It’s time our government planned for the future
Rural radio threatened by transmitter closures

Is this a Papuan Pandora's box being opened?


Prime minister Kevin Rudd has reportedly directed his Foreign Affairs Department to look at the legal status of a group of Papuans seeking Australian citizenship.

INNUMERABLE DEBATES have resulted from the decision to combine Papua (an Australian External Territory) with New Guinea, (a United Nations Trust Territory administered by Australia) and to create the new nation of Papua New Guinea.

Rumbles about whether Papuan people were actually able to qualify for Australian citizenship have continued to this day.

Hitherto, there was an accepted line being touted by successive Australian governments that Papuans were not eligible for Australian citizenship, even though PNG people of ethnic or mixed Chinese background were able to apply for Australian citizenship at PNG Independence.

It appeared to some that there was perceived discrimination being applied, depending on one's ethnic background.

In an article in The National, it appears that the Australian Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, has requested the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Immigration and Citizenship to look into this vexed matter again.

If Papuan people in 1975 did have some entitlement to claim Australian citizenship, who would be able to determine who had some entitlement in today's PNG?

Most PNG people had no concept of international borders that were drawn up in the 1880's. 130 years ago, the internal population of the island of New Guinea was virtually unknown to those who drew up these artificial colonial borders.

So would people in the original Southern Highlands now be considered as potentially eligible for Australian citizenship as opposed to people in the Western Highlands?

Where does it leave PNG people who were born in New Guinea but now reside in Papua or who have married and had children in Papua.

The border between Australia and PNG in the Torres Strait has been porous enough when it comes to traditional activities and cultural exchanges.

More recently however, government services that do not now exist on the PNG side are being accessed by PNG nationals on the Australian side of the border. What happens if this 'relative' trickle becomes a flood?

Will lakatois of Papuan 'refugees' be treated in the same way as those who have been transiting through Indonesia to get to Australia?

If indeed, the Australian PM has requested this matter be looked at again, has he opened the proverbial Pandora's Box?


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Lizzy Kondaul

Papua Besena - Highlanders are not 'primitives'. highlanders are very industrious and hard working people.

They were the very people who developed Port Moresby to be what it is today. They were the ones who developed the hillsides of Port Moresby, planted trees, made gardens etc and brought rain to Port Moresby.

The Australian administrators had to bring in my uncles from Waikane tribe in Kerowagi in the Chimbu Province as labourers to build Port Moresby. The casuarina trees along Ela Beach (a native firewood tree in the Highlands) were planted by my uncles. They brought these trees with them when called up for labour service.

Where do you think the name 'Waigani' comes from. As is the norm in our culture to identify ourselves with our tribal name, this my uncles did to the Australian administrators. So the Australians named Waigani after our tribal name but spelt wrongly as it is today.

If it wasn't for the Australians and their New Guinea labourers, God knows where the Papuans would be now. The land was too barren and dry, the Papuans would not work their land so the ighlanders stayed back after their service to the Australian administrators and made Port Moresby home.

Now Papua Besena is able to sell his fish and produce at the city's markets for his survival. All because outsiders came and developed his land to be what it is today. As you can imagine, outsiders had to be aggresive on another man's land to maintain their survival instinct.

So Papua Besena can misconstrue that to being primitive highlanders to mislead Australia into giving him Australian citizen status. Get real, Papua Besena, Australians are not stupid, neither are we highlanders.

The Papuans of the 60s and 70s were good people and we still value that. Even Australia, if it has to honour any Papuan, it would be those around at that time. Modern 80s, 90s Papuans you don't deserve the recognition.

Reginald Renagi

Papua will rise up again to regain its former glory before and after the Colonial administration.

From the beginning, many Papuans were well educated and they helped the Australian administration and later Michael Somare when he was made Prime Minister.

Papuans (and a few from the New Guinea Islands) were the first government workers who fearlessly went into the highlands as teachers, medical orderlies, clerks, artisans and many others to help educate the people.

They were the early pioneers who built many government buildings, institutions and facilities that can still be seen today.

Papuan MPs supported and gave their total loyalty to Michael Somare to be where he is today; but alas, today many good qualified and competent Papuan professionals no longer remain.

A new strange type of public servant has infiltrated the system to make it so corrupt today. The really good Papuans in parliament and government who made Somare are now no longer around.

It is not surprising to see, hear and feel for the Papuans who lament about what has become of their land. But it won't be long before they will get their chance again in future.

Papuans are a very civilised, educated and friendly race and the Australians first embraced them to train them to go out to many parts of the country to do the government's work in pacifying a still primitive and savage frontier land.

It is a real tragedy today that many non-Papuans do not understand this and over the years have taken it for granted.

They have even abused the Papuans' quiet and conservative ways. As a result, Papuans feel they need a separate autonomous region as when they were under Australian administration for the many years before PNG got its Independence in 1975.

The Papuans' peaceful way of life and of having and showing respect for others is threatened by a constant massive invasion of thousands of outsiders migrating to Port Moresby and on to their land.

Seeing Port Moresby today in the way it has turned out to be a very dangerous place is one reason why Papuans now want to get back to the good old days.

They desire to again see Port Moresby become a peaceful place as in the past, where families had the total freedom to walk around at any time of the day and night without being harassed or killed.

Sera Gerald

I totally agree that Papua has not been developed as much as New Guinea. Most of the funds have been used for other activities and poor Papuans are left to struggle and getting nowhere.

Michael Somare is more worried about making his own living and the government is more a family affair than a country affair. He seems to develop New Guinea and not Papua. Why is Australia turning blind eye and deaf ear on the Papuan's cry?

Places or provinces like Popondetta, Kerema, Daru and the Southern Highlands are not developed. Alotau is slowly getting there but for the others is a disgrace.

Somare is sick and old so he should be gone, otherwise Papuans should be considered for and given Australian citizenship.

Papua Besena

Who cares about a pandoras box being opened now. This is Somare's doing and he will have to wear this problem to the day he leaves this world because he has not even addressed this situation in the last 43 years of being in PNG politics.

PNG is still not a very united country. The rest of the country is civilized except the highlands region. It is still populated by a very primitive minded people who want to kill themselves off. Who cares about them. Today, PNG has moved on except for the highlanders who are still living a stone-age way. Their anti social attitude and behaviour is very demeaning and are not acceptable to other Papua New Guineans.

Papua must now break away from a very primitive group of people who do not care for other Papua New Guineans. Papuans now want autonomy and if the worse comes to worse, they will fight for Independence. Papua was a separate country forced by Australia and silly Somare to join up in 1975 without an act of free choice whether Papua wanted to be with New Guinea or not.

Well the Papuans today and their new generation will fight for a separate state as the highlanders have destroyed nearly all coastal provinces by their very primitive behaviour and attitude to other peace loving citizens. Many of them are involved in corrupt practices with the Asians now destroying PNG in government and businesses everywhere.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)