Previous month:
September 2008
Next month:
November 2008

31 posts from October 2008

NBC helps boost Moresby rugby league

My former employer, I was the first director of policy and planning there in the seventies, the PNG National Broadcasting Corporation, is seeking to boost the chances of a PNG team competing in Australia’s National Rugby League competition by ensuring Port Moresby has a sporting stadium of international standard. This is one of the criteria the NRL mandates to allow new teams into what is one of the world’s toughest sporting contests.

The concept of having a team in the NRL has been raised by PNG Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare and the NBC, through its new television station, the National Television Service (NTS), has been the first organisation to help the Papua Rugby League upgrade its current playing ground with a K10,000 donation to conduct a feasibility study.

“The intention of Sir Michael is to put a team into the NRL and, in order for that to happen, we have to put our plans together and have the figures and facts correct before the groundwork begins for a new stadium,” said PRL chairman Solomon Ravu, who believes the partnership PRL has with NBC will go a long way to make that concept a reality.

Fearless Aussie govt officials want PNG frontier work honour

By Ilya Gridneff

PORT MORESBY, Oct 30 AAP - The Australian government will be asked to honour the pioneering work of Australian patrol officers who brought modernity and development to Papua New Guinea's tribes between 1949 and 1974.

Chris Viner-Smith, a former patrol officer, or 'kiap', said their efforts are part of a forgotten Australian history that was never officially recognised.

Kiaps brought law and order to PNG's remote tribal areas so Australian teachers, agricultural officers, infrastructure and health workers could work for the first time, he said.

"It's Australia's history, and it was a glorious chapter, I don't know why we've been forgotten," he told AAP.

"We don't put ourselves in the same class as a Kokoda veteran, but both share the remarkable heritage of being Australian and shaping a new future for PNG," he said.

After World War II and before PNG Independence in 1975 more than 8000 Australian public servants ran PNG society as an external Australian territory.

Of those administrators 2500 kiaps regularly trekked to isolated villages to conduct weeks or months worth of surveys while also providing basic services like law and order.

"My first task was to get 40 prisoners to build an air-strip in a swamp. Imagine that as a 21-year-old in PNG in 1961, when there were no roads, no radios, no support.

"You just had to survive or you would die," he said

"It was not the people, it was the country itself. It was an alien land full of danger.

"Often the kiap was the first step towards development and modernisation, then they would administrate and other groups would follow," he said.

Viner-Smith said he has support from politicians, the PNG Association of Australia, the ex-kiap network and the Police Federation.

"There are positive signs we will gain the acknowledgement we deserve," he said.

Pacific Island Affairs Parliamentary Secretary Duncan Kerr said the submission would be viewed seriously as kiaps were an integral part of Australian colonial administration in PNG.

"During the time where PNG was a territory of Australia they represented the face of Australia's administration to hundreds of communities throughout PNG.

"The experience and individual development of many of those who were kiaps in PNG formed the basis of their mutual respect and admiration for the people of PNG. Many of those ex-patrol offices have been PNG advocates since independence

"The governments new partnership approach to PNG and the broader Pacific, an approach based on mutual respect and responsibility, builds on this legacy," he said.

Kumuls qualified to join NRL: Meninga

Australian rugby league legend Mal Meninga has told officials that the Kumuls are the game's sleeping giant and the Melbourne Age reports the PNG national team could continue its charge to gain a place in the NRL competition in the clash with New Zealand at the weekend.

The Age says that PNG's bold display against England in it's World Cup opener surprised many people, but not Meninga, “who believes the flamboyant Kumuls should be taken seriously and considered down the track for a place in the NRL”.

And in an article headlined ‘Kumuls gunning for Kiwis’ the Herald-Sun says that “New Zealand's ordinary Cup debut against favourites Australia gives [the Kumuls] hope of qualifying for the finals from the pool of death provided they can reproduce their committed effort.”

Meanwhile, RICHARD JONES writes from London: New Zealand selectors have made three changes to the side that will face the Papua New Guinea Kumuls on the Gold Coast on Saturday night. Crushed 30-6 by Australia in their opening rugby league World Cup fixture last weekend, the Kiwis retained under fire Wigan scrum half Thomas Leuluai. However New Zealand coach Stephen Kearney dumped Dene Halatau while centre Krisnan Inu comes in for the suspended Steve Matai. Also into the Kiwi side is hooker Isaac Luke and second rower David Fa'alogo. Luke and Fa'alogo are expected to start Saturday's game on the interchange for New Zealand.

Leuluai was heavily criticised for his poor performance against the Kangaroos' Jonathan Thurston. The Aussie playmaker starred in the big win over the Kiwis less than 48 hours after the violent killing of his uncle. Kiwi coach Kearney has kept faith with Leuluai for the crucial clash against the Kiwis, opting to give the former Auckland Warriors playmaker another chance on the big stage.

Bad journalism 101: Burying the lead




Anna Bligh dons hard hat
in Cairns hospital car park

By Steven Wardill

CAIRNS may be a long way from home, but Anna Bligh has arrived there with her favourite piece of apparel in her luggage - a hard hat.

Blah, blah, blah.

Ms Bligh is in Cairns for this term's sitting of regional Parliament, along with her ministers and their armies of minders, backbenchers, the Opposition and a seemingly endless array of staff.

Much more blah, blah, blah for par after interminable par.

Papua New Guinean Prime Minister Michael Somare will address Parliament today.

Yep, it was the last par. Imagine Kevin Rudd addressing the Simbu Provincial Government - and getting one par at the end of a Kundiawa News story about the local Governor wearing a beanie.

And what a great headline. Really compels you to read more…..

