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74 posts from June 2010

First hand: today’s Ramu protest march


GEORGE IRENG, the brave young man behind the Ramu mine tailings disposal campaign, today led a peaceful protest march in Madang against the government’s draconian amendments to the Environment Act.

Despite attempts by PNG’s Attorney-General and Madang Governor Arnold Amet to have the police stop the protest, people defied the orders and police made no arrests.

This is the first successful peaceful protest in direct resistance to the Environment Act amendments.

Oro is set to proceed with its own March on 19 July and other centres will follow.

Here are some updates sent from the streets of Madang during today’s protest:

9.30am - March is on. Five hundred Divine Word University students turn up bright and early – many, many other people too. I am just so proud of those kids from Divine Word. It is so great they have an interest in having a say about their future. People have just been so, oh well, what can I do to change things - and these kids are standing together. Heroes!

10.30am - So the protest started at the oval and the Governor turned up and said that's enough now, all go home. So the good protesting people of Madang turned around and started the march towards the provincial government building. Police have kindly diverted traffic.

11.00am - As the protesters got up to the courthouse, police blocked the road on the Governor's orders and did not allow the protesters to march the extra 500 metres to the provincial government building where the march is to end. Peacefully. Why? Is someone trying to provoke the protestors into pushing through the barriers and get arrested in the process? Don't bite, people of Madang. See through this tactic!

11.15am – News. Police decided to remove barriers, so people have marched that extra 500 metres to the provincial government building, and speeches are now taking place. Marchers and Madang police, I salute your composure and maturity in peacefully resolving the situation with the barriers.

What we need is the people. We are the ultimate power on which this nation has its foundation. Together, if we stand, we will bring the long awaited Change.

For now, we congratulate everyone on their efforts so far and we wish you all a peaceful evening.

The ACT NOW! team

Bruce Flynn OBE, dies in Sydney at 79

Flynn_Bruce BRUCE FLYNN, who played a huge role in PNG business, sports and philanthropy for 50 years has died in Sydney at the age of 79 after suffering a heart attack.

He arrived in Port Moresby in 1954 to work as a brewer at the South Pacific Brewery complex that was still being built at Badili.

He stayed for 36 years at South pacific, becoming general manager in 1973. He retired in 1987 but continued as a director until 1995.

Mr Flynn served as honorary consul for Finland from 1977-88 and was a long-time supporter of Mother Teresa’s nuns at Badili.

After his arrival in PNG, Mr Flynn was captain/coach of the Magani Badili rugby league club, and the team won several premierships. He also captained the Papua side in their annual clashes against New Guinea.

He was an extraordinarily active worker in the community: president of the Employers Federation, president of the Manufacturers Council, president of the PNG Sports Federation, president of Port Moresby Rotary, president of the Papua Club, president of the PNG Rugby League Football Association, and a director of many commercial and charitable enterprises.

His wife, Rita, was also a remarkable contributor to life in Port Moresby – being particularly prominent in the establishment of netball in PNG.

Mr Flynn was awarded an OBE for his services to industry, sports and the community in PNG. He and his wife retired to Queenscliff in Sydney in 2004.

His funeral service will be held at the Camellia Room at Macquarie Park cemetery and crematorium on Friday.

Aid: forget analysis; education is the way


IT HAS TAKEN a long time for Australia to realise that aid can be as damaging as no aid.  Successive governments in Australia have thrown money at Australian aborigines in the form of “welfare”. 

This is a classic approach by westerners who say “we have wheelbarrowed money to them, why aren’t they able to advance themselves ?”.

(We can see a parallel in the BP oil spill.  Billions will have to be thrown at the solution, when perhaps that money could have been put into a far stronger design, with much better supervision of the piping contractor, and pre-designing a number of reactive remedies for a potential oil spill.)

The end result of welfare for Australian aborigines was a slow but sure degradation of their character, nature and lifestyle.  We have all seen the devastating pictures of drunk aborigines in public places, the domestic violence and the degradation of their personal and community lives.  The aborigines themselves realised that “welfare” was destroying them, and have railed against it.

A parallel exists in PNG, but there is an “aid industry” here.  What aid manager wants to work themselves out of a job when he or she can produce fuzzy results, the solution for which is another aid project to fix the previous fuzzy results.

AusAID must totally ban the words “strategic analysis” from its vocabulary.  PNG suffers from “paralysis by analysis”.

I have seen a number of consultants hand over their three volume “strategic analysis” at the airport departure lounge, written in an arcane language, using Australian values, and purporting to be a revolution in “strategic thinking”  and “delivering strategically conceptualised, angularly interposed, but vertically enveloped outcomes”.

I have also observed the recipient of the “strategic analysis” late at night, poring over an English dictionary attempting to decipher the Greek writing of the report.

Eventually, the report is carefully ignored ('Janet, file that under M for Miscellaneous'), and the recipient hopes no one asks for it.  Besides, the cost of implementing the recommendations is unimaginable. 

The end recipient has more pressing issues, like paying the last six months power bills (final disconnection notice on his or her desk), and having sufficient petty cash to buy a new ink cartridge for the fax.

If there are radical recommendations involving the wholesale rearrangement of delicately placed wantoks, cousin brothers and sisters, and other recipients of patronage, the report may even be shredded or taken home as paper to start the morning fire (I have seen this happen).

It seems that failure continues to be supported.  Are the aid experts not seeing that if failure continues, the issue may have “failure” written into its genes.  If there is repeated failure, then try something else, particularly something that had repeated success in the past.

There have been some success stories with Australian aid, noticeably in infrastructure, particularly in the hard items such as bridges and wharves, which have direct and tangible benefit on the surrounding community and ultimately PNG.  Australia should continue to target this type of aid.

Giving aid to improve governance has been a failure simply because there is almost no commitment to it politically and corporate governance is not really understood all that well.    Let Papua New Guineans work out corruption in their own way, and in their own time.

There are honest and dedicated politicians and public servants, but they are overwhelmed by the dishonest, have no solid power base, and are lone voices in the night.

We would do better to continue to provide hard training institutions like the Australia Pacific Technical College, which gives young people a chance at high quality training, and increase the numbers of students to train in Australian higher education institutions.

Educated people tend to be less prone to corruption than uneducated people, particularly when they receive their education in an ethical setting.  Education is the way forward for Papua New Guinea, not more “strategic analyses”.


As an extra observation, there are a number of contributors who have an intense interest in PNG, and thank heavens for that because the average Australian punter has no interest in PNG (which I suspect permeates into the Parliament of Australia).

Donald Horne was so right when he wrote that Australians do have priorities in life which roughly follow:

•    His or her leisure (Australians work hard at their leisure.  (“Must get the tinnie ready for next Saturday”).

•    His or her personal possessions (the “pride and joy” is washed and polished at least 4 times a week).

•    Sport (more football paraphernalia in the home than art).

•    Social activities (generally limited to the local club, where there are no threats to his or her thin views).

•    Family (almost due for Mums monthly visit).

•    The bastard of a boss he works for.

•    Civic affairs (Paul Keating introduced civics into schools, when it was discovered that most senior secondary students did not know we had a Constitution, and were not sure of the function of the building with the flag pole on top).

•    Some other issues as long as they do not disturb or challenge the items above, religion being one.

I well remember trying to get a price for some fire-rated glass for a construction job in PNG .  I finally got on to a young bloke and I asked for the price and some “freight to Papua New Guinea”, to which he replied “where is Papua New Guinea ”.

After I explained that it was the land mass to the north of Australia,  our borders are some 50km apart, that a substantial war was fought by Australians and Papua New Guineans there, and that there was considerable risk to Papua New Guinea and Australia, he said, “Ah, now I know!  There are a whole lot of blackfellas there killing each other”.

Aid: an appetite for change & fresh ideas

AUSTRALIA’S APPROACH to aid in the Pacific has again come under the spotlight.

As the largest single spender in Melanesia and Polynesia, its aid program is often the most visible. Although decreasing, until recently almost half the Australian aid budget was spent on ‘technical assistance’, sparking a wave of criticism.

Media scrutiny has revealed excessive pay packets for Australian advisors. Little wonder questions of ‘boomerang aid’ abound, and that Australian aid is viewed more cynically than other donors.

This is unfortunate because Australian aid has been effective in many instances and generous when the need for urgent humanitarian assistance is required.

A recent Lowy Institute poll showed that ‘improving Australia’s relationships with its immediate neighbours in the Pacific’ is seen as the highest polling foreign policy goal after protecting Australia’s economy, security and borders. It even ranks above ‘helping countries reduce poverty’ and ‘climate change’.

What do we mean by aid? Most people equate aid with charity. In reality it is far more complex than that. Many aid programs are more about political and economic self interest.

Some argue that the term aid should be used only in relation to direct, immediate humanitarian relief in the aftermath of a national disaster. In this way the humanitarian aspect can be better distinguished from support in the form of policy, capacity building or long term training.

Let’s address the main messages from the review of the Australian aid program in PNG.

The status quo is not an option

There is increasing dissatisfaction with aid programs in both donor and recipient countries, and a growing body of evidence suggests the need for substantial change.

As the authors of the PNG report found, there is ‘an appetite for change and a hunger for fresh ideas and approaches’. Managers of aid programs have, for too long, been too risk averse, with little room for failure allowed in an industry that should seek and celebrate innovation.

Bring the aid program into line with new realities

The world has changed dramatically since many Pacific island countries gained independence 30-40 years ago. There is little to suggest that the aid relationship has adapted to the shifting landscape. As the authors of the PNG report note:

When Australian aid to PNG began 35 years ago, it exceeded PNG’s own revenue, and equalled PNGAustralia trade. Today it is onetenth of government revenue, and onetenth of bilateral trade. The aid program is yet to adjust to and reflect these new realities.

Build on success

As one person advised the authors of the PNG review: ‘Get back to focusing on success. Where things are functioning, provide resources’.

With an emphasis on the ‘intangibles’ of good governance, financial advice and technical training, critics argue aid programs have done little to change the political culture of the Pacific, which allows large budgets to be swallowed by urban elites in capital cities.

Decades on, there is little to see of substantial aid projects in rural and remote communities, abandoned by their own central government and donor nations.

This provides ammunition to the critics who argue that aid is not only ineffective, but even counter-productive and should be totally scrapped. A recent paper by the Institute of Development Studies, drawing on a five year research program, concludes:

There is mounting evidence that many reforms to improve governance by strengthening formal, rules-based institutions have had limited impact.

Building on success does not simply mean rolling out a public relations offensive, or adopting a cookie cutter approach to project delivery. It’s about understanding the social and political landscape and recognising what works in that local context.

Common purpose is key

In summing up, the authors of the PNG review note that ‘while increased reporting and better dialogue will help, ultimately there has to be a meeting of minds, based on the resolution of longstanding disagreements, the recognition of shared interests across a wide range of issues, and the forging of common expectations for the aid program’.

We need to avoid easy notions that suggest either all aid is good or all aid is bad. It is clearly a multifaceted bundle of tools that is more often than not positive, especially if it is targeted at grassroots lives as much as a nation’s elite.

Well-directed aid, development support and foreign policy has the ability to transform lives – and relations between nations - for the better.

Source: ‘Aid, Trade, Charade?’, Discussion Paper 14, Pacific Institute of Public Policy, June 2010

PNG pilot among top women trainee aviators


AN AIR NIUGINI trainee has been rewarded for academic excellence while undergoing pilot training in Australia

Rhoda Ilave (21) switched from studying medicine to join PNG’s national airline as a cadet pilot.

During her training she achieved excellent results in commercial and air transport pilot licence exams, scoring 100 percent in two subjects and more than 80 percent in the other five.

Rhoda was one of three female trainees to receive the prestigious Sir Donald Anderson award this year, sponsored by the Australian Civil Aviation Authority in association with the Australian Women Pilots’ Association.

Her award, honoring a former head of Australian civil aviation, included a cheque for $2,000.

Rhoda’s father from Ihu in the Gulf of Papua and her Malaysian-born mother attended a ceremony at the North Queensland Aero Club in Cairns at which Rhoda received her award from CASA director, John McCormick [right].

She has now begun her flying career in earnest as a pilot on line duties with Air Niugini. She joins her brother Steven who was a trainee in an earlier group.

Air Niugini invests some K10 million a year in training young pilots, engineers and other professionals.

Land reform vision driven by bias & ideology


IT SHOULD NOT be surprising that many Australians understand so little about Melanesian customary land.

They do not understand how land title not written down in a government register can be “secure”.

They do not understand how people can own land without being able to sell it.

And they may not appreciate that families using their own customary lands, combined with subsistence-cash crop operations, can often generate more value than those with paid jobs.

This is before we add in the misinformation produced by the mining companies and banks, and their “think tanks”, pursuing their own economic agendas.

Investment groups want to acquire precious land, and they want to get it cheap. The Sydney-based Centre for Independent Studies, for example, which receives funding from banks and mining companies, consistently undermines indigenous rights in the region.

In her 2004 paper for CIS, The Pacific is Viable, Helen Hughes sets out what she calls “a road map for rapid growth and development in the Pacific” which claims that “the communal ownership of land is the primary reason for deprivation in rural Pacific communities.”

Such views perpetuate the misinformation and demand a response which includes Melanesian voices.

