians willing to work. He has criticised the plan as bringing in "dirt poor Pacific islanders" to help farmers.

But Ms Hull says many fruit growers in her southern New South Wales electorate are in desperate need of pickers and would welcome the Pacific islanders. She says they have tried for many years to attract Australian workers, with little success. "There is an absolute recognition for years and years and years that there has been a labour crisis and a shortage in this electorate," she said. "None of the endeavours that have been put in place have resolved it. My growers deserve a fair go."

Ms Hull says the farmers she represents sometimes have to let fruit rot on the ground because they cannot find enough pickers. She has called on Dr Nelson to visit her electorate in southern NSW to see the dire circumstances facing farmers. "You simply cannot live in a city electorate and make these decisions," she said.

Source: Hull throws support behind Pacific workers scheme, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 21 August 2008

Australian aid has failed in PNG – report

Australian aid has failed the Pacific, including Papua New Guinea, according to a report just released by the Centre for Independent Studies. The report, The Bipolar Pacific, says Australia had tipped more than K30 billion of aid into PNG since Independence, but despite this the country is classed as stagnating or becoming poorer.

PNG is categorise on top of a group of Pacific Island nations – all Melanesian countries – that have not progressed despite huge amounts of Australian aid. Other islands countries such as the Cook Islands, Samoa and Tonga had improved in that time, said CIS researchers Prof Helen Hughes and Gaurav Sodhi.

In Melanesia – PNG, Solomons, Vanuatu and Fiji - most families have no electricity, no running water, no sanitation and little health care. “PNG and SI, despite a relatively large land mass and rich natural endowments, have at best stagnated,” says the report. “Imprudent economic policies in PNG have stalled development. Revenues from minerals and timber have not been invested in physical or social infrastructure. Egregious corruption in government has led to civil unrest and crime, discouraging job-creating private enterprise. Port Moresby has become one of the most violent cities in the world.”

Meanwhile, at the Pacific Forum in Niue, Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has said that Australia will strengthen the skills of local officials by offering 20,000 training opportunities regionally, 2000 places for leadership programs and 100 scholarships for senior and middle level executives at the national level.

Source: PNG Post-Courier, 20 August 2008

It all started from nothing, a PNG novel

Brian Darcey

Bougainville Blue It was a word delivered on the lawn of the District Commissioner's house at Kieta. It was a word that changed Bougainville’s history. The word was, ‘Nothing’. And it was delivered by Charles ‘CEB’ Barnes, the Australian Minister for Territories. The question that elicited the fateful word, asked by the leader of a delegation of tribal elders, was, ‘What's in it for us?’ ‘It’ was a potential mine in the mountains of central Bougainville, at a village called Panguna,  on land tilled and cultivated by its native owners.

My just-published novel Bougainville Blue has a description of this encounter. I was there when Minister Barnes answered a polite query from a dignified village elder. The Minister’s answer was technically accurate but insensitive; to the consternation of senior field officers present. ‘What’s in it for us?´ ‘Nothing’.

The mine, focal point of the conflict between Bougainvilleans and the governments of both Australia and Papua New Guinea, crystallised and gave form to an endemic resentment of outsiders, which had existed on this mountainous island since its first contact with the outside world. Germans, Japanese and Australians had been left in no doubt as to the wish of the people for them to simply go away, leaving the owners of the land to continue their lives unhindered. Control by these various colonial administrations had been tolerated, but never accepted.

Bougainville Blue is about a blue - a fight. It’s about the beauty of Bougainville, its flora and fauna, and about the destruction which became a by product of modernisation. It’s a novel but it’s also about the true happenings of the tragedy that followed the plugging in of the Panguna Mine, which was to be closed – and the whole island devastated - by a ragtag militia bent on reclaiming their land.

You can find out more about Bougainville Blue here.

Where exactly is this WWII monument?

Rabaul Plaque 

This photograph is of a monument erected in Rabaul to commemorate the tragic sinking of the Montevideo Maru in World War 2. The ship was inadvertently torpedoed by a US submarine off the Philippines on its way to Japan on 1 July 1942. The tragedy took the lives of 1,053 soldiers and civilian prisoners of war, mostly Australians, who had been rounded up on the Japanese-occupied islands of New Britain and New Ireland.

This image was sent to PNGAA member Colin Huggins by a collector of WW2 memorabilia with whom he works at Brisbane City Council. The question we’re asking readers is: where exactly on the Gazelle Peninsula is this monument located? If you know post a Comment below.

By the way, you can left click on the image to enlarge it and read the text.

PNG independence day, Sydney event

The Sydney PNG Wantok Club will be celebrating 33 years of PNG Independence on Saturday 13 September. Entry is by ticket only and ticket prices are $60 per person and $30 for children under 10.

You can obtain tickets from any of these people:

Central Coast & Sydney North - Gulea Kila 0423 941 436

Sydney West - Alex Avia 9220 0087(h) or 8849 2436(w)

Sydney West - Liz Corner 9834 2272

Sydney East & City - Margaret Neeson 0438 286 615

Sydney South - Doreka Minei 0411 243 005

The celebration will kick off at 7.30 pm and go till late at at Mykonos, 57 Macquarie Street, Parramatta (on the corner of Marsden Street). There is a door prize of return tickets for two people to Port Moresby, courtesy of Air Niugini.

Guest labour scheme ‘modest’, says Burke

The Australian Minister for Agriculture Tony Burke says his government took a modest approach to its pilot seasonal worker scheme to ensure its success. Mr Burke, in Papua New Guinea to promote the scheme and talk with counterparts, said details were yet to be finalised. “We want to make sure this works properly,” he told reporters in Port Moresby. "The overarching theme is win-win."