Web power triggers new special delivery

The correspondent

Oala Moi, a disaster management official with PNG’s National Disaster Centre, is in Beijing on a disaster training seminar sponsored by the Chinese Government. The other night, perhaps feeling a bit homesick, he was idly searching the Internet for the name of his village – Boera, near Port Moresby – when he came upon the following story, written six years ago by Richard Jones, just as the ASOPA regeneration was getting underway.

The story, by Richard Jones

SPECIAL DELIVERY: The Porebada Coast isn’t far from Port Moresby but in the wet season the dirt roads became almost impassable. Getting to town from Boera, where I was head teacher, could be tricky. In 1967, I was the rugby league writer for the South Pacific Post. In the sixties, Friday night league in Moresby was the highlight of the sporting week. On Thursday morning the sports editor required the preview.

A Standard 6 lad did the run from Boera for me. Gonogo Ganiga boarded the Boera truck armed with my story and clad in my rainproof jacket. One day, because of road works, the truck was forced to stop near Idubada. Gonogo disembarked and trudged in pouring rain past Hagara, Hanuabada and Konedobu to Lawes Road and dropped off the packet a the newspaper office. The South Pacific Post sports desk never complained about material arrived dripping wet and the weekend rugby league preview appeared as normal in next day’s issue. Not for the first time, I thanked Papuan ingenuity.

The google, by Oala Moi

I googled ‘Boera’ and read a short story by Richard Jones, ‘Special Delivery’. I took particular interest as the delivery boy in the story, Gonogo Ganiga, is actually my maternal uncle. My mother's maiden name is Naime Ganiga and I am also from Boera. Uncle Gonogo is alive and well but in his mid to late 40s (I think!).

The story put a smile on my face as it confirms my misgivings about this uncle's boasts about working for the Post Courier back in the seventies. I may have been a kid but my instincts were not always wrong. I will show this article to my uncle once I return from my overseas trip (am in Beijing now). I am sure my uncle remembers his head teacher fondly.

The response, by Richard Jones

In due deference to Mr Gonogo Ganiga, he was only a Standard 4 or 5 boy when he did the job as a ‘runner’ or ‘copyboy deliverer’ back in the late 1960s. He could well have gone on to work for the Post-Courier later in life - and into the 1970s - when he had finished school.

Gonogo Ganiga was a delightful boy, always willing to help. No after-school task was too onerous for him. He especially loved the sarif (grass-cutting) duties around the teachers’ houses. It meant he could duck inside and watch the magic of the flush, septic toilet - paper and water disappearing before his very eyes with one push of the button. And, magically, the cistern filling up ready for another plunge.

The upshot

It turns out that, in addition to his day job, Oala is a music columnist, music publisher and music copyright advocate in PNG. And he’s also a very talented songwriter. You can see a music video he wrote, composed and co-produced for the PNG National Disaster Centre on YouTube here. Just click here and wait, the video will launch itself.

Straight talk Charlie tells it as it is

Slouch-Hat No one would call THE HON CHARLIE JOHN STUART LYNN a blushing violet. He’s the NSW State MP who’s made a name for himself not only by stimulating the Kokoda trekking boom but also by throwing himself wholeheartedly into projects that do some good for Papua New Guineans. In 'Straight Talk' Charlie’s most recent Kokoda newsletter (it runs to an entertaining 48 pages), he rails against some trekkers who use the experience to earn money for Australian charities. Read on…..

Charity begins in … PNG

The recent popularity of Kokoda has spawned a new breed of 'trekking Samaritans' who plan to use the experience to raise money for various charities in Australia.

While the cause is always noble, and the individuals are often well intentioned, there is some irony in the fact that we seek to exploit a jungle track in a third world country to raise funds for a cause in our 'land of plenty'.

There is no doubt these new 'trekking Samaritans' know little about the plight of our neighbours in Papua New Guinea before they land in the country.  However it is difficult to understand how anybody can spend a couple of nights in Port Moresby, then trek across the rugged Owen Stanley Ranges, and not observe the subsistence needs of local people.

One can only wonder at their power of observation during their Kokoda experience.

Did they drive around Port Moresby with their eyes closed?

Did they not communicate with their PNG guides during their trek?

Did they not observe the lack of basic health and education facilities in the villages they passed through?

Did they not learn about the ravages of HIV/AIDS/Malaria in the country?

Did they not think it might be a good idea to share the benefits of their fundraising efforts with a similar charity in PNG?

Or do their own 'feel-good' needs blind them to the plight of our closest neighbour, wartime ally, former mandated territory and fellow Commonwealth member?

There is no shortage of worthy programs in desperate need of financial support. For example, the Friends Foundation Inc provides support and care for women and children living with HIV/AIDS. And 'Buk bilong Pikinini' (with its subsidiary 'Kaikai bilong Pikinini') is an independent registered charity based in Port Moresby.

There are many other worthy causes for the new trekker samaritans to support. I recently visited a settlement at Gerehu on the outskirts of Port Moresby. The community comprises 147 West Papuans who have no access to education, health, welfare or employment because they are stateless. They have been evicted from previous settlements five times in less than a year. The only future option for the boys is crime and, for the girls, prostitution.

Those who trek with their eyes wide open are appalled at the reality of the squalor and the sense of hopelessness they observe. The thought of using a section of land such as the Kokoda Trail to benefit charitable causes in our 'land of plenty' is perplexing.

Lets hope the new breed of 'trekking Samaritans' decide to leave some of what they raise in PNG - there is no shortage of worthy causes for those who trek 'with their eyes wide open'.

It would be far more noble for them to leave their ego in Australia and their money in PNG!