AusAID, the Australian government aid agency, has financed a large number of land projects in past decades. Its current Pacific Land Program commits $54 million over four years, but without a clear statement of policy.

The program is said to be informed by AusAID’s 2008 report, Making Land Work, which outlines principles for land tenure reform in the Pacific. This includes “making land tenure a priority”, “working with and not against customary tenure” and “balancing the interests of landowners and land users”.

However, the program persists with the idea that Melanesian land tenure must be “reformed”, including mobilising customary land, mainly through leaseholds.

This is a vision driven by ideology, Western bias and vested interest. Even the first step of registration poses a threat, because of widespread fraud and maladministration.

Corruption in land programs is not unrelated to large, cashed-up aid programs. In PNG, logging companies set up fake Incorporated Land Groups to confuse the process.

There being no real market for customary land, long term leases are effectively the same as dispossession.

Rural rents are extremely low – as little as one hundredth of the productive value of land.

The pressure for leasing customary land means little attention is paid to the often highly productive use of this land for subsistence and cash crops, as well as the customary ways in which land has been used for social purposes.

Customary land has been shared informally for schools, markets and infrastructure. There is generally no set term for these informal leases, and landowners expect to share any commercial benefits. There is no dispossession and little resentment.

There is a future in the extension of these arrangements, building on the Melanesian wisdom that has sustained communities for many centuries.

But first there is a need to build an understanding of Melanesian customary land, and to elevate Melanesian voices.


* This article is an edited version of the introduction to an AID/WATCH publication, Defending Melanesian Land, edited by Tim Anderson and Gary Lee. The publication was designed to contribute to a better understanding of how a more sensible view of customary land practices could assist social and economic development processes in PNG.

Spotter: John Fowke

Confusion surrounds election of Sir Paulias


THE PNG Governor-General’s term expires tomorrow and he won a decisive vote for reappointment last Friday, but his re-election remains in doubt.

Sir Paulias Matane has told PNG Attitude that “the 'win' is likely to be taken to court due to misunderstanding of the law”, adding “let's wait and see”.

Three candidates ran against Sir Paulias for the vice regal post - former Enga MP Ronald Rimbao, former Auditor General Sir Makeno Geno, and Sir Pato Kakaraya.

Speaker Jeffery Nape said that, as Sir Paulias was being proposed, the Constitution required Parliament to determine his eligibility for re-appointment by a two-thirds majority vote of 73 members for which an exhaustive secret ballot was not required.

In this 'eligibility' ballot Sir Paulias secured an 84-13 majority.

But there was surprise when Sir Michael Somare moved a motion for Parliament to resolve that Sir Paulias be appointed to a second term.

There was reported “chaos and confusion” in Parliament and members supporting other candidates exchanged abuse, bringing the House into turmoil.

The confusion focused on whether Sir Paulias was merely allowed eligibility to stand for a second term or whether he was elected.

When Sir Paulias was declared re-elected, Morobe Governor Luther Wenge shouted that “democracy has been hijacked”, and Enga Governor Peter Ipatas cried “why are you hijacking this House”.

The matter is now expected to be challenged in court.

It’s time: new day dawns for middle-class


THE WORD of Christ was brought to PNG in the nineteenth century. Evangelists came armed with an ideal, both institutional and individual, which meant commitment to their religious task above any other.

The task? To convert a society and its fundamental belief-systems to a radically-different view of mankind’s origin, of the human race’s place in the cosmos, and of individuals’ responsibilities, one to another.

Soon after the initial impact of the early missionaries, another foreign force devoted to the imposition of new ways of social management and interaction arrived.

But these men were not driven by a long-term philosophy or objective. The first colonial governors were driven by a simple imperative, primarily political, to claim sovereignty and to occupy.

This was followed by a secondary concern to trade and to manage what might follow.

The indigenous social-management systems which the foreigners, missionaries and governors alike, encountered, were geared to the daily survival - within a situation of competition - of hundreds of mutually-antagonistic micro-societies.

To that extent, the system worked well, but the level of enmity shown to outsiders did not permit of an assumption of sovereignty without recourse to force, or at least a demonstration of force.

This was often accomplished by the demonstrative deployment of the multi-chambered firearms which the newcomers possessed.

The existence of peace within society was thus procured. And within this altered system, new ideas grew and spread.

Nevertheless, more than a century later, in 2010, kastom tumbuna, or its remnant ideals and attitudes, are still manifestly present in all sorts of ways.

In particular in terms of continuing tribalism - with its echoes of racism - so deeply embedded that people often describe themselves as being, for example, “of mixed Madang/East Sepik parentage”.

For heavens sake! Are people so ashamed of their native country that they shy away from identifying as citizens of it, and instead cite the provinces in which their parents were born?

This feeling of being a member of a restricted ethnic group rather than a citizen of an independent constitutional national commonwealth has resulted in the confused, jealous and distrustful - and thus largely incoherent and weak society - which exists in PNG today.

Is this because PNG’s modern leaders have never been able to empower the nation, driving it to achieve great social development or beneficent living standards, that may have resulted in a sense of national pride?

Is this why rugby league football, the only international arena within which PNG has demonstrated any continuing level of talent and success, is almost a holy icon to the ordinary people of this nation?

Such an indecisive, weak society will never push PNG to be an exemplary peoples’ commonwealth, where honesty and positivism govern the life and the rights of the multitude.

But PNG does have a thriving, ambitious and largely-dissatisfied middle-class, consisting of wage and salary earners, professionals of all types, and big to small entrepreneurs.

These people, many of them in their fifties, remember the sort of education and medical attention they received as kids 40 years ago, and look at what is now available to their own children and grandchildren; paid for services often wanting in performance and result.

These people are potentially the source of the emergence of a loud, unified and informed voice in the electorate. A voice sounding from a great many throats across the nation. A voice which, by virtue of its education and its articulation from each family, clan and community, is one that will be respected and listened to.

A voice whose recommendations and evoked desires and principles will be taken up across the country among the villages, among the settlements, among the illiterate and the impoverished of each and every province as well as among the educated and aware.

As I’ve said before, it’s time for the re-emergence of the local level governments as an effective community-based control over district resources, planning and the restoration of basic health and education systems in the Provinces.

But it’s also now time for a leader to step up and adopt the middle-class of PNG as his or her own constituency.

Miners now have open slather in PNG

THE PNG GOVERNMENT has upset conservationists, landowners and parliamentarians after amending environmental laws that make it harder to prosecute mining projects that damage the environment.

The changes mean landowners lose the right to sue for negligence.

“If the miners did in PNG what BP has done in the Gulf of Mexico, they could escape liability for damaging the environment,” says Tiffany Nonggorr, a lawyer representing 1,000 landowners, including those opposed to China Metallurgical Group’s US$1.4 billion Ramu nickel mine.

Coastal landowners are particularly worried about the impact on marine life from waste the Ramu mine will dump into the ocean.

Powes Parkop, PNG parliamentarian, lawyer and conservation advocate, says the government had given itself “almost absolute power” to grant environment permits and assess the standards required of permit holders.

At the same time it has removed the legal rights of landowners to challenge decisions.

Parkop says that once permits are granted, miners can carry out their work with impunity.

“How can we pass a law that takes away our rights and powers [and] at the same time vest powers on developers?” he asked in a letter to Benny Allan, PNG’s environment and conservation minister.

PNG is one of few countries in the Pacific with substantial natural resources, including gold, copper, nickel, oil and gas.

The reserves have attracted interest from China, US, UK and Australia but the development has been hampered by rugged terrain, lack of infrastructure, corruption and disputes with landowners.

Nonggorr says CMG lobbied hard for the government to amend the environmental laws. But she states the battle is not over.

Bertha Somare, a government media advisor and daughter of Sir Michael Somare, says landowners’ rights have not been removed because they can still raise their objections with the authorities.

She said the Ramu nickel mine had met the country’s statutory requirements and there was “no known” environmental impact from mine waste.

Source: ‘Landowners slam PNG for amending environment law’, Financial Times, 23 June 2010

Reports offer a rich research resource


FOR PNG, REPORTS from government patrols represent a major source of primary information on the pre-independence era.

Patrol officers and other officials wrote detailed documents reporting on all aspects of the work carried out by patrols.

These documents give first hand accounts on many events - first contacts, censuses, tax collection, healthcare, courts, agriculture, missions, anthropology and tribal warfare, to name just a few.

The library of the University of California, San Diego reports that it has acquired extensive microform sets of these reports and accompanying materials in its Melanesian Studies Resource Centre.

These documents include files of correspondence, journals and patrol reports of British New Guinea and Papuan outstations from 1890-1941 and Papua and New Guinea patrol reports from 1922-55.

The Library notes that microfiche versions of these documents may be purchased directly PNG’s National Archives (PO Box 1089, Boroko).

It’s good to know that this is one aspect of the Australian legacy in PNG that it is still valued and making a productive contribution.

Spotter: Assoc Prof Martin Hadlow

Why are we here – and what should we do…


THERE MUST be more readers than just I, who despair that the discussion on the AusAID Review has died out without much input from PNG writers.

Papua New Guineans are themselves in the best position to bring about reform as recommended by the learned trio of Eric Kwa, Stephen Howes and Soe Lin. (What is the correct collective noun for two professors and a doctor?)

Attitude’s prolific writer, Paul Oates, has worked hard at providing a three-instalment analysis of the review, but his provocative words have failed to elicit the same response as, say, for an article on the Hiri Moale. A last word from Paul is for less aid, more trade.

My thoughts, previously aired, are that Australia will continue to toss bundles of bank notes across the Torres Strait in hope of keeping the near neighbours “friendly” and as a buffer zone between other less friendly neighbours, no matter who sits in the prime ministerial office in Canberra.

Not all taxpaying Australians are in love with PNG and the seeming “black hole” into which billions of dollars has flowed over the years since independence, with little visible effect.

This apparent “waste” will eventually bring about louder calls for better governance and revisions to system of aid.

As a newcomer to Attitude, I have been listing those whom I consider to be the “good guys” in PNG, to see if this forum can achieve something in the way of marketing our concerns to them and promoting the value of the reported recommendations.

Do any of our august fraternity know if Attitude is reaching the movers-and-shakers in PNG? Does it have personal contact with any, or is this a kiaps’ klab tasol? What is our objective: to do something constructive or just talk about it?

Notwithstanding all this, I am enjoying memories of the Hiri festival and would love to chat with Reginald about theories on common words of the Pacific islands languages and more especially those magnificent sea voyages done by intrepid adventurers of yesteryear.

Ano Pala tries to crush free speech in PNG


Pala_Ano ANO PALA [left] is hardly a household name. But he’s got a fair chance of becoming a footnote in a PNG history book.

Just last month Sir Michael Somare appointed Pala to replace Dr Allan Marat CBE as PNG’s Attorney-General.

Marat was asked to resign his ministry following public comments that angered Sir Michael. He’s since been the object of death threats.

Dr Marat had said that major mining projects in PNG brought little benefit to local communities, workers or businesses, and he also questioned legislation affecting the Ombudsman.

He challenged the way in which two of the country’s biggest resource projects (Ramu nickel and LNG) were impairing the rights of the people, not to mention the environment, and condemned the Maladina Amendment, which has knackered the PNG Ombudsman Commission.

Marat is a distinguished man: the first Papua New Guinean to obtain a doctorate in law at Oxford, a former Deputy Prime Minister and an acting Governor-General.

Pala was a parliamentary clerk before being elected as MP for Rigo in 2007. As I said, hardly a household name. However, he’s now a qualified historical footnote.

Shut Up Notice Late last week he took the extraordinary step of telling the PNG media to stop talking about PNG’s controversial environment laws [left click on notice to enlarge].

A group of landowners says the laws are unconstitutional and is challenging them in the Supreme Court.

In a breathtaking attempt to suppress freedom of speech in PNG, Pala has told people to stop discussing the issue or be in contempt of court.

He’s trying to ban talkback radio, letters to the editor, interviews, ads, discussions and “above all” public demonstrations, which he’s announced will be stopped by the police.

It’s an edict that has already been ignored by PNG’s two daily newspapers and the nation’s fearless bloggers, like Nancy Sullivan.

Good thing, too. Ano Pala might be acting on instructions, but he’s crazy if he thinks people’s views can be suppressed so easily.

In fact, he’s just made the PNG government’s job a lot harder. Nobody likes a bully.

Media: Getting down & dirty with Sir Michael

Serious LAST WEEK the Australian Broadcasting Corporation ran a warts and all feature reporting on a recent news conference called by Sir Michael Somare when he returned to Port Moresby after a trip overseas.

The proceedings reveal a cantankerous old man, so lost in his own hubris he seems to have ceased caring what other people think of him.  Also shown is the prime minister's long-standing contempt for journalists.

LIAM FOX, ABC: Press conferences with the 74-year-old prime minister of Papua New Guinea are pretty rare these days; they only happen once every few months or so.

Recently Sir Michael Somare returned from an overseas trip and wanted to set the record straight on several matters he felt the media had covered poorly. He shuffled into the conference room with the help of a walking stick, sat down and unloaded onto the waiting press pack.