Up to 2,500 workers from PNG, Kiribati, Tonga and Vanuatu will participate in a three-year pilot scheme, similar to a successful seasonal labour scheme run in New Zealand. Participants will work for up to seven months a year in the horticulture industry in regional Australia.

Mr Burke said it will probably be mid next year before the scheme's first visas are issued. He said at this stage there were no ideal candidates, country quotas or time frames. "We want to work with the PNG government to work out which communities would have a number of people wanting to participate," he said.

Despite speculation, PNG was always on the list of countries included in the scheme, he added.

Source: AAP Port Moresby, 19 August 2008

Return to Mosman High, 45 years on

Mosman T-shirt Kids 

I first entered the gates of Mosman High School soon after enrolling at ASOPA in February 1962. I had just turned 17 and wanted to learn how to type with all my fingers. I ended up typing with two fingers, like I do now. Meeting those nice young Mosman women who proliferated in our typing class destroyed my objective of being the fastest man on an Olivetti in the suburb.

I also turned up at St Clement’s Anglican church where Rev Ray Bomford, who had been my clergyman back in Nowra, was only recently ensconced in his new silvertail parish. He was later to say, during our time at the School when we were staging 'The Natives Are Restless' revue at Mosman Town Hall: “We don’t want our Christian work undone by you people at ASOPA”

Anyway I was back at Mosman High last Thursday to deliver a talk on my time at ASOPA to Year 7 Yellow. And as I just received a bunch of photos of the occasion from teacher, Lorraine Bowan, who herself has PNG connections, I decided to share an extract from the talk with you:

I walked to ASOPA on my first day – being new to Sydney I didn’t know much about bus routes. At the School were about 50 other men and women, ranging in age from 17 to 23, who were to be my classmates. We soon found out that we had a lot of subjects to study – 19.

We did subjects to make us know a lot – because teachers have to know a lot! Like English, Geography, History and Biology. We did subjects to teach us how to teach – Mathematics, Social Studies, English and many more. Very importantly, we learned how to teach English as a foreign language. The third group of subjects we learned were all about what our lives would be like in PNG. Like Government, Anthropology and Health.

The worst part of this was, when you are taught 19 subjects, you have exams in 19 subjects.

I also talked about how I got to go to ASOPA and about my first impressions upon arriving in PNG. The students were especially intrigued by Tok Pisin, and its wonderfully effervescent style that evokes so beautifully the plain talking and good humour of Papua New Guineans.

Mosman School Paper Re-reading the words, the talk seems banal on paper. But each paragraph generated a flurry of questions and comments from the Yellows. Lorraine Bowan was very kind. “The students were fascinated and amazed by your story,” she wrote.


Labour scheme minimal but good signal

The Federal Government blind-sided some of us over its Pacific guest workers announcement yesterday. All the harmonics were that PNG should prepare for disappointment, but it was included in the scheme. This was both a good decision in itself and because of the strong signals it sends to PNG about Australia's commitment to the bilateral relationship. Likewise the foreshadowed refinement of visa processes for Papua New Guineans, an overdue but still welcome initiative. That said, the labour scheme is minimalist, however it is a start and – as today’s posturing by the Federal Opposition demonstrated - the domestic politics were potentially quite difficult for the Rudd Government.

Michael Somare vows to stay as PNG PM

Head As signs of a political instability intensify in Papua New Guinea, Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare has said he will not step down as leader of the National Alliance Party, the political alliance he created. “I am a practitioner of the democratic process of the Government in PNG,” he told 1,000 people at the Waigani Seminar in Port Moresby last Friday.

“Before the 2007 National Elections, the National Alliance party voted me in as the leader of the party. We won the government over a year ago and Members of Parliament agreed to support the National Alliance party to form government. I will remain the leader of the National Alliance party until next National Alliance convention when the new leadership is decided by its members,” he said.

“I want to assure the people of PNG that I would be the last person to undermine the institutions that I played a pivotal role in establishing. I want to qualify, however, that as a member of the legislature it is my role to amend legislation and give rise to policies that keep up with the changing times and suit our circumstances”.

Meanwhile, Sir Michael has said that if he was a dictator he would have put former prime minister Sir Julius Chan behind bars for 20 years because “he was an obstacle to development”. The remark came after Sir Julies likened certain behaviour of Sir Michael to that of Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe.

Source: PNG Post-Courier, 18 August 2008

A new newsletter, and Waigani revived

Aust-Pac News is an important new addition to the list of publications about the Pacific. The first 16-page issue of this newsletter has just been produced by the Australian Association for the Advancement of Pacific Studies, and it is jam packed with fascinating information about what might be called the ‘scholarly Pacific’, which seems to be in a superb state of health.

Amongst the many fascinating items is coverage of the first Waigani Seminar to be held for 11 years. The Seminar used to be a highlight of academic life at the University of PNG after it was initiated in 1966 to when it ceased in 1997 (interestingly, at about the same time the Federal Government’s relations with PNG began to wane). But the Seminar was revived this year, running for three days earlier this month.

Aust-Pac News observes, in the context of intellectual exchange between the two countries, that Australian research on PNG is in decline and the flow of students to Australia has slowed: only 135 scholarships were awarded to Papua New Guineans to study here last year.

It was noted at the Waigani Seminar that there are now no bookshops in Port Moresby except for the newly re-emergent UPNG Bookshop. It seems bookshops were selling 5,000 comic books a week in the 1970s. Use of newspapers, TV and radio is poor with only 48% of Papua New Guineans having access any form of media. It was revealed, however, that mobile phone use has jumped from 60,000 users in 2005 to 900,000 this year.

Aust-Pac is edited by Max Quanchi, who you can contact by email here.