Getting serious about Pacific broadcasting

In a thoughtful opinion piece in today’s Australian newspaper, Malcolm Colless asks a question that will be resonating through the corridors of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation: whether the ABC is the appropriate organisation to build Australia's image internationally. “If not,” says Colless, “it should be uncoupled from this role.”

Colless takes as his starting point the Federal Government's review of national broadcasting, launched last week and argues that this offers Kevin Rudd with an ideal opportunity to demonstrate he is serious about enhancing Australia's profile in the Asia-Pacific region.

“Surely what we need is a strong and credible international voice if we believe that our contribution to, and significance in, the region should be taken seriously,” he says. “Failure to take a hard look at this will show that the Government, despite the rhetoric about Australia's future role in the Asia-Pacific zone, is not prepared to risk bruising precious egos in Foreign Affairs or at the ABC. And the result will be that we will continue to be saddled with an international broadcasting service whose primary function seems to be to deliver sporting programs to expats in hotels and Australian diplomatic missions across the region.”

“But to do this he has to first walk through a minefield of political correctness and challenge the shibboleths extolling the sanctity of editorial independence inside the ABC, something that has entrenched support from the bureaucracy. Failure to confront this issue will leave Australia hopelessly outgunned in the rapidly developing communications battle for relevance in the region.”

You can read the full article here.

Source: ABC not up to engaging with the neighbours’, Malcolm Colless, The Australian, 28 October 2008

‘Papuans’ worthy opponents: England

From Richard Jones in London

Lam_Shirt England rugby league captain Jamie Peacock obliquely praised Papua New Guinea's first game performance at the 2008 World Cup in comments published in Monday's London press. While insisting the Lions would improve on their come-from-behind 32-22 win over the Kumuls, Peacock said the PNG players had proved dour opponents.

"They were worthy opposition but I have to say the World Cup is not won in the first game. We know there are areas where we need to improve vastly and I think we're used to that in (England's) Super League. Improving on your performance from the week before is vital in our games at home."

Trailing 12-6 after 28 minutes the fired-up Kumuls stung England with three tries before half-time to lead 16-12 at the break. St Helens winger Ade Gardner added to his first-half try and Leeds winger Lee Smith completed a hat-trick on debut as the Lions took advantage of a tiring Kumuls' outfit.

Papua New Guinea's lack of match fitness was commented on by sports writers in London's Sunday papers. Ed Hughes, writing in the Sunday Times, said ‘the Papuans’ tired in the final 15 minutes. The habit of referring to the Kumuls as 'the Papuans' is common among English sports writers covering this World Cup.

Papua New Guinea's next pool game is against New Zealand at the Gold Coast this Saturday.

Australia blind to China PNG influence

This is an extract from a discussion paper written by the ANU’s Prof Hank Nelson last year, which did not receive the attention it deserved in the Australia. Email me if you would like to read the complete essay.

There is almost no similarity to, or continuity with, the Chinese in Papua New Guinea now and the Chinese of the 1930s who, even if born in New Guinea, held a certificate of registration of an alien on which the bearer was identified by his thumbprint. The Chinese were then a minority, largely unprotected by a home government, subject to petty discrimination, deliberately avoiding party politics and only entering the public arena to make a general show of being loyal citizens in such events as the Rabaul Empire Day parade.

The Chinese in Papua New Guinea now outnumber Australians by two to one; some are backed by a powerful government in China which is extending its global political and economic reach, and some have connections to other governments in Southeast Asia; they are engaged in billion dollar resource projects; they have joined vigorously in public debate, hiring high competence in public relations, and one of the major resource firms owns a national daily newspaper which is partisan when the interests of any activities of the parent company are an issue; and they have become involved in public decision-making from the highest to the lowest levels….

Outside commentators have to be careful not to accuse the Chinese of illegal or undesirable actions as though they are the only national group involved. The Chinese stand out because they are new, numerous and involved in the largest and most public ventures, not because they are the most venal. Commentators also have to accept the obvious: the Chinese have every right to pursue national, company and personal goals in Papua New Guinea. Scrutiny of legality, morality and mutual benefit to Papua New Guineans must be applied equally to all foreigners….

Australia continues to speak – and issue reports – as though it is not just the dominant player in the region but virtually the only big player, that this is where the rest of the world expects Australia to have expertise, and where Australia provides most aid, guides development and intervenes at times of natural and man-made disasters.

When Papua New Guineans suggest that they do not want to be beholden to Australians and that there are alternatives, this is scarcely taken seriously in Australia. It should be, and in future it will have to be. Failure to recognize growing Chinese engagement in Papua New Guinea was apparent in recent statements by the Australian government and opposition.

Hank Nelson is an Emeritus Professor and Visiting Fellow of the Division of Pacific and Asian History and Chair of State, Society and Governance in Melanesia at the Australian National University.

Source: Extract from Conclusion to  ‘The Chinese in Papua New Guinea’ by Hank Nelson, Discussion Paper 2007/3, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, ANU

Game shows Kumuls worthy of NRL berth

Kumuls_Lions Papua New Guinea has emerged as a force in world rugby league after a scintillating display of champagne football in the World Cup against the English Lions in Townsville.

And the Kumul's powerful and skilled performance showed why PNG should be invited into the Australian rugby league competition, which they would adorn like the colours of their national flag grace their guernseys and their  play. This is a first rate team, with a fluidity and creativity in style that is very exciting to watch.  They would add 2,000 to the gate wherever they played in Australia.

Although England won 32-22, this was a match that – but for a couple of controversial refereeing decisions and a few unforced errors – the Kumuls could have taken.

Trailing the Kumuls 12-16 at half-time after leading early, England faced the possibility of an embarrassing defeat. But the Kumuls were unable to maintain the same intensity in the second half, and were not assisted by the run of the ball.

