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73 posts from July 2010

Australia to provide $50m to PNG churches


AUSTRALIA WILL provide $50 million to churches in PNG over six years to deliver critical health and education services to the poorest, most disadvantaged and remote village people.

It seems the funding will bypass the PNG government and AusAID, establishing a new system in which Australian NGOs will work with PNG churches in service coordination and delivery.

The services will include building medical centres for people with HIV/AIDS, operating health clinics and schools in remote areas, training medical workers and teachers, and running primary schools.

Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said PNG churches help to resolve community conflicts, respond to disasters and improve the income of PNG’s poorest people through growing and marketing cash crops.

He said Australia recognises the vital role they played in delivering about half the country’s health and education programs.

Mr Smith, who has just completed two days of talks in Alotau with PNG counterpart Sam Abal, said Australian NGOs would work with PNG churches.

“This is a very effective way to ensure that capacity is being built and services reach the people most in need.”

He said that in the past Australia had provided $35 million to support churches to raise HIV awareness, address discrimination, improve health facilities, train teachers and respond to emergencies such as the cholera outbreak last year and the Oro floods in 2007.

Time for PNG govt & cohorts to say goodbye


I THANK THE Supreme Court for upholding the constitution of PNG by throwing out the unconstitutional part of the Organic Law on Political Parties and Candidates that placed restrictions on MPs who now have true freedom.

Since the National Alliance formed government in 2002 there have been lots of corrupt practices. However, MP’s ability to move against the government was restricted by the law.

That’s how the NA and its coalition partners abused the democratic and independent state of PNG, using their parliamentary majority and strength of numbers.

They blatantly slammed, castigated and attacked the integrity of our parliament. There was a blind clinging to government so that Sir Michael might give them funding for electoral advantage.

There are a lot of senior ministers who do not have good reputations. They have been involved in so many scandals and have abused the democracy of this sovereign nation.

Since 2002 several allegations have been raised against Sir Michael, the Moti Affair being one of them, but there was nothing done.

It makes one wonder if there are two laws: one for leaders and one for ordinary citizens. As far as I know there is only one rule of law for every citizen, that must be respected and honored.

As well as the Moti affair, there was the illegal appointment of the NMSA chairman, the Taiwan cash diplomacy scandal, the Singapore $40 million scandal, disbanding the Commission of Inquiry into the Department of Finance, the alleged deal with Michael Mathew a US businessman (Bart Philemon was removed as Treasurer), and the overlooking of Immigration laws to permit a mass influx of 300 Chinese a week in 2008. The list goes on, to include most recently the controversial Maladina Amendment and the amendments to the Environment Act.

After the Supreme Court ruling on the Organic Law on Political Parties and Candidates in favour of Dr Bob Danaya, there is no reason for MPs to continue clinging to the National Alliance. They now must exercise the freedom and rights provided by the constitution.

They are able to move from one political party to another. They are able to vote in a new prime minister. They are able to enact or repeal laws.

When the Opposition tried to introduce a vote of no confidence last year some coalition members said they are not ‘political butterflies’ moving from party to party. Some said they would not break the ‘waraogoi’ accord made in Kokopo even though the NA misled them.

Now this mentality has to vanish. The MPs need to understand that they are voted in by the people to bring services to the people and fight against corrupt practices.

Now, the Opposition must quickly reintroduce last year’s vote of no confidence.

The time is ripe for the NA to say goodbye. Please MPs, use the power vested in you by the people and your freedom and rights in the parliament to give a big farewell wave to this NA-led government.

PNGRL needs to organise to support Kumuls


THE PNG RUGBY League administration must get its act together to sort out the legal impasse, or forget about PNG's participation in the forthcoming four nations rugby league tournament in October.

Time may be running out for the Kumuls, and PNG must be concerned for several reasons. While we stuff around, the Australian and New Zealand organisers of this important tournament are watching and wondering whether PNG has got what it takes.

We should not let the threat of resignation by Kumul coach Adrian Lam force us to a compromise decision that will destroy the integrity and sustainability of rugby league in this country.

Let the rugby league administration now decide what is good for the development of the game in PNG. Ahead of us is not only the four nations meet four months, but the whole Australian NRL bid proposal.

There is an urgent need for the Kumuls to start preparing now or PNG may not be prepared for the four nations. Adrian Lam is the best Kumuls coach so far, and it will be a shame if he was to step down as coach. Lam values his credibility more than the silly games the league administration is currently embroiled in.

The administration's lack of clear direction has now prompted Sports Minister Embel to take matters into his own hands to try to resolve the impasse.

The Minister must be commended for his foresight and quick action. And in this context it’s somewhat surprising to see the Sports Federation not taking a more proactive stance to directly address the resignation threat by Lam.

Last Saturday's meeting organised by the Sports Minister at Port Moresby's Crown Plaza hotel saw all rugby league stakeholders meet and has had a temporary but positive outcome.

The meeting decided to have a caretaker rugby league administration in place until the court decides who is the rightful rugby league board. This is a start.

What is really needed is a strong leadership and management within the PNG Rugby League to take the code forward. We must do this without any political and external interference.