MICHAEL SOMARE: I go out as a prime minister, everywhere promoting this country. I go and put PNG on the map. But when I come home I get the reporting from people like yourselves - it's pathetic. One feels that, what's the point in wasting time trying to promote a country of people who don't know what they're talking about.

FOX: The Grand Chief, as he's known, was particularly unhappy with the criticism of recent amendments to the Environment Act. They effectively prevent legal challenges to environmental permits granted for resource projects like mining and logging.

Several prominent people have spoken out against them saying they rob people of their land rights, but Sir Michael said the concerns are rubbish and attacked the media for reporting them.

SOMARE: Most of you, and I can say this, you've taken out of context a lot of issues, particularly laws and construing the information; not getting the right information out to people, and I'm not very happy.

FOX: Then it got personal.

SOMARE: Most of you are young people. You want to make a career out of journalism, you're lucky you've got two newspapers to work for. You apply for jobs internationally, think they'll give you a job with this type of reporting that you've got? No. You have to be accurate; you have to be factual; you have to know your subject matter before you raise those questions.

FOX: After a 25-minute long, rambling and at times incoherent speech it was time for questions.

SOMARE: After ear-bashing, you can ask me questions, but remember, give you a question that you'll know you'll get a good answer. If you ask silly questions, you'll get a silly answer.

FOX: Veteran journalist and consulting editor of The National newspaper, Frank Kolma, says the prime minister's performance is nothing new.

FRANK KOLMA: It does show you an example of the kind of lives we journalists have led with the founding father of our nation. He does have a tendency to be very abusive of journalists.

FOX: Mr Kolma experienced that abuse first hand in 1987, and it wasn't just the verbal kind.

KOLMA: I saw a newspaper report, actually a Taiwanese newspaper, with his photograph shaking hands with a businessman from Taiwan and I got a translation. The translation was that Sir Michael had a 15 million kina deal with this Taiwanese businessman to build a building in Port Moresby to be called the Somare Foundation House.

We published this in the Times of Papua New Guinea. He came back and called a press conference and he just ran off, calling me small boy and small man, and that I had never been around when he started this country and eventually got up and walked up to me and bang, bang - he slapped me in the face. That was a shocker.

FOX: And what do you think are the reasons that he gets abusive towards journalists.

KOLMA: I tend to think that he does not like to be questioned; that he thinks that what he has done is, should not be questioned by the people of Papua New Guinea, and that is arrogance. I've said it a number of times in editorials - in my commentaries. And you know, he can't be a power unto himself; he's been in it perhaps too long.

FOX: It's not hard to see how power could go to Sir Michael's head. He was PNG's first prime minister after independence in 1975; he's known as the father of the nation and his portrait appears on the 50 kina note.

He's led the country on three separate occasions; his latest stint as prime minister began in 2002. But Frank Kolma says Sir Michael isn't the only politician who tries to bully and manipulate the media.

KOLMA: There is a dangerous trend growing amongst politicians and even journalists, I might add, that politicians understand the role of the media very, very well to the extent that they will wine and dine and give cash to journalists so that their side of the story gets in.

Now is the time when you really should have senior journalists who get in, you know, gutsy reports, but you are not getting it in PNG, and I think it is because of this kind of chequebook journalism.

FOX: The need for gutsy and independent journalism in PNG has never been greater. Its biggest ever resource project, a $16 billion dollar liquefied natural gas venture, is about to get underway and the country will be flush with cash. Some are worried about the impact that will have on a country already struggling with corruption.

Source: Correspondents Report, ABC Radio, 22 June 2010

Spotter: Bill McGrath

Sir Paulias Matane reappointed as PNG’s G-G


Closeup_Speaking SOME THREE months short of his birthday on 21 September – and 79 is a grand age anywhere – Sir Paulias Matane has been reappointed for another term as PNG Governor-General.

The parliamentary vote of 84-13 represented a great honour for a man who, despite the burdens of vice-regal office, has not shied away from addressing the tough issues facing PNG.

Sir Paulias has sometimes been criticised for not taking a more activist stance, but it’s a fine line he needs to walk in his role, and he treads it with great diplomatic finesse.

He has spoken out strongly against corruption and poor governance just as he has continued to promote the virtues of education and literacy.

In a country that has had cause to find so many flaws in its leaders, the Governor-General is a stand-out.

Sir Paulias was born in 1931 at Viviran Village in the Toma-Vunadidir area of East New Britain Province.

He was educated at Tauran Primary School to Grade 4 and at Keravat High School from Grades 5-9. He undertook teacher training at Sogeri in 1956 and, after teaching in his home area for five years, returned to Sogeri High School in 1962 to complete Form 4 under the Queensland Syllabus.

Sir Paulias’s career then accelerated. By 1964 he was a school inspector based in the Southern Highlands and, after other inspectorial appointments, he became the first Papua New Guinean District Education Officer, based in West New Britain.

In 1969 he was promoted to Superintendent of Teacher Education and, later that year, became a founding member of the Public Service Board, responsible for training and localisation in the Public Service.

Sir Paulias became the first Papua New Guinean to head a government department in 1971, as Secretary of the Department of Business Development.

From 1975-80 he was the first PNG Ambassador to the US and the United Nations. At the UN he was twice elected chairman of the Asia-Pacific group of nations.

Following this international service, Sir Paulias returned to PNG as Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

He retired as a public servant (but, he stresses, not from public service) in December 1985, when he decided to “return to my own community to plant cocoa and coconuts.”

Sir Paulias has a string of honours (GCL, GCMG, KStJ, Kt, CMG, OBE), awards and honorary doctorates. He has served in a voluntary capacity on many commercial, educational and cultural organisations, and has found the time to write 44 books.

His motto as Governor-General is ‘Serving with Love from Government House!’ [note the explanation mark] and the renewal of his tenure is a sign of stability and indicates that Sir Paulias’s already long and distinguished career working in the greater good of Papua New Guineans has a lot left in it yet.

New book weaves that old Highlands magic



Big Road_Cleland IF I HAD to live my life again, I would still opt to be a kiap.

Next time, though, I would push the years back a bit, say to about 1953 or so, and I’d be posted to Bob Cleland’s version of the Highlands.

Cleland reckons that Australia never intended to develop PNG as a colony. “Very few Australians working there in the 1940s, 1950s and well into the 1960s felt themselves to be colonialists.

“In those days the word ‘colony’ brought to mind the British, German or French model of colonial Africa, where the motives of the occupying power included controlling and exploiting the assets of the colony – be they people, products or materials – for its own purposes”.

Instead, in PNG, “a unique thing was happening ... here the traditional inhabitants and the newcomers were developing concurrently, side by side, with the same aims and aspirations. Government, private enterprise, Christian missions and village people were all pulling together in the same direction”.

This spirit of cooperation was no more evident than in the Highlands in 1953 when the young Bob Cleland arrived in Goroka as a Cadet Patrol Officer.

Most of the expatriates had arrived after the war and were young and enthusiastic and had “no experience of the more paternalistic, racially separatist, pre-war expatriate culture”. Instead there was a “common purpose and a common ethic, which bred tolerance and cooperation”.

In short, PNG and the Highlands in particular, was a great place to work and live.

Or is Cleland kidding himself. Was it really like that? There were no real villains in his Highland world. The expatriates were all loyal and upstanding and the Papua New Guineans, apart from a few minor misdemeanours easily reversed by a good talking to, were jolly and cooperative.

There was plenty of flag waving and you could leave your wife on the station for weeks on end knowing that she was safe. Everyone wore khaki, long socks and polished their shoes. It was the quintessential expatriate view of pre-independence PNG.

I was lucky enough to glimpse the twilight of this idyllic lifestyle in that benighted era in the late 1960s and to all intents and purposes it was just like Cleland describes. That there were ripples and undercurrents at play only became obvious later.

The Highlanders sitting around at the Hagen Hotel with a jug of beer in one hand and another on the ground in front of them was an ominous sign, but we didn’t notice.

Cleland has chosen not to go there in his beguiling account. Whether this is intentional or not is hard to tell, and who am I to disabuse him of his happy memories.

Interwoven into his story is the construction of the Bikrot, the big road that became the Highlands Highway. Cleland spent a great deal of time working on the road, along with people like Rupe Haviland and Ludi Schmidt. In the process he built the government station at Watabung.

Today, of course, the Bigrot is a vital artery: a black-topped gauntlet ruled by brigands, bootleggers and hijackers.

Also woven into the story are the memorable characters of the time, the brusque, no nonsense and visionary District Commissioner, Ian Downes, and able assistants like Assistant District Officer, Fred Kaad.

And, of course, there are his parents: Donald Cleland, the Administrator, and his indefatigable wife, Rachel. The image of (later Lady) Rachel clinging to the back of her son’s BSA Bantam on the way to inspect the muddy Watabung road is precious.

So is the story of the motorbike. Sick of walking up and down the steep road, Cleland asked Downes for transport.

Downes didn’t have any spare money except in his maintenance fund, but with a bit of lateral thinking and a long and detailed parts invoice from the local supplier which miraculously equalled a whole bike, the problem was solved and Treasury was none the wiser.

Cleland shared much of his mother’s optimism and he occasionally quotes from her book, Papua New Guinea: Pathways to Independence. He also shares, as his book makes clear, her and her husband’s innate 1950s style conservatism and gentlemanly manners.

A session of the Supreme Court in Kainantu is convened by Justice Gore to try a man for “a very unpleasant sexual offence”. We learn no more – it is something best not mentioned.

Bob Cleland’s book is a feel-good experience. You know, by omission, that it’s not quite right. But if you forget that and allow his spell to work, the experience is very pleasant.

He worked very hard to make it thus; he took a writing course and listened to the good advice of the people who helped him. The book is definitely one to savour and to keep on the shelf for later dips. Buy it!

‘Big Road: a journey to the heart of the New Guinea highlands, 1953-56’, by Bob Cleland [Red Hill Publishing, $30.45, 240 pp, 9780980672022]

Pius: Magical monsters, dealing death & glory


Bubu Pius MY OLD BUBU in Kundiawa (who recently died) was one of the first local people to meet the white men.

His name was Pius (pronounced Pews in the family). He was a teenager when Jim Taylor's expedition first arrived in Simbu in the late thirties.

Because he was one of the first locals to learn Tok Pisin he was employed as an interpreter.

In Pius’s memory, those early settlers were not benevolent. Jim Taylor was like a malign despot who killed many people and treated the locals very badly.

Pius's stories about the early Australian administration were disturbing. His job was to arouse the villagers in the morning to work on the Kundiawa airstrip.

The airstrip was built by forcibly recruiting local villagers to carry big rocks from Wara Simbu to make the foundations - you can see them to this day.

If people did not get up at sunrise and get to the works on time, they were beaten and sometimes killed. They were not paid, other than a bit of food twice a day, which was inadequate.

Some starved, some were beaten to death, some died of cold and overwork. A local anecdote to be sure, but history must see the past from both sides.

According to Bubu Pius, Jim Taylor and the early Australians were magical monsters, dealing death and glory with the same hand.

Photo: Bubu Pius

Petition seeks to overturn land rights rip-off


A PETITION on the Act Now! website, which is trying to get PNG’s Parliament to overturn amendments to the Environment Act, has now reached 500 signatories, and organisers are appealing for more.

They’re asking that people who oppose the changes sign the online petition here.

In late May, the Parliament passed amendments to the Environment Act that contradict PNG’s national goals and undermine the Constitution.

The amendments were passed by Parliament with no prior disclosure; no consultation with interested parties or the wider community; and were not subject to any scrutiny or debate by MPs.

The amendments remove the rights of PNG citizens and give extraordinary privileges to foreign corporations.

Specifically, they:

·         Give the Environment Secretary power to grant environmental approvals without consultation.

·         Remove the need to comply with rules or processes set out in the Act.

·         Remove rights to challenge the decision in any court or tribunal.

·         Remove common law or statutory rights to sue for any damage.

These amendments are oppressive and dangerous because they:

·         Remove landowners' legal and customary rights to be consulted and approve activities on their land.

·         Remove a citizen's democratic right to challenge executive decisions through the courts.

·         Give immunity to foreign companies from liability for environmental damage, even where it is caused unlawfully or negligently.

·         Undermine PNG's national goals and Constitutional rights.

PNG Attitude encourages all readers to consider adding their names to the petition here.

Time to stop the aid and start the trade


REGINALD RENAGI has previously commented about the need to promote trade between PNG and Australia.

Other people in PNG have also commented on the need to promote trade so PNG businesses are encouraged to expand and develop trade as a counterbalance to aid.

If the half billion in Australian aid were used to assist and encourage PNG products to be sold in Australia, it would go along way in helping to stop the aid dependency that has built up over the last 30 odd years.

PNG products could be assisted with a 'most favoured nation' clause that would subsidise product price at point of sale in Australia.

This subsidy could be on a diminishing scale, with a guaranteed sunset clause in say 5-10 years after the PNG business has been established and consumer demand proven.

In an address to the PNG Parliament, former prime minister Sir Julius Chan said to Australia: "Are you blind? You call yourselves developed? And yet you provide funds year after year to no effect!"

At the same time, East Timor's President Jose Ramos-Horta has remarked that "Australian aid to East Timor has had no impact on the lives of the (East Timorese) people."