PNG coach Adrian Lam - and what magic he has worked on this team - criticised several decisions by referee Shayne Hayne, including a disallowed try for a forward pass: “That was devastating. It would have put us 10 points ahead if we had got the conversion. That was a real hurt but we hung in there. A couple more decisions going our way and it's game on.''

An emotional Lam is confident the Kumuls can cause an upset over the Kangaroos or Kiwis. “Tonight we showed we are a young, courageous and spirited side and I couldn't be prouder of the way the guys played,'' Lam said. “Tonight was a little bit about getting some respect back from the world of rugby league.”

An AAP reporter at the match commented: “World Cup contenders England were expected to make easy work of the underdog Kumuls, but they were made to fight all the way before securing the win. Despite the loss, PNG will be buoyed by their opening effort, having really threatened one of the top rated teams in the tournament.”

While the Kumuls head to the Gold Coast to face the Kiwis at Skilled Stadium next Saturday, Australian rugby league administrators should head to the board room to work out how the Kumuls can be injected into the national rugby league competition. Last night they showed they're ready - and we should be ready to invite them. It would do wonders for the game in Australia and in PNG, the only nation where rugby league is lauded as the national sport.

Time for the NRL to get as creative in the smoked filled rooms as the Kumuls showed they are on the field. A correspondent to this blog has called them warriors - they are indeed Warriors, with a capital W, and a great tribute to the sporting prowess of Papua New Guineans.

MAF celebrated at charity film event

A private charity screening of the documentary Above and Beyond, celebrating the work of the Missionary Aviation Fellowship in PNG, will be held in Melbourne next month.

“We are flying into strips that are 12 percent slope,” MAF pilot, Geoff Calder, once said, “That’s good for ski slopes but not so good for airplanes.”

The film, by Nina Christesen and Robert Grigg, is set in Telefolmin, one of PNG’s most remote regions. The hour-long documentary follows the experiences of MAF pilots and their relationship with the communities they serve. The pilots face the challenges of geographic isolation, unpredictable weather and dodgy navigational facilities.

The documentary will be shown at Cinema Nova at 380 Lygon Street Carlton at 6.30 pm on Thursday 6 November. Tickets are available by donation and all costs in excess of cinema hire will be donated to the MAF.

Mike Jelliffe, the former MAF general manager in PNG, who features in the documentary, will answer questions after the screening.

You can email Michael Capon for further information here.

Visa problems maroon PNG players

From Richard Jones in London

In a blow to the Papua New Guinea rugby league team’s preparations for the World Cup, half of its squad was marooned in Port Moresby this week because of visa issues, flying in the face of the Australian Government’s commitment earlier this year to resolve one of the major problems that have been bedevilling the PNG-Australia relationship.

Papua New Guinea coach Adrian Lam has predicted a finals finish for England in rugby league's World Cup, which kicks off in Australia tonight. In London's The Times, arguably the world's most famous newspaper, former Wigan Warriors' scrum half Lam said England had a great chance of winning the Cup.

"I think England has a great chance of not only reaching the final but also of winning the whole thing," he said. "The English game has been chipping away and personally I think the brand of football in the Super League is more watchable than (Australia's) NRL. England intend to play to those strengths. If they can do that, maybe the era of Australian dominance will be ended. Certainly the game needs it," said the PNG coach.

Australia has won the World Cup final on every occasion it has been contested since 1975. Great Britain beat the Aussies in France in 1972 - the last time the Kangaroos have been beaten in the final.

Lam's team faces England in Townsville on Sunday in a game which will be televised live into the United Kingdom on Sky Sports 2. Previewing the match for The Times from Townsville, Christopher Irvine said half the Papua New Guinea squad had been marooned in Port Moresby last week because of visa problems.

"But a combination of (England) Super League veterans, NRL young guns and indigenous PNG players determined to thrust themselves onto the global stage will make the Kumuls no pushovers," he said. "Stanley Gene burst onto the scene at the 1995 World Cup and the Hull Kingston Rovers loose forward of indeterminate age - he is 'officially' 34 --- has been part and parcel of the British game since then."

"Professional players get around 60 pounds a match in PNG, which compares with the annual weekly wage there of 5-6 pounds," Lam told Irvine. The PNG coach added that the clash with England "was more than just a game" for his players. "It's the chance to showcase their talents and possibly command a good wage overseas. That's what Stanley did, and there are more Stanleys waiting in the wings."

The PNG coach singled out England forward Gareth Hock's temperament as something which England coach Tony Smith (an Australian) would have to watch. Lam pinpointed Hock's talent during his time at Wigan, but Hock was suspended in July for five club matches for grabbing a referee's arm. "He was wild when we were both at Wigan and he's no doubt wild now," said Lam "He was someone I felt had a huge future, but there can be a bit of ill-discipline with him."

How tonight's teams line up -- England: P. Wellens, A. Gardner, M. Gleeson, K. Senior, L. Smith, K. Pryce, R. Burrow; J. Peacock (capt), J. Roby, J. Graham. G. Hock, G. Ellis, K. Sinfield. Interchange: A. Morley, M. Fa'asavalu, D. McGuire, D. Wilkin.

Papua New Guinea: J. Wilshere (capt), G. Kepa, J.J. Parker, T. Maori, D. Moore, R. Griffin, K. Peters; M. Alzue, P. Alton, T. Exton, N. Costigan, J. Nightingale, S. Gene. Interchange from: R. Pora, G. Moni, J. Chan, C. Wabo, N. Kolo, A. Kui, M. Yere,

Referee: S. Hayne (Australia).