Reginald Renagi is a former President of the Defence Force Rugby League and Union

Court ruling weakens Somare’s grip on power

ROWAN CALLICK, Asia-Pacific editor of The Australian newspaper, reports today that the PNG Supreme Court has made a decision that could shake Michael Somare from power.

Sitting under Chief Justice Salamo Injia, the five-man bench ruled yesterday that the Organic Law on the Integrity of Political Parties breaches constitutional freedoms.

This allows the 109 MPs to shift their loyalties, opening the possibility of a vote of no confidence in the government, which ahs been besieged by controversies of corruption, crime and resource development.

Somare, 74, has been in parliament for 42 years and was re-elected Prime Minister after the 2007 national election.

His own National Alliance Party won 27 seats and established a coalition with six smaller parties.

The Organic Law on the Integrity of Political Parties was enacted by the government led by Mekere Morauta, now opposition leader, to prevent MPs seeking rewards for their votes and to stabilise PNG's unpredictable politics.

The law ensures MPs stay with their party during the five-year parliamentary term.

Callick writes that the law has meant it is virtually impossible to dislodge a government once it has formed a ruling coalition.

Now there is nothing to stop Somare's former supporters - including those frustrated at their failure to win ministries - from switching their allegiance to the opposition.

Spotter: Bill McGrath

Both Australia & PNG query aid effectiveness


AAP - AUSTRALIA AND PNG have reached a turning point in their relations as PNG begins to benefit from the massive liquefied natural gas (LNG) project and an overhaul of aid effectiveness is launched.

Australian Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister, Stephen Smith, made the remarks yesterday in Alotau, where he meets PNG counterparts today in the last session of a two-day ministerial forum.

While PNG is luxuriating in a prolonged resources boom, it is going backwards in terms of health, education, corruption, and law and justice .

Australia's attempts to keep PNG these issues on track with a $450 million a year aid budget has been undermined by ineffective delivery.

"We are potentially at a turning point where we need to take the opportunity to reconsider the things that we've done in the past," Mr Smith said.

"The Development Cooperation Treaty review is something we jointly need to consider.

"It draws our attention to trying to do too much, of stretching the budget too thin, and we need to focus on areas [in which] we make most impact.

"It is quite clear the LNG project has the potential to transform PNG's economic and social circumstances," he said.

PNG Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Abal said Australia has a role in helping PNG, but he wants an end to what is known as "boomerang aid".

"If they want to help us build the Highlands Highway, fine, but we are asking for that money to be brought onshore and spent here.

"A good aid policy is one that renders itself obsolete at some time in the future.

"We would be a very irresponsible government if we did not push in this direction," Mr Abal said.

Studying the rich history of Rabaul's Chinese


THE HISTORY of the Chinese in and around Rabaul goes back a long way, and if you have any information or photographs on this subject, you may be able to assist with research for a book I’m writing.

In the mid-19th century, Chinese visited New Guinea as crew members on trading vessels. Irregular though these visits were, an association developed.

Later, after Germany declared a Protectorate over the northern part of mainland New Guinea (Kaiser Wilhelmsland) and the major island groups in 1884, the New Guinea Kompagnie brought in Chinese as cooks and domestic servants, bringing a closer acquaintance with the territory.

Later still, indentured labourers (coolies) were recruited from Singapore and the Dutch East Indies to assist in developing and maintaining tobacco and cotton plantations. Skilled Malay and Javanese tobacco processors also came.

These plantations’ horrific death rate from malaria, beriberi and dysentery, together with appalling living and working conditions and ill-treatment by overseers, caused most of them to be closed by 1900. Most of the coolies were repatriated, but a few chose to remain.

During the same period, plantations were successfully operated at Herbertshohe (Kokopo) on the Gazelle Peninsula. The New Guinea Kompagnie was always short of labour and tried – with occasional success – to get Imperial German assistance to engage workers from Singapore, offering them much improved working conditions.

With the decision to build a new capital at Rabaul, trained artisans (employed as “free” Chinese) were needed to construct the main wharf and town buildings. Again some remained after the work was completed.

Australia imposed stringent restrictions on Chinese migration to New Guinea which encouraged their intermarriage with native women. The children were usually acknowledged and raised as Chinese.

There was also some intermarriage with mixed-race (German/Indigenous) residents of Rabaul.

The Chinese lived, as required, in Chinatown and concentrated on their businesses and families. How this was done and the way they lived peacefully with other races in Rabaul make them an interesting minority group to study.

* Dr Peter Cahill, a former resident of Rabaul, is an academic at the University of Queensland. He is gathering material for a book on the Chinese in Rabaul 1884–1960 and invites people with stories or experiences related to this to contact him. Photographs would be a bonus. Write to Dr Cahill at 7 Wynyard Street, Indooroopilly 4068 or email him at [email protected]

Skilled workers, not pickers, says Minister


PNG IS THIS week likely to endorse an agreement for some of its people to work in a fruit-picking scheme first mooted by Australia two years ago, even though its Education Minister is skeptical of the proposal.

Australian foreign minister Stephen Smith is today in Alotau for a truncated annual Australia-PNG Ministers’ Forum.

It is claimed the meeting, to discuss issues of bilateral concern, is being attended by fewer ministers this year because of a problem in finding suitable dates.

But an earlier excuse was that Australian ministers were “too busy” in an election year.