PNGAA – a seminal essay by Jim Moore

I gave a Jim Moore PNG tee-shirt to a Year 7 Class at Mosman High when I gave a talk there last week. Bedecked with the Australian and PNG flags as well as the flags of each PNG province and splashings of Tok Pisin, the shirt was enthusiastically received and made a great conversation piece. You should get one [see ASOPA People Extra, The Mail, July 2008 at left for details].

Jim has enjoined the debate about the future of the PNGAA, flourishing on the Ex-Kiap website, with a few well pitched remarks. “More than anything else,” writes Jim, “I think the PNGAA needs to act as a carrier and promoter of public knowledge and as an agent of opinion and policy change, to push public debate here about what PNG means to Australia, and what Australia can do to assist PNG become a better place for the sake of its people.

“It’s a two-way street – we can learn from PNG about what it means today to be a developing society that (as we can understand better than most) probably has gone through more societal change in a quicker time-frame that just about any society on Earth has ever done.

“If we don’t understand it as it is now, and only keep in mind our view of what it was like back in the good old days, we’ll be condemned to crying in our beer for evermore about ‘if only, blah blah blah’. To me, that leads to a sorry, cynical cycle that becomes increasingly destructive of our view of humanity.

“In brief, I think what Keith Jackson suggests [‘What activities should the local Branch undertake? Contribute to PNGAA policy on major issues affecting the Australia-PNG relationship; local advocacy on matters affecting the Australia-PNG relationship; organise talks and seminars on PNG issues; organise reunions and other social events; provide a contact point for visitors from PNG; identify and record PNG materials of historic interest held privately by members’] is a good summary of where the PNGAA could go.

“As Paul Oates succinctly puts it in this forum: ‘The second factor we ought to think about is our collective ability and knowledge to help foster good relations with our closest neighbour. This should be of vital importance as the world's balance of power is shifting from day to day, and our region is probably more volatile than it has been for 50 years’.”

“Of course, the PNGAA can and must change - it can't go on the way it was. We will all continue to do our own individual thing, but may I respectfully suggest we help a renewed and reinvigorated collective effort as and when we can.”

Well said, Jim.

You can read Jim’s full contribution on the Ex-Kiap website here.

Blatchford Collection for 1961 now on site

The latest addition to The Blatchford Collection is now available in ASOPA People Extra. Loch Blatchford has reached 1961 in his continuing summary of important documents relating to the development of government education in Papua New Guinea.

The summaries make truly fascinating reading. Here’s a taste.

Extracts from March journal, John Paynter, Area Education Officer, Saidor:13.3.61, 1655. Arrived at the bank of Warop River to find it in flood. This left me in a quandary as I had no food or clothing with me. Saw L/Rover on opposite bank so decided to take a chance and swim the river. The current was far stronger than I thought and I was swept 300 yds downstream before making other side. Sustained bruises to body and lacerations to feet and legs. 1730. Left Sel and set out by L/Rover for Saidor. Arrived at Bidin River to find it in flood and impossible to ford. Decided against swimming. Sunday. I accidentally sustained a gunshot wound to the foot and this will limit my walking considerably.”

Comment from GT Roscoe, Director of Education: “After having survived the perils of these few days it is probable that you will last until retirement if you are duly cautious in your dealings with floods and firearms.”

The August issue of The Mail (No 126) is also now available in ASOPA People Extra.

PNG included in guest worker program

The straw in the wind was illusory and the breeze in the trees whispered nothing. Contrary to all expectations, Federal Agriculture Minister Tony Burke [right] has announced that the Pacific Island guest worker scheme to start later this year will include Papua New Guineans.

This decision, when added to the easier visa processes foreshadowed by the office of the Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs two days ago, breathes life into Australia's special relationship with PNG and gives meaning to the Rudd Government's commitment to strengthen bonds between the two countries.

Mr Burke said the three-year pilot scheme will focus on the horticulture industry, especially in harvesting fruit and vegetables. He said 2,500 visas will be made available for workers from Kiribati, Tonga, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea to work in Australia for up to seven months in any given year. The Government is cooperating with industry to identify which regions will participate, with Swan Hill in Victoria and Griffith in New South Wales the most favoured.

The Opposition criticised the proposed scheme, saying it lacks detail on how Pacific Island workers will fit into the Australian labour market. The Government will review the scheme after 18 months.

PNG: no labour scheme, but new visa deal

While it seems Papua New Guinea will not be included in a trial Pacific labour mobility scheme, it has been revealed that the Australian and PNG governments are working to develop a pioneering work and holiday visa arrangement. The bureaucratic hoops Papua New Guineans have to jump through to obtain visas for Australia has been a gnawing problem in bilateral relations.

In a letter to me, Brian Mitchell, chief of staff to Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Affairs, has given the strongest official indication yet that PNG will not be part of the proposed pilot labour mobility scheme to be announced at the Pacific Forum in Niue next week. Mr Mitchell was replying to my request that the Federal Government give consideration to including PNG in the scheme, a proposal that has strong support within PNG itself.

But Mr Mitchell is preparing PNG for a let down. “The selection of partner countries in any limited-scope pilot [should not] be misread as reflective of the state of bilateral relations,” he wrote. “We are aware that all our Pacific island neighbours would wish to participate in any such scheme and that some may be disappointed if that proves impossible.”

And he was careful not to put too high a value on the impacts of the scheme. “Whatever the outcome of that [Pacific Forum] decision, it is important to note that a labour mobility pilot should not be considered a panacea for the challenges of unemployment and underemployment”

It’s not all bad news, though. Mr Mitchell pointed to Australia's current openness to PNG’s interests in labour mobility, “reflected in the significant, and growing, numbers of skilled PNG workers who are already participating in the Australian labour market.”