The Australian government must make some tough decisions about our future relationship with PNG: whether it’s a partnership, as would be signified by an emphasis on trade, or patronage.

The choice is not only clear but urgently in need of a decision.

Multiple arrows fired with extreme prejudice


BY ANY criterion, this is a graphic and shocking photograph.

It shows a wounded PNG highlands man receiving surgical treatment after being pierced by multiple arrows in April this year.

The medical team is clearly focussed on analysing the extent of the wounds and planning a recovery strategy.

Albert Speer MBE advises that there are no other particulars nor any identification of where the photograph was taken.

He’s asking readers to help with details about who the photographer might be.

Albert’s also interested in getting some information about the hospital, as he started some of the early medical services for Tari in years gone by.

If you can assist, contact PNG Attitude here.

No early PNG meeting likely for Julia Gillard


Serious SIR MICHAEL Somare has invited Australia’s new prime minister Julia Gillard to visit PNG.

But with a new government settling in and a federal election in the offing, it may not be until some time next year that the two get together, if Labor is returned to office.

Ministers from both governments were due to hold their annual forum early next month in Alotau.

But this event was downgraded by the Rudd government from a forum to a meeting because, according to officials, only “a handful of Australian ministers will be available”.

But there are indications of a more serious explanation.

Australia has been reviewing its relationship with a PNG government widely seen as corrupt, incapable of delivering basic services and experiencing serious governance problems.

A meeting between Somare and Gillard, if it occurs, would be interesting. PNG has only one female parliamentarian and has a significant and globally-recognised problem of violence against women.

In a statement, Sir Michael Somare, said Labor governments have always had constructive policies towards PNG. He hoped Ms Gillard would expand on the work of Kevin Rudd.

But the truth is that this work has fallen into a hole this year.

How the sangumaman made our life better


SANGUMA IS a Tok Pisin word meaning magic, or more properly traditional psychic power, often exercised through plants, herbs and incantations.

The source language is unclear, maybe from Tolai (New Britain). It is a core feature of pre-Christian shamanic beliefs in PNG. Although the vast majority of the population are professed and devout Christians, belief in the powers of sanguma are deep-rooted and pervasive.

I do not wish to demean traditional beliefs – we all have them, some disguised in modern traditions such as Christmas and Easter or superstitions like Friday the 13th, or not saying the word ‘Macbeth’.

But I had an experience with a sanguma man (magic man) which is worthy of Fortean consideration. (I will not use the term ‘witch doctor’, which is derogatory).

I lived and worked in PNG for five years. I made many friends from all provinces and greatly enjoyed the rich local traditions and marvellous cultures of this truly great country. Go there and you will be amazed.

I found the love of my life and we became engaged. Some acquaintances became jealous of my partner – unfortunately common in PNG – and sought to do us harm.

One man in particular (a former boyfriend) did his best to take her away from me. He found out my phone number and sent increasingly threatening messages.

I was determined not to give in to this intimidation, and employed some friendly raskols to be my protectors and warn me of any approaches. (Port Moresby is a dangerous place, you understand).

Well, things came to a head when this man sent me death threats - via SMS, a novel use of new technology.

I asked my partner's relatives for advice. They suggested employing the service of a sangumaman they knew. He was well-respected and regarded as effective, so my partner and I agreed.

The sangumaman came to our house and explained it would take some time, but he could place a curse on this man so he would forget about my partner.

He asked if I wanted any harm to come to him –offering a menu of options. I said no, just make him leave us alone. I paid him 100 kina, and the proceedings were underway.

First he needed special leaves from a powerful sanguma plant, available in one market in Moresby (they come from Morobe province). When he had these leaves and some buai (betel nut), lime and mustard (kumbung and daka) and some cigarettes, we were ready to proceed with Stage 1.

He started by praying, then crumbling the sanguma leaves, mixing them into a paste with his spit and rubbing this on our foreheads. He then chanted in his language, chewed some buai with kumbung and daka as is customary, then sprinkled our heads with water while praying.

He placed his hands on our heads and offered more prayers and incantations. After this he smoked a cigarette while blowing the smoke out the windows, again chanting ritualistic words. This, he explained, would rid our minds of the influence of the offending man. He then prayed over us and that was the end of Stage 1.

Stage 2 involved getting a photo of the offending man. This took some doing, but we eventually conned him into to meeting one of our friends – an attractive young woman – who convinced him that my partner wanted a photo of him to remember him by, so he gave her one.

The sangumaman took the photo and again made a paste of the special leaves, rubbed this on the photo, tore it into pieces and buried it in the ground. He said that now the curse was complete and the target would no longer be able to remember my partner.

We left PNG three weeks later, but during that time there was no contact at all from the offending man, and my raskols (who had been tracking his movements) reported he made no attempt to come near our house.

The reason I did this was not so much because I thought it might work, but because I knew that the others truly believed it would, and this would make it effective. Maybe word of our ceremony got out to the target and he was scared off?

Maybe it worked. What do you think?

* ‘Peter’ is the nom de plume of a contributor known to PNG Attitude

Is this the last Kevin Rudd Junior story?


AAP - KEVIN RUDD'S demise as Australian Prime Minister sent shockwaves across PNG today, especially in a remote village where a baby called Kevin Rudd Junior is lauded as a little prince.

In 2008, then Prime Minister Rudd visited the Eastern Highlands and new parents Esau and Lina Kitgi, from the isolated Degi village, named their newborn in his honour.

The family of two-year-old Kevin Rudd Junior was shocked by the news that his political namesake was no longer Australia's number one.

"We are very sorry to hear this; we are shocked," Esau Kitgi said, wishing Julia Gillard, Australia's first female Prime Minister, all the best. But he said there were no plans for a baby sister for Kevin Junior

"Kevin Rudd Junior's name will remain forever, we are not changing the name," he said. "The time Rudd was in government he brought white man and black man together.

"We support him because he brought PNG and Australia closer together. We hope the next PM does the same."

"This is too sad," said family friend Loven Forapi, who lobbied the Australian government to support numerous bilateral opportunities to leverage off the Kev Junior brand.

Kevin Rudd Junior was born in Goroka General Hospital on 7 March 2008, five minutes after PM Kevin Rudd visited.

The baby became PNG's favourite son, symbolic of rekindled relations between Australia and PNG after difficult times during the time of the Howard government.

On Rudd Junior's second birthday, the family told AAP that the toddler became a "climate change victim", just like Rudd Senior.

Late last year AAP also reported that Kevin Junior had reached a significant milestone in his life when he uttered the words "mum" and "dad", while continuing to struggle with his namesake's favourite phrase, "programmatic specificity".

Rosemarie Gillespie: friend of Bougainville


CANBERRA - Human rights campaigner Rosemarie Gillespie, who was prominent in the Bougainville conflict with the Papua New Guinea government, has died of a stroke aged 69.

Ms Gillespie, also known as Waratah Rose, became interested in Bougainville in early 1992 while practising as a barrister in Melbourne. At the time she was appearing for a Bougainvillean who sought refugee status.

While researching the case, Ms Gillespie saw a report stating that children were dying from lack of medicine in Bougainville because of the PNG and Australian governments' blockade of the island. 

She acted quickly, risking her life by defying the blockade and taking in a supply of medicine by boat.

She said later: “I decided to act because I know what it is like to have sick children and wonder if they are going to survive.”

Ms Gillespie became more involved in the Bougainville issue, lobbying the Australian government and international organisations to prevent the sale of arms to PNG, and to stop PNG shipping arms and munitions into Bougainville.

She was a prolific writer of articles and letters about Bougainville and published an account of her time on the island called Running With Rebels.

She also appeared on radio and TV programs, and addressing human rights and women’s groups throughout Australia.

3 PNGDF officers graduate from Duntroon


THREE MEMBERS of the PNG Defence Force have graduated from the Royal Military College of Australia as second lieutenants.

They were among 77 final year cadets who took part in the passing out parade at Duntroon, Canberra, yesterday. The parade was reviewed by the head of the Australian Defence Force, Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston.

The new PNG officers are Wilfred Koibu of 1PIR Taurama Barracks, Alphonse Bioe of PNGDF Headquarters at Murray Barracks and Lads Alex of the engineering unit in Lae.

The general service officer course comprises three classes each of six months duration. The training at Australia’s premier officer training institute, is considered intense and demanding and prepares cadets for military careers by promoting learning, leadership and integrity.

A total of 85 Papua New Guineans have now graduated from the college.

Old time kiap: Graham Pople tells his story


Graham  I’VE HAD the privilege of browsing through the unpublished autobiography and patrol diaries of Graham Pople, former kiap and Member for Gumine in the first PNG House of Assembly.

Simply titled The Popleography, it gives a fascinating insight into life in the far-off pre-independence days of PNG’s political infancy.

It’s an honest-to-god article by a maverick kiap, reminiscing about the hard yards and seat-of-pants rides washed along by beer in those amazing colonial days.

Pople was elected to the first House along with a motley crew of other MPs including legendary Sepik River crocodile hunter, John Pasquarelli, John Stuntz, Ian Downs, Barry Holloway, Ron Neville, Graham Gilmore, Horrie Niall, John Guise, Paul Lapun, Lepani Watson and Mathias Toliman.

Now 75 and a PNG citizen (he received his papers from Sir John Guise on Independence Day 1975), Pople runs the Weigh In Hotel at Konedobu. He says he put the document together at the behest of his children.

Drop in at the Weigh In any day of the week and chances are you’ll meet Pople at the bar, as animated as in his kiap days. He’ll give you a comprehensive history lesson about PNG.

Born in Armidale, New South Wales on 14 March 1935, in 1956 Pople came across an advertisement for cadet patrol officers to seek a life of adventure in the “dark unknown” – PNG.

He applied, was accepted and, in March 1956, departed on a Qantas DC4 for a land that would become his home.

Pople served in exotic places such as the thriving Daru, from where he patrolled the Western District and ventured across the border into the then Dutch New Guinea, the Western Highlands and the Eastern Highlands (including Chimbu).

Reading The Popleography makes one realise how far PNG has gone backwards, especially with towns like Daru, Minj, Banj and Kainantu now shocking skeletons of their glory days.

Pople writes of Kainantu in the 1960s:

Kainantu was a lovely little town in the early ‘60s and was thriving based many coffee plantations being established in the area and also of gold.

Kainantu had been the centre of gold rushes in the early 1930s and Ted Ubank and Noel Stagg, two prospectors from that era, were still mining in the area.

Ken Rehder also operated a small gold mine at Binamarien as an adjunct to his two small coffee plantations.

The Summer Institute of Linguistics had their PNG headquarters at Ukarumpa, just over the hill from Kainantu – some five miles or so away – which was also where the Aiyura agricultural station was established.

So there was a quite large, for a sub-district office, non-indigenous population in the area.

Kainantu had its own airstrip, and the town had grown up around this feature, with the district office on the northern side and the hospital at the southern western end.

There was a nine-hole golf course with a very well-frequented club house.

A hotel sat on a knoll above the main township.

This was managed by a Dutch couple who were very hospitable.

The Salvation Army were active in the area also.

Out on the road to Okapa they had a block of land on some 200 acres where they were growing potatoes commercially and where they held Bible classes.

In Kainantu itself they had a small station where there were two nursing sisters who assisted in running the hospital, assisting the doctor and the medical assistant.

It was a growing town and there were several commercial businesses in the town itself.

Jan Boij and his brother ton had a service station, which included a trade store and they later built a butcher’s shop there.

I think, from memory, they may also have had a small bakery operating.

Jack Scurrah ran a store on behalf of Buntings, while Dick Miellear also had a store and associated businesses including trucking.

Burns Philp also ran the main store for the township.

The government was well represented with the Native Affairs staff, medical staff, an agricultural officer, one or two education officers, a mechanic, a policeman, a labour officer, a district officer/clerk and probably some others who I have forgotten.

But based on coffee, gold and government services, Kainantu was a bustling and growing township.

The residents proudly called it ‘The Mile-High Gateway to the Highlands’ as its elevation was allegedly 5, 280 feet above sea level.

On the road towards Goroka, the Lutheran Mission had quite a big station, named Raipinka, which they had established in the early 1930s and had developed since.

In those days, the New Guinea side of the country, being a Trust Territory was constantly under the watchful eye of the United Nations, which decided the country should be pushed towards self-government and independence.

To placate the UN, and to evidence that Australia was aware of the need for political evolution, a national election was planned. At the time, Pople was the senior Administration official at Gumine. He was asked by the local people to represent them in parliament and was elected.

He recalls that none of the new Members seemed to know what they were supposed to do or what their powers were.

“The clique of ex patrol officers stuck pretty well together and had some experience. The rank-and-file members looked to this group for guidance,” Pople says.

“But we were all tyros, with the exception of the few that had some experience in the Legislative Assembly, and most of us thought it would prove to be a rewarding experience.

“Unfortunately, the records that I kept of newspaper clippings and other articles in which I featured during the period of my occupancy of the House of Assembly, 1964-68, have been destroyed, and I have nothing to which I can refer except for a very fallible memory.”

Weigh In Hotel Publican Pople believes self-government and independence came too early.

“My own personal view is that the declaration of self-government was early but could have been handled okay if the interval before independence could have been lengthened,” he says.