The Forum will focus on a beleaguered aid program under which Australia spends nearly half a billion dollars a year with little achievement in AusAID’s goals of providing good governance and improvements in social development.

The triumphs that have occurred are unfortunately as rare as a gold watch on a cassowary.

PNG has spiced the current talks with a call for an overhaul of Australia’s predilection for employing what are termed “ineffective and highly paid consultants.”

Australia’s pilot seasonal worker scheme has so far employed only 56 Pacific islanders. The New Zealand scheme, on which Australia’s is modelled, is reporting numerous successes.

Meanwhile PNG Education Minister, James Marape, has undermined the scheme by saying PNG does not need to send fruit pickers to Australian farms but skilled people to work overseas.

Mr Marape said PNG and Australia should be talking about sending skilled people to Australia, with many students graduating from good universities every year.

“We should focus on sending our skilled human resources to foreign countries to improve the lives of the people. Not just sending fruit pickers and labourers to work in farms and plantations in Australia,” he said.

AusAID project helped improve governance


FOR THOSE who may not know, the PNG Ombudsman Commission (OC), is a constitutionally independent body with two central functions – dealing with complaints against government departments and administering the leadership code.

The second function meant it was PNG’s main anti-corruption agency when the Ombudsman Commission Institutional Strengthening Project started. 

The Project ran from November 1997 to August 2002. Its purpose was ‘to enable the OC to perform its Constitutional and Organic Law roles efficiently and effectively by strengthening its organisational and staff competencies.’ The design was based on ten objectives set by the OC prior to the project:

1.         A five year strategic plan

2.         A functional organisational structure

3.         Adequate case management

4.         An appropriate work planning and monitoring system

5.         Improved internal communications

6.         Improved budgeting and expenditure controls

7.         OC staff trained and skilled in their work

8.         An adequate public awareness program

9.         Development of close working relations between the OC and similar institutions

10.       Effective use of information technology by the Commission.

The OC achieved all of them. In 1998, it produced its first five-year strategic plan and reviewed and updated it in 2002. Based on the Strategic Plan, the OC submitted annual outputs-based “Ombudsplans” and budgets to Parliament, and reported against them the following year. 

This planning underpinned and reflected a complete organisational restructure arranged through the project, so that every position contributed to the OC’s planned outputs.   An indicator of the success of these changes is that in 2001 the Chief Secretary distributed the OC’s plan and budget to other government departments as a model for their submissions to the Central Agencies Coordinating Committee.

The introduction of IT systems to support case management, budgeting and expenditure and HRM and HRD systems in support of work planning and monitoring was a major project component.  The project purchased approximately $600,000 of computer software and hardware, related services and training from PNG suppliers via an open tender.  It also assisted the OC to develop its internal IT support capacity. 

This major organisational revamp required a comprehensive training program for around 100 staff on every aspect of the OCs systems and procedures.  To ensure that the changes would be sustained, the project produced training manuals and the OC expanded its training capacity.

Supported by the project, the OC developed its Public Awareness/External Relations program.  A local media organisation trained the Ombudsmen and senior staff in public speaking and media skills with immediate results. 

In 2000, OC senior staff conducted information seminars with Local-level Government members in Milne Bay, Gulf (2), Morobe, Enga (2), East New Britain and Oro; and gave presentations at twenty schools, in Milne Bay (5), Gulf (4), Enga (2), East New Britain (4), Oro (2), East Sepik (2) and Sandaun.  They held public awareness seminars at locations throughout Papua New Guinea and gave presentations at training sessions for law enforcement and custodial officers and journalists from all media.

In March 2000, the OC distributed over 2,500 copies of a new pamphlet “Making a Complaint”.  Members of the Commission made ten presentations to seminars, workshops and conferences and briefed parliamentarians on the Leadership Code requirements that year.  

In 2001, the OC held media conferences in to launch the Cairns Conservatory and Malagan House status reports, and conducted a series of radio interviews in Port Moresby, Morobe, East New Britain, Milne Bay, Mt Hagen and Kokopo. The OC’s media unit issued 47 media releases, updated and reprinted the complaints and leadership pamphlets, produced a new booklet An introduction to the Ombudsman Commission, and produced and distributed an eight page monthly newsletter.

Ternty-eight summaries from complaints finalised by the Commission were prepared annually for release to the print and electronic media and for inclusion in the OC’s Annual Report. This campaign, which continued throughout the remainder of the Project, resulted in an increase of more than 100% in complaints against government bodies being received and processed by the OC.

Through this element of the project, the OC also set up a pilot government bodies’ liaison program, assisting the Constabulary and Defence Departments to establish their own complaints handling capabilities and appoint liaison officers to communicate with the OC. The OC provided training and guidelines to these departments and officers. 

To carry out its anti-corruption function the OC must liaise with similar organisations in PNG and overseas. Through the project the OC defined a strategy to develop linkages with oversight and enforcement agencies to facilitate its investigations. 


Complaints Handling.  Even though the public awareness campaign led to a doubling of complaints it received from 1,524 in 1998 to over 3,000 in 2002, the OC managed to more than double the annual number of complaints brought to a satisfactory conclusion, achieving an overall increase in productivity of more than 30% in complaints handling. 

