Previous month:
July 2009
Next month:
September 2009

45 posts from August 2009

Albert Asbury receives top journalism honour

Candid The eminent ABC journalist Albert Asbury, who died in April aged 69, has been honoured posthumously at this year's Queensland Media Awards.

Mr Asbury worked for the national broadcaster for 50 years in Queensland and Papua New Guinea, mostly in senior positions and for many years as TV news chief of staff, received the award for the most outstanding contribution to journalism.

Mr Asbury died from cancer in Brisbane earlier this year.

At the time Queensland Premier Anna Bligh paid tribute to him, saying: “"Mr Asbury will be remembered as a remarkable journalist and as someone who played a lengthy and pivotal role in television's daily reporting of Queensland's current affairs".

"He was a man of integrity who enjoyed the widespread respect of those he worked with in the ABC family and those who knew him from the wider media corps."

Now his colleagues have paid him the greatest honour in their kit bag.

Thanks to Don Hook for spotting this story

Authorities must respond better to emergencies

A disaster involving VIPs might see PNG authorities respond better to national emergencies writes THE MASTER MARINER

I have come to observe one fundamental conclusion about my country and its incompetent civil servants or authorities.

Whenever there is a serious air incident in the country, the Civil Aviation Authority and third level airlines take their time both in rescuing the crash victims and following up with proper official investigations.

CAA releases details of investigations (if any) even after years have passed. It is a worrying feeling for the people.

This one [the Kokoda air crash] is fast because the Australian authorities don't stuff around with red tape like we do, because it also involves Australian lives, and because money is no object.

Australian authorities will use all the resources at their government's disposal to speed things up to the point where our government authorities are placed in a position where they have no choice but to act fast under the circumstance.

Our own authorities deny ordinary citizens of PNG quick action when nationals are involved and give the impression they do not really care enough about our own people.

This is not only due to lack of resources, but is also a direct result of poor inter-agency coordination and general incompetency by those involved.

I feel frustrated read of other plane crashes where PNG authorities have not done the right thing by families who have lost their pilot sons and daughters and passengers.

No big fanfare by anyone and they hope their memories will fade over the passage of time.

What irony we have in PNG.

With all our wealth and resources, we still cannot act professionally and fast enough to do the right thing in a national emergency.

The media people keep reporting this but the powers-that-be still have not learnt their lessons, perhaps until some so-called big men fall from the skies and a plane full of National Executive Council members goes missing in the clouds and in the sticks of Timbuktu.

There will other similar incidents in future because we have not really learnt from our past.

It’s time the government treated major air incidents and other national emergencies in a proper manner. Do you see it too?

Dear Senator Faulkner, find the nominal roll


Dear Minister,

As a former member of the Defence Forces of Australia I saw active service at Milne Bay, Wau, Aitape-Wewak and the surrender of the 18th Army in New Guinea.

Since the end of the hostilities I have been engaged in trying to find out what happened to our captured forces at Rabaul and became interested in the shipping movement of the Montevideo Maru and other ships possibly involved in the transportation of prisoners from Rabaul particularly those of the captured civilians.

I endeavoured to trace the whereabouts of a roll described as the Katakana Roll brought to Australia from Japan and deposited with the Australian Army in Victoria Barracks in Melbourne.

The Katakana Roll was a handwritten document of manifold size paper comprising some 47 pages in Japanese writing.

I saw the roll which was retrieved by Brigadier later Sir Donald Cleland, Administrator of Papua New Guinea, who went to Melbourne and together with Mr Harry collected the roll and brought it to Rabaul for display to the Returned Servicemen as a matter of interest.

Sir Donald had required the roll for verification of matters pertaining to the establishment of registration of deaths in the Territory of PNG.

Sir Donald requested us to keep the matter from media release and now it is very difficult to find anybody living who recalls this meeting and I cannot recover any records pertaining to the roll itself nor any record of the interpretation translation.

I commend the foregoing to you for your consideration, action & advice please.

Yours faithfully,

Albert Speer, MBE

Introducing _Fragments of Attitude_

You may have noticed a new feature in the ATTITUDE EXTRA section of the blog.

It’s made up of a range of short items that aren’t necessarily a good fit with the material on this main page but which we think will interest some of our readers.

We’ve called it _Fragments of Attitude_ and, along with the main story of the day and Recent Comments, it will be a regular feature of PNG ATTITUDE.

Kavieng Hospital PCs: Amazing reader response

Yesterday morning I emailed PNG Attitude readers asking for help to transport six sets of computer equipment to Kavieng Hospital.

The equipment had been assembled over a number of months by Dr Alan Lawford, a general practitioner in the southern Sydney suburb of Arncliffe.

He was responding to a request for assistance from a colleague at Kavieng Hospital.

Remarkably, nearly 50 readers provided advice on how this equipment could be transported free or at minimal cost from Sydney to Kavieng.

“I am gobsmacked by the plethora of great suggestions from your friends who are in turn friends of PNG,” says Dr Lawford.

“It is overwhelming that this could generate so much interest in these well wishers of PNG.”

Dr Lawford is now deciding which of the many suggestions to pursue – with Rotary International, the Defence Department and the Office of Sir Julius Chan MP top of the list.

But I thought readers would be interested in some of the feedback PNG Attitude received.

Perhaps the most innovative suggestion came from the organisation Oceans Watch that put a notice on its website requesting yacht owners, sailing from Australia to PNG with room on board, to help out.

Judy Middlebrook, who works in Parliament House in Canberra and who used to be secretary of the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade, contacted the Defence Minister’s office on our behalf and received an encouraging response.

PNG Governor-General Sir Paulias Matane lent his weight to the cause and sent a copy of the email to the Governor of New Ireland Province seeking his assistance.

Sharon Onsa-Pople, public relations officer with Ramu Agri Industries, asked the Managing Director of City Pharmacy Limited, which has a pharmacy in Kavieng, if CPL could take the computers as part of their cargo from Sydney.

David Ketepa from Detroit, Michigan, made some suggestions and wrote: “This is a great effort and good news from Dr Lawford to help the folks in Kavieng.”

Rob Dehaan on the cruising yacht Arita and a number of other readers suggested using the good offices of Lihir Gold, which operates in New Ireland.

Mari Ellingson at the Commonwealth Secretariat in London said: “This is a very kind and generous gesture by Dr Lawford. I am not able to help from here but have a suggestion.”

Paul Oates came up with a number of useful ideas, as well as tips for using computers in locations such as New Ireland, and said: “Maybe an ongoing 'underground railway' could be initiated in a semi formalised way for the future and have things like school books etc delivered to those who need them.” A useful suggestion worth exploring.

Thanks to the many, many other people who deluged me with emails yesterday, including journalist Noel Pascoe from the Post-Courier, who also offered to write a piece about it. I’m taking him up on that.

Harim gut! This is the PNG Australia created

For those people who don’t get the picture, says JOHN FOWKE in this insightful article, the point about PNG today is that the Australians who whinge about it helped to create it

Being a kind-hearted old PNG pundit, I have allowed enough time for Bob Curtis’s [see Recent Comments here] wattles to settle back to their normal puce colour before returning to the theme of “missing the point” about social development and the dire standard of administration, services and infrastructure in PNG.

The point, which I believe to be well-understood by many of those who read my “tiger riding” posting, is that a PNG implosion such as we witness daily was inevitable and foreseen by many.

PNG’s path to becoming a really fair and well-managed modern society would be a long and tortuous one. PNG was not a well-driven, fully-functional carriage drawn by a team of the best Percheron or Shire horses.

This despite perceptions to the contrary expressed by those who are “disappointed,” “disgusted,” and “saddened” by what has gone on in PNG.

Two major factors are responsible. One was an inexplicable, apparently blind, decision made by Australia. The other was simply the function of the mismatch between PNG’s readiness and world sentiment about colonialism, which impelled Australia to grant independence as and when it did.

I left the Admin early in my PNG career - as the result of a tiff with my then boss, the late Speed Graham, following which I became a tradestore minder for the late Brian Heagney and later a plantation manager.

I remained in or directly associated with the latter until 2005, with one break working for Mobil Oil in Queensland.

I think that experience in private enterprise, after being a Patrol Officer and a Co-ops man, was salutary. Deprived of automatic deference and submission, one quickly learned the truth of PNG society, a truth which may not have been appreciated by most POs and others until they reached quite senior rank.

The truth is that in a micro-tribal society no-one matters much except one’s clan brothers and sisters and that stealing from and telling untruths to people other than one’s blood relatives is not a sin.

This is not intended as a criticism of Melanesia - it is a truism covering all micro-tribal societies. My own distant ancestry is Scottish and Scandinavian, societies which before Roman colonisation, and even after it, remained structured in and ruled by similar mores and customs.

These characteristics are part of the functional logic of such societies, where social security and personal safety are completely bound up in defence and, where possible, the expansion of one’s land and supporting resources.

In the Admin we tended to entrust responsibilities for storekeeping, for purchasing fresh foodstuffs, for issuing fuel and oversight of vehicle allocation to trusted clerks and policemen. One wonders how the books ever balanced.

I don’t recall that we ever did balance stores records properly. I think we just used to order replenishments according the clerk’s stock-take and the station’s entitlement under that vote. Similarly we would pay out for fresh foods on vouchers typed up for us.

This would never have been done in the real world of commerce. Even now one will meet an ex-Kiap here and there who speaks fondly of “good, honest old bush cops”. My own relationship with the police with whom I worked was one which I remember, largely, with considerable fondness.