“More emphasis should have been in the 1960s and 1970s in educating more senior public servants from the national sector.

“They should have been educated at universities and similar institutions overseas to get the necessary exposure to other cultures and people from other countries in similar positions from countries faced with similar development problems.

“But this was not to be and the establishment of the University of PNG in the late 1960s then made it obligatory, from a point of pride, that all training would take place in-country and so our potential leaders, lost that opportunity of exposure to other cultures which could have made a big difference to our development.

“I know that there are many people, mainly academics, who would oppose my point of view, claiming it was more essential to develop a national identity, but these are my personal views for the information of my children.

“Despite the early declaration of independence and the paucity of training for future leaders, PNG has now been independent since 1975, and we are all aware of how the country is faring and has fared.

“But would later independence with the training I suggested have made any difference?

“No one knows and it is impossible to tell, and so it is a useless debate.”

Source: This article is a slightly edited version of one that was originally published in ‘The National’ newspaper

Top photo: 'Pacific Islands Monthly'. Lower photo: 'The National'

Super coach Gould looks at PNG joining NRL


AAP – AUSTRALIAN super coach and media commentator, Phil Gould, leaves Port Moresby today after a two-day fact-finding mission looking into the prospects of a PNG team entering Australia's National Rugby League.

PNG NRL bid team general manager, Bev Broughton, hopes Gould's presence can help spread the word about the bid in Australia.

In a country where rugby league is religion, PNG fans want a team in the NRL in 2015, a massive task considering the difficulties involved.

"The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step," Gould told reporters.

"I don't think it's going to be easy and I don't think it's going to happen overnight but the country has to move forward and rugby league can be a big part of that," he said.

"It should be something that our code in Australia at least explores."

Queensland coach and former Australia great, Mal Meninga, also supports the idea but, like many critics, suggests PNG first enter a team in the Queensland Cup.

Buoyed by the massive liquefied natural gas project that is hyped to double PNG's GDP, the government has committed $8.2 million to the bid with most reserved for a 30,000-seat stadium in Port Moresby.

Sports Minister Philemon Embel says "whatever the cost" the government will build the stadium as they are "100 per cent behind this NRL bid."

But many problems remain.

PNG hopes Gould can tame the basic administration issues along with a host of logistical and other realities.

Earlier this month the national side's coach, Adrian Lam, broke ranks voicing disappointment at a continuing court battle over who is president of the PNG Rugby Football League.

Morauta condemns Marat assassination plot


OPPOSITION LEADER Sir Mekere Morauta has described the alleged assassination plot against former Attorney General, Dr Allan Marat MP, as a most worrying development in PNG politics.

Sir Mekere called on the police and relevant law-enforcing agencies to urgently investigate the matter.

He expressed concern that the apparent plot to kill Dr Marat was linked to Dr Marat’s statements against the government in which he exposed corruption and criticised aspects of the multi-billion kina liquefied natural gas and Ramu nickel projects.

“It is a very serious and frightening development if the government or its agents are using such measures to silence critics,” Sir Mekere said.

“The revelation of an assassination plot against Dr Allan Marat should not be taken lightly. It is a very serious matter that demands most immediate and appropriate action by relevant state agencies.

“Why should elected leaders who speak their mind freely on issues of national importance be subject to threats?” the former prime minister asked.

“This is a serious matter. It involves life and death. Therefore it calls for immediate police action to investigate and establish the validity of the assassination plot and take immediate measures to both counter it and deal with any perpetrators,” he said.

“At the same time I urge leaders not to be deterred by such tactics. They should strengthen our resolve to expose the evils of the current Government, not silence us.”

PNG must plan against global debt disaster


AS A DOUBLE dip global recession emerges as more likely than not, the PNG government and central bank must plan a response.

It is in our national interest (and security) that the government adopt certain financial hedging strategies as part of a long term plan.

Every country is vulnerable and PNG’s strategic aim must be to safeguard our financial system and economy. We are facing a potential financial catastrophe if we do nothing to build a wall against global debt disaster.

There are already many near bankrupt sovereign states like Spain, Italy, Greece, Portugal and others sitting on top of a financial system that is struggling.

The worry is that the system is being kept on life support by phony valuations and unlimited money printing. Many investors are exchanging this funny money for gold.

In the US the federal deficit in 2009 was 10.7% of GDP and is forecast to stay around that level for many years. In 2009 the US debt increased by $1.9 trillion in just that year to $12.4 trillion. In the next ten years it is forecast to reach $25 trillion.

But the problem is not just the debt of these nations. Tax revenues are collapsing at the same time, while the cost of social maintenance is soaring.

The indebted governments have two choices: continue to borrow and print money or reduce government spending.

Countries like the US and the UK can still borrow and print money, which is what they have been doing and will continue to do. They have no real choice with rising deficits, rising unemployment and re-emerging problems in the financial system.

What can our domestic banks learn from observing the world economy? As many paper currencies become virtually worthless in the next few years, gold will continue to do what it has done for 6,000 years and maintain its purchasing power and appreciate substantially against paper currencies.

During the impending downturn, which I expect to start within the next few weeks, investors will discover that gold is one of the very few ways to protect their assets and preserve capital.

PNG’s police need a total re-engineering


WITH SO MUCH public criticism directed at the poor performance of the Royal PNG Constabulary, the government should direct the police hierarchy to implement the recommendations of a so-called review undertaken two years ago.

There appears to have been no progress made on the police implementing the recommendations to drastically improve the constabulary’s operational performance.

It is not clear what the government expects of its police force other than do its traditional job of enforcing the rule of law.

It is time the government focused on developing a professional police institution distinct from the defence force that would be responsible for internal security.

PNG needs a more dispersed, visible, accessible and service-orientated police force which will interact with the community and society.

The force‘s primary duty will be to protect citizens and property.

The government must aim to totally professionalise the police so that it becomes:

·         more effective (that is, better at law enforcement)

·         non-political and more accountable

·         humane and committed to using minimal physical force

·         law abiding and closely integrated into the civil community

·         responsive to community needs

·         better organised, better trained and better equipped

·         operationally effective in urban, rural and border areas

·         capable of pursuing complex investigations

·         professionally managed

This will not be hard to achieve if we can better use domestic resources and complement these with international support in certain specialised and technical areas.

An obvious resource that the government has overlooked for many years that we should have already fully tapped into a long time ago is to fully engage former government, military and police members as well as current members of the constabulary and the community.

Govt to give $100,000 for Maru memorial

AUSTRALIA’S MINISTER for Veterans’ Affairs and Minister for Defence Personnel, Alan Griffin, delivered an historic statement in Parliament yesterday honouring the men lost in the Montevideo Maru tragedy, Australia’s worst maritime disaster.

“On behalf of the Australian Government I would like to express our sincere sorrow for the tragedy of the sinking of the Montevideo Maru, where 1,053 Australians lost their lives,” Mr Griffin said.

“I especially acknowledge the suffering of their families and friends.  They endured many long and painful years waiting for news of their loved ones and they deserve our sympathy.

“I’m pleased to announce the Australian Government has pledged $100,000 to assist the Rabaul and Montevideo Maru Society to build a national memorial in the grounds of the Australian War Memorial.

Australia will always remember the service and sacrifice of those who perished on the Montevideo Maru,” Mr Griffin said.

On 22 June 1942, 1,053 Australian prisoners of war and civilians, who had been captured and held by the Japanese at Rabaul, boarded the Montevideo Maru.

Unaware that the vessel was carrying allied prisoners, on 1 July 1942 the submarine USS Sturgeon fired torpedoes, sinking the ship and killing all those imprisoned on board and most of the crew.

“It was more than three years after the sinking that the families of those lost on the Montevideo Maru learnt of the tragedy, confirming their greatest fears,” Mr Griffin said.

The Red Cross made inquiries throughout the war, but it was not until October 1945 that a nominal roll of those on board was uncovered. This was mysteriously lost soon after the war, and is currently the object of an intensive records' search by the Australian Army.

The day a nation acknowledged its gratitude


TODAY IS A big day for many hundreds of people who have a connection with the Japanese invasion of the New Guinea Islands in January 1942 and the subsequent sinking of the prison ship, the Montevideo Maru.

Because today, for the first time, the Australian parliament will formally acknowledge the tragic sequence of events on behalf of the nation.

About 350 veterans and relatives gather in Canberra this afternoon as parliament honours military personnel and civilians who died as a result of the New Guinea Islands conflict in World War II.

It will be a fine but cold winter’s day in the national capital, but the atmosphere inside parliament will warm, welcoming and infused with a sense of excitement and joy.

Many people, especially the relatives of those who died, have waited a long time for this day – and for the recognition it will convey from a grateful nation.

At about 3.30 pm, Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Personnel Minister, Alan Griffin, will get to his feet in the House of Representatives to make a major ministerial statement. Some surprises are expected.

Later, a historic private members’ motion will be debated a bit after 7 pm. The same resolution will pass through the Senate later in the evening.

In between, about 400 people will gather in parliament’s Queens Terrace Gallery for a ministerial reception.

Rabaul fell to the Japanese forces on 24 January 1942 and the Montevideo Maru was torpedoed off the Philippines, with the loss of over 1,000 lives, on 1 July 1942 in what ermains as Australia's greatest disaster at sea.

The resolution will attest that the Parliament of Australia:

Expresses the gratitude of the Australian nation to the service personnel and civilians in Rabaul and the New Guinea Islands for their services in the defence of Australia during World War II.

Expresses its regret and sorrow for the sacrifices that were made in the defence of Rabaul and the New Guinea Islands and in the subsequent sinking of the Montevideo Maru on 1 July 1942.

Conveys its condolences to the relatives and loved ones of the people who died in this conflict.

Conveys its thanks to the relatives for their forbearance and efforts in ensuring that the nation remembers the sacrifices made.

The formal proceedings will be webcast live on the internet as they occur. Live broadcasts of Parliament can be linked to at

Keith is President of the Rabaul and Montevideo Maru Society, established to ensure national recognition of the fall of Rabaul and Australia’s greatest maritime disaster, a shocking tragedy of war. Contact the Society here to receive copies of its free monthly newsletter

AusAID in PNG: any way forward from here?

This is the third and final article in a series by PAUL OATES analysing issues and concerns raised in a recently published review of Australian aid to PNG

IN ITS PREFACE the Review states that its overall aim is “to consider and recommend how Australia’s aid can most effectively contribute to PNG’s current, medium and long-term development priorities.”

In my first article, I examined claims that the PNG public sector was ineffectual and not delivering intended government services because of reasons including failures of leadership, management, strategy, knowledge, and capacity. And a bunch of other factors that suffocate good governance.

I proposed that, to achieve real results, full control by Australian departments over some areas of aid expenditure might be considered on an interim basis.

The second article looked at an existing AusAID performance report in the context of the recent aid review and showed why it has not been possible to initiate a results-based program or effectively monitor the use of AusAID funds.

The main problem in appraisal is the interweaving of Australian aid funds into PNG government programs. The PNG government operations are unable to be properly monitored or assessed simply because there are no effective mechanisms to do so.

Despite this, the Review remains bullish, saying: “There is a shared commitment to act.” Well tally-ho, but where?

It seems to me, after scrutinising and weighing these reports, that changes to the status quo are unlikely to occur in the near future.

Details on the website explain how, at the 2008 Australia-PNG ministerial forum in Madang, it was agreed that the continued placement of senior and experienced officials in the PNG public sector would help accountability and good governance.

A previous Australian government program was renamed Strongim Gavman [strengthening government]. This program was to be run from Canberra with this remit:

“Our officials are focused on providing strategic and policy advice and on building capacity in the PNG public service, including through mentoring to improve the knowledge and skills of PNG staff”.

In other words, there was a new name but essentially no change to how the aid program is run. Therein lies the current dilemma.

The review highlights changes in the level of aid Australia gives to PNG, which has fallen in real terms since independence. It is stated:

“There are signs that PNG is diversifying to other donors. 2010 PNG budget documents put Australian aid at 68% of the total. China has started to provide aid.”

Prime Minister Somare has publicly declared a ‘Look North’ policy and the PNG Opposition Leader has claimed China is bribing PNG leaders. While Australian aid has been maintained at a steady level, it remains highly fragmented.

Since 1999, per capita spending by the PNG government on health and education has decreased from K140 to K40. While PNG’s GDP has substantially risen, spending per capita has remained at virtually the same level as at independence. The Review states:

“Education, health and infrastructure have long been important sectors for Australian aid. In the last decade, governance has become an increasingly important area. Over the period 1975 to 2002, 27% of Australia’s aid went to education, 24% to infrastructure, 12% to health, and 21% to governance (AusAID, 2003).

“The main change over the last decade has been in the area of governance, where the share of total aid spending almost doubled from 20% in 1999‐00 to 36% in 2009‐10.3 Health has increased its share of the aid program (thanks to new HIV/AIDS spending), but education and infrastructure have both seen a significant decline.”

In other words, real spending on education and health (other than on HIV/AIDS) has decreased while spending on governance has increased. Yet the same review suggests that PNG governance has been steadily worsening. Clearly the switch has not had the desired effect.

So what opportunities are there to change the current regime? In 2010-2011 it is estimated that official Australian aid to PNG will be $457 million. Yet under the situation revealed in the Review, this amount will virtually disappear without any real benefit to the PNG or Australian people.