He also said work is underway for Australia and Papua New Guinea to collaborate on workforce planning in the context of resource developments such as the proposed Liquid Natural Gas project. And he revealed that “the two countries are also working well to put in place a Work and Holiday visa program, a first for a Pacific island country.”

Rudd likely to disappoint PNG workers

The Asia-Pacific editor of the Sydney Morning Herald has today reinforced doubts that Papua New Guinea will get a guernsey when Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announces a pilot scheme to bring seasonal farm workers to Australia at next week’s Pacific Islands Forum.

“We can expect [the scheme] to be highly cautious, and limited to a handful of the Pacific's medium-sized countries - such as Vanuatu, Tonga and Kiribati,” writes Hamish McDonald.

The Rudd scheme, a bit like the man himself, will be unadventurous and just a bit fluffy. The nations supplying labour and the model of the program will be identical to the so-called ‘New Zealand experiment’ that has been operating successfully for the last two years and is now an established part of rural life in the Land of the Long White Cloud.

The New Zealand scheme has something of a neo-colonial air about it: hiring mostly married young men; intimations that, if there is misbehaviour, whole villages will be barred from the scheme; monitoring to see that workers bank their wages and remit them securely. Recruitment firms, churches and Rotary clubs are involved in a careful approach that also has a solid upside of care. So long as it doesn’t suffocate individual freedoms.

An estimated 5000 workers will be invited on to Australian farms, orchards and vineyards to deal with what the National Farmers Federation says are crops rotting because of a 22,000 shortfall of unskilled labour. But there will be no Papua New Guineans. “If and when [the scheme] builds up,” says McDonald, “and extends to the larger and more strife-prone countries such as PNG, the seasonal labour traffic can make a real difference to the so-called ‘arc of instability’ and thus to Australia's strategic outlook.”

PNG’s High Commissioner to Australia, Charles Lepani, has said if PNG is excluded from the labour program, it will represent a severe test of the relationship with Australia. “It would be a tragedy if that happens,” Mr Lepani remarked earlier this year. “It will set our PNG-Australia relations in a very negative light again. Australia should start with PNG.”

Earlier this month, the PNG Post-Courier editorialised: “The worker scheme could be an excellent boost to relations and trade and give Australia a chance to prove its pan-Pacific credentials are not just hot air. Many of our citizens are already showing their worth and being accepted as doctors, engineers and pilots down south. Why not our labourers, vetted and tied to normal conditions?”

If PNG is excluded from the pilot scheme, one can only hope that Kevin Rudd and Duncan Kerr, the Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs, have squared it away with the Somare Government and, in doing so, offered some indiaction of when PNG will be involved.

The Pacific Forum meeting in Niue kicks off on Tuesday.

Tamate: A fellow creature, slowly roasted

Maitland Mercury, 23 June 1883

Chalmers James The Rev Mr Chalmers, who has lived in New Guinea as a missionary for seven years, and is described as probably knowing more about that vast and mysterious island than any other European living, recently spoke on the subject in Brisbane, he is reported by the Brisbane Courier to have said that "Queensland ought to be very proud of their new acquisition”. It was a magnificent island, and inhabited by a fine race of men. He earnestly hoped that the occupation of the island by white men would not mean the extinction of the natives, but would rather tend to teach, instruct, and establish them.

He did not wish to see the people civilised in the usual conventional manner; he did not believe in disguising the blacks, no shirt-and-trousers natives. For his part, he preferred pure, unadulterated savages. Six years ago he landed in Port Moresby, and settled among a cannibal tribe encountering many troubles and difficulties at the outset. Afterwards things became more settled, and they were invited to a cannibal feast, but thought it better to decline the invitation. His wife, however, had made friends with a neighbouring chief, who looked in during the evening with a piece of flesh which he thought would prove an acceptable morsel to his guests. Great was his astonishment at their refusing to eat a portion of a fellow creature, however delicately roasted.

For the last three years there have been great improvements in their habits, and for that period cannibal feasts have been unknown at Port Moresby. Many have joined the Christian church, and have been baptised ; and though, perhaps, they are not great theologians, still their faith is pure and simple. When the gold prospectors visited the island some years ago, one of them shot a native. The natives then became hostile, and threatened the lives of the teachers. He called the natives together and explained that the teachers hud come simply to instruct tbem, and wanted nothing in return. He succeeded in pacifying them for the time, and they agreed to accept their teacher, who, however, became unpopular, and was shortly afterwards murdered when the great massacre of teachers took place.

The missionaries had had a hard struggle ; some had fallen through the unhealthy climate, some had been murdered ; but daylight was now dawning over that island, and he trusted the time not distant when it would be prosperous and enlightened.

Source: ‘New Guinea’, The Maitland Mercury & Hunter River General Advertiser, Saturday 23 June 1883 [National Library of Australia]

Footnote: James ‘Tamate’ Chalmers was described as “a tough, canny Scot of incredible self-assurance and conviction and kindness whose moral interpretation was law on the Papuan Coast; a man of deep and abiding humanity; an honourable man.” On 8 April 1901, Chalmers, another missionary and several Papuan evangelists were surrounded by armed men in the Fly River area. Promised a banquet, the missionaries (who always travelled unarmed) were clubbed and killed, their bodies cooked with sago and eaten.

The National Library has just launched a website reproducing facsimiles of many Australian newspapers dating well back into the 19th Century. A number include contemporary stories of the early exploration of Papua. You can visit the Library’s excellent newspaper website here.

Kiaps debate future of the PNGAA

Millar Iain Iain Millar has initiated an interesting discussion about the future of the PNG Association on the Ex-Kiap website. Headlined ‘PNGAA revitalization under new management’, Iain’s piece asks “Is the organisation worth saving?” Iain says he is “disheartened by the collapse (in PNG) of the organisations I and others laboured to set up, and by the disappearance, caused through neglect, of the infrastructure of the bush which again, I and others gave sweat, blood and tears” and argues that the “PNGAA should be allowed to die slowly and peacefully as it has outlived its usefulness”. Well, that’s an interesting debate to wake up to on a bright Winter’s morning.