However I also remember an instance involving the extremely well-concealed burning down of an entire village by a small detachment of my police during my absence in another area. A reprisal for a non-fatal accident to one of their number using a village-owned canoe at the time.

The villagers were too scared of reprisals to complain, and without other witnesses I just had to swallow my strong suspicions and accept that it had been an unfortunate accident on a windy day, as stated by my large and imposing Corporal.

The late John Black, a most perceptive pre-war Kiap well-known for his association with Jim Taylor on the Hagen-Sepik patrol published an interesting monograph relating his own experiences with, and his view of the New Guinea Police members who served with him on many ground-breaking patrols in the ‘thirties.

His analysis was deep and very interesting. His conclusion, virtually the same as mine. Police boys could often be very naughty boys for cultural reasons imprinted very deeply within them. Has anything changed?

Those who look back in anger, as some apparently do, are misguided and miss the point that this journey into modernity, set in motion with high ideals and with generosity by Australia, is a long and difficult one.

You don’t change a micro-tribal stone age culture devoid of any sense of nationhood or commonality of interest into one which can function, just one hundred years later, in a manner analogous with Australian society and the rest of the world as it was in 1975.

The second factor, one which sits at the root of all the official corruption and dysfunction in politics and public-sector operations in PNG is one which I dealt with at some length in an article published a year or more ago in PNG’s The National  and in Quadrant, the Australian conservative quarterly.

Here I showed that the decision to close down the established embryo political system comprised of the appointed District Advisory Councils interacting with the overarching and partly-democratic Legislative Council was wrong.

This linkage of institutions would logically have served the new nation very well when fully democratised and extended to include the then Local Government Councils as the grass-roots end of the whole.

It was, after all, like all systems introduced into PNG by the Australians, one which grew within the social environment peculiar to that place and time, and importantly, it was simple, well-understood - and it worked!

Although I have looked for the logic behind the creation of a Westminster-type party parliamentary system I have not found a good explanation. Only the late David Fenbury, a man of great experience and unusually high level of intellect and determination confronted the Minister for Territories, Paul Hasluck, with a different vision. This may have been as early as 1956.

What happened, as we know, was that a system which had grown over several centuries to answer the need for fairness embracing a stratified society incorporating a few powerful men at the top and a massive number of extremely poor vassals at the bottom, was introduced.

Introduced into one of the most egalitarian societies then existing on the face of the earth; a society almost entirely bare of any vestige of hereditary hierarchy; a society where every male member had equality of opportunity within his clan; where everyone had rights to the use of land and hunting and fishing resources; where everyone had the right to be heard before the assembled clan in times of controversy.

What has resulted, in the saddest paradox in this land of many paradoxes, is that the system imposed or allowed to establish itself by the Australians has produced exactly, absolutely exactly, the conditions of class-disparity, lack of equity in society and lack of justice which prevailed in the England of the twelfth century.

What more can we say, except to say sorry. It’s too late to change things back. Ask the Grand Chief.


The Fuzzy Wuzzies, trekking and the ABC

A recent ABC program sparked this riposte from JOHN FOWKE about the myth that tourism is a worthy reward for the ‘Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels’, who he considers modern PNG's real pioneers

Fowke_John2 The invasion by the Japanese in what is now PNG was one prong of the overall policy of subjugation to the will of the Japanese under the Emperor and his proposed Greater Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere.

We know just how prosperous and well-treated the other invaded countries - Burma, Malaya, Indonesia and so on - became under the new regime. So it is unfortunate that the myth that PNG was "forced into a war not of its own making" is widespread.

PNG was in effect, even if not widely aware of it, defending itself as much as Australia from a fate very different from that which awaited under the Australia and the League of Nations Mandate administered by Australia.

The RSL, Friends of the Kokoda Trail and those who make a living from guided tours of this widely-publicised new middle-class icon seem (I will stand corrected if wrong) ought to be aware that the labour force we call the Angels - courtesy of a famous poem in The Australian Women’s Weekly at the time - were conscripts taken from villages all over coastal and inland Papua, except for the then uncontrolled Southern Highlands District.

Thus there is no logic in believing that the development of the tourist trade associated with the Track is in itself a worthy reward for the Angels and their descendants.

One old Fuzzy conscript, who lives near Malalaua in Gulf Province, being the father of a friend of mine, carried and laboured for four years on the Bulldog Track.

Every now and again, when there is yet another story about medals and rewards for Fuzzies, he gets together the cash to buy a return fare to Moresby. All his trips, needless to say, have been fruitless. He is in his eighties now.

It is obvious commonsense and acceptable practice to limit recruitment of porters for the tourists to residents of the Track villages and their relatives. But it is erroneous to assume that the descendents of all the Fuzzies are somehow receiving reward or recognition through this casual employment.

In 1942, the Command in Port Moresby instructed its agents, the civilian Resident Magistrates in charge of each of the administrative Districts to send Patrol Officers to forcefully recruit, under threat of sentence to imprisonment, all able-bodied males of ages judged by the recruiting officer between 18 and 40.

These recruits were accompanied by police to the nearest available medical officer who checked them and all those who passed were then signed for service and sent to Port Moresby.

Men from west of Daru right around through Goaribari and Purari, Orokolo, Kerema, Central, through Mailu, Milne Bay, East Cape, Gosiago,the islands and Northern District were conscripted to the will of the Army. The only way out was to desert, and this was difficult for those whose homes lay at any distance from the borders of Central.

A few did run away, but not many. These men were conscripts, like the young Australian chokkoes they initially carried for and supported and, unknowingly, they were serving the interest of their own land and people in their arduous and dangerous work.

So is it not enough in the way of atonement for present-day PNG that since 1945 nearly fifteen billion Australian dollars has been spent towards its social and political development and eventual independence?

Australian dollars are still being spent on a young, modern nation-state with its own chosen constitution, its own laws and its own internal and foreign policies. PNG is still supported by Australian taxpayers 34 years after independence. Surely Australia has, is and, so far as it is possible to tell, will by these commitments continue to honour any debt it may owe to the people of PNG.

If rewards and recognition in terms of medals or certificates of merit are to be presented at any time, this must be the action of the PNG Government.

The truth of the emergence into independent statehood by PNG is that the founders and pioneers are not the politicians who in the mid-sixties strove to obtain independence and who founded the two original major political parties.

No. The true pioneers of modern PNG are the Fuzzies, the Pacific Islands Battalion soldiers and the police of the Royal Papua Constabulary and the New Guinea Police.

Without these men and the overseas allies together with whom they fought and defeated the Japanese invaders, there would be a very different situation ruling in PNG today.

Story of Sir Michael’s death greatly exaggerated

Wild rumours permeated PNG late last week that Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare had collapsed and died while on a visit to Malaysia.

Sir Michael’s daughter, Betha, said the Prime Minister had been mildly ill and that the rumour was circulated by people who had “nothing better to do”.

“It’s something different to play politics but to bring yourself to that level and spread false rumours is really not good,” Ms Somare said. “It is really in poor taste.”

Sir Michael also called the veteran radio talk show host, Roger Hau’ofa, from Malaysia and said he was well and looking forward to playing a round of golf.

Energy Minister William Duma said the rumours were being spread by “evil people”.

“Our Prime Minister is alive and well in Malaysia,” Mr Duma said. “He is one of those unique leaders in the country and God will not allow the Prime Minister to die in a foreign country. He was chosen by God to be a leader and he will protect him wherever he is.”

National Alliance Party president, Simon Kaiwi, said politics had descended to its “lowest form” with desperate tactics being used to create instability in the country.

“To will death upon anyone is unacceptable and non PNG and non Melanesian,” Mr Kaiwi said.

Government members blamed the Opposition for starting the rumour, saying that a personal attack about the age of the prime minister has been touted by the opposition even though there is no age limitation required under the Constitution.

A political aide was quoted as saying that Deputy Prime Minister Sir Puka Temu was ready to be the prime minister if the opportunity arose.

Source: PNG Post-Courier

Hal’s Phoenix is about to rise resplendant

Hal_Logohu At the age of 87, HAL HOLMAN continues to win major commissions for his sculptures and paintings.

He’s also just written a book.

The memoir, The Phoenix Also Rises, tells the story of a life richly led,  including Hal's long association with PNG from his days as a World War II commando to the award of the Order of Logohu earlier this year.

The book is now being edited prior to publication.

Here’s the Preface.


This book, being somewhat of an autobiography, is written in the only style that is comfortable to me.

I make no rash claims of my importance. I have no role models. I do not copy others or force my views on anyone.

I have the greatest admiration for all who strive for worthwhile goals of their choice, and applaud their diligence, whether they succeed or fall short of their aspirations.

Just being a good person who lives an exemplary life is accomplishment enough. Being a loving Mum or Dad wins top marks as does being a forthright person without guile.

The motivation behind this selective account of my life started at the end of World War II when, after finally re-entering civilian life, I was faced with making a decision about what I wanted to be.

I had no real skills except those gained on a sheep station in Queensland. I could ride horses, milk cows and meet the other requirements of a jackaroo.

The Army Repatriation Department offered courses to help demobilised war veterans, merge back into society. I chose Art as my destiny and the Army picked up the tab. It worked!

A collation of an account of a life span as lengthy as mine is no task for a slouch. It requires a tenacity of purpose, bloodymindness, resolve and a mental flail to egg you on.

Truthfully, without my multitude of associates, family, and a considerable gang of friends, I doubt whether even a page of this document would interest a publisher.