Leadership Investigations.  In the five years prior to the project (1992-7 inclusive), the OC had referred a total of 12 leaders to the Leadership Tribunal.  Although no leaders were referred in 1998 (as the restructure occurred), from 1999 to 2002 the OC referred 21 leaders to the Tribunal. 

The OC has maintained its improved performance since the project concluded.  In the five years after the project, figures for complaints received were: 2003- 4,250; 2004- 3,823; 2005-3,299; 2006-3,823; 2007-2,986.  Leadership Tribunal referrals by the OC over the same period were: 2003– 4; 2004-3; 2005-6; 2006 -10; 2007-2. [Source:- Justice Advisory Group reports in 2007 and 2008]

After the project, the OC continued expanding its government bodies liaison program, with the number of liaison officers increasing from 4 to 44 by 2007, and more complaints being handled directly by government departments rather than going to the OC, so the drop in complaints received since 2003 is to be expected.

Given the complexity of leadership cases and time required to gather evidence, the variation in the number of leaders referred to the tribunal since 2002 is also to be expected, but nevertheless the OC has maintained the number of referrals achieved during the project. 

If people still doubt the OC’s effectiveness, the recent cowardly attempt on the life of the current Chief Ombudsman Chronox Manek should be enough to convince them that that the PNG Ombudsman Commission remains a power for improved governance in PNG. 


To put it into perspective, $5.7m is $1.14m/year, i.e. the equivalent of about one tenth the annual turnover of a supermarket currently being offered for sale in Victoria (here). Even allowing for inflation, that’s not a huge amount of money to spend on improving a nation’s main accountability organisation.

Here’s a summary of how AusAID’s funds were spent across the project:  Project Design (including extension): $375k; Organisational structure and work processes: $700k; HRM and Staff Development: $775k; Systems for planning and reporting: $560k; IT systems development and training: $950k; Public awareness and external relations: $650k; IT procurement: $600k; Travel and per diems:$275k; Management, overheads and profit: $780k.

In the interests of space, I haven’t included details of the project team, but my opinion, it would be hard to find a more appropriate group than the one we had – a view I know was shared by the MOC at the time. 

It’s easy to criticise the Australian Aid program, but I think even AusAID’s staunchest critics would agree that improving capacity to hold government departments to account and addressing corruption is an essential step in enabling development to occur.

That’s what the OC project achieved.  The credit for this achievement goes to the Ombudsman Commission and to AusAID.

* Roger Ley is Managing Director of Educo Pty Ltd. This commentary was written in response to an original article in PNG Attitude, which you can link to here.

What we believe PNG Attitude is about


THE JULY PNG Attitude newsletter was circulated to something more than 580 subscribers early this morning, notwithstanding a hyper-vigilant Norton anti-virus that was under the misapprehension that we were trying to spam the universe.

As I wrote to contributor John Fowke recently, PNG Attitude was not started to impose a world view or ideology on anyone.

We simply seek to provide a forum in which interested Papua New Guineans and Australians can exchange opinions, stories, ideas, methods and, yes, hopes.

We want Papua New Guineans to know that many Australians are not unmindful of their concerns and issues. And we want concerned Australians to engage in some sort of conversation with Papua New Guineans to provide a link, however flimsy, between two close neighbours.

Of course, in the way of things, such goals can become frayed - but I think the underlying tenor and the vast bulk of the contributions move in the desired direction. Overall, I’m very pleased by how this website and its accompanying newsletter have developed, and with what they are achieving.

By nature I am an uncensorial person. I protect the website in terms of eliminating defamatory remarks and grotesque offence, but I do not protect it in terms of what misconceived or, from time to time, let’s face it, eccentric views may be offered. They exist in this world we temporarily occupy and they have some (sometimes a slender) right to be expressed.

The newsletter is a bit different. It is subjected to much more stringent editorial control. It now has a primary circulation of nearly 600, which continues to grow, and I know it is emailed to many more people, perhaps as many again.

If you don’t subscribe to it, you can do so – free – here.

Finally, it is always the case in public discourse that wrong and unfair things are said and that villains are elevated and good men traduced. I have long thought it was better to have such matters out in the open where they can be addressed than lurking in the dark where they exist as dirty untruths that people continue to believe because they know no better.


Message to Julia: time to pull the troops out


AS IN THE Vietnam war in the late 1960s, Australia has again caught itself up in a strategic political entrapment with the US in the protracted insurgency war in Afghanistan.

It is time new Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, reviewed Australia's strategic approach to Afghanistan. She must not maintain her last two predecessors policy of keeping Australian troops in Afghanistan.

The longer this policy remains unchanged, the more Australian troops will die and return home in coffins.

It is time Australia critically reviewed its direct involvement in the war. I believe the US military occupation of Afghanistan will fail. If you do not believe me, then learn from history. Australia must learn from its Vietnam history.

The Soviet Union lost its insurgency war in Afghanistan. In 1986, the Soviet generals found that after seven years the vast majority of territory still remained in the hands of rebels.

Soon after, the Soviets withdrew. Thousands were dead on both sides and the occupation failed to produce a stable national Afghan government.

This same scenario is being replayed. I am sure Australian military planners know this. The Australian government must critically reassess its continued involvement in a volatile situation that has Australia trapped. This is an insurgency like Vietnam with no end in sight as to when to pull out troops and go home.