Iain is supported by Ross Wilkinson (“Many organisations with an aging raison d'etre are facing similar issues… I, like you, am greatly disappointed at the way our efforts [in PNG] have been for nought”) and sort of supported by Harry Topham (“What’s the point once the original charter of the organisation becomes redundant. Look to new directions, I guess”).

Oates Paul 69 Paul Oates, however, urges readers “to think about is our collective ability and knowledge to help foster good relations with our closest neighbour… If we don't encourage and promote good relations with PNG, someone else will, possibly at our expense. Is that a future that we want for our children?”

Paul says that he “would like to see a new, national body that openly encourages more contact between our two countries and actively promotes a stable and mutually beneficial relationship at all levels.”

Young Jackson I have my say, too, of course. But I’ll refer you to the Ex-Kiap site to read all the contributions in the appropriate context. The opening shots of what I hope will be an extensive and lively debate can be found here.

Photos: Iain Millar [top], Paul Oates and me in TPNG, at a time when we found life much more uncomplicated

Tavurvur volcano in serious eruption

Tavurvur Rabaul is being blanketed by a heavy ashfall this morning as Tavurvur continues to erupt. The volcano has been active for the last two to three weeks, severely affecting the township with an accumulation of ash.

The situation has worsened along Mango Avenue, which, in the past, had received some protection because of prevailing winds. Homes, food gardens and cash crops throughout the Rabaul area have been badly affected.

Gabriel Pangur and his family live near the Rabaul Volcano Observatory and says his gardens have been destroyed. “Ol gaden blong mipela i bagarap pinis long das pundaun long Tavurvur.” Mr Pangur said the dust also affected his family who are suffering aggravated coughs and running noses. Drinking and washing water hasd turned to dust again, he said.

Holman art available to wider market

Clive Troy

Hal Holman He’s been something of a reluctant debutante, but Hal Holman has responded to numerous requests made over many years for reproductions of his works by releasing a limited series of numbered prints of four selected images of Papua New Guinea subjects.

The price of each of the original artworks runs into thousands of dollars, well beyond the reach of the average person, but these quality prints are indistinguishable from the originals. They’re A2 size trimmed to 420mm x 594mm and printed on 200gsm Art Parilux Silk White. They are supplied unframed and dispatched in mailing tubes.

Haldane Sinclair Holman OAM is famous in Papua New Guinea, having been a commando in World War II and returning after the war as senior artist for the PNG Government. He had the honour of designing the PNG crest during his ten years as a designer in the Department of Information. Many of his large bronze sculptures are to be found in Port Moresby, including the busts of PNG's six Prime Ministers that grace the grounds of PNG Parliament House in Waigani, and a bronze bust of Queen Elizabeth II at Government House in Konedobu.

Warrior  Hal’s sculptural work can also be seen in the botanical gardens at the University of PNG and on the Supreme Court building. His largest sculpture is a five metre high stainless steel Bird of Paradise at the beginning of Sir John Guise Drive in Waigani.

Hal has been a frequent visitor to PNG over the years and has just returned from his most recent trip. He has produced hundreds of oil paintings, pastels and watercolours of landscapes, portraits, and flora and fauna - particularly the varied Bird of Paradise. His paintings and drawings are in private collections and in galleries throughout the world. For further works visit Hal's website here.

BOP2 In 2004, Hal was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for services to the community in designing and sculpture.

You can order the prints from Clive Troy at this email address or phone him on 02 9868 2123 or write to PO Box 23, Thornleigh 2120, Australia.

Photos: Two of the outstanding prints - 'Central Highlander' and 'Red Bird of Paradise'

US Navy rescues Kokoda Track walker

Richard Jones

USNS Mercy Melbourne lawyer Debra Paver was rescued from the Kokoda Track by US Navy helicopter last Friday. Ms Paver, 44, collapsed while walking the track and became gravely ill, lapsing into unconsciousness.

She had been unconscious for more than a day when a helicopter from the USNS hospital ship Mercy [pictured], which was berthed in Port Moresby, was alerted to Ms Paver’s plight by the American embassy in Moresby.

A Knighthawk helicopter was dispatched to Alola village, landing on a small grassy patch 1,800 metres up in the Owen Stanleys. The landing area was shrouded in dense fog. The crew found the Melbourne woman awake but incoherent and flew her back to the Mercy. Within 24 hours her condition had improved from critical to stable.

USNS Mercy & Chopper Melbourne friend Bill Mirabito told journalists it had been “touch and go” for Ms Paver for a while. “She had a body meltdown through an imbalance in her body fluids,” he said. Ms Paver had intended to walk the Kokoda Track to raise awareness and funds for a rare skin disorder.

USNS Mercy’s captain, Bob Wiley, said Ms Paver had been suffering from hyponatremia, or low sodium levels, and confirmed she’d been unconscious for more than 24 hours before being rescued. The hospital ship was anchored off the coast of Port Moresby as part of Pacific Partnership 2008, a US humanitarian assistance mission to Oceania and South-East Asia.

Source: ‘Bayside Leader’ and ‘Herald-Sun’ Melbourne

Call for research papers on Pacific issues

The Pacific Leadership Program is an Australian Government project designed to improve governance and leadership in the Pacific and East Timor. The program’s research committee is inviting research proposals from the region, including Australian, New Zealand and Hawaiian institutions with links to Pacific Island research bodies, to address one of two major regional issues.