I owe special thanks to my wife Jo Holman for her sub-editing and to my daughter Lisa who also tackled the manuscript. Others of great help were Clive and Harriet Troy, Mem Vickers, Thurza Greenwood, Keith Jackson, Dan Fitzhenry and Lorraine Westcott.

Max (Bulldog) Drummond, who was a member of my commando platoon, rekindled light in the black holes of my memories. My son David kept my computers working and saved the manuscript from crashes. And my daughter Suzanne contributed also.

Very special thanks go to my father-in-law, Professor Emeritus Albert Willis, who most generously provided Josephine with a splendid home in Thornleigh, where we could raise Lisa and David comfortably and with dignity.

During November 2006 I spoke to one of our company Sergeants, Bill Twohill, who was with us throughout the entire South Pacific campaign (particularly on the Kokoda Trail and in Bena Bena).

I suggested to him that I would drive all the way from Sydney to Parkes in the middle of NSW, and collect him to join Bulldog and me at the last commando reunion in Wagga Wagga.

“Frankly Hal, I can’t make it,” he said, “I am now one hundred years old.”

That leaves me little time, as one of his contemporaries, to get on with the book.

Is back to the village PNG’s best answer?


After a recent two day rehabilitation course for offenders, PNG’s Director of Community Based Corrections, Negil Kauvu, encouraged them to keep striving to show they were willing to turn their back on crime and embrace their community needs.

Ms Kauvu said they had to learn about what to give back to their community, to make their community accept them and recognise that they had made a mistake, but were ready to make amends for it.

This looks like a very admirable effort in self help and I hope CBC and the rehabilitating offenders receive all the assistance they require.

It begs the question, however, of whether the same 'commitment to change' permeates the top of the political pyramid.

To change criminal behaviour, there must be viable alternatives for employment and income. The initial allure and the inevitable poverty trap of cities like Moresby, Lae and Hagen won’t change overnight.

If there is no avenue for previous offenders to earn a living, the recourse is recidivism.

Many towns and cities of PNG might benefit hugely from a reverse migration scheme: a return of those who can't survive without crime to their rural heritage. The question is whether a village would be an attractive and viable alternative these days?

The Voice works to help PNG communities



Two years ago, University of PNG law students established The Voice, a volunteer movement to help members of their own communities.

And it’s going so well that one of the founders, 24-year-old law graduate Serena Sasinglan, hopes a chapter will be established in every university college and high school in PNG.

The volunteers hold workshops and informal meetings to talk about human rights, PNG’s legal structure, violence against women, HIV/AIDS and other issues affecting the citizens.

In an article in the Australian Volunteers International magazine, Ms Sasinglan says The Voice is made up of like-minded young people at UPNG who are committed to seeing change in their communities.

She said many people did not have access to education and, as a result, were not aware of their basic human rights.

“Through The Voice, we aim to change this by volunteering our time and skills to give these communities a voice.

“Armed with our own knowledge, skills, passion and voice, we’ve reached out to high schools, settlements in Port Moresby, and even some of the most remote parts of the country with our message of hope.

“With so many social issues and high rates of unemployment, it is easy to understand why so many people throughout PNG prefer to concentrate on their daily survival as opposed to helping others in need. 

“But the fact is, if we are not willing to find solutions for our own problems, who will?”

Ms Sasinglan said that through The Voice, the young volunteers experienced the reciprocal benefits of volunteering – from learning a whole new perspective in their own lives, to having the opportunity to contribute to lasting change in their own communities.

She said that by working with organisations such as Australian Volunteers International, the Oaktree Foundation and UPNG, the movement was developing activities that were achieving sustainable outcomes, including the involvement of Oaktree Foundation volunteers delivering training in advocacy, social justice, and project management skills.

The turmoil within: PNG is a country in crisis


Papua New Guinea is in a state of crisis.

It is a country sinking into itself. This is the grim reality that faces PNG today.

It is uncertain whether the PNG we know today will continue to exist as service delivery mechanisms break down and provinces seek autonomy.

The cause is an incompetent bureaucracy, a corrupt government and a Prime Minister who doesn’t want to let go of his grip on power.

The government is facing a vote of no-confidence and some members have moved to the opposition, claiming the government is so corrupt that it suppresses their rights as MPs and is not delivering services.

In adjourning Parliament to November, the government seems to have breached section 124 of the constitution. As a result, Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare, Treasurer Paul Tiensten and Speaker Jeffery Nape have been referred to the Ombudsman Commission, which says there is a possibility of prosecuting them.

The government, not so long ago, announced a K500 million deficit, and defended it as insignificant. Deputy opposition leader Bart Philemon, an economist, argues that this shows that the government has mismanaged the country’s budget.

There are so many mines in PNG, yet there is little tangible development. It’s a never-ending tale of lack of funds and, after 34 years of independence, the people still live like they did hundreds of years before independence.

The Mining Act needs to be amended or the landowners of Ramu, Porgera and other mining areas will keep causing trouble because the Act gives 70 percent of the stake to the developer and leaves the land owners with less.

The education system is failing thousands of Papua New Guineans. The government fails to provide adequate stationery and text books, libraries and teachers (many remote schools manage to scrape through with only one or two teachers).

In some places buildings are rundown and schools are closing, such as Kerevat, one of the country’s pioneering high schools. Schools in Morobe, Oro and Milne Bay are also facing closure. Countless other schools rural areas, where education is direly needed, have closed over the years.

The health system is slowly crumbling. This year Health Minister Sasa Zibe described the health system as “bloody useless”. The HIV/AIDs epidemic is a looming tragedy, whole villages could be wiped out.

There is an ever-growing shortage of drugs and a never ending story of warehouse’s dumping undistributed stocks. Port Moresby General Hospital, PNG’s biggest hospital, is ill-equipped, overcrowded and the building itself is rotting. Other hospitals throughout the country are far worse.

The Police Force is at the brink of collapse says Police Commissioner Gari Baki. It needs about K2 billion to function fully and purchase much needed equipment, as criminals are becoming more sophisticated and better equipped with weapons the police don’t have.

The Police feel cornered, because due to the government’s policies are forcing the unemployed to turn to crime as a means of survival. Many men and women are selling marijuana to make a living.

Deep down in the social saucepan of PNG, in the dark hearts of the squatter settlements and shanty towns, there is growing frustration and anger towards the government.

The greedy life style of politicians has created a divide between rich and poor. It has created social classes in PNG, and the divide is getting wider.

The hot brewing social saucepan is waiting to blow off its lid. As such, PNG is a state in crisis.

War relics have new life in criminal hands


Torokina Machine Gun

The Torokina War Relics Association has said it is intercepting many World War II vintage weapons recovered from Torokina that are being sold to criminals in Bougainville and other provinces.

The ‘mining’ and rebirthing of wartime weaponry and munitions from Torokina have been a major concern to the Autonomous Bougainville Government and the United Nations.

UN Development Program team leader, Howard Wilson, said his organisation was happy to assist the Association contribute to the Bougainville weapons disposal program.

Mr Wilson said the UNDP has been monitoring the developments in Torokina including sending a team to verify reports of youths retrieving wartime weapons.

The UNDP is concerned that the situation in Torokina has become acute in recent times.

Association Chairman, Albert Magoi, said his group, which was established last year, was helping to contain the situation.

He is hoping to send some young Torokina people to the Philippines to train to defuse bombs.

Photo: A member of the Torokina War Relics Association poses with a 'mined' machine gun [Aloysius Laukai]

Women police for tribal peace in the Chimbu

A group of pioneering women in a region of the Chimbu Province has just celebrated ten years of maintaining law and order.

The tenth anniversary of the community policing movement in the Kup sub-district was marked by 60 women graduating as officers.

The Kup area was once peaceful, but tribal fights in the late 1990s resulted in many deaths and the destruction of much government infrastructure and withdrawal of services.

As a result, the community policing organisation, Kup Women for Peace, was established by women from all the warring tribes.

Since then it has sought to stop tribal conflict and to promote women’s rights.

In 2006, it started Kup Ambulkumb Rights Movement for girls and young women.

They learn about leadership, earning money and are encouraged to obtain a basic education.

Source: Australia Network News. Thanks to John Fowke for spotting this

New Dawn FM wins international media award

Paul Max + Trainees New Dawn FM, the pioneering Bougainville community radio station, has won this year’s Communication and Social Change Award offered by the University of Queensland’s School of Journalism and Communication.

Head of School, Prof Michael Bromley, said 19 entries were received for the Award, which recognises and honours outstanding contributions to the theory and practice of communication and social change.

“On behalf of the Jury and all of us here at the university, I wish to congratulate New Dawn FM on winning this prestigious Award,” Prof Bromley told New Dawn chairman and manager, Aloysius Laukai.

The jury for the Award included ABC Foreign Editor Peter Cave, AusAID Deputy Director General Annmaree O'Keeffe and former Secretary-General of the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union Hugh Leonard. They were joined by chair Prof Ken Wiltshire AO and three senior Queensland University academics.

Award nominations came from 14 countries - Bangladesh, Burundi, Canada, Congo, New Zealand, Nigeria, Philippines, Fiji, India, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Uganda and the USA as well as Papua New Guinea.

The Award constitutes a commemorative plaque and a cash prize of $2,500. Mr Laukai will be flown to Brisbane next month to receive the award at a special ceremony at Queensland University.

New Dawn FM was established with the assistance of a group of Australians who had worked in broadcasting in PNG, including Phil Charley OAM, Prof Martin Hadlow and me. Earlier this year I was delighted to be able to nominate the station for the Award.