Australia has no real "exit-strategy" and neither does the US. This may be something Julia Gillard can correct. Most Australians would be right behind her.

The US and the coalition forces are now eight years into this so-called war against terror. The US strategy is flawed and what happened to the Soviets will happen to the US, Australia and the coalition force.

A big part of the problem stems from a fundamental misunderstanding of the situation. The US seems to ignore the fact that its very presence as occupiers feeds the insurgency.

This would be the case if PNG were invaded and occupied by a foreign force. All diverse groups would put aside their disagreements to unify against a common foe. For all its technology, the US cannot win this so-called war against terror.

The enemy is effectively using the US occupation to convince villages to side with the Taliban.

In Vietnam, Australia was caught out with the US in a political entrapment. Afghanistan is no different. With no real workable strategy in Afghanistan, without a vision of what victory will look like, the US is left with the empty rhetoric of the last Administration that “when the Afghan people stand up, the US will stand down.”

I believe the only solution to the Afghanistan quagmire is a rapid and complete withdrawal. Australia cannot afford to maintain its involvement in an unnecessary war that is hitting Australian taxpayers hard with the prospects of more young Australian lives lost.

With that analysis, I say to Julia Gillard: it's time to pull our Aussie troops out of Afghanistan now.

Reginald Renagi was a former senior officer in the PNG Defence Force

Call to do more to stop spread of AIDS in PNG


THE PNG GOVERNMENT has been urged to do more to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS.

One of Australia’s leading experts the disease, Bill Bowtell, today described the world pandemic as a “rolling holocaust” because millions of sufferers are being denied life saving treatment.

Interviewed on ABC Radio, he blamed the global financial crisis for a sluggish response to the disease which affects 35 million people around the world.

He said PNG now had rates of infection among young people of two and three percent, and this was dramatically too high.

“It’s emerged over the past five and 10 years and really the PNG government, in conjunction with Australia and other donors, has really got to up the effort to prevent the spread of HIV,” he said.

Mr Bowtell, director of the HIV/AIDS Project at the Lowy Institute, was one of the architects of Australia’s response to AIDS.

He said one of the great problems with the reporting of HIV/AIDS was that people became apathetic or they thought that nothing could be done.

“Nothing could be further from the truth. If we get treatment into the mouths of the people who need it, and we can fund that properly, and we put the resources behind it, we can make their lives immeasurably better.  We can save their lives,” he said.

Mr Bowtell will attend the bi-annual International AIDS Conference in Vienna later this month. “I don’t think we will be hearing very much about a magic bullet solution but we will be hearing a lot about the need to resource the response effectively.”

Former US President Bill Clinton is due to be one of the main speakers at the conference.

Torres Strait people win an historic victory

A NINE-YEAR legal battle has ended with the largest native title sea claim in Australian history.

For the first time, native title has been declared over most of the Torres Strait between Queensland and PNG.

The Australian Federal Court’s historic ruling means that indigenous locals will be given rights of access and use of maritime resources.

The decision was welcomed by Torres Strait islanders, almost 100 of whom packed the Cairns courtroom for the delivery of the judgment, and burst into song after it was announced.

Social Justice Commissioner Mick Gooda said the native title recognition was the final step in what had been a nine-year procedure. "Today's result is the end of a long process for the people of the Torres Strait and testament to their resilience and determination," he said.

In his judgment, Federal Court judge Paul Finn said the native title rights awarded to the traditional owners were non-exclusive. This meant they had ownership of the waters, but could not exclude other groups.

Ships, fishermen and other businesses, including the PNG gas pipeline, can still operate in the waters.

Justice Finn said the native title ruling covered not only sea but also tidal inlets, bays, estuaries and the ocean floor.

It has been a long road to victory. George Mye was one of the men who lodged the claim nine years ago, said: "To myself and the people of the Torres Strait, it's a very big happening. To us it's a big, big win," he said.

Barrister Brian Keon-Cohen says the latest ruling means traditional owners must now be consulted when decisions are being made. "You have to remember the Torres Strait is a very sensitive area by reason of defence, customs, immigration, commercial fishing, natural resources," he said.

"It is an area the subject of layer upon layer of legislative control, and indeed an international treaty between Australia and PNG."

Sources: 'The Australian' and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Amend laws governing our natural resources


INVESTORS IN mining, oil, gas, timber and other projects need to pay more to exploit PNG’ natural resources.

Currently PNG has very poor laws in place to protect these resources. And that’s why it has a small stake while investors and shareholders dominate.

The recent amendment on the Environment Act strips even more from the country and the people. The government has blatantly and arrogantly used its parliamentary majority to pass a dangerous piece of legislation.

Instead, the Environment Act should have been left alone and the Mining, Gas and Oil Acts amended to enable the State to acquire a 30% stake in our resources. The government’s current 19.4% equity is insufficient to meet growing demands for services in PNG.

When 19.4% is shared between the national, provincial and local level governments and landowners, it is like ten people sharing the same plate of food.

Of the proposed 30%, the national government should retain 20% with the remaining 10% given to provincial governments, LLGs and landowners of the project area.

The change will bring a long term benefit and will reshape the future of this struggling nation.