The first, ‘The Cost of Corruption’, asks researchers to cover matters including now corruption costs can be assessed and quantified, where this has been done and what are the challenges and implications for the Pacific Region.

The second research paper PLP wants is a review of the state of knowledge relating to ‘Successful Models of Youth Leadership’. Researchers are asked to identify positive and negative models of youth leadership in the Pacific, whether these programs make a difference in addressing social issues facing youth and what is the role of government, NGOs and the churches.

The research papers are due for completion, respectively, in February and April next year. There’s a fee payable - $35,000 for corruption; $65,000 for youth (work that out!).

Full details are available by downloading the official document here. Download plp_research.pdf  The deadline for proposals is 12 September.

PNG education 1961: the Roscoe era ends

Loch Blatchford

Airman's Memorial

The attempt to recruit trained teachers from Australia was disappointing. Only 40 of the anticipated 100 teachers arrived in the Territory. The E Course, on the other hand, proved a success with 55 teachers graduating from the first course and 65 from the second. Hasluck had hoped that these teachers would open new schools in remote postings, but a large proportion was used to relieve overcrowding in existing schools.

An investigation into the running of the Department, called for by E Course principal Salt, commenced in January and Roscoe seriously considered resigning. Instead he asked for the immediate appointment of his replacement, first to the position of Deputy Director and then to Director upon Roscoe’s retirement. The position was advertised in April 1961, LW Johnson’s appointment was announced in September and his arrival set for February 1962.

The plan to recruit Training Masters was scrapped. Students coming through the education system were too young to become teachers, while those of a suitable age could be handled adequately by Territory colleges. Approval was given to recruit 150 Cadet Education Officers in 1962. Roscoe wanted them trained at Kerevat but, as it would take at least three years to build a college, he recommended that the Department of Territories recruit the number that could be accommodated at ASOPA plus those who could be trained at State colleges.

Hasluck announced a five-year plan for the Educational, Social and Economic Advancement of Papua and New Guinea in October 1961 and set targets. Funds were scarce; Education was made more accountable and asked to produce specific and detailed plans to achieve the Minister’s objectives.

The Blatchford Collection summaries of official and other documents that track the development of the PNG education system in 1961 will be soon published in ASOPA People Extra. Summaries of each year from 1944 to 1960 are currently available under ‘Blatchford Collection’.

Photo: The Airman’s Memorial School at Ewasse, West New Britain, in the early 1960s [Fred Hargesheimer]

The pic I've been waiting some time for

Paul Max + Trainees

It's been a long struggle for Aloysius Laukai and his team on Buka Island to get community radio station, New Dawn FM, to the airwaves. But here's the photo that shows that real life has been breathed into the project - team leader Paul Max, front left, with a group of brand new broadcast trainees.

New Dawn FM has been funded by UNESCO and the German Government following a concept developed and promoted by ASOPA PEOPLE stalwarts Assoc Prof Martin Hadlow and Phil Charley OAM, assisted by my goodself.

The station is the first community controlled station in Papua New Guinea. It is funded by advertising and broadcasts to the northern regions of the Autonomous Province of Bougainville.

Photo: Aloysius Laukai

Keravat book gets boost from readers

A couple of weeks ago, Barbara Short shared with readers a project she’s working on to write the history of Keravat High School. The story triggered a number of useful responses: a letter from an ex-student who’s now a lecturer in law at the University of the South Pacific campus in in Port Vila; contact from David Keating (“We have had a good time renewing our friendship,” writes Barbara); and Loch Blatchford is also sending Barbara information on the 1950s, which she says will be a great help.

Now the ask gets a little more difficult for readers. Barbara wants to know where she can find obituaries or biographies for Frank Boisen or Jack Doonar. You can contact her at this email address, by phone at 02 9876 1018 or by post at 27 Chesterfield Road, Epping NSW 2121, Australia.

PNGAA appoints review heads in 4 States

An expert on Melanesian history, a top rugby league official and a businessman and academic have been appointed to chair steering groups in Canberra, Perth and Melbourne to review the structure and operations of the Papua New Guinea Association of Australia.

Ballard Chris Dr Chris Ballard is a Fellow in the Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies at the Australian National University where his research interests include Papua New Guinea land reform, large natural resource projects and cultural heritage. His other specific areas of study include violence and human rights; racism, concepts of race and colonial encounters; social and agricultural transformations; narrative and memory; sacred geography; theory in the disciplines of history, anthropology, archaeology and geography. He has regional interests in eastern Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu.

Val Murphy is Operations Manager Val and a life member of the Western Australian Rugby League. After graduating from ASOPA in 1962 and an earlier teaching career in Papua New Guinea, Val continued in catholic education in Perth, being a headmaster for 30 years. In 1990 he became the first lay Principal of Aranmore Catholic College, run by the Sisters of Mercy and one of the most culturally diverse schools in Western Australia.

Murphy Val Writing about a notorious rugby league match at ASOPA in 1962, Richard Jones nominated as one of the game’s highlights “the fortitude shown by Val Murphy who stood up to a lot of tough punishment but gave as good as he got”. Val’s generally robust approach to life was also summed up in a Sivijs caricature from the same year.

McMaster Wes Wes McMaster is an authority on financial advice business models and the issues associated with financial advice. He runs McMaster Securities Pty Ltd in Melbourne and is Adjunct Professor (Financial Planning) at RMIT University. Before PNG Independence he was executive officer to the National Education Board and executive. He later became the chief accountant of the Department of Posts and Telegraphs (1975-78) and advised the National Investment and Development Authority until he left PNG in 1981.

These appointments take to four the number of steering groups established by the PNGAA to assist with a major consultation on its future structure and operations. Membership of the Canberra, Perth and Melbourne groups should be finalised in the next two weeks.