On the web page under the heading ‘Mutual Respect’, it is stated that:

Australia and partners will also acknowledge accountability to our respective Parliaments for the impact and effective use of development assistance.”

Yet how can accountability to the Australian Parliament be discharged when AusAID has publicly acknowledged it is not possible to monitor the impact and effective use of aid given to PNG?

It seems there will be no opportunity this year to review the current bilateral arrangements at the highest political level because the Rudd government cancelled the annual ministerial forum with PNG. The official explanation was that this was due “to limitations on ministerial travel in an election year." Hmmm.

Unless AusAID can effect major changes to its PNG operations, it appears another $457 million will go the same way as the previous billions and disappear into a big black hole that is the PNG government.

Traditional rights under pressure in Strait

THE ABC has reported that community leaders in far north Queensland say the Australian government should risk a diplomatic stoush with PNG to fix ‘problems’ related to the Torres Strait.

An Australian Senate inquiry is examining the Torres Strait Treaty, which gives PNG residents from the Western Province traditional visiting rights to Australia.

The inquiry has been told that large groups of PNG residents are bringing drugs, alcohol, knives and machetes into the Torres Strait islands.

The Torres Strait mayor, Frank Gela, says the large number of PNG visitors is also putting pressure on local health services.

"We get the feeling that PNG does not care about the people of the Western Province because Australia is taking care of them via the treaty," he said.

"The Australian government needs to be tougher on the PNG government dictating where the foreign aid goes so it can be directed to the Western Province as this area is completely neglected."

Source: ‘PNG visitors bring problems to Torres Strait’ by Simon Cullen, ABC, 18 June 2010

Gauging AusAID's effectiveness in PNG*


THE RECENTLY released review of Australian overseas aid to PNG contains the following statement in its list of recommendations:

Greater use of monitoring and evaluation, extending beyond audit, would enable AusAID to establish not only that funds have not been misused, but that they have been used effectively, and provide a stronger evidence base for policy dialogue.

This appears to be fairly innocuous until its full import is considered. Closer examination suggests AusAID may be totally unable to efficiently monitor and evaluate whether aid funds are being used effectively or not.

The review then throws some light on the reasons why the effective monitoring and evaluation of aid expenditure is difficult.

Reporting of Australian aid on the PNG budget is comprehensive, and the focus on recurrent spending promotes fiscal sustainability. Alignment of the Australian aid program with PNG budget priorities is a fundamental requirement of aid effectiveness...

However, although repeated attempts to forge a tight link between aid and PNG Government spending have been made, they have not been sustained… A multi-year expenditure framework is needed. This would indicate how funds would be allocated to major sectors in the coming years, and would provide a basis for setting realistic sectoral performance targets.

Put simply, there appears to be no coordination between AusAID funding and the PNG government's method of managing and expending the PNG Budget.

An indication of why coordination is difficult seems to be contained in this recommendation to the PNG government:

Strengthened government leadership and coordination of the aid program by the PNG Government is critical for improved aid effectiveness. In particular, the Department of National Planning and Monitoring should avoid assuming management responsibilities for sectoral projects and programs and focus its efforts on providing strategic guidance and oversight to the aid program.

The current PNG Minister for this Department, Paul Tiensten, has been in the news recently, with Prime Minister Somare first sacking him and then suddenly reinstating him after his Department was at a loss to know if they were still operating or not.

In the 2009 AusAID Annual Performance Report [link to it here] further facts emerge as to why the agency has difficulty measuring its performance under the current arrangements with the PNG government.

Overall, 2008 was a challenging year for the PNG aid program. The Flagship monitoring, evaluation and dialogue mechanism of the Development

Cooperation Strategy-Performance Review and Dialogue ceased in 2008 because triggers for performance payments could not be agreed. This reduced opportunities to engage with Australia's key counterpart for aid, the Department of National Planning and Monitoring, on strategic policy and governance issues. The Decision by the Department not to continue with the placement of a co-located AusAID officer also undermined the prospects for collaboration.

While Australia's support for strengthening the public service made some incremental improvements in some agencies, key processes for reforming the public sector stalled in 2008... Another important reason for the lack of reform was the anticipated benefits of the LNG project, which are expected to cause the PNG Government to be even less focused on reform…

This indicates that a coordinated approach to monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness of AusAID programs in PNG is not possible while there is obfuscation and a distinct lack of accountability within the PNG government.

So in order to be able to identify and assess future aid effectiveness, AusAID expenditure must be managed and monitored separately, rather than integrated into everyday PNG government operations.

In summary, the 2010 Review of AusAID echoes the 2009 AusAID Annual Performance Report.

The conclusions drawn from both are that it is not possible to achieve or measure results from nearly half a billion dollars worth of annual Australian aid given to PNG because the funds and efforts are hopelessly jumbled with PNG government programs.

These programs basically achieve very little and are not effectively monitored.

This situation has been confirmed by the findings of the recent Commission of Inquiry into PNG government finances that found almost all government departments and authorities were not able to manage their financial operations and only five were given some degree of approval by the Commissioners.

There is an inescapable conclusion to be drawn from this. Australia’s aid money to PNG must be separated and managed independently from the PNG government machine, at least for the time being.

* This is the second in a series of reviews on matters raised in the recently publicised Review of Australian Aid to PNG, which you can link to here.

Somare continues anti-Ombudsman push


THE SOMARE government has responded derisively to public concern about the so-called Maladina Amendments, designed to gut the powers of the Ombudsman Commission to investigate political corruption.

Petitions opposing the amendment from thousands of Papua New Guineans were returned yesterday without being taken note of by the National Parliament.

The petitions had been received in May by Opposition Leader Sir Mekere Morauta, Sam Basil MP and three other politicians because nobody in the government was willing to accept them.

“The people had spoken and had rejected the Maladina amendments outright,” Mr Basil said.

Anti-corruption advocates will now get their legal advisers to look at options before deciding on further action.

Two options being considered are a nationwide demonstration in July and seeking the assistance of provincial governments in joining a Supreme Court reference on the amendment.

The government used its numbers to stop the petitions being taken note of in Parliament. Since 4 May the Speaker, on advice from the government, had refused to table them.

Civil society group chairman, Noel Anjo, said the public had sent a clear message to the government that people were against the Maladina Amendment.

Source: ‘Thumbs down for OC petition’ by By PETER SEA, PNG Post-Courier, 18 June 2010

Coming to terms with ‘capacity’ constraints

A recent review of AusAID yields some telling insights into the organisation of Australia’s aid program. PAUL OATES presents the first of a series of articles on the review.

IT SEEMS that the engagement of overseas consultants and advisers in PNG is referred to as ‘capacity building’.

And how goes this euphemism? Well, according to a recent report on AusAID, “there are strong indications that the ‘capacity building through advisers’ model is not working."

The reasons for this situation (which exists despite the continuing expenditure of truly huge amounts of money) are given as:

absence of political and senior executive leadership

lack of genuine [my italics] political and managerial commitment to reform

absence of a clear strategy and unequivocal ownership [ownership a piece of jargon presumably used to connote ‘responsibility’]

poor levels of organisational leadership, capacity and knowledge

low levels of corporate knowledge within a declining knowledge base [an admission that managerial acumen is declining in PNG]

erosion of public sector values and capacities through the politicisation of the public service

poorly trained and experienced appointees to senior positions, especially at the head of agency level

disrespect for the rule of law among many politicians and senior public servants [a damning indictment]

limited enforceability of accountability and appropriate sanctions

political interference with due process [another damning indictment]

loss of institutional and process credibility

So after itemising this grim list of factors affecting the PNG public sector, what conclusions can be reached? The review quotes a statement from Kathy Whimp in 2009:

It is hard to see how the provision of advisers can help address any let alone solve all of these problems (to which we would add, absence of and rapid turnover in counterparts).

And another commentator put it:

Failure to hold others to account is one of the chief weaknesses of the PNG public sector. This reluctance is unlikely to be remedied with the application of a thin layer of capacity-building, and more likely will require fundamental evolution of the political system.

In such circumstances, it seems hard to imagine how any integrated program in the PNG public sector could be successful.

Local observers have been saying for some time that, if AusAID money is to achieve real gains, it must fund an entire program. Given what this must entail – there has to be responsibility and accountability - it seems unlikely the PNG government would comply.

Could a PNG branch of an Australian department (say Education or Health) be tasked as an outsourced provider to the PNG government?

That would enable an Australian Minister and Department Head to be responsible and to be held accountable for expenditure and achieving results.

‘Virtual office’ computer systems these days allow geographically remote office administration with personal visits as required.

If this proposal was accepted, the recruitment and management of operational staff would be administered by a responsible body that could be held accountable for the achievement of results.

After an agreed level of operational effectiveness and proven efficiency, this 'capacity rebuilding' could be progressively localised.

Let's face it, this proposal has a better chance of achieving results than anything tried by AusAID so far. It might actually get results at the kunai roots as well.

You can link to the Review here …

PNG must reform tax to leverage resources


A EUROPEAN Union-funded geological survey has apparently revealed potentially large mineral deposits in the PNG Highlands: copper, gold, silver, zinc, chromium and nickel.

"The mineral potential is very high based on the results we have so far," chief geologist Dr John Aspden said. "Eight mining companies, including Barrick, BHP and Rio Tinto have bought the data which is strategic information needed to mine the resources."

Earlier this year, geologist Jerry Barry claimed the Ramu Nickel mine to be worth more like $US34 billion and not the $US1.7 billion the mine's 85% ownership was sold to foreign owners by the PNG government.

In February the website Ramu Mine Watch claimed the Lihir gold mine profited by US$500 million in one year alone yet paid no taxes to PNG.

"The Ramu Nickel operation which is owned and operated by the Chinese will dwarf the Lihir gold mining operation in its size but all the signs are that it will be an even bigger financial disaster for PNG", the article asserted.

There’s a feeling globally that resources companies are not paying their way in the developing world and that, if they paid their fair share of tax, the countries concerned would be able to reduce their dependence on aid.

Former Goldman Sachs economist and author of the best-selling book Dead Aid, Dambisa Moyo, has argued that foreign aid is not only ineffective in promoting development, it is an impediment.

She says that foreign aid displaces domestic revenue from taxation-and does so with terrible results.

"Foreign aid programs, which tend to lack accountability and checks and balances, act as substitutes for tax revenues," she writes. "The tax receipts this releases are then diverted to unproductive and often wasteful purposes rather than productive public expenditure (education, health infrastructure) for which they were ostensibly intended."

The breakdown of the tax system can have serious political ramifications, as "the absence of taxation leads to a breakdown in natural checks and balances between the government and its people."

So where does this leave the people of PNG and their taxation system?

Sadly lacking for want of government scrutiny and at the apparent mercy of the impact of overseas aid, one can conclude.

The AusAID reality – can’t do, won’t listen


HENRY Sims writes that "an audit is being considered by someone but the silence is deafening."

He goes on - "Who is the ‘someone’ and how do we contact them? Do we have contacts who can view the expenditure records. Surely there has to be some auditing being done?"

I have been writing with an on-the-spot observer's critical eye about Australian aid-project implementation in PNG since 1997.

My scrawls have encompassed quite long papers, circulated, in one case published as part of his then newspaper column (with acknowledgement) by PNG's Governor-General Sir Paulias Matane, himself an Attitude aficionado.

In another longish piece I evoked the response from the late Harry Jackman - "What's this, Fowke, preparing for a PhD?"- ignoring the fact, well known to the late HHJ, that my only paper qualification is a Class 3 truck-drivers licence.

There have been emails and other communications, and opinion pieces published in PNG and in Australia. And there were one or two face-to-face meetings with Oz -based consultants unfortunate enough to encounter the enraged Fowke in his natural environment: over a cold drink at the Bird of Paradise Hotel in Goroka.

And even at one stage there was the suggestion that we might at some time meet for a discussion, received from Ms Elizabeth Copus-Campbell - at that time in charge of the PNG desk at AusAID, Canberra; now bosmeri olgeta at AusAID in Port Moresby.

Whilst some of my approaches were acknowledged, there was never any hint of a desire to engage - not even a succinctly-put "do shut up you old fool!" Never, from 1997 until today.

In the course of this long one-way campaign, I encountered a small number of sensible, pragmatic and switched on Oz-based academics with interests in PNG affairs.

It was one of these who dubbed the AusAID/DFAT complex as "The Citadel of Solypsism" - and this it most certainly is.

There have been deep, dark rumblings from within the bureaucratic walls over the past twelve months, following the news that Australia’s fearless little leader, in March last year, demanded a complete rethink and some effective ideas before the last budget. "Or else."

Perhaps the precipitate resignation of the head man at AusAID was connected with this demand and the answer given.

Observers have seen some shadowy shuffling, but the functionaries of this closed order maintain closed lips, at least when when not sipping whatever has relpaced chardonnay on the list of the upwardly-mobile in Canberra.

One feels that they probably think of people like me as "part of the problem" which they, in their sparkling-bright, post-colonial suits of ideological clothes are sent "up there" to combat - and for this reason, beneath their dignity to address.