There are nothing to show from the long existing giant mines at Ok Tedi, Lihir, Bougainville, Misima and Porgera. More than half the people still live below poverty line. And this trend will continue as the newly amended Environment Act obliterated customary landowners’ rights.

Papua New Guineans are spectators under the present laws.

The boom in mining and petroleum is not forever. One day these non-renewable resources will come to an end. Now they generate billions of kina, but we will regret it when the resources are gone if this money is not managed wisely now.

This is an urgent call to the government to amend and regulate the laws that govern the natural resources, and to reconsider the Environment Act.

Remembrance society seeks new members

2-22-lark-force THE RABAUL and Montevideo Maru Society is seeking more members as it moves to construct a memorial to commemorate the loss of life following the Japanese invasion of the New Guinea Islands in January 1942.

The Australian War Memorial has granted in principle approval for a Rabaul and Montevideo Maru Memorial to be established in its grounds, and the Society aims that this be completed in 2012, to mark the seventieth anniversary of the invasion and th sinking of the Montevideo Maru.

The ship held more than 1,000 military and civilian prisoners of war who had been in Rabaul and its sinking in the South China Sea was Australia’s worst maritime disaster.

The Society is targeting an amount of $400,000 to be raised over two years, but may need as much as $500,000 for the memorial.

The Commonwealth Government has already committed $100,000 to the project and the Society is about to begin corporate fundraising.

This is a huge challenge for a small, voluntary organisation, but the Society ahs some good friends.

For example, it spends nothing on administration. In 2009 the chief executive of Jackson Wells Pty Ltd, John Wells, offered to adopt the Society as a pro bono client, and Jackson Wells provides substantial support as a result of this commitment.

Now the Society is opening its doors to people who wish to participate in ensuring the continuing commemoration of the tragic events associated with the Japanese invasion of the New Guinea Islands in 1942, and their aftermath.

Ordinary membership is $50, which includes a free subscription to the Society’s monthly Memorial Newsletter.

For more information contact Keith Jackson here.

Photo: Elements of the 2/22nd Battalion, most of whom died in the defence of Rabaul and sinking of the Montevideo Maru, march through Rabaul

Controversial son becomes Finance Minister

PRIME MINISTER Sir Michael Somare has appointed his son, Angoram MP Arthur Somare, as PNG's acting Finance and Treasury Minister.

The appointment has been described it as “risky and dangerous” by the Opposition

Saying Deputy Prime Minister Sir Puka Temu should get the job, Opposition leader Sir Mekere Morauta said: “What has Somare got that other members in government benches do not have? Why is he special to deserve all the glory and power?”

The portfolio became vacant after incumbent Patrick Pruaitch was suspended from office because of his referral to a leadership tribunal over allegations of misconduct in office. Pruatich is challenging his referral in court, and the case is pending.

Somare, who is also Public Enterprises Minister, is facing misconduct allegations of his own. The public prosecutor last week asked the chief justice to appoint a judge to head a leadership tribunal to inquire into allegations of misconduct in office which were referred by the Ombudsman Commission in 2006.

Somare continues to hold office because he took out an injunction against his suspension, and is challenging his referral in court.

Meanwhile Opposition leader Sir Mekere Morauta has called on Somare to step aside to answer the leadership charges.

He said Somare must act in the interest of good governance and law. “As a senior minister and an important member of the ‘kitchen cabinet’, the minister is duty-bound to respect and uphold the Constitution and principles of law by stepping aside to answer leadership charges against him,” Sir Mekere said.

He said public prosecutor, Jim Wala Tamate, had decided to ask the Chief Justice to appoint a new chairman for the leadership tribunal to investigate the misconduct allegations against Somare.

Spotter: Bill McGrath

BACA: law being used for personal influence

PNG’s BUSINESSAgainst Corruption Alliance (BACA) has attacked the arrest of lawyers and bankers in Port Moresby and questioned the silence of Police Commissioner Gari Baki’s on the behaviour of his officers.

Speaking after the arrest of former bank executive, Garth McIlwain BACA said the harassment and jailing of bankers and lawyers in the normal conduct of their employment duties was illegal and unacceptable.

“They are clear examples of the breakdown of the constitutionally guaranteed rule of law in PNG, and the police commissioner’s silence is a damning indictment of his conduct as commissioner,” BACA said.

It said PNG was confronted with a situation where the law was seen by many to be a means of personal influence.

“Baki’s position as Commissioner is untenable if he will not come out publicly and state categorically that this situation is unacceptable to him, that it will end, and that he will issue instructions and ensure his officers abstain from such activities,” BACA said.

The situation was threatening the effectiveness and fairness of the legal system, and the confidence of business and investors in PNG.

“It was also a threat to the democratic system and the rule of law, and lucrative large scale projects like the LNG project could be under threat.”

BACA said the government and the Commissioner must take drastic action.

Will Genia takes out two top rugby awards


WALLABY SCRUMHALF Will Genia has won this year’s prestigious Pilecki Medal as Queensland’s best player. He’s also been voted the fans’ favourite player.

PNG-born Genia, 22, took over as captain of the Queensland Reds after James Horwill was injured in only the second  round of the Super 14 competition.