Photo: Broadcast trainees at New Dawn FM

Colonel Blimps miss the point of today's PNG

JOHN FOWKE examines the attitudes of some of the Australians who left PNG around Independence and those who stayed on

Some of us with an ex-Administration background stayed on in PNG, which we have a great fondness for.

Whilst none of us is filled with missionary-like passion - far from it - we have ridden the PNG tiger.

We have also maintained positive roles, in our assortment of jobs and professions, with Papua New Guineans as friends and co-workers as well as bosses. And we feel we have helped the place in small ways.

A great many ex-PNG people in Oz, both ex-Admin and others, who meet together socially and express themselves in various forums, come across as disappointed in what has gone on in PNG over the past 30 years.

They miss the point entirely in a Colonel Blimpish way which is at best obtuse and in some cases crassly derogatory verging on racist.

It hasn't been a holiday, living up there through to this decade. There have been times of extreme frustration as well as compromises and sacrifices to meet changing mores and ways of doing things.

It’s also been necessary to stay ahead in conditions of quite severe lawlessness in some parts. I was in Tari for three months last year, and I have to tell you that the Southern Highlands Province today is incredible – like a novel set in a crumbling West African state.

Although I should add that the micro-tribe-based antipathies and jealousies mean that the war-lords are really only war-lads, in terms of the force each can muster.

Riding this tiger has nonetheless been a source of immense satisfaction.

John Leahy and I once agreed we both got a drug-rush from driving through a roadblock with impunity, piling blandishments and street-smart Tok Pisin phrases to the extent that the bois relax and wave us on, shouting “Rait man! " and "Go free, Pops!".

Silly I suppose, but good memories, lots of laughs, and that's what its all about.

As for old Kiaps - old Kiaps are all that's left. Kiaps have vanished from the face of the earth as authoritative, living, working public servants.

There remain district managers and so on, but they are an emasculated and generally pretty ineffectual lot - even when they turn up to work!

Beauty quest leads to dramatic school shoot-out

Aloysius Laukai

An Asitavi Girls' High School fund raiser near Wakunai at the weekend ended in drama with gunshots and a near riot.

I was there when the incident occurred.

After the crowning of Miss Asitavi, the crowd wanted to dance with students - but the school management refused, leading to rowdy drunks abusing staff and students.

In the ensuing commotion, several shots were fired from high powered rifles. The incident continued until five in the morning.

It has tarnished the good name of the community and several traumatised parents said they will transfer their children to other schools.

The fundraising event got off to a bad start when parents and citizens failed to assist students build pr staff the stalls at the bazaar. Even the community around the school did not participate in fundraising activities organised during the three-day event.

For more Bougainville news you can visit the New Dawn FM website here

Mari’s music about to percolate through London

Casual Mari Ellingson was a PNG foreign affairs officer who now works for the Commonwealth Secretariat in London as Head of Planning. She is a regular contributor to PNG Attitude.

In an earlier life, though, Mari, who comes from Kwato Island in Milne Bay, was a popular singer/songwriter in a band called Salima. (Her album Lohia Tauna is still available from internet retailers.) And now Mari has not only written her first song for a choir, she’s busily recruiting that choir for an inaugural performance of it in December.

“I need 20 people and so far have been able to attract 15,” Mari writes. “We start practicing in October. I am now looking to hook up with a local musician/composer to notate the music so anyone can play it.”

Mari does not read music, so the choral number has been a major effort. “Writing songs is my nambawan hobby,” she says, “and something I love to do in my spare time.

“I am rather excited about this project and so are the colleagues who have volunteered to be in the choir. Most are the usual suspects - the ones I sing with at our Christmas services.

“God willing, inshallah, we will pull it off and I hope that the choir stays intact untilthe performance.

“We as a singing team will choose a name for our choir and that I think is a great option for good team building instead of me imposing a name on them.”

Mari has written elsewhere: “Culture is in the DNA of each and everyone. You don’t have to famous to make an impact and that is the underlying sustaining and resilient aspect of culture.” Mari’s certainly making a truism of that.

You can visit Mari’s blog here.

DFAT boss planned independence ceremonies

Don Hook

Richardson_Dennis The newly appointed Secretary of Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade, Dennis Richardson AO, helped plan PNG’s independence ceremonies in 1975.

At the time he was a political officer at the Australian diplomatic mission in Port Moresby. He was awarded the PNG Independence Medal for his service.

Mr Richardson, 62, has been Australia’s Ambassador in Washington for the past four years and prior to that was Director General of ASIO – the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation. 

As a career diplomat he served in Africa, Indonesia and Thailand. In addition, he held senior positions in the Department of Immigration, Department of Prime Minister & Cabinet, and was principal personal adviser to Prime Minister Bob Hawke.

Mr Richardson will take up his new position later this year.

Japanese fought on in the Sepik after VP Day

Don Hook

VP Day Today is the 64th anniversary of VP [Victory in the Pacific] Day – 15 August 1945 marked the end of the war against Japan in the Pacific and the end of World War II.

However, as victory celebrations reverberated around the world, isolated groups of Japanese troops continued fighting in PNG.

In the Aitape-Wewak region, General Adachi of the Japanese 18th Army had vowed to fight to the end.

It was not until 13 September – almost a month after VP-Day – that Adachi surrendered to Major General HCH Robertson of the Australian 6th Division at a ceremony at Cape Wom near Wewak.

By then, Adachi’s once-proud army of 100,000 men had been reduced to 13,000. His men had died on the battlefield, from disease and from starvation.

Earlier, the Japanese had heroically defended Wewak. At the end, fighting from caves, many Japanese refused to surrender and were buried alive by explosive charges.

After the war, General Adachi was convicted of war crimes and sentenced to life imprisonment. He committed suicide in 1947 after writing a letter described as “a moving document of soldierly loyalty and an eloquent condemnation of the futility of war”.

The Aitape-Wewak campaign, along with the campaigns on Bougainville and New Britain, resulted in considerable criticism from Australian and Japanese officers who found it hard to understand why such aggressive actions should be fought as the war was ending.

Australian officers, including General VAH Sturdee and Brigadier HH Hammer, referred to the ‘military futility’ of the campaigns. Japanese staff officers on Bougainville believed the campaigns were ‘absolutely pointless’.

On the other hand it was argued the campaigns were justified as there was an obligation to liberate the people of PNG as quickly as possible from Japanese rule. In many areas Japanese occupation was creating terrible privation.

Military historian Peter Ryan said there was evidence that these campaigns were fought because General Blamey wanted to continue in command of a large army in the field.

And because Prime Minister John Curtin - along with members of his Cabinet - believed a continued active fighting role would strengthen Australia’s position in the coming peace treaty negotiations.

A rare opportunity to invest in a landmark film

Movie Producer John Schindler reports that production of his and Bob Blasdall's documentary The Tragedy of the Montevideo Maru is progressing well and the series will be complete late October ready for screening on Foxtel.

This project has been the beneficiary of a great deal of John’s personal as well as professional commitment.

John mortgaged his home to achieve a budget to make a film that would live up to and be worthy of its epic subject matter.

“I had to invest $96,000 of my own money in the series; it just had to be done,” says John. “The story deserved to be told well and, to achieve this, our team needed to have a reasonable budget.”

John is now seeking two investors prepared to commit $48,000 each against future sales of the documentary.

“Even if we found just one it would take a big weight off my shoulders,” he says. Investors will share in proceeds from the series, except for the Foxtel license fee which has been invested back into the project.

Other revenue sources to be negotiated include:

- Australian and worldwide DVD sales

- sales of the series to the USA, UK, Norway, Japan and elsewhere

Australian sales two years after the series first goes to air on Foxtel

- a book

“Investors will also be contributing to the making of a landmark television series that will make many Australians aware of the Montevideo Maru tragedy and the events in Rabaul that led up to it,” says John.

“I will keep them personally informed of developments, they will be honoured guests at the Sydney and/or Brisbane premier, they will be invited on location for the filming of re-enactments and, of course, their names will feature in the credits.

If you are interested, or know someone who might be, get in touch with John Schindler at (07) 3267 0515, [email protected] or at PO Box 303, Northgate, Queensland 4013.

If potential investors wants to know more about legal and accounting aspects they are welcome to speak with the film’s lawyer Hendrik De Korte on (07) 3340 5193 and the film’s accountant Robert Edwards on (07) 3391 6300.

Gudi Moale, your magazine really hits the spot

Mari Ellingson

Head  Belated congratulations are due to Moale Rivu and his PNG Bisnis magazine!

It is a brilliant initiative. Moale hit the nail on the head by doing something about encouraging small business. It’s exactly what lies at the heart of the development agenda in PNG.

More and more people must be aware that their future prosperity is in their own hands. By developing small business they take a small leap for themselves and collectively a giant leap for PNG. By sustaining that effort they create prosperity for the nation.

The government has become the gravy train! It should be for basic services that are the state's core responsibility like health, education and other social services, a good and flexibly regulated environment, and reliable facilities and information accessible to the enterprising villager anywhere in PNG.

The government's assistance to small business development is part of the journey to prosperity - it is not a destination, which, to our own detriment, we have for so long mistaken it to be.

Bisnis_Cover I wish Moale Rivu all the best in his efforts to encourage big business to 'think big' by encouraging the growth, mentoring and sustainability of small enterprise.

I believe the principles and good lessons learnt from the 'stret pasin stoa' experience should be brought to bear on this current thinking for the betterment and future sustainability of small business.

I hope Moale’s magazine will be a strong voice and advocate for small business and the enterprising Papua New Guinean who is bursting to come forth on to the business stage, regionally and internationally.