Cartoon: ‘Mrs Murphy’s little boy Valmore’ by Georg Sivijs, ‘Vortex’ magazine, 1962

PNGAA consults about its future

The next few months could be a major transformational moment for the Papua New Guinea Association of Australia. And it’s a long moment. Extending from now to next April.

It’s all about moving the PNGAA from where it is now - a benign organisation, unlikely to be sustainable without change – to a more active body with a chance of making a real difference to the Australia-PNG relationship.

Right now the PNGAA does one thing that is truly exceptional. It produces a quarterly journal, Una Voce, that is a tribute to editor Andrea Williams and the many contributors who support her.

Oh, the Association does another thing too. It keeps going. This is high praise of treasurer and membership officer Ross Johnson; although Ross would characteristically shy away from such recognition.

As I write this, the PNGAA is inviting the formation of State and Territory steering groups as it consults on its future structure. The Queensland group has already formed and Western Australia, South Australia and Victoria have indicated they also will participate.

The PNGAA will also consult individual members through a questionnaire that will appear soon on ASOPA PEOPLE, and which I encourage you to respond to. After everyone who wants to has had their say, the proposed changes will be put to a vote of members at a Special General Meeting next April.

I must admit I’m concerned about the future sustainability of the Association given its ageing membership. More than half our members are aged over 70 and 85% are aged over 60. The inescapable conclusion is that, unless action is taken to recruit younger members, the organisation will decline significantly over the next ten years.

Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs, Duncan Kerr, recently told me that he sees the PNGAA as a ‘valuable contributor towards maintaining the people-to-people links that are so critical to the continued dynamism of our relations with PNG’. In truth, these words are too kind a description of the PNGAA’s current contribution, but they do reflect where the organisation needs to be heading.

We need an active membership to achieve a position where the PNGAA is working more purposefully to strengthen the Australia-PNG relationship, and this should involve as many members as want to be involved.

We also need to move away from Sydney-centrism. The PNGAA national committee is entirely Sydney-based. This is both unrepresentative of the geographical distribution of members and it is not tapping the best of what members have to offer.

PNG Independence Day event in Sydney

Tom Neeson

The Sydney PNG Wantok Club will hold a dinner to mark PNG Independence Day on Saturday 13 September from 7:30pm. The event will be held at Mykonos, 57 Macquarie Street, Parramatta (at the corner Marsden Street). Tickets are $60 for adults and $30 for children under ten. There is a door prize of return tickets for two people to Port Moresby, courtesy of Air Niugini. There will be more information about where you can obtain tickets soon, but meanwhile put this in your diary.

Mr Rudd’s Pacific credentials on line

Post Courier

AROUND the Pacific region, people and leaders will be waiting keenly to hear what Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd says on the proposed guest worker scheme.

Mr Rudd, who made such a good impression on his first trip to PNG as prime minister earlier this year, is due to speak at the Pacific Islands Forum in Niue in two weeks.

There, he will spell out his government’s stance on a trial guest worker scheme for Pacific islanders.

This is the concept of islands people being allowed to perform certain jobs on a short-term, seasonal basis in Australia to fill the demand for labour there.

Past Australian governments have been reluctant to allow such a scheme to happen.

The Rudd government has sounded favourable to the idea.

There have been suggestions that the scheme, if adopted, will not be open to all nations in the Pacific.

A group with strong ties to Papua New Guinea has spoken, saying the Niue announcement was looming as an important test of Australia’s relationship with PNG.

Keith Jackson, president of the Papua New Guinea Association of Australia, says: “The big question is whether workers from PNG will be included in the scheme.’’ It would be a tragedy, he says in quoting our diplomat in Canberra, Charles Lepani, if PNG was excluded from the program.

Mr Jackson’s group is based on membership largely derived from people who lived and worked in PNG in the past, especially from the 50s to the 70s. Many have fond and lingering memories of their times in PNG and see nothing to justify our people being excluded.

Mr Jackson says one of the reasons cited by Australia for starting the scheme is to try to improve relations with Pacific countries. He adds: “It would be deep irony indeed, given this goal, if PNG’s exclusion once again plunged the bilateral relationship with Australia into a state of disrepair.’’

Perhaps we are reading too much into his statement but we get a feeling that the PNG Association of Australia has picked up some information or vibes to indicate a negative approach in Canberra.

The worker scheme could be an excellent boost to relations and trade and give Australia a chance to prove its pan-Pacific credentials are not just hot air.

Many of our citizens are already showing their worth and being accepted as doctors, engineers and pilots down south. Why not our labourers, vetted and tied to normal conditions?

Papua New Guinea Post-Courier, Viewpoints [Editorial], 6 August 2008

Leading academic heads Qld PNG team

The head of the School of History at Queensland University, Prof Clive Moore, has accepted an invitation to lead the PNG Association’s Brisbane steering group. The group will participate in a national discussion to recommend a new Federal structure for the PNGAA and also advise on whether a fully-fledged branch can be established in Queensland.

Moore Clive Prof Moore [left] graduated from James Cook University in 1974, completing his PhD there in 1981 before teaching at the University of Papua New Guinea until 1987. His teaching interests include Australia and the Pacific, colonial and race relations history, and the history of gender and sexuality. He has written a number of books about Pacific history and has served on an enquiry into the restructure of the University of PNG. He is also President of the Australian Association for the Advancement of Pacific Studies.

Sean Dorney AM MBE, a steering group member, is the veteran PNG and Pacific journalist, now the Brisbane-based Pacific correspondent for the ABC and Radio Australia. He was seconded as a journalist to the PNG National Broadcasting Commission in 1974. During his early years in PNG, Sean was better known as a footballer, captaining the national rugby league team, the Kumuls. Sean has written two books - Papua New Guinea: People, Politics and History since 1975 and The Sandline Affair - Politics and Mercenaries and the Bougainville Crisis. He won a Walkley Award in 1998 for his coverage of the Aitape tsunami disaster and in the same year the Pacific Islands News Association honoured him with its Pacific Media Freedom Award. The PNG Government awarded Sean an MBE 1991 and he received an AM in 2000 in recognition for his service to Australia as a foreign correspondent.