Politician quits over environment policy


ABC - A MEMBER of the PNG parliament has quit the ruling national coalition government because he opposes controversial amendments to environment legislation.

The amendments to the Environment Act effectively mean environmental permits granted for resource projects cannot be challenged in court.

Sumkar MP, Ken Fairweather, paid for a newspaper advertisement attacking the amendments.

He said the changes were bulldozed through parliament, are dictatorial and "against every principle a democracy stands for".

Mr Fairweather then resigned from the coalition and would be moving to the cross benches.

He was unavailable for comment.

The amendments have been widely criticised for robbing traditional landowners of their rights.

Genia back in Australian team after injury


AUSTRALIAN Rugby Union selectors have reinstated half back Will Genia for Saturday’s second Test again England at Sydney Olympic Stadium.

The 22-year-old PNG-born Genia missed the international against Fiji in Canberra earlier this month because of a knee injury sustained while leading Queensland in the final round of the Super 14s competition.

Genia sat on the bench as an unused reserve for last Saturday’s first Test against England in Perth which Australia won 27-17.

His replacement, Luke Burgess had an excellent game but now finds himself on the bench.

Hope as 2M school textbooks come on stream


NEWS FROM PNG today will give hope to many PNG school children and their parents.

Two million practically designed and produced textbooks have been delivered to the 3,000 primary schools.

Apparently the PNG Education Department won a grant from EuropeAid to revamp the national primary school English curriculum.

While this report is obviously good news for schools, it does beg the question as to why the PNG Education Department had to apply for a grant in the first place, given the hundreds of millions of Australian dollars being given to PNG each year in overseas aid.

AusAID’s reported financial support by to pay for the education of lower primary school students is another step in the right direction but it surely doesn't end there.

Where is the holistic coordination of funding requirements for PNG education? What happens to students when their subsidised education runs out and they aren't able to continue?

What funding is available to produce and distribute textbooks for subjects other than English? Where is the maintenance program to repair and refurbish schools that are falling apart or not properly resourced?

Where is the practical support for rural teachers that aren't paid on time or provided with holiday travel arrangements?

Perhaps, as part of its multi-million dollar budget, AusAID could assist the PNG Education Minister and his department with a fully funded schools support program.

The future of PNG's young people should not depend on piecemeal and ad hoc decision making.

A Sims' eye view of the Attitude's denizens


REGINALD RENAGI suggests that scrapping the PNG Defence and Police would not be effective cost cutting because economically strong countries rely upon the Military to protect national interests.

Equally eye-catching in PNG Attitude 148 (the newsletter) is Reg’s six-point plan for improved government, which includes essentials such as having an independent Speaker and a non-politicised parliament. [Apolitical politicians, now that is a new approach to governance!]

John Fowke wishes to change AusAID from funding wasteful “capacity-building and produce-marketing programs provided by contracted service providers” and recommends the deployment of NGO’s and the Military “to ensure health, medical and emergency services are delivered”.

It seems the military may be needed because Medicins Sans Frontieres, who manage the Angau Memorial Hospital, are being harassed by drunks and criminals who remain unapprehended by the Police.

I love John’s preferred refinement of service providers: no “spoilt graduate pups from Oz suburbia, kiddiecrats” and (God forbid) no “mid-life-crisis-sufferers sent by the aid mafia.” [Right on!]

Paul Oates’ calls for Police action on a K15M fraud case, while Timothy King writes on claims by the UN that PNG Police grossly abuse suspects’ human rights and freedoms, probably because the law frequently allows violent criminals to walk out of jail and re-offend.

Sam Basil iterates an headline that there are “Laws for rich and poor” in as much as Ombudsman, Police, Public Prosecutor and Magisterial Service are seen to be politicised. [Heaven forbid, we do not want that lot in parliament!]

And my dear Joe Wasia feels that any change in PNG society must come from within, na bung-wuntaim olsem the Waimin tribe from Wapenamanda. [Possibly because of the good fortune brought about by reading the Good Book.]

Donald Hook highlights the appointment of three senior lawyers to advise the PNG Solicitor General, which is analysed negatively by Agatha Ayii and Paul Oates, who both feel certain that qualified “experts” are available within PNG.

Paul sharpens both sides of his quill by thoughtfully providing six points for inclusion in the contracts for the three lawyers. There are other writers who claim that locally produced experts often become “expatriate” and seek bigger money offshore. [It is also possible that some local law “experts” remain in country and dip their snouts into multi-million kina rip-offs, seemingly with political immunity.]

Our Keith Jackson is upset that 50 percent of AusAID money is wasted on consultants: with nearly 360 technical assistants delivering very little of substance.

The Australian Foreign Minister, Stephen Smith, says his country is committed to providing “value for money” advisers, but the PNG Foreign Minister Sam Abal feels that the size of the contract payments is a problem. [We are back to local “experts” again.]

The Lowy Institute reports on an Australian national poll concerning aid delivery, but Oates and Jackson agree that giving more aid to badly governed agencies, is not likely to achieve desired results.

There is no doubt PNG has Attitude! What a blog!

This is Henry’s first contribution to PNG Attitude, and we wish him many more. “Thanks for the privilege of allowing me to join in on your blog,” he writes. “I have submitted a tongue-in-cheek item for you to consider for posting. I sign my name to it and look forward to the flack. Please know that I just love what you are doing. Keep up the good work and advise me of any ‘Rules of Engagement’.

The only rules of engagement is that we fight fair and clean, as you do Henry - KJ

Impediments to the effective use of our aid


"Now, where does this $457 [million] go? I am disgusted to think that the taxpayers of Australia are giving this amount of money with no positive results" – Colin Huggins


AT THE RISK of repeating a recurring theme, the essence of the problem is not what amount of aid is made available, it's how it's spent.

There will be no improvement in the everyday lives of the PNG people while the current methodology is in place.

Why don't government organisations currently managing the overseas aid programs acknowledge this fundamental fact? Because they have no real interest in changing the status quo.

When has a bureaucratic organisation ever told the government that it should be closed down? That proposition is a no brainer.

The situation will improve if two things happen.

First, those paying for the aid must demand practical results for their money. That's where the people that read PNG Attitude come in.

The Australian government has to be made to sit up and take notice. Only then will there be a change in how the overseas aid is managed.

But can anyone see the average Aussie taking a real interest in their neighbour when they have more important things to worry about such as weekend football, The World Cup, and the tax on beer and cigarettes.

The second and far more important issue concerns the distribution of so-called aid monies once some of it reaches the recipient country.

Until and unless there is a revolution in how our millions are spent, there will be the same miserable result: the creation of an aid dependent country that deteriorates rather than improves.

The first impediment won't change while donor governments encourage and promote distractions that divert voters away from how poorly their agencies manage for long term results.

The second impediment cannot change while there is a regime in place in the recipient country that depends on receiving overseas aid to subsidise the extravagant lifestyles which government ministers and their sycophants have become accustomed to.

Of course it is always possible that AusAID might change its methodology and demand reform in PNG. Would someone from AusAID – and many of its staff read PNG Attitude - care to respond?

Huge turn-out for historic MvM resolution


SOME 350 FRIENDS of Montevideo Maru will gather in Canberra next Monday as the Australian Parliament honours military personnel and civilians who died as a result of the New Guinea Islands conflict in World War II.

Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Personnel Minister, Alan Griffin, will make a major Ministerial Statement on the matter and a historic private members’ motion will be debated in the evening. The same resolution will pass through the Senate.

This is the first time the Australian Parliament has formally acknowledged the sacrifices made in the 68 years since the fall of Rabaul on 24 January 1942 and the consequent sinking of the Montevideo Maru with the loss of over 1,000 lives on 1 July 1942.

The resolution will agree that the Parliament of Australia:

Expresses the gratitude of the Australian nation to the service personnel and civilians in Rabaul and the New Guinea Islands for their services in the defence of Australia during World War II.

Expresses its regret and sorrow for the sacrifices that were made in the defence of Rabaul and the New Guinea Islands and in the subsequent sinking of the Montevideo Maru on 1 July 1942.

Conveys its condolences to the relatives and loved ones of the people who died in this conflict.

Conveys its thanks to the relatives for their forbearance and efforts in ensuring that the nation remembers the sacrifices made.

A number of Lark Force veterans will be present including:

Lorna Whyte - an army nurse in Rabaul during World War II and a POW in Japan

Fred Kollmorgen (94) - the sole survivor of the 2/22nd (Salvation Army) Band. Fred escaped down the south coast of New Britain.

Stan Cooper (93) - Officer with Royal Australian Artillery Heavy Battery. After months in Rabaul as a POW in 1942, he was taken on the Naruto Maru which left Rabaul two weeks after the Montevideo Maru. He spent the next three years in Zentsuji POW camp in Japan.

Lionel Veale (91) - 1st Independent Company, Kavieng. Was sent to Vila to train the Free French Forces and later became a Coastwatcher.

David Harper (90) - David was with the 1st Independent Company on New Ireland and initially escaped to Rabaul on the Induna Star. He then caught a ship to Buka and went on to the Solomon Islands.

Norm Furness (88) - President of the Lark Force Association. Norm escaped from Rabaul down the south coast of New Britain and then joined the Laurabada in its rescue mission of late March 1942.

The principal public debate on the Rabaul and Montevideo Maru matter will take the form of a Ministerial Statement in the House of Representatives by Alan Griffin, which will be responded to by Louise Markus, Shadow Minister for Veterans' Affairs.

Following the Ministerial Statement, guests will make their way to a reception hosted by Mr Griffin in the Queens Terrace Gallery.

During private members' business from about 9 pm Monday evening, the motion will be debated and resolved in recognition of the tragedy, honouring those who lost their lives and thanking their relatives.

The formal proceedings will be webcast live on the internet as they occur. Live broadcasts of Parliament can be linked to at

SCHEDULE:   3.00 pm – Guests arrive at Parliament House.   3.30 pm – Ministerial statement followed by response from Shadow Minister in House of Representatives [WEBCAST].   4.30 pm - Reception hosted by Mr Griffin in the Queens Terrace Gallery.    9.00 pm – Private members’ motion in House of Representatives [WEBCAST].   TBA – Senate passes the resolution.

[Keith is President of the Rabaul and Montevideo Maru Society, established to ensure national recognition of the fall of Rabaul and Australia’s greatest maritime disaster, a shocking tragedy of war. Contact the Society here to receive copies of its free monthly newsletter.]

Maladina: a matter of integrity & credibility


THE MALADINA BILL sought to amend the constitution and law on the duties and responsibilities of leaders.

At least for the moment, the issue will rest until it is resurrected in next month’s sitting of Parliament.

It seems the crux of the issue is really the integrity and credibility of our Members of Parliament.

I am sure there are merits to the proposed amendments, but because they come at a time when corruption is rife, the bulk of the people are very suspicious of the motives and intentions of the majority of our politicians when they touch the Ombudsman Commission.

In essence, the people have more faith and trust in the Commission than the combined wisdom of Members of Parliament.

There are two reasons why people have little faith in our politicians.

Firstly, PNG is perceived as one of the most corrupt countries in the world.

To add salt to many wounds, Papua New Guineans have watched the leaked police interview of bank robber William Kapris, naming members of Parliament who he says have aided him in his activities and with whom he claims to have shared the proceeds.

Most people probably believe the testimony of this convicted bank robber. It is another case of credibility.

As far as the public is concerned, the named Ministers should step aside and silence from the Prime Minister is deafening.

Secondly, the country has not seen any improvement in terms of law and order, infrastructure, poverty, unemployment, health and other indicators. In fact, the country has been literally falling apart. The majority view is in fact that we have gone backwards rather than progressing.

We may have experienced unprecedented economic growth these past few years, but this has not translated into improvement of peoples’ lives. We have heard MPs make announcements and peoples’ expectations have been raised, but promised projects have not materialised.

Politicians can make all kinds of flowery statements and give assurances, but what people tend to believe is what the politicians have done, not what they say they will do. Once again, it is a matter of integrity and credibility.

Given this background, we can understand why there has been nationwide outcry against the Maladina Bill. People view the Ombudsman Commission as the only protection against corruption and a defender of the peoples’ rights.

On the MPs’ side, I suspect that all the political parties resolved to vote for the amendments because they saw something good in it for them. Not one member who was present in the chamber voted against or abstained from voting. This is because as things stand at present, sitting MPs have the upper hand in the coming elections, because they will have access to public funds during the campaign.

The Opposition probably did not realise that the very act of voting for the Bill called into question their integrity. If they had not cared to read and understand a very important constitutional amendment before voting for it, it says a lot about their ability to think critically about legislative matters.

My reading of the issue is that the passage of the Bill actually relates to the 2012 General Elections. The amendments received unanimous supports because MPs saw that if the OC could be prevented from issuing directives restricting the use of the District Services Improvement Program funds during the months leading up to and including the elections, they would have the freedom to use these funds during the elections, thereby enhancing their chances of re-election.

The MPs have studied our people over the years. One thing they know is our people are very forgiving and forgetful. Members live in Moresby during the duration of their terms and return with a lot of cash once in a while or during the elections, and people readily forget their years of suffering and vote them in again. They know how money moves people to change loyalties, and how it impacts on voting at the very last minute.