Tanikiu bada herea tadi. God blesses those who give generously of their spirit and of their hearts, which manifests itself in the richness they themselves experience channelled through noble deeds such as yours.

Without a doubt, PNG’s future is brighter with initiatives such as this.

You can visit Mari’s ‘My Magic Moments’ blog here.

The Kokoda air tragedy & memories of others

PNG Attitude has not been providing coverage of the Twin Otter crash near Kokoda, which has claimed 13 lives, because the tragedy has been so exhaustively and capably reported by other media.

Nonetheless, as I'm sure it did for many of you, the crash brought back for me a host of memories of other air crashes and incidents.

There were many, they were regular and they often affected us deeply because we knew one of other of the victims.

Occasionally there would be survivors. A badly burned Kevin Difflo was fortunate to get out of a Twin Otter that crashed while attempting to land near Kainantu. And Fred Kaad escaped with his life, although a paraplegic, from a light plane accident in the Morobe.

Many others were not as lucky. MAF pilot Fr Joe Walachy and his passengers perished in frightful weather in the Bundi Gap when their plane hit a sheer cliff that Joe thought was blue sky. And education executive John Lee and others died when an overloaded Baron crashed after taking off from Gurney.

Returning to PNG on the Electra after my first leave (it must have been early 1965), I sat beside a sad young man. He was going to Moresby to reclaim the body of his brother, who with a fellow Qantas cadet had, in heavy cloud, flown his aircraft into a rocky outcrop between Madang and Goroka.

I recall TAL captain Brian McCook telling me he always flew with the thought in mind that he may be forced to land somewhere. It was always comforting to fly with McCook.

I remember too, with knuckles white still, circling in and out of mist while the driver of the Cessna 180 tried to find a hole in the cloud that would get us to the Bena for a safe landing at Goroka, never taking his eyes off the altimeter and the turn and bank indicator.

It comes flooding back. This and much more.

Flying in PNG can never be taken for granted. It is a daunting country for aviators. The terrain, the weather, the precipitous and rough bush airstrips, the lack of navigation aids. They all contribute to danger.

Our thoughts and sympathy go out to the relatives and friends of the people who died near Kokoda this week.

Famous Aussies who had relatives in WWII

Do you know – whether personally or by repute - a famous Australian who had a relative fight in the Pacific, including PNG, during World War II? 

A leading Australian television channel is looking to bring these stories of WWII in the Pacific to life through famous Australians telling the stories of their relatives’ experiences.

This is a factual project demonstrating Australia's deep involvement in WWII in the Pacific.

It will assist raise the awareness of Australians – especially younger Australians – of the important war-time connections Australia had with the Pacific that include and go beyond Kokoda.

If you can assist, email me here.

Village economies let Pacific pollies off hook

Philip Fitzpatrick

Hamish McDonald writing in the Sydney Morning Herald has noted that, when it starts in 2014, the $16 billion dollar Exxon-Mobil liquefied natural gas project will instantly double PNG's GDP.

While that should be good news for the average citizen, Hamish also cites the latest Pacific Economic Bulletin which points out that, during the last resources boom in PNG in the 1990s, there was no corresponding rise in general income or welfare.

The Bulletin says PNG may have already started spending the new gas revenues before they’ve arrived. That doesn't bode well for the thousands of young people reaching working age in PNG each year.

PNG might take note of what their Melanesian neighbours are doing. Ralph Regenvanu, a Vanuatu politician, recently told a forum at the Lowy Institute in Brisbane that his country's 220,000 people "had been largely unaffected by the global financial crisis because they did not belong to a modern economy".

He said about 80 percent of Vanuatuans live in traditional villages and "rely on tradition and kinship for food, work exchanges and dispute settlement". (I personally found that if you go to the outer islands like Tanna and Espiritu Santo there is a distinct feel of PNG in the 1960s).

Vanuatu, much like PNG, has one of the highest population growths in the world. In both countries, traditional village economies have expanded to cope with population increase. There is little real poverty; no one is starving to death.

The village economies did what the pollies couldn't do, probably saving the latter from popular insurrections.

Ralph Regenvanu says: "We must make deliberate efforts to maintain the traditional economy where it exists and ensure it remains as our buffer in the uncertain global economy ". He says it needs to be incorporated into the economic mix and its supports, like traditional land tenure, need to be maintained.

This sort of philosophy flies in the face of solutions on offer from major aid donors like Australia as well as the amateur armchair experts who grace the pages of this blog from time to time.

Hamish McDonald says that "generally, neo-conservative economists argue a precondition for fast growth is sweeping aside hazy traditional land ownership systems in favour of registered, transferable individual ownership".

If you think Ralph Regenvanu is being naive, he points out that "the traditional economy has so far absorbed a 90 percent growth in population since 1980 in Vanuatu. Perhaps it is romantic to think the cash economy is even capable of this".

A World Bank study presented to the Pacific Islands Forum in Cairns last week suggested that, instead of trying to push economic development into the bush, it might be better to work on establishing communications and transport links so that the people in the bush can tap into the economy from the other direction.

Investigation into claimed Constitution breach

The PNG Ombudsman is investigating whether the Government has breached the Constitution.

Chief Ombudsman Chronox Manek said the investigation will determine whether Parliament has sat for the required number of 63 days in one calendar year.

Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare, Speaker Jeffery Nape and Minister Paul Tiensten face up to 10 years gaol or fines of up to K10,000 if they are found to have breached the Constitution.

If there is enough evidence to prove they breached the Constitution, the Ombudsman will refer the politicians to a leadership tribunal for possible prosecution.

Mr Manek’s office said it received a complaint from the Opposition which claimed the leaders deliberately violated and breached section 124(1) of the Constitution.

The Opposition claimed the early adjournment meant Parliament did not meet for the required number of sitting days and the adjournment was unconstitutional.

Sir Michael maintains his Government did not do wrong and was not in breach of the Constitution, saying that the 63 days can still be met.

Source: ‘Parliament probe in order: OC’ by Pearson Kolo, Post-Courier, 11 August 2009

What became of the Lussick charitable trust?

Denis Samin OBE, who now lives in Cairns, spent the years between 1983 and 1998 as chief superintendent in the Royal PNG Constabulary.

Denis was also treasurer of the Boroko RSL Club, which by then was in decline. So together with president, Wally Lussick OBE, and the committee, he organised the sale of the club house, golf course and bowling greens.

The proceeds totalled 487,000 kina and, when Wally died suddenly,  were deposited in what became the Walter Lussick Memorial Trust Fund as an investment trust for memorials and the education and training of PNG veterans' children.

“We sent quite few eligible kids to Australian universities and colleges,” says Denis.  to improve their education. We repaired the air-conditioning system in the PNG National Library where vital historical records were stored.”

Denis was elected president of the Boroko/Port Moresby RSL Club and the Trust continued its work and, with the assistance of the National Library, provided library books to all the PNGDF and RPNG schools to benefit the children of servicemen. It also funded the RSL contribution to the observance of Anzac Day in Port Moresby.

When Denis returned to Australia ten years ago, the presidency was assumed by Port Moresby businessman and ex-PNGVR member, John Mudge MBE, who continued to supervise the Trust.

Some time later, Mr Mudge was voted out of office at an annual general meeting and an AusAID officer at the Australian High Commission took over the fund.

“As a founding member of the Walter Lussick Memorial Trust Fund, I am disappointed that I have not heard one word on the state of the funds, of what has been done with the funds and for whom since I returned to Australia,” Denis says.

“My last information was that the funds were being managed by the Australian High Commissioner in Port Moresby.

“These funds, which should be about the million kina mark, should be directed towards library books for kids. There are plenty of libraries but what use is a library without books?”

Well, we’ll try to can track down whether the Trust is still alive and whether the funds are being applied to the intended purpose and credited to the RSL in whose name the Trust was established.

Any assistance from readers will be appreciated.

Multiple calls for Michael Somare to resign

There have been calls in PNG for Sir Michael Somare to resign as prime minister because “he is too old to run the country” and because he has allegedly not addressed the severe increase in HIV/AIDS.

Chairman of the Parliamentary committee on HIV/AIDS, Jamie Maxtone-Graham MP, says there are more than 130,000 people living with HIV/AIDS and that the virus spreading at an annual rate of 5 percent.

Mr Graham said Sir Michael did not know what was happening in his country or he was “simply ignorant’’.

“The National Aids Council budget has been cut by 50 percent this year.

“The Prime Minister and his Government are not seriously concerned at addressing the increase in HIV/AIDS cases.”

Meanwhile, the Opposition claims Sir Michael is too old to run the country.

Sir Mekere Morauta said there is rife corruption, a breach of the constitution and poor service delivery. He said the country and its systems will collapse if the Prime Minister was allowed to continue running the country.

“It is for the betterment of the country and the people that the Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare must resign,” Sir Mekere said.

Deputy leader Bart Philemon said corruption was strangling the systems of the country. “Not long the country will collapse,” Mr Philemon said.

The Pacific climate change dilemma

Paul Oates

The Courier Mail’s headlines were intriguing. Help Pacific or face the consequences, Australia told and Emissions a threat to Pacific Island Nations says Kevin Rudd. One could be forgiven for asking was this the only result from the Pacific leaders’ forum in Cairns last week.

United Nations official Ajay Chibber said it was vital Australia support “impoverished island neighbours” through funding emissions cuts. He warned of migration pressures and the probability of conflict. He praised the Rudd government's allocation of $150 million to help cope with climate change but, claimed billions are needed.