He led the team to its best season for many years and polled votes in every one of the 13 games he played.

Queensland coach Ewen McKenzie said Genia had taken on the additional responsibility and led by example for the whole season.

“He didn’t miss a beat. The consistency of his performances is what we need to achieve as a team, and the group we have assembled for 2011 is capable of that,” McKenzie said.

Voted by the players on a 3-2-1 basis after each game, the Pilecki Medal is named after legendary prop Stan Pilecki who played 122 times in the Queensland front row.

Pilecki was present on Thursday night to present the award.

The inaugural People’s Choice Award was decided on the votes of fans and Genia was again a clear winner.

Genia, born in Port Moresby, is first choice scrumhalf for the Australian Wallabies. However, he’s having a bad run of injuries having missed the first three internationals this year with a damaged knee.

Returning for the Test against Ireland on 26 June, he sustained a broken thumb.

Yama strikes again – bank exec arrested


Yama_Peter AAP - ONE OF PNG’s most respected banking and finance figures is the latest expatriate to be arrested in an ongoing dispute between Bank South Pacific and controversial businessman Peter Yama [right].

Australian-born Garth McIlwain, former managing director of the bank, is expected to face court on Friday on charges related to the bank's attempts to recoup millions they say Yama owes.

Serial litigator Yama, a former politician and policeman, told AAP he does not intimidate or influence police to make arrests.

"I first complained to police about BSP three, four years ago,” he said. "Why would the charges take this long if I have such close connections? Police see the evidence, they see something is wrong and they acted.

“This is not tactics of intimidation; I didn't go to the police commissioner and tell him to make this happen; I've been in Madang not Port Moresby. I don't have a grudge against anybody.”

AAP understands representatives from the Australian High Commission in PNG raised "deep concerns" about Mr McIlwain's arrest with PNG's Attorney-General.

McIlwain_Garth Mr McIlwain [left] is the fourth expatriate associated with the dispute to be arrested, while law firm Gadens stopped representing BSP after several staff members suffered violence outside their homes.

A PNG court overturned an arrest warrant for Australian James Kruse, a Deloitte senior accountant, who had worked for BSP.

BSP, the Pacific's largest bank, has always rejected the charges as "ridiculous" and maintained its staff acted in a normal working capacity.

Last December Yama won $3 million in a legal battle against a motor vehicle insurance company, but BSP tried to secure the money, claiming he had not settled debts from the late 1990s.

Since then charges against a Gadens lawyer, Eric Anderson, were dismissed as were charges against two BSP executives, Robin Fleming and John Maddison.

But Maddison still faces court on charges relating to 45 counts of misappropriation.

PNG Police Commissioner Gari Baki is looking into the arrests while the Port Moresby Chamber of Commerce expressed worry these events put international investment at risk.

Powes Parkop MP – PNG’s renaissance man


A TRUE MEASURE of a successful government is for it to do everything in its power to provide basic services and to create the right environment for its citizens to meaningfully participate in the country’s development.

This has not happened, despite promises at Independence in 1975 by those entrusted to protect the interests of our people and country.

In fact, those early promises have become lies as successive PNG administrations have badly let down people and country for over three decades.

Today, PNG has an uncaring regime, pampering big business and special interests while making many bad decisions that seriously affects our people and that will make life hard for future generations.

Full face However, National Capital District Governor Powes Parkop’s positionon Parliament's cross benches so as to better challenge the honesty of the government is the act of a creative strategist and has been enhanced by the recent launching of his new political party.

Being an independent MP is a smart move, not spur of the moment but carefully planned. It leverages Parkop's position to deliver what his constituents expect prior to the next election in 2012. 

On the cross benches, Parkop has choice to either abstain, support or oppose on any issue according to his better judgement.

Parkop realises that politics is about compromise for gain. It is about meeting the other party half way for both to achieve its own objectives in a ‘win-win’ outcome.

As National Capital District Governor, Parkop hopes to achieve many of his plans for Port Moresby city before the polls.

I see independent MPs like Parkop not as whingers who have lost their marbles but as intelligent MPs. This can have benefits for the county as these MPs have the flexibility to see both sides of an issue before making their input. 

On the other hand, the Opposition needs to be more effective. It should credibly demonstrate it is the ‘alternative government’ and is up to the task of providing the leadership needed in future.

As the alternative government of PNG, the Opposition must get better organised. Its first priority is to prepare itself for the day when (it hopes) it will become the government. Its second priority is to keep the government, its policies and its activities under keen and constant scrutiny.

Today, PNG needs strong leadership and good honest leaders to ensure clean politics and a sense of fair play within parliament.

Firstly, the leadership must force itself to be more disciplined, accountable and responsible in its actions without lying as has been the norm for some time now. It is important that PNG has a strong no-nonsense leader to better organise the current coalition government.

Secondly, PNG must have an effective opposition to keep the government on its toes. The opposition must ensure its shadow ministers are well-versed in their responsibilities to keep constant scrutiny of government actions and decision-making. 

Thirdly, parliament has been shirking its primary responsibility by poorly serving PNG’s national interest. A parliament that compromises PNG’s national interest does not deserve the people’s support.

Finally, the way ahead is for a more effective leadership and a new team of committed social engineers who will have PNG’s best interests at heart to completely transform the people and this country.