Politicians also know that the peoples’ definition of a good leader is someone who goes around distributing cash. The more money someone hands out, the more respect and support he gains, and the better his chances of winning the elections. The majority of our people are not critical enough to delve into sitting MPs’ performances or candidates’ moral standards.

Mr Maladina’s explanation that people have been suffering because the OC has been preventing MPs having access to funds is a smokescreen.

When Maladina says the OC stops MPs from using money appropriated in the budget, he is essentially saying the OC is an obstacle to service delivery in the country. I don’t think educated Papua New Guineans are so naïve as to believe this.

The majority of our politicians have real problems with personal integrity and credibility. When it comes to proposing changes to the way anti-corruption agencies operate, they will always face stiff opposition, simply because the people have lost trust and confidence in them.

Too many false promises and countless instances of abuse and misappropriation have had the effect of obliterating any credibility most politicians may have had when they first entered Parliament.

* Tiri Kuimbakul is a PNG economist and columnist with the ‘Sunday Chronicle’. This is an edited version of an article first published on 16 May

Top journalist chronicles the decline of PNG


ROWAN CALLICK, one of Australia's leading journalists who writes for The Australian, has continued his recent close scrutiny of PNG affairs with a major article in yesterday’s newspaper.

He has also revealed that this year’s annual ministerial forum between Australia and PNG has been cancelled the “due to limitations on ministerial travel in election year”.

Callick says that the PNG Auditor-General has discovered $2 million was paid to 87 people "for unknown services" out of relief funds given to Oro Province following cyclone Guba in 2007.

A further $800,000 was paid to businesses and other organisations for goods and services that were “unverifiable”. The people involved included disaster officials, senior government officers and bank officers.

“PNG has been undergoing a transition through which an extraordinary proportion of public funds have been purloined by members of the elite, while 40 percent of Papua New Guineans live on less than $US1 a day,” writes Callick.

“This gap is being accelerated by the prospect of instant wealth around the corner from ExxonMobil's $16.5 billion liquefied natural gas project, still four years from operation.

“The stress on the LNG deal has helped build a climate in which corruption appears to be viewed by some beneficiaries merely as booking private spending against future national earnings that are expected to be bottomless.

“At the same time, government services have been declining, putting increased pressure on aid, especially from Australia, which the Rudd government is increasing in the next financial year, to $457 million.”

Prime Minister Somare has said LNG projects will "increase our revenue to an unprecedented level and transform PNG".

But Callick goes on to chronicle the string of disasters that has beset PNG society in recent times: cholera, desperate hospital conditions, declining life expectancy, increasing infant mortality and a rapidly deteriorating transport system.

“Most services and new projects are provided by churches, non-government organisations and aid donors, but not by the government,” says Callick.

“In March, Somare tabled in parliament the 818-page report of a commission of inquiry into corruption at the top levels of the bureaucracy.

“But an injunction was granted banning the report's publication and implementation as soon as it was tabled. And extraordinarily, the government has not sought so far to have the injunction lifted.

“The government, however, has moved rapidly to pass legislation sheltering resource projects from all litigation over the destruction of the environment, labour abuse or landowner exploitation.”

Now none of this will be a surprise to regular readers of PNG Attitude. What is significant, though, is that consideration of the excesses and deficiencies of PNG’ rulers is beginning to gain traction in Australia.

Meanwhile, publicly at least, the Australian government remains mute on this disgraceful situation. And, as for AusAID, the least said the better.

Callick quotes Port Moresby Governor Powes Parkop as saying the new resource legislation delivers "almost absolute power to the government" on such matters.

“A clamour had arisen demanding the suspension of National Planning Minister Paul Tiensten over claims of corruption,” writes Callick. “Tiensten returned to his constituency. But Somare then sent the government's Falcon jet to bring Tiensten back in triumph to Port Moresby.

“The Supreme Court chalked up a win over the government recently, however, in insisting on the suspension of Treasurer Patrick Pruaitch following his indictment by the Ombudsman Commission for corruption.

“Legislation to water down the powers of the Ombudsman Commission, which polices corruption, has been backed by the government. But it was postponed to later in the year following mass demonstrations.

“[Opposition leader] Morauta warns: ‘If the Ombudsman Commission goes, there is no country’. Somare says there is no intention to remove the commission, describing the demonstrators as ol long long (mad).

“Paul Barker, executive director of the Institute of National Affairs, PNG's independent think tank, says: ‘The few reformers within the government seem to have inadequate political and bureaucratic backing to push through the massive changes needed for government to contribute rather than be a dead weight to a productive and inclusive economy and society.’”

Message to readers and contributors: let’s maintain the pressure.

Source: ‘Grand larceny robs PNG of millions’ by Rowan Callick, Asia-Pacific Editor, The Australian, 12 June 2010

Environment Act: govt has not learned lesson


“I stood to debate this bill but the speaker was very selective to only [choose speakers] in support of the bill.”

THE PNG GOVERNMENT has gone on the defence against increasing public concerns regarding the infamous Environment Act amendment, and sadly has not come out to clearly explain its actions.

It seems the National Alliance-led coalition has not learnt its lesson about unpopular rushed decision making, which saw the nation stand up to denounce the Maladina bill amendment a couple of months ago.

There is increasing public pressure, especially from resource owners around the nation, to the Environment Act which was voted for by 73 MPs and against by 10 MPs on 28 May  in the last parliamentary sitting.

According to Environment and Conservation Minister, Benny Allan, these changes outlaw third party lawsuits against resource developers.

Third party groups, in the government's view, are special interest groups who are not direct stakeholders in resource developments.

It is interesting to note that the minister forgot that apart from NGOs and special interest groups campaigning against the amendment, there are genuine resource owners and landowners involved who. from day one. have made their stance known that they will suffer from environmental damage.

Nine days after the passage of this act, Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare expressed that the public, especially resource owners, were confused and have misinterpreted the changes in this law, which he claimed have not lowered the standards of environment protection.

The public's opinion that the government is protecting the interest of foreign investors was later confirmed by the PM where he was quoted in the press as saying “'it would be irresponsible for the government not to protect the interest of the developers that have complied with our environment regulations and have been issued permits.”

The following day Sir Michael blasted the media, NGOs and the judiciary, for misinforming the public.

He admitted the rushed amendment was because of the delay in the courts regarding Ramu Nickel, and that time was running out as the stakeholders (government and developer) have targets to meet.

He feared the nation would lose a lot if the investors were not happy, especially the Chinese developer undertaking a massive US$800 million investment.

According to Sir Michael, deep sea tailings is the best option available and supported by advice from the 'three best brains': two departmental secretaries and the Scottish Association of Marine Science.

However, apart from the latter, how genuine and respectable are senior government bureaucrats when it comes to scientific research matters?

Resource owners from the concerned areas have made known that not all options of waste disposal methods have been exhausted.

However it is sad to note that Rai Coast MP, James Gau, the newly-elected leader of the very people who are calling out for help against damages to their land and sea, has called on his people to focus on the “development aspect of the project”.

It is very dangerous to imply that we should continue ahead and see development, and then deal with damage to the people and the natural environment later.

The politicians who voted for the amendment, including Sir Michael Somare, Benny Allen and James Gau, have forgotten that the local communities are the rightful landowners and have the right to decide on their land without being influenced, controlled or bullied politically.

This events on the floor of parliament are not a good precedent and will pave the way for foreign investors to corruptly exploit and profit at the people’s expense.

I stood to debate this bill but the speaker was very selective to only allow Luther Wenge and John Luke, with both governors speaking in support of the bill.

If I had been given the chance to speak and represent my affected communities, I was ready to remind MPs who represents resource-rich electorates that we all have a duty as representatives of those land owners and affected communities to protect their rights.

If I had supported the bill I would have done injustice to my people who are currently being affected in the Watut river communities.

On behalf of my people in Bulolo, I call on the MPs representing resource project areas from both the government and the opposition to come together and to support a private members bill to repeal this law for the good of our resource owners.

* This is an edited version of an article by Sam Basil, who is MP for Bulolo in the PNG Parliament. Spotter – Paul Oates

PM should stand down ministers, Marat says

RABAUL MP, Dr Allan Marat, who has emerged as a formidable opponent of Sir Michael Somare, has questioned the Prime Minister for failing to stand down the three MPs implicated by alleged bank robber William Kapris.

Dr Marat said Kapris had revealed the names of two ministers and the Deputy Speaker of Parliament in the Supreme Court.

One of the two ministers named was suspended Treasury and Finance Minister Patrick Pruaitch, but Marat said Correctional Services Minister Tony Aimo and Deputy Speaker Francis Marus were still holding on to their offices despite the revelations of their alleged involvement with criminals.

“Can’t the prime minister act swiftly to remove them to salvage whatever decency there is left of the government?” the PNG National newspaper reported Dr Marat telling a large crowd at the Kokopo Walk Against Corruption

“If the prime minister cannot, then he should come out in public and tell the nation why he is holding on to them.

“I stood up for what is right that went against the government’s interests and Sir Michael did not hesitate to sack me in the most humiliating manner in front of all the other ministers and backbenchers,” Dr Marat said.

He said Sir Michael’s favourite expression was that “ministers alleged to have committed misconduct in office were presumed innocent until proven guilty”.

But he said: “That expression is not consistently applied.

“So what is the real reason for holding them back as there are many capable backbenchers who can do the job?

“Some of us are used by the National Alliance Party merely as numbers to form the government. After that, some of us are nothing but figures to the party,” Marat said.

“We were deliberately avoided and the views, opinions and advice of other people were taken and acted upon, much to our surprise and disapproval.

“My stand against the proposed Maladina amendments to the leadership code was the last straw,” he said.

Nahau Rooney should be PNG’S next GG


Watch out Papua New Guinea! Get ready for our first woman Vice-Regal in 35 years.

Is this prognosis too far-fetched in a predominantly man’s world like our society?

Not really. PNG has been ready a long time, but our parliament and government have not. Let us change this trend today.

The outgoing Sir Paulias Matane, supports the idea of PNG having its first Governor-General in future. And many citizens will wholeheartedly agree with one of PNG’s most respected and best performing Governors-General since independence.

Prime Minister Somare and every Member of Parliament must think about this important decision for parliament to vote in a woman as Governor General after Sir Paulias’s term of office has expired.

Let our parliament now create history this week and confirm Nahau Rooney as Governor-General designate in a fortnight’s time.

Australia’s appointment of Quentin Bryce, former sex discrimination commissioner and Queensland Governor in September 2008, ended 107 years of male stranglehold on the vice-regal post - a great breakthrough for the women of Australia.

Canada has had a woman for the past five years. Michaulene Jean is a most remarkable woman who achieved much in public life. Many admire her as she has struggled long and hard from humble beginnings, settling in Canada with her parents as an eight-year old from Haiti.

PNG can do the same thing. There are a few good women around who would make an ideal future choice. However, there is one I highly recommend: Ms Nahau Rooney CBE CMS.

Nahau Rooney is a respected former MP who first entered parliament as the Member for Manus Open.

Over a 10-year period, she performed commendably by holding four key Ministerial portfolios: Liquor Licensing & Correctional Services, Justice, Decentralisation & Provincial Government, and Civil Aviation & Air Niugini.

After leaving parliament, she became Director of the Forest Industries Council, Deputy Chairman of the Air Niugini Board and a member of several organisations: including the Airlines Investigation Commission, UPNG Council, National Fiscal Economic Commission, Law Reform Commission, Pihi Manus Association and the Manus Provincial Government Assembly.

In recent years, she has taken up different roles in non-government organisations. Her efforts as a concerned community advocate for ordinary people has resulted in a number of positive development outcomes, especially in issues affecting women and children.

Nahau Rooney has been a single parent since 1990 and is very much concerned for the marginalised sections of society. Like Sir Paulias, she will do her utmost best to positively contribute to national development.

I call on our Prime Minister and parliament to please put your political differences aside and agree on making Ms Rooney the first woman Vice-Regal.

For PNG, this would be a great breakthrough moment. It would also be a very good thing for all Papua New Guineans to have a respected role model who captures the spirit of modern PNG.

Government wants to lift Finance inquiry ban


THE NATIONAL Court has been asked to lift the ban placed on the implementation of the recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry into the Department of Finance and Treasury.

Since the inquiry report was tabled in Parliament in March, a judge had placed a ban on its publication and the implementation of its recommendations.

Justice Bernard Sakora issued the ban while granting leave for a judicial review following an urgent application by former solicitor-general Zachery Gelu and lawyer Paul Paraka.

Appearing for the State before Justice Mark Sevua, Scholastica Nepel of Jerowai Lawyers argued that the interim injunction stopping further dealings of the final inquiry report was “an encroachment” by the judiciary into the role of the executive arm of the government which had instituted the Commission of Inquiry into the Finance Department.

Ms Nepel said the Prime Minister presented the report in Parliament on 4 March 2010, and this was to be followed by the implementation of the recommendations.

She said there were irregularities in the orders granted by Justice Sakora, and they should be set aside.

In response, lawyers for Paraka and Gelu submitted that there was an urgency which prompted their client to seek the interim injunction.

They said there had been an intention to publish excerpts of the final report in a Sunday newspaper, which prompted them to take urgent action on 6 March before Justice Sakora on circuit in Alotau.

Source: PNG Exposed