Kevin Rudd said "climate change was a matter of national survival for some nations; we cannot simply afford to wait." Australia is backed by forum members in leading the way in pushing for a reduction in global emissions to 50 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.

So where do we stand or swim as the case may be?

Perhaps the real challenge in the medium term is how Australia’s $150 million will be spent. Is this going to be another 'boomerang aid' exercise or are we actually going to achieve some long term and sustainable results? What independent monitoring benchmarks are being proposed?

Experts are predicting that world food production will be dramatically affected by climate change. Will this further impact on a diminishing food supply in a rapidly increasing PNG and Pacific population?

When a recent drought caused Australian rice production to be affected, PNG suffered a drop in rice availability and an alarming rise in local prices. This should have been a wake up call for PNG to start improving its own food production capacity.

Let there be no debate about whether climate change will happen. It's happened before (about 1,000 years ago when Greenland was green) and it might happen again. People can debate about the reasons and speed until the cows come home.

The central issue in the Pacific is what to do and there are self help actions, like food production, that can be taken. Australia, the world's driest continent, may not be in a position to help in 2050.

It's China's century, see those factory chimneys

Former PNG 'National' journalist MATHEW YAKAI is studying in China. His blog, he says, ensures Pacific countries learn from China. Here’s an edited extract of his most recent post

One need not to go further then read the news around us to realise that China today has a major influence in economy, diplomacy, politics - and soon, Washington suspects, militarily.

West now looks east to China. PNG cannot ignore that the factory chimneys of China can be clearly seen when the sky over the Pacific is clear. What I mean is that China is in the region and PNG must adjust herself to accommodate China.

How PNG will accommodate China and work with a country which has a long history and dynamic economy is pretty difficult. First and foremost is the language and culture.

Therefore, those students who will leave for China early September must know that language and cultural differences are waiting to give a surprise.

It is very important you know this century is the Asia-Pacific century and all is happening in China.

When the world was toppled by the financial crises caused by the USA’s lone and declining hegemony, China maintained its GDP around 8-10 percent

This stabilised the world economy with China, India and most of the developing countries taking the leading role. China stood tall amongst them.

China is an interesting place to be, especially when more people are gaining wealth and the business environment is more conducive.

Over the past three decades, Chinese society evolved very quickly and now you see more philanthropists. China is a land of opportunity in everything if you are comfortable with Chinese language.

I think China will continue to be an amazing growth success story, and its rich and diverse culture will continue to be a magnet for people around the world including Papua New Guinea students.

I attended Jilin University in north east China. At my university were students from all over the world. We attended classes together. From that experience, I realised how ignorant I was in PNG, not even attempting to know history and famous events around the world.

But I felt so privileged having heard and participated in class discussions and debates with such a group. Some times we call our university a mini United Nations, because it really represents students from this globe.

When talking of poverty, African students always dominate the discussion saying they are rich and do not need lectures from the West, but have an option in China.

Such experiences made me realise I have a clear view of the world and events of significance affecting PNG today.

There is more but let me finish with this. As a black person, you will get a lot of attention in China. It is not because Chinese are racist but, for most, it will be the first time to see black person. Remember, most of them have not travelled abroad.

They will stare at you from tip to toe. Don’t be embarrassed. Speak a little Chinese to them and they will befriend you immediately.

You can visit Mathew’s blog here.

It’s official: PNGns are worse off than ever

PNG’s acting chief secretary, Manasupe Zurenuoc, has admitted that 35 years after independence, Papua New Guineans are far worse off because government has failed to deliver.

Mr Zurenuoc’s blunt admission was made at a press conference to announce a new national strategic plan to try to improve the provision of services to rural people.

“We have been independent for over 35 years and have not fared well in terms of delivering services to our people,” he said.

“We have tried different models and plans to deliver services to our people and experiences have shown that we have not delivered.

“In fact there is total decline of services but we can’t go on trying forever. We have to do something.

Mr Zurenuoc’s comments came in the same week Australia’s Parliamentary Secretary for International Development Assistance, Bob McMullan, said conditions in PNG are worsening despite Australia’s annual $500 million in assistance.

Mr Zurenuoc announced the formation of a national planning committee headed by Deputy Prime Minister Sir Puka Temu. He said a national task force, headed by Professor David Kavanamur and comprising some of PNG’s top professionals, will develop plans and programs to address issues related to service delivery.

The task force has identified six major issues: administrative and governance reform; wealth creation, climate change; human development, strategic planning; and institutional development.

Mr Zurenuoc also voiced harsh criticism of the PNG public service.

“They are running around in Waigani without any understanding of the real problems in the provinces,” he said. “They are out of touch with the real world. They just collect their pay and could not care about what happens out there.

“There must be a change in the public service culture. There must be a major change.”

Of motherhood statements & hot rubber stamps

PAUL OATES' parses the Pacific Forum’s final communiqué

There were some true gems of motherhood rhetoric that emerged from this week’s Pacific Forum.

The number of issues “Leaders noted” must have kept the rubber stamps working flat out into the wee small hours of the morning. There couldn’t have been much time for golf or the casino. And the screech of rubber on paper must have been unbearable at times.

Exhibit A: "Leaders noted that limited human and financial capacities at national levels continue to delay the implementation of some Pacific Plan initiatives."

Yep! You heard it here first.....

Exhibit B: "Leaders noted that an independent comprehensive review of the progress on implementation of the Pacific Plan was undertaken in the first quarter of 2009. Leaders further noted that a draft report of the initial three-year review of the Pacific Plan had been submitted for consideration by the Pacific Plan Action Committee (PPAC)."

Yes, but what did the draft review say?

Exhibit C: [page 21 of the 25 page communiqué]: “Improving livelihoods and the well-being of Pacific peoples by:

(i)                 continuing efforts to better ensure food security for people across the region and, in particular, expediting efforts to improve food standards and food quality and support agriculture, aquaculture and fisheries, through initiatives such as the Pacific Food Summit proposed for 2010;

(ii)               ensuring healthy populations through: the ongoing implementation of the Vanuatu Commitment and the recent Madang Declaration for Action from the 2009 Ministers of Health Meeting including enhanced efforts to better understand health determinants and build the sector's governance and ability to respond pro-actively to current and emerging health needs;

(iii)             improving access to opportunities afforded through stronger education systems at all levels by implementing the directions given by Forum Education Ministers and, in particular, progressing the implementation of the Pacific Education Development Framework to better provide Pacific peoples access to economic opportunities through skills and prospects for mobility.

Right! Now exactly how is this going to be done and by whom?

School books, PNG Attitude & Keith Jackson

Eric Johns

For the past nine years I have been quietly writing history books for PNG schools, enjoying my daily routine at the National Library in Canberra, but becoming increasingly frustrated by a lack of financial support.

It seems there is no PNG government money available to pay for bulk textbooks and, except for the charity work of some private individuals and organisations such as Rotary, their distribution to schools usually depends on funding from AusAID and sometimes from the European Union.

AusAID funds for classroom materials dried up the very year I began writing, so since 2001 students in most PNG schools have had to suffer a steadily diminishing store of books.

A friend of mine wrote from Bulolo that on a recent trip to Aseki in the Morobe Highlands she visited a school that had no books, a blackboard but no chalk, and whose students were writing with sharpened sticks on banana leaves.

Last week I received news that AusAID has made a complete turnaround and has started to accept textbook tenders for PNG schools. Publishers and authors have welcomed this sudden development, as no doubt will the students and teachers of PNG. The distribution of chalk, writing books and pencils is another matter.

I don’t know what caused this AusAID change of heart but I’d like to believe that Keith Jackson, by his advocacy in PNG Attitude and through other means, had something to do with it.

At the very least Keith has drawn me out of the solitude of the library, leading me to make contact with, or be contacted by, several people in PNG. These include journalists, some almost forgotten friends, an academic, Sir Paulius Matane and Post–Courier Lae Bureau Chief, Patrick ‘Big Pat’ Levo.

More will come from these contacts. I am posting this to thank Keith and his PNG Attitude for such generous support; for trying to get the purse holders to spend money where they should, and for making a great difference to the way I do things.

Australia delivers literature breakthrough in PNG

When the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs decides it’s going to support a worthy cause it leaves no stone unturned to set the world on fire in its pursuit of the light on the hill, if I may offer a grotesquely mixed metaphor.

Case in point. Yesterday I received, as a result of illicit third party trafficking in propaganda, a media release from the Australian High Commission in Port Moresby. It was entitled (and the caps are theirs) AUSTRALIAN HIGH COMMISSION SUPPORTS NATIONAL BOOK WEEK.

The High Commission, on behalf of us taxpayers, had determined a strategic deployment of funds designed to benefit young Papua New Guineans. As High Commissioner Chris Moraitis expressed it, he wanted to “reinforce the close friendship and cooperation between Australia and PNG”. Good thing too.

This year’s theme, it turns out, is ‘BOOKS … Building Our Own Knowledge Society’. [OL BUK – Kamapim Save Bilong Ol Pipol – my loose translation]. The High Commissioner says sloganeering (sorry, Book Week) is about “recognising the important role that physical books continue to play in PNG society and education.”

“Books will remain a vital source of information and learning for many years to come,” reflected Mr Moraitis in a media release issued by his spin doctor (oops, ‘Public Diplomacy Officer’), Oliver Nombri.

The release advised that, under the PNG-Australia Partnership for Development, both countries had committed to increasing the number of children in primary education from 53% to 70% by 2015 – an extra 300,000 children in primary school.