ASOPA PEOPLE triumph, 219th in world

A US-based outfit called has rated ASOPA PEOPLE 219th of 9,086 blog sites it has surveyed globally. Well, 219th is a lot better than 9,000th, eh? Amy Liu of the Marketing Department of writes:

Dear Keith Jackson, Our editors recently reviewed your blog and have given it a 7.1 score out of 10 in the Education category of This is quite an achievement!

We evaluated your blog based on the following criteria: frequency of updates, relevance of content, site design, and writing style. After carefully reviewing each of these criteria, your site was given its 7.1 score. Please accept my congratulations on a blog well done!

Gee thanks Amy.

England league team wary of Kumuls

From Richard Jones in London

RLAction Papua New Guinea has been handed a tough assignment in this weekend's first round fixture in the 2008 rugby league World Cup. The Kumuls have been matched up against England in Townsville for their World Cup opener.

Rugged forward Adrian Morley, the England vice-captain, was asked for his thoughts on the match - and an overview of the World Cup - by reporters for London's Metro paper, one of two free morning giveaways in the UK capital. "Papua New Guinea should be a relatively easy opener for England, shouldn't they," Morley was asked. "No, not at all," replied England's enforcer. "We will have to be at the top of our game and can't afford to be complacent. We don't know much about them and will have to give them our fullest respect or else we could come unstuck.

"We also have to remember they will be more used to the hot, humid conditions although hopefully we will have acclimatised by then. But if you start looking ahead to the other teams down the line you will run into difficulties," said Morley.

The prop forward or second rower played for the Sydney Roosters for five years in Australia's NRL. Currently he's on the Warrington Wolves' roster in England and has also played with the Leeds Rhinos and Bradford Bulls. To simulate the north Queensland climate Morley said the England players had completed conditioning in heat chambers in preparation for Townsville.

"I think we will be very well prepared," Morley said. "People adapt in different ways. No one is the same, so it's difficult to judge how each individual will come to terms with the changes to their body," the big forward added.

Morley said he'd enjoyed watching August's Olympic Games from Beijing. "The success of British athletes made me enormously proud and I especially enjoyed taking money off my Aussie teammates when we won more medals overall than they did."

Big project safe despite economic strife

The global markets are in turmoil and oil prices have collapsed but Oil Search remains up beat about securing finance and finding buyers for its $15 billion liquefied natural gas project - PNG’s largest ever resource development. It is planned to ship the first cargo in 2013.

Oil Search says it has “considerable interest” from lenders to acquire its 34% per cent share. Managing director, Peter Botten, said interest from prospective buyers was strong despite the near halving in oil prices from their peaks. Global oil giant ExxonMobil's41.5% involvement in the project has bolstered market confidence.

The LNG project is a joint venture between ExxonMobil, Oil Search, Nippon Oil, Santos, AGL and MRDC (a PNG company representing landowner interests). The Project will commercialise petroleum resources in the Hides, Angore and Juha fields the currently operating oil fields of Kutubu, Agogo, Gobe and Moran in the Southern Highlands and Western Provinces.

The gas will be transported by pipeline to a facility 20 kilometres northwest of Port Moresby. There, the gas will be liquefied and the LNG (approximately 6.3 million tonnes per annum) loaded on tankers and shipped to gas markets.

Sources: [1] Oil Search confident of funding for $15b LNG plan by Clancy Yeates, Sydney Morning Herald, 22 October 2008. [2] ‘Trio to develop Papua New Guinea LNG project’ by InterOil Corp,, 1 August 2007.

Montevideo memorial unveiling delayed

A plan to unveil a Philippines’ memorial to mark the World War II sinking of the Montevideo Maru – which cost the lives of 1,053 mainly Australian prisoners of war – has been delayed until next year. CLIVE TROY reports from Manila.....

The unveiling and dedication of the memorial will now take place on Sunday 5 July 2009. It is now evident that the logistics required to stage the event on Remembrance Day this year were insufficient and would possibly have resulted in a half-baked event. Such an outcome would not have been appropriate considering the significance of the matter and the need for proper resolution. It must be an event to deliver closure.

I met the committee last Sunday after discussions with the Australian Ambassador to the Philippines, the Senior Australian Defence Attache, the Australian Army Representative and representatives of the Angeles City and Subic Bay RSL sub-branches. We all agree that – with the great interest this event is likely to generate among many Australians – the logistical arrangements must be comprehensive and robust.

I know some people retain the hope that somehow a ship manifest of prisoners’ names might be in the Montevideo Maru’s safe. My own observation of old wrecks which shows how quickly metal corrodes in tropical waters makes such an outcome unlikely, even if the Japanese had compiled such a manifest. If there were records, they would have been on rice paper and dissolved in 30 minutes. Waterproof safes had not been even thought of then, let alone invented.

So 5 July next year is the key date to commemorate the worst maritime disaster in our nation’s history.

MPs attack corruption, poor leadership

Satan rules the PNG National Parliament, the deputy leader of the PNG Party, Francis Awesa, told a huge crowd at Banz in the Western Highlands on Saturday. Mr Awesa said politicians and bureaucrats who allegedly got rich overnight must be investigated so that the people knew the sources of their wealth.

Mr Awesa said that in the last five years PNG had been riddled with nothing but corruption and this had brought the country to its knees. He said the Somare Government had passed budgets that had not trickled down to the bulk of the population.

Despite many reports and allegations of corruption in high places, leaders and senior public servants allegedly involved in corruption and misuse of public funds were still walking free, he said. The laws seemed to favour them while ordinary people were sent to jail for trivial matters. Leaders and bureaucrats involved in abuse of power and misuse public funds must be held accountable and sent to prison.