Leahy Joycelin & Pot Joycelin Leahy [right], a steering group member, is the owner of the tribal and contemporary art shops Beyond Art in Port Moresby and Beyond Pacific Art in Brisbane. Joycelin grew up in Wagang, a small fishing village north of Lae. She is a trained journalist (Post-Courier and Niugini Nius), a mother, an advocate of Pacific women’s issues and a strong believer in developing self-reliance through entrepreneurship. She has worked in the performing arts with the then National Theatre Company and Waigani Arts Centre in Port Moresby in 1980s and 1990s. Joycelin is completing a Masters in Museum Studies at the University of Queensland. She was Miss PNG in 1989.

Dr Max Quanchi, a steering group member, teaches Pacific Island History at Queensland University of Technology. His expertise is in Pacific islands contemporary events, Australia-Pacific island relations, Pacific island history and colonial photography of the Pacific. Max has taught at primary, secondary and tertiary levels in Australia and the Pacific. From 1995-2001 he coordinated a regional professional development program for history teachers in the Pacific Islands.

Colin Huggins, a steering group member, has worked for the Brisbane City Council formany years. He trained at ASOPA in 1962-63 and then taught in Rabaul, Dregerhafen, Finschhafen, Kambili, Wau and Pindiu until 1969. Colin ran hotels and related businesses in Queensland from 1970-94 before joining the Brisbane City Council. He was the principal organiser of the 2006 ASOPA cadet education officers’ reunion in Brisbane, which was attended by about 200 people.

There may be other appointments made in the next few days, but the PNGAA is delighted that it has such a strong and diverse planning group that will, along with people in other States and Territories, guide it through a period of profound change in its structure and operations [see story below]. Discussions are being initiated to do this, and interested people are asked to email me here.

Planning groups to discuss PNGAA future

People in State and Territory capitals are being invited to establish steering groups as part of a major consultation process about the future structure of the Papua New Guinea Association of Australia. The purpose of the groups is to contribute to a discussion about how the PNGAA can be decentralised and transformed into a Federal organisation.

As a part of broader constitutional change, it is likely a recommendation will be made to decentralise the PNGAA leadership and operational structure to create a national body with branches in States and Territories. The goal is to enable the 58-year old Association to evolve as a more sustainable and more functional organisation.

From this month, the PNGAA management committee will extensively consult members and others as part of this process of constitutional change, which will be put to a vote of members next April.

There are four main drivers for decentralising the management of the PNGAA:

          The ageing of the Association’s membership, with more than half aged over 70 and 85% aged over 60. The inescapable conclusion is that, unless is taken action to recruit new, younger members, the organisation will wither over the next 10 years. This means the focus of the PNGAA and what it offers to members need to change.

          The need for greater PNGAA engagement with Papua New Guinea and with Papua New Guineans. Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Affairs Duncan Kerr has described the PNGAA as a "valuable [contributor] towards maintaining the people-to-people links that are so critical to the continued dynamism of our relations". These words are too kind as a description of the PNGAA’s current contribution but they do reflect where the organisation needs to be heading.

          The need for an active membership. There are many initiatives that can be taken to achieve a condition where the PNGAA is working more energetically and purposefully to strengthen the Australia-PNG relationship, and they should involve as much of the membership as possible.

          The need to move away from Sydney-centrism. The PNGAA national committee is entirely Sydney-based. This is both unrepresentative of the geographical distribution of Association members and it is not tapping the best of what members have to offer.

In order to move forward, as President of the Association I am now appointing State and Territory steering group convenors and will work with them to select and lead local planning committees. The Queensland steering group has been appointed (more information on this in my next post) but interested people in other places can contact me here.

The steering groups will participate in the national discussion about an appropriate Federal structure for the PNGAA. They will also enable the PNGAA to determine whether sufficient local interest and resources exist to establish a fully-fledged branch.

People who are not able to join these groups will soon be asked to respond to a comprehensive discussion paper on constitutional change, which will be published in Una Voce, the PNGAA website, ASOPA PEOPLE and The Mail.

Governor-General shows Melanesian way

Jeffery Michael Governor-General, Major General Michael Jeffery, is visiting Papua New Guinea on a farewell trip before he retires in five weeks time. Accompanied by his wife Marlene, Maj-Gen Jeffery yesterday revisited the Taurama chapel where they were married over 40 years ago.

Maj-Gen Jeffery, who is also PNGAA patron, said PNG would remain close to their hearts. He said he had absolute confidence in the prosperity and democratic process in PNG. “You are strongly developing your natural resources, [have] a strong proven system of democracy and a rich, diverse culture which is one of the best in the world and you have all the educated people to make the future bright and happy for everyone, and during this visit I have seen many signs of that happening,” he said.

“One of the ways we can further encourage [the PNG-Australia] relationship is by having young people moving backwards and forwards between our countries in various types of employment — it might be in the public service, military, police and teachers so we have people from PNG and Australia who will grow up with one another.”

Maj-Gen Jeffery said from his discussions, it was clear there was high interest in working together to continue the development of a stable region. “In other words trying to be good neighbours to one another and I think that’s the natural Melanesian way and if we can keep these things politically and economically, socially and culturally, security-wise, then we will have a stable region which will be an example to the rest of the world.”

Source: ‘Australian G-G couple make final visit before retiring’, PNG Post-Courier, 5 August 2008