Two days ago the AusAID report Tracking Development and Governance in the Pacific [see yesterday’s PNG Attitude] informed us, courtesy of Australia’s Parliamentary Secretary for International Development Assistance, Bob McMullan, that PNG was going backwards in this and other respects.

Well, different strokes for different blokes. Chris was looking to the future, Bob at the recent past. Why be negative, Bob. We’ll go with Chris. He’s got astrology on his side.

Anyway, let’s cut to the chase. The media release in question proclaims “the Australian High Commission is again supporting National Book Week in PNG by distributing 1,000 colourful bookmarks to primary schools across the country.”

Bookmarks?   BOOKMARKS!

As one shrewd observer muttered darkly: “Let’s hope they have the books to put them in.”

Footnote: Media inquiries should not be directed to me but to Oliver Nombri in Port Moresby. You can phone him on 325 9333 ext 454 or email [email protected]

PNG going backwards says Australian politician

Australia’s Parliamentary Secretary for International Development Assistance, Bob McMullan, has called for a new approach to the Pacific, saying that conditions in PNG are worsening despite Australia’s annual $500 million in assistance.

Mr McMullan said Pacific states, including PNG, were “seriously off track” to achieve their development goals.

An AusAID report, Tracking Development and Governance in the Pacific, recommends a new approach to Pacific aid to ensure development assistance is better targeted.

The report says 2.7 million people in the region live in poverty, 400,000 children have no primary schooling and 6.4% of children die before age five. At least 80,000 adults have HIV, a number that is growing by over 40% a year.

PNG Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare refused to comment on the report, and was irritated that it had been released before the Pacific Islands Forum meeting now being held in Cairns.

See Paul Oates’ comment below

Twixt and ‘tween - where from here for PNG?

Paul Oates

"The Pacific region is seriously off track to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015. The people of the Pacific expect us all, donors and Pacific island governments alike, to do much better" - Bob McMullan MP, Parliamentary Secretary for International Development Assistance

Before one can work out a solution, the problem must be defined. So what’s the problem here? If, as Bob McMullan believes, the region is ‘off track’, where’s the track? It seems that the map’s been lost.

When we arrived in PNG in the sixties, we were told it was a nation of villages. At the time, that was true. So what changed?

Rudyard Kipling had a unique gift for describing India. But his gift lay beyond description. He understood it as ordinary people saw it. In his fable Betwixt and Between, Kipling depicts a group of animals talking around a campfire.

First, Elephant, talking first because he’s the biggest. “I carry the heavy howitzers of the. Without them, the Army can’t win the battle. Being very intelligent, as soon as I hear gunfire I won't go on.”

“I carry the pack loads over dry deserts,” says Camel, “The Army can’t fight without food and supplies. Still, we’re not much help when the fighting starts,” she confesses."

Mule observes that, while people think he’s inherently stubborn, “we mules carry the guns and supplies and are often casualties of war. But we can break our ropes and escape.”

Charger speaks up. “I carry the Officer into battle at a mad dash and often wind up a casualty myself.”

"Oh, well," says Bullock, "we’re degraded and ignored. We take the guns from the rear, and carry them to the front, slowly I admit. But we don't run away when fighting starts and loyally die in our yokes and traces. No one thinks much about it but, without us, the Army couldn't win its battles. We really are betwixt and between.”

After World War II the Pacific was never the same. The tide of war swept much away. The lament of the Marshall Islanders centres on the contradiction of living on the beneficence of the US, which fought the Japanese In these islands and, after victory, never left. The islanders express a desire to return to their traditional life but can't work out how to do it.

This is a microcosm of the basic dilemma facing Pacific nations today. Can a village way of life be transposed into a modern government? There are precious few examples where it has happened.

When I arrived in PNG, I was told, as many of you were, that we were agents of change. What we did in the sixties was to govern without changing rural PNG village culture. To those who came later, it seemed an easy act to follow. All you needed, it seemed, were an education, the right clothes, a modern house and a car, and you could govern.

So we come to the nub. A nation is not a village and cannot be governed using traditional methods. Leaders need to evolve who can operate at another level.

Overseas aid does not necessarily help this. It can become addictive. It can detract from the perpetual political (and personal) problem of never having enough resources to do what you want.

What is required is a new approach. Bob McMullan is correct when he says the 'Pacific is off track'. But where’s the track? PNG does not lack educated and able people who can govern. It seems the problem is that these potential leaders are not learning to lead. They are ‘betwixt and between’.

Pacific labour scheme birthday candles melt

A year ago this month, the Federal Government announced it would allow 2,500 workers from Tonga, Vanuatu, Kiribati and PNG to come to Australia to do seasonal agricultural work such as fruit picking.

The scheme is something of a damp squib. It hasn’t gone off with a bang so much as a pffft.

Only 56 workers have arrived. None is from PNG. Fifty Tongans are working in Robinvale Victoria , while six from Vanuatu are in Griffith NSW. PNG has yet to sign a memorandum of understanding with Australia.

CEO of the Horticulture Australia Council, Kris Newton, has told AAP: “800 people per year for three years is what it amounts to. To meet the long-term needs of horticulture it's not going to be enough.”

She said the government is micro-managing the scheme so it does not repeat mistakes in New Zealand, which Australia emulated.

The operative word is ‘micromanaging’. When government’s micromanage the world goes nowhere fast.

Back in August last year, however, it was brave new world. Agriculture Minster Tony Burke colourfully stated the scheme was needed as "fruit was rotting on trees". Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs Duncan Kerr prematurely described it as a "win-win" for Australia and the Pacific.

“It’s not rocket science to solve the problems,” says Cherry Growers Association executive officer Trevor Ranford. "Growers are always looking for workers, it's a matter of getting programs established.

“It's locked into the typical bureaucratic, Centrelink-type approach and philosophy and not necessarily giving out levels of flexibility that needs to make it work."

Source: ‘Pac Islands fruit pickers scheme a hot potato for forum’ by Ilya Gridneff, AAP, 2 August 2009

Lepani: Howard government ‘arrogant, abrasive’

Don Hook

In a Canberra Times interview on the eve of the Pacific Forum that started in Cairns this morning, PNG’s High Commissioner Charles Lepani has offered a blunt assessment of PNG-Australia relations in the Howard years.

The resentment of Pacific Forum nations, especially PNG, toward the Howard government was widely known at the time.

Mr Howard’s decision not to attend a Forum meeting offended our Pacific neighbours. And they were further upset at his scepticism about climate change and rising ocean levels.

And there was at least a perception of arrogance in the way the Howard Government did business.

Mr Lepani said a consultative process that was in place at the time was ignored by Australia.

“PNG was inadvertently brought in and we bore the brunt of this patronising and arrogant and abrasive attitude that went beyond the bounds of good friendly relations between the two countries.

“It was totally disregarding of our sovereignty….it certainly did a lot of damage,” Mr Lepani said.

Pacific Forum: don’t mention the governance

Paul Oates & Keith Jackson

A four-day Pacific Leaders’ Forum begins in Cairns today, with a miscreant Fiji missing from the 14 nations following the trashing of Parliamentary rule in that country.

The agenda for the meeting highlights climate change, closer economic relations and Fiji's suspension from the group.

But there’s a big sleeper issue the Forum probably won’t get around to discussing: its own declared vision to “seek a Pacific region that is respected for the quality of its governance, the sustainable management of its resources, the full observance of democratic values and for its defence and promotion of human rights.”

If the Forum was to look at how best it could respond to each of the key issues nominated, it might have chosen to start with a fundamental matter that is plaguing an increasing number of Pacific nations right now: the Object of Government.

Lord Beveridge, the great turn of the 20th century British politician and political thinker, wrote: “The object of government in peace and in war is not the glory of rulers... but the happiness of the common man.”

Using Beveridge’s statement as a benchmark, how do Forum members measure up? After all, one of the best known political clarion calls ever sought that governments be "of the people, by the people and for the people.”

Let’s look at PNG, since it is the focus of this website’s concern. Has the current government succeeded in providing happiness for the common man or has it provided glory for some rulers?

Recent events seem to indicate there may be a certain leaning in one direction. In fact, one could say that the list gets steeper as each day passes. Forestry, climate credit trading, the Moti Affair, Taiwan millions, overseas property, rural decay, communal riots, not to mention the dismissal of Parliamentary rule.

If Fiji has been excluded from the Forum because it suspended Parliamentary democracy, shouldn’t recent events in PNG’s Parliament be considered in the same light?

Clearly the Forum should be dealing with the issue of PNG’s Parliament being virtually dismissed by the Somare government. Otherwise the law of double standard, or ‘what Australia wants Australia gets’, would seem to be in application.

Australia’s pursued a hard line on Fiji, to the particular discomfort of the Melanesian nations. Australia's line on PNG has been ... well, it has expressed no line. Not the merest breath of comment.

If the PNG Parliament been allowed a proper no-confidence vote last week and not adjourned in an unconstitutional manner, it is possible that Mr Rudd would have been talking with Sir Mekere Morauta instead Sir Michael Somare in Cairns today.

But Fiji is relatively small and relatively insignificant to Australia's national interest. PNG is the two ton elephant on our doorstep.

Realpolitik is the theory of politics that emphasises power ahead of morals or principles. It's leading practitioner was Otto von Bismarck.

PNG workers to pick fruit in Queensland

Don Hook

The scheme to bring seasonal fruit pickers from the Pacific Islands to Australia is being expanded and will include workers from PNG.

The Australian and PNG governments are expected to sign a memorandum of understanding this month, and the first PNG workers could be picking fruit on Queensland farms as early as September.