Speaking at the same rally, human rights activist and National Capital District Governor Powes Parkop said bad leadership is leading PNG into poverty. He said God had blessed PNG but leaders had turned it into a poor country with bad leadership. The country was a dependent state despite all its resources.

Sources: ‘Satan is boss of Parlt: MP’ and ‘Bad leaders forcing PNG into poverty – Parkop’, PNG Post-Courier, 20 October 2008

In the aftermath of Guba, there’s hope

In the aftermath of catastrophic Cyclone Guba that devastated the Oro Province (the old Northern District) a year ago, a group of Australian educators visiting the region decided on a bold idea. They’d work with the Oro people to deliver assistance in education, health and agriculture.

It sounded like one of those schemes dreamed up after a good dinner and a bottle of red, but it’s now becoming a reality. Support has been activated in Australia and PNG, a detailed on-ground assessment made, a planning conference held in Canberra, and fundraising has begun. The delivery of assistance is to begin later this year.

The initial commitment of the Oro Community Development Project is to support Hohorita and Gona Primary Schools and St Christopher’s Mechanical Training School. When improvements have been achieved in these places, the focus will shift to health and agricultural support.

The PNGAA has selected the Oro Project as the first beneficiary of what is hoped will be a regular commitment by the Association to provide material and in-kind assistance to worthy projects in PNG. Association members John and Jan Kleinig, Mike Bourke, Dr Anthony Radford and Riley Warren AM, who is chairman, are all engaged in this project.

The PNGAA has organised a raffle at $5 a ticket – and we encourage your participation. We’ve been helped hugely by Air Niugini, which has donated two return economy Sydney (or Brisbane) - Port Moresby airfares as the prize.

If you wish to buy tickets, or sell them to your friends, we encourage you do so by clicking through to the page containing the order form here. The winning ticket – for a prize valued at about $2,350 - will be drawn in Sydney on Sunday 7 December.

Adrian Lam, Kumuls & the RL World Cup

Lam_Adrian The Rugby League World Cup is nigh and the Papua New Guinea Kumuls – facing daunting appointments with England (Saturday 25 October), New Zealand (Saturday 1 November) and Australia (Sunday 9 November) – say they're ready to fly. Gimanama Crowdy spoke with PNG coach Adrian Lam [left] about the Kumuls prospects.

Gima - How do you rank the PNG Kumuls amongst the other Pacific teams?

Adrian - We’ve improved so much over the past two years as a playing nation; it’s incredible. We’re as good as any, which is a credit to our local SP Cup competition that our 24-man World Cup squad has more resident players than anyone in the world.

G - Why are Australia, New Zealand and England in the same pool?

A – We were told that they didn't want anyone else to be in that pool apart from PNG because there wouldn't be blow out scores. We argued that the pool was unfair but since then we’ve accepted it and have knuckled down to prove everyone wrong that the pool is far from decided on who will go through.

G – How will you stay alive in this 'Pool of Death'?

A - We need to have an undying belief in each other. And we must be fully committed to the team. We need to have an uncompromising attack and defence and maintain the PNG fighting power till the end of the game.

G – How would you summarise the calibre of the local and overseas players in the PNG team?

A - I think the squad will be very competitive. It has a good mixture of internationals and resident players. Last year I created the ‘PNG Origin' game, played once a year, where we pick an international team from outside PNG and fly them to PNG for the game. The first time this game was played in 2007, the internationals won 29-28 after it was all locked up at fulltime 28 all.

G - What would you like to say to Papua New Guineans living in Australia?

A – We’re excited to see you and very happy you’re getting behind the team. Get out to all our games and scream the house down. I know a lot of family of myself and all the players are going so it should be unbelievable.

G - Finally, what thoughts do you have about the development of PNG rugby league?

A – I’m right behind the PNG juniors and the new development programs set up to advance our future stars. We have the largest and fastest growing schoolboy numbers in the world and I feel that’s where can improve in the future.

The Kumuls games will be played in Townsville (England and Australia) and on the Gold Coast (New Zealand). Before the first game against England there’ll be a Meet the Kumuls dinner in Townsville on Tuesday 21 October – organised by the local PNG wantok community. Tickets are $60 per head or $500 for a table of ten. Contact this blog if you’re interested.

Tru, we're bringing Joy to the world

One of the great things about writing this blog is that, more often than you might expect, it helps to bring together people who haven’t seen hide nor hair of each other in decades. For example, just yesterday – at a meeting of the PNGAA History and Scholarship Committee - chairman Riley Warren mentioned how a next door neighbour he hadn’t seen in 30 years, spotted his name in ASOPA PEOPLE and got in touch with him.

And then I got home to see this in my email in-tray…. “Greetings Keith, I am trying to locate Charlie Davie, he was a cadet patrol officer in Goroka 1966-68. Any assistance and help would be very much appreciated, as time is moving and I wish to meet up or talk to him. Regards. Joy.”

If you know anything about Charlie’s whereabouts, you can contact Joy here.

Impact of Cyclone Guba continues

Nearly a year after Tropical Cyclone Guba devastated the Oro Province, most villagers are still unable to cultivate their land and continue to experience hardship, the PNG Post-Courier reports. People were most concerned about when the Government’s restoration plan will be implemented. They said government authorities had failed to visit people still living in care centres and villages devastated by the floods. An Oro Bay councillor from Dombada village, which is now a lagoon, said the people in the area were “thankful to God for surviving on beans”, one of the few surviving edible plants.

The next issue of the PNG Association’s quarterly journal, Una Voce, features a fundraising raffle to raise money for a well managed and carefully targeted rural development project in the Oro Province. Tickets will be on sale until early December. The PNGAA website will also soon have a facility available to enable readers to participate in the event.