It is not too far-fetched to imagine Governor Powes Parkop to be a future Prime Minister. 

All NCD residents should give their full support to Governor Parkop and his city hall team in their tireless efforts to make PNG's capital a clean, safe and healthy place for all.

The frightening failure to fix failed states

OVER THE LAST decade, it's become popular for think tanks and intelligence agencies to compile lists of ‘failed states’: unstable countries, prone to rebellion and civil disorder.

What failed states have in common is a lack of civil society and lots of corruption.

Another common problem in failed states is a large number of ethnic groups. This is a common curse throughout Africa; the majority of the worst failed states are there: the top five failed states are all African - Somalia, Chad, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Congo.

Perhaps the most glaring example of a failed state caused by too much diversity is Papua New Guinea. PNG has over 800 languages (and more tribes). It has been in chaos, of one form or another, since becoming a nation 35 years ago.

No one has come up with a quick or easy solution for failed states. It's a matter of effective local leadership that frequently fails to show up.

There has been some success in helping good leaders develop. And exemplary leader can make a difference.

Examples abound. Kemal Ataturk turned Turkey from a medieval monarchy into a functioning democracy. India had a handful of strong leaders who achieved what many believed impossible and created the worlds largest democracy.

Alas, Turkey and India are the exception, not the rule, and this sorry state of affairs will continue for the foreseeable future.


Spotter Jaymz Daash

PNG-Aust ministers meet on LNG revenue

A PNG-AUSTRALIA ministerial meeting in Melbourne today will discuss the establishment of sovereign wealth funds as a vehicle for the management of revenue flowing from the PNG liquefied natural gas project.

“I welcome this opportunity to work with the Australian Government to set up a framework for transparency and good governance in the management of future LNG revenue flows,” said inister for Public Enterprises, Arthur Somare.

The official PNG delegation will include Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister, Sam Abal, National Planning Minister Paul Tiensten, Public Services Minister Peter O’Neill and Commerce and Industry Minister Gabriel Kapris.

The delegation will discuss possible Australian assistance for the creation of a transparent governance regime covering taxes and dividends received by the PNG Government from the LNG project.

“The Government needs to have these measures in place before the LNG revenue starts to flow,” Mr Somare said.

Late last year PNG requested that Australia help set up an effective and transparent governance regime for LNG project revenue to provide international credibility.

Besides creating “a transparent, robust legislative framework”, the Australian Government has also agreed to co-opt a team of international economists to carry out economic modeling on the impact of the $US15 billion project.

Mr Somare said studies by the Department of State Enterprises supported a proposal to place dividends from the government’s 16.6 percent stake in the project in an offshore infrastructure fund.

Environment Act amendment denies freedom


THE AMENDED Environment Act will strip away Papua New Guineans constitutional rights to our customary land.

Almost all our people are against the amendment, as land is our natural asset which the great majority of us depend on for life.

The amendment – which favours huge overseas mining companies - means there won’t be any consultation with the customary landowners when it comes to resource development.

Every deal, good or bad, will be negotiated by the national government. The people will have no rights at all.

Amendments to our laws should have proper consultation before being made. However, it never happens this way.

If you have been closely watching the National Alliance-led coalition, you may have seen it abusing its parliamentary majority and privileges. It has blatantly and arrogantly taken the laws of this sovereign nation unto itself.

The government is using its parliamentary majority to play the numbers game in the Haus Tambaran, changing law after law in the interests of particular people.

The vast bulk of Ministers are puppets of the two Somares, Sir Michael and his son Arthur.

Furthermore, I do not believe the Supreme Court is likely to protect our freedom and rights as are provided by the constitution of this nation.

People should have the right to express views but new Attorney-General, Ano Palo, has decided to crack down on this fundamental freedom when it comes to opposition to the new environmental laws.

This is PNG, a sovereign nation governed by its own constitutions drafted for independence in 1975. PNG is not a family business. Our leaders should do what is right and beneficial for the silent majority of PNG.

People have lost confidence in the governance provided by the chiefs and fathers of this nation. They are knighted and bestowed for nothing. Instead of moving foreword we are accelerating backwards, fuelled by chronic and systematic corruption.

I thank and acknowledge ACT NOW. We need to inform our people, who do not have any knowledge about such pressing issues of the national interest.

New Act mandates offshore PNG IT expertise


NICTA Ad NOW HERE’S a curious thing.

Yesterday The Australian newspaper ran its usual information technology supplement.

At the same time there was an advertisement in the newspaper [right] for an ‘Independent Expert’ to join the Department of Communications and Information in Papua New Guinea.

The Department is responsible for telecommunications, radio communications and broadcasting regulation.

These powers will be exercised through a new National Information and Communications Technology Authority (NICTA), which replaces the former regulator, PANGTEL, in August.

The expert is expected to have a sound knowledge of IT, be a university graduate, be of high integrity and be a non-resident of Papua New Guinea.

Bit strange, a non-resident?

It gets more interesting.

Apparently the National Information and Communications Technology Act of 2009 specifies that one of the three non-executive experts who are to work with the Chief Executive Officer of NICTA should be a non-resident.

Is this legalised discrimination?

I didn’t know it was possible to legislate distrust of your own people.