“Queensland is desperate to have a lot of workers from PNG; they have told us that,” PNG High Commissioner Charles Lepani told the Canberra Times.

It’s understood PNG officials will select about 2,000 potential workers but only small groups will be drawn from the pool depending on demand in Australia.

The three-year pilot program to accommodate up to 2,500 seasonal workers from the region was announced by Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd at last year’s Pacific Islands Forum.

It’s likely Mr Rudd will announce further details of the program, including its extension to all Australian states, when he hosts this year’s Forum in Cairns this week.

The program has got off to a slow start. The world wide recession cost many Australians their jobs and forced them to seek work in fruit growing areas. As a result, growers were able to justify bringing in only 56 guest workers from Tonga and Vanuatu.

The situation has now changed and, according to the National Farmers Federation, growers will welcome Pacific islanders with open arms.

MP said to have spent $5M on Samoan properties

Samoa Observer

A former captain in the PNG Defence Force who is a first term MP, having been elected just two years ago, has been reported to have spent over $5 million purchasing three properties in Samoa.

According to reports in the Samoa Observer, PNG Forests Minister, Belden Namah, has negotiated the purchase of three properties in Apia.

Mr Namah’s  Apia lawyer confirmed to the newspaper that what it termed “a venerable company”, Chan Chui Co Ltd, was bought for more than $2 million by Mr Namah.

“The other one is Mrs Freda Andrews’ two-storey house at Papaloa which was bought for $1.49 million,” reported the Samoa Observer. “The third property that he wanted to buy is Mr Ray Bancroft’s home. He agreed to buy it for $1.8 million and made a deposit of $200,000.”

The newspaper said the sellers of the properties were convinced Mr Namah was the purchaser, although he has since denied this saying he was acting for unnamed overseas associates.

Mr Namah told the House of Assembly he has nothing to hide and has instructed his lawyers to commence defamation proceedings against the Samoa Observer and PNG’s The National.

“It is not unreasonable for the public to demand from the minister an explanation how he has paid for this property,” said Transparency International PNG chairman, Peter Aitsi.

“Transparency International calls on the minister, given his role in government, to declare his business interests to the Ombudsman Commission and allow the Ombudsman full access to review and vet the transactions.”

The Samoa International Finance Authority said it was not aware of a PNG cabinet minister buying properties in Apia.

Dear Minister: Ailsa's letter from a bitter heart


Ailsa Nisbet is 87 and lives in Murrumbeena, a quiet and leafy suburb 13 km south-east of the Melbourne GPO. Nick Cave grew up there. So did Bill Shorten.

Last month, after making the long journey to attend the Montevideo Maru commemoration at Subic Bay, Ailsa wrote an impassioned letter to Veterans’ Affairs Minister, Alan Griffin. Here’s what she had to say:

I have just recently returned from a Montevideo Maru dedication in Subic Bay in the Philippines. It was a very emotional and long waited for recognition of the worst disaster in Australian history that so few people know about.

I lost a precious brother on that boat and know just what, after 67 years, this means to us. I believe you said you weren’t aware of any ‘document or cover up’. I can assure you it was a complete cover up from the Australian Government as well as the Japanese and we have waiting too long from some recognition of this disaster.

The ‘boys’ who escaped, because of no ammunition, guns etc, were treated as deserters when they returned and have been fighting for a Defence Medal all these years with many promises of being ‘looked into’ by so many politicians and ‘high up’ personnel and so far no result, they apparently didn’t serve long enough!

These beautiful young boys from the 2/22nd Battalion were sent to Rabaul – all volunteers to save our precious country, young gallant men who wanted to be in the Middle East to finish off the war, as they said.  It was not a picnic for them.  There was doubt that they would receive any deferred pay – 5/- a day pay was all they had – they were treated so badly.

I am sure their effort in Rabaul prevented Australia being taken over, as men with a minor resistance, they prevented a walk into Australia by the Japs and we would have lost this precious freedom we have here. The men who are left (14) are nearing the end of their lives – wonderful men who work tirelessly for remaining relatives and have fought for the Defence Medal, are too ill and frail to fight any longer, so I am begging you to do something about it.

Don’t put in on a shelf and say you will look into it - do it before it’s too late. We all have our freedom and our wonderful country because of what these gallant young men sacrificed for us.  I sometimes wonder why they bothered – they only seem to be remembered on special occasions like Anzac Day and then forgotten.

I am 82 years of age and would like to see this recognition for them before I die too. This letter is written from a bitter heart.

Thank you for reading it.

Photo: The annual get together marking the anniversary of the formation of the 2/22nd Battalion at Trawool in NE Victoria was held recently. Marg Curtis reports that there was a great turn up of around 100 family members and the weather was terrific.

Dumbstruck media? Or a conspiracy of silence?

PAUL OATES looks at the Australian media’s failure to cover the current political crisis in PNG and contrasts it with a high-minded report on improving Australian understanding of the region

With a Parliamentary and Constitutional crisis raging in PNG over the last few days, can someone tell me why the Australian media hasn't picked up on it and at the very least, brought it to the attention of the Australian public?

Has a D Notice been served on the Australian media about the situation in PNG or is it business as usual?

Is the Australian government just sitting on its hands while PNG slides further into the abyss? Is there a conspiracy of silence or is the silence just deafening?

What use was it to have a high level Committee making the recommendations below when they are clearly not being followed?



Chapter 8 - Australian's knowledge of the region

The Committee sought to explore the extent to which the usual means of awareness raising primarily the media and education are failing to secure the sustained interest of most Australians in Pacific issues, or to convey an adequate account of the richness and diversity of Pacific island cultures, of their political and economic circumstances, and of their inhabitants views of Australia as a regional power.

The Committee found that the ignorance of otherwise globally aware Australians concerning Pacific affairs appears to stand in stark contrast to the relatively well informed views of Australia that are encountered amongst the educated sections of the Pacific population.

The Committee found there to be a complete absence of any pervasive, coherent practice of engagement which brings Australia and the Pacific countries together in a way that might enable each country and its citizens to fully represent themselves to each other…

The Committee also discerns a vicious circle in the way the media deals with the Pacific. With most journalists spectacularly ill informed about the region, any reports that they might make on a fleeting visit usually at a time of crisis are bound to be superficial and reinforce the very prejudices with which they arrive…

Recommendation 33

The Committee recommends that the government establish the Australia Pacific Council to advance the interests of Australia and the countries of the Pacific region by initiating and supporting activities designed to enhance awareness, understanding and interaction between the peoples and institutions of the region.

The functions of the Australia-Pacific Council (AustPaC) shall be:

-         to make recommendations to the Australian Government, through the Minister for Foreign Affairs, for the broadening and deepening of the relationship between Australia and the Pacific;

-         raising awareness of the Pacific in Australia and of Australia in the Pacific, and

-         promoting visits and exchanges between the two countries [sic] of individuals and groups for the purpose of broadening relations in a number of areas, including the arts, commerce, education, the news media, science and technology, and sport;

-         encouraging the development of Australia Pacific institutional links between universities, museums, libraries, technical colleges, research institutes, professional bodies and appropriate non government organizations; and

-         supporting Australian studies in the Pacific, and Pacific studies in Australia.

Sr Francois tells it straight & clear: Just do it!

Loch Blatchford

With all the doom and gloom coming out of PNG one should not lose sight of the fact that there are many people doing what they can to improve the lot of Papua New Guineans. Sister Francois is one of them.

Sr Francois Sr Francois has lived and worked in PNG for 54 years in and around the township of Aitape. She has dedicated her life to the health, education and spiritual needs of the local community.

Sr Francois recently returned to Aitape after a short stay in Australia for back surgery. During that time she was able to attend the inaugural Birds of Paradise fundraising ball at Sorrento. The event raised $20,000 for the Sister Francios Foundation.

Felix Aimingel was the first recipient of foundation funds. Felix lost both of his arms in an accident several years ago. Felix was brought to Melbourne in May to have a prosthetic arm fitted by the Prosthetic Department at Caulfield Hospital. Felix will shortly be returning to PNG with his new arm.

Mitshie is seven years old and has a congenital heart abnormality known as Fallots teratology. The foundation provided the funds to transport Mitshie and her family from Wewak to Port Moresby. She was recently operated on by a visiting Australian medical team and is currently recovering in hospital. She will require a number of trips to Moresby over the next few years which will be paid for by the Foundation.

Felix_Aimingel & David_Wilson_Brown There are many people like Sr Francois. Expatriates return to help rebuild schools and aid stations. Medical and educational supplies are collected and sent to the country. Doctors and others provide free services. Many of you may consider yourselves past the age of contribution. This is not so. Each of us has specific interests and areas of expertise that can be of mutual benefit.

Retired schoolie Bob Jenkins is returning to PNG later this year to help rebuild his old school. Barbara Short has just published Tuum Est, a history of Keravat National High School. Eric Johns has written books for PNG schools on the history of PNG. Keith Jackson has provided and maintains PNG Attitude. Dave Keating is involved with PNG athletics. The PNGAA and its organising committee undertake valuable work and lobbying to improve the lot of PNG. And these are just a few contributions.

If you get the opportunity to contribute in an area that interests you, why not say ‘Why not’. We might not be able to change the world but we may be able to improve the bit around us.

If you are interested in assisting the work of Sr Francois you can send a donation to ‘Sister Francois Foundation, 505 Grasslands Road, Boneo Vic 3939’. Cheques should be made payable to: The Franciscan Missionary Union – Aitape PNG Development Fund.

Photos: Sr Francois does the rounds. Felix Aimingel has his arm fitted by Dr David Wilson Brown