Corruption renders PNG police powerless

A Port Moresby Correspondent

This morning the PNG National newspaper had two articles on its front page. The first was about a tribal fight that went up and down the highway in the Western Highlands for a distance of 10 km and lasted several hours. There was no report of the Police attending.

The second incident was in Bougainville, where a son, protecting his mother, received serious stab wounds and is now in hospital. The Police know the identity of the assailants and have sent out word for the leaders to bring them to the police station. Surely this is a case where the Police must go out and arrest the perpetrators and bring them in forcibly if necessary. After all, the law has been broken.

Increasingly people appear to have contempt for the Police and either ignore them as having no official status or feel they can operate directly against them. People apparently believe that their leaders and politicians will protect them against arrest by the Police. They believe the community can control the Police, politicians and public servants. That people can make any sort of threat without retaliation.

What has happened to law and order in PNG?

Corruption is probably the main cause. Any situation can be bought out of, or so it would appear. And this is obviously what the community believes.

Every day there are articles in the press that demonstrate this. And what is the Government doing to stop it? I would suggest the Government does not care, nor do the politicians – providing they are being paid off everything is okay.

I am a PNG citizen and first came to the country more than half a century ago. I intend (or should that be intended?) to retire here.

1964-65 reunion work in progress

Planning for the second ASOPA Class of 1964-65 reunion, scheduled to be held in Cairns from 30 September to 3 October next year, is well advanced. At present it looks like attendance will be in the mid-thirties as Sue Ellison and Gabrielle Litfin round up support for another get-together of ‘The Last of the Primaries’.

The proposed itinerary includes a welcoming cocktail reception, a trip to the Atherton Tablelands, a trip on the Kuranada Skyrail or out to the Barrier Reef and, of course, a grand reunion dinner.

People from 1964-65 or other ASOPA Classes who would like to participate should get in touch with Sue here.

Qld chalkies gather again in Brisbane

At the weekend I attended what is a regular event on the calendar of former PNG schoolteachers living in Queensland (and sometime further afield) – the Annual Chalkies Lunch. It’s organised by the inestimable Murray Bladwell and held in a private room at the Jindalee Hotel. About 55 people attended this year, providing the usual warm and friendly experience.

A premium is placed on fellowship and getting reacquainted and formal proceedings are kept to a minimum. David Keating spoke briefly about a Aurora Expeditions cruise around PNG [also see ASOPA PEOPLE EXTRA at left] while I was given time to talk about efforts to engage the PNG Association more extensively in strengthening the Australia-PNG relationship.

We got started on selling tickets for a PNGAA raffle to assist a community development project in PNG’s Oro Province (prize - two return air tickets to Port Moresby) and the Brisbane chalkies kicked off by contributing $350 to the project. You’ll be hearing more about this contest in the week’s ahead as we seek to involve the PNGAA more actively in providing practical support to the people of PNG.

Goroka Show recaptures the glory days


The Goroka Show has seen good times and bad over the half century since it was started in 1957 by Eastern Highlands District Commissioner Bill Seale, with sterling support from Harry West (“keep away from the women,” Seale barked at an unsuspecting Murray Bladwell and me at our mercifully brief PNG orientation session in his office in 1963). For that first show, Seale instructed his kiaps to construct round houses representative of each highlands district in which were displayed agricultural produce and cultural artefacts.

The kiaps also organised singsing parties from across the 29 highlands language groups and there were footraces and archery and spear throwing contests in a bravura demonstration of social and economic progress and inter-tribal harmony.

As Harry tells it, at the first show Gerry Pentland, one of the new breed of highlands coffee planters and a World War I fighter pilot, submitted a fine entry for the best collection of farm produce. Unfortunately for Gerry an observant judge turned over an egg to find it stamped ‘Egg Board of NSW’.

In subsequent years, the shows alternated between Goroka and Mt Hagen and they became celebrated and, for participants, consuming events. Bladwell worked on a three-dimensional paper mache map of the Chimbu for months before the 1964 show. It even had flashing lights. I produced a massive Show edition of the Kundiawa News that was a comprehensive guide to the Chimbu. Insurance agent Fred J Cook loved it because it included the name, occupation and location of every expatriate living in the sub-district.

Over the years since PNG Independence, the Goroka Show’s fortunes have waxed and waned. There have been events that were less than the promised spectacle and even some financial finagling. But this year (13th and 14th September), the show was back to something approaching the quality of its golden era, assured by an organising committee driven by my old mate, rugby league tragic and coffee planter Terry Shelley, ably assisted by Cynthea Leahy and other members of Goroka Chamber of Commerce.

Photograph: Goroka Show 2008 - John Fowkes

Wonem kain man hia?

Robin Hides’ note [see Recent Comments] about an unfortunate typo (since corrected) reminds me of a story. Paula Brown and Harold Brookfield did a lot of fieldwork on land use in the Simbu during the mid sixties. Paula had a boyish figure and affected a pith helmet, calf length walking boots and jodhpurs. All set off by a pair of severe, steel-rimmed spectacles.

If you’re male and have been in the bush in that part of the world, you might have experienced the lapuns’ testicle squeeze as a form of comradely greeting between men. After my initial encounter, I was always prepared and took an obligatory backward step.

As the story goes, near Elimbari out of Chuave, Paula and Harold and their line walked into a village and were greeted by the luluai. Harold got the squeeze, and so did Paula. Finding no testicular development, the luluai gave a sharp squeal, cried out in tok ples and the whole village fled over the nearest ridge The story soon got around about the “liklik wetman ino gat bol”.

Calling all Sydney Papua New Guineans

Hane Sammon

Dance As we all know there is no PNG Dance Group in Sydney. Therefore, I am starting one. I invite anyone within the PNG community interested in Dancing, or with children who would like to be a part, to come along and join in. Our first gathering will be held at 2 pm on Saturday 11 October at 58 Pemberton Street, Strathfield.

We want to incorporate all PNG and Pacific dance styles, so all are welcome for their input. Please contact me prior to Saturday if you are interested. Hope to see a great turnout.

Call Hane on 0405 305 814 or email here.

Simbu looting evidences decline of govt

When you turn off the Highlands Highway near Mingende Catholic Mission and travel a few kilometers north into the Bismarck Range along a red clay road interspersed with fragile bridges, you come to a ridge on which is located an isolated primary school called Gagl. Here, more than 40 years ago, I spent a memorable – if sometimes lonely - year of my life. Some Friday afternoons, maybe once a month before I acquired a motorbike, I used to walk those kilometers to the highway and hitch-hiked to Kundiawa for a weekend.

Gagl Primary T School was on the demarcation line between two clan groups, one of which was pushing the other off its land, and there were periodic flare-ups as a result. Midway between Mingende and Gagl – at Mintima – anthropologist Paula Brown and geographer Harold Brookfield had set up camp, having just begun what was to be 38 years of milestone research into Simbu land tenure.

The people were keen about education and committed to their school. The clans may have periodically clashed but there was bipartisan agreement on the need to support the school in every way they could – ensuring their children attended faithfully, working hard on the grounds and buildings and gardens, and never encroaching upon the school no matter how antagonistic clan relationships became.

There was no stealing. I experienced no hostility. And when, after a clan fight left some schoolboys somewhat battered and bloodied and they fled to the school in fear, and I felt some trepidation, my personal safety and that of anyone on school grounds was assured by the leaders of both sides. In retrospect, it was a year of adventure and wonderment and delight. I loved it.

Ka_Kapset Last Thursday, the Highlands (now Okuk) Highway near Mingende, was blocked for hours as tribespeople using cooking pots, buckets and dishes stole thousands of litres of diesel fuel pouring from a capsized tanker. Looters came from as far as Minj and Kundiawa. These days, whenever a vehicle comes to grief, or can be brought to grief, on the highway, the same thing happens.

The law has been taken into individual hands, implying that respect for national law has broken down. It is a measure of the challenges that PNG faces. It is also a measure of the extent to which that respect for what government is able to bring has disappeared, because government is seen to be unable to bring very much at all.


Rethink Aussie aid to PNG: Institute

A researcher with the Lowy Institute says Australia must radically rethink the way it provides aid to Papua New Guinea. According to Jenny Hayward-Jones PNG’s most pressing needs include job creation, improved education and more infrastructure. But she says about half of Australia’s existing aid program of $400 million is spent on other things.

“People need jobs now, they need to go to school now, unless you do something quite radical, then you’ll continue with the current problems. Ordinary PNG people aren’t seeing the impact of the spending ... and Australian tax payers want to see outcomes.”

Ms Hayward-Jones says Australia’s current policy focused on good governance and strengthening PNG’s institutions. But those objectives were much more difficult to achieve and to show improvements in than building infrastructure. “More than 50% of Australian aid is delivered through ‘technical assistance’. The average with other international agencies is 24%,” she says. “That’s basically $200 million to administration, salaries, consultants’ fees and accommodation. It’s a big frustration in the Pacific in the amount of funds going there rather than a health clinic or school.”

Last week a PNG public accounts committee found evidence of gross incompetence in 15 Government departments and poor or non-existent record keeping. There is an estimated K1 billion missing from the public purse.

Ms Hayward-Jones says unless Australia’s policy on aid changed, its relationship with PNG would not progress. “They [the Australian government] risk the usual relationship problems that we’ve had with PNG when PNG doesn’t deliver the outcomes promised,” she warns. “It’s unclear what Australia will do in such a case. Does Australia then punish PNG by withdrawing aid?”

Source: ‘ Australia must rethink aid policy on PNG: think-tank’, By Ilya Gridneff, AAP

Early returns come in on PNGAA review

The first responses are arriving in the Papua New Guinea Association’s consultative process on a revamped constitution. The PNGAA decided to canvass people's views before asking them to vote on a new constitution.

Steering groups were established in six States and Territories and individual members are being consulted through a questionnaire. The process will conclude in January 2009 and, next April, members will vote on the changes.

Early feedback has been positive, apart from one view suggesting that the very act of asking people for their views is indicative of a lack of leadership. A typical response came from Eric Johns: “If these changes go ahead I would feel encouraged, and would be willing, to be a more active member”.

New objectives proposed for the Association – especially one to focus the organisation on working to strengthen the relationship between Australia and PNG – are meeting with approval.

Paul Oates commented: “I suggest one of the most important requirements is to strengthen our relationship with PNG and thereby with our Pacific Rim neighbours. PNGAA can achieve this by providing a forum for interaction and ideas and contact between members from both countries. As an NGO, PNGAA could also provide a healthy input to government policy making by offering non-political lobbying to the governments of both countries.”

The proposal to initiate new classes of membership is turning out to be more controversial. One member said: “I am quite opposed to this. We speak with one voice – we should have one class of membership.” And another: “If people want to pay more to support PNGAA projects, they should be able to - and get some recognition into the bargain. If the price is ordinary membership is protected, what's the big deal? It can't be discriminatory because the voting and representational entitlements of all members will remain as now - exactly the same: one member, one vote.”

I urge you to participate in the review by taking a few minutes to complete the PNGAA’s online questionnaire here.