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86 posts from October 2010

Dave Argent: teacher, footballer, anecdotalist


Argent_Dave FEW OF OUR READERS would have known Dave Argent, who died last night and who lived at Smithton in Tasmania. But if you had known him, you would have liked him. Dave was 67.

He was a big man with big liquid eyes. He could sing in tune and play the piano with panache. He was as quick and good with an anecdote as he was quick and strong on the rugby field.

He was also a man of ideas, none of which provided much by way of material wealth. But his idea to marry Kerry was always a good one, and that gave him as much love and companionship as any man may have wished for. He also had mates - good mates - who loved him like a brother.

Dave was a cadet education officer at ASOPA in 1962-63. He was not what you would call an assiduous student. And nor was he a natural born teacher, or even one able to acquire skills. But he had a warm and conspiratorial, in the best sense, personality that allowed him to skate around problems, if not always with ease then usually with success.

Bob ‘Moose’ Davis dozed off in an Educational Philosophy lecture and Dave decided that a piece of grass thrust in a nostril would bring him to life. It did - with a massive grunt that served to draw a question on Aristotle from lecturer Norm Donnison, who knew better than to be disappointed at Bob’s response.

“To pass first year Physical Education, we male students had to complete a ropes course. When I arrived for my first PE event towards the end of term in a late attempt to qualify for a mark, I was offended when lecturer Les Peterkin asked who I was. It got worse because, having been advised, Les responded “Keh?” The great ropemeister had never in his life seen me before.”

Contempt for authority was always Dave’s Achilles heel.

“That and my IQ meant I didn't reach the dizzy heights. I knew my IQ and, not wanting the notables to know, I ripped up The Great ASOPA IQ Test bringing froth to (psychologist) Brian Ross’s lips and nearly a trip to principal CD Rowley for a quick exit. It was put around that the average IQ was 137. Just as well mine was not included. Needless to say I failed the final Educational Psychology exam.

“But my IQ wasn't the lowest at ASOPA. Phil Ralph and others of us were wont to duck lectures and go to Balgowlah Bowl where, as students, we received a discount. When he was challenged about his student status, Phil asked the proprietor to phone ASOPA and check it out.”

At ASOPA, Moose Davis owned a green ‘55 Morris Minor that totally outperformed Dave’s clapped out ‘47 Morris Ten.

“Moose would wait for me to depart up the ASOPA hill each evening and take delight in passing me, chuckling as he sped by. This finally got the better of me so I headed out to the Parramatta Road and bought a ‘58 Morris 1000 that took the beep-beep out of Moose for the next 18 months.”

Somehow Dave managed to graduate from ASOPA and his first temporary posting was with his great mate Rory O’Brien to Utu near Kavieng, to teach an in-service course.

“Our house was split-level, the kitchen daunbelo complete with fuel stove and gaping holes punched through the bottom of the wall. We soon discovered the reason for the holes. Whenever it poured, we were up to our knees in water. The holes were to let it out”.

His first permanent posting was to the Primary A School at Namatanai.

“I didn't have a clue and lasted about three months. The kids were all Chinese whose parents taught us the game of five card stud poker. Very grateful to them, too.”

He was soon after posted as head teacher of Wapenamanda Primary T School, 2½ hours out of Mt Hagen.

“Five thousand feet above sea level, beautiful days, very cold nights. In those days anyone with a hint of football prowess was highly sought after. So every Thursday the District Commissioner’s Landrover arrived to take me to Hagen for training, which then ran into the weekend of the match and more training on Tuesday. Back for one day at the school and repeat the process. Needless to say my first inspection report was not all that good.”

On one of Dave’s infrequent teaching days at Wapenamanda, he encountered a most obnoxious smell, a teaching hazard never mentioned at ASOPA. Dave set out to identify the person responsible.

“Was it you, Yeusef? ‘No, not me, him’ (pointing to Wakup). Was it you, Wakup? ‘No, not me, him’ (pointing to Bambi). So it went on right round the whole 30 of them until one bright lad called Joseph came up with a solution. ‘I know,’ says he, ‘smell their arses’.”

Dave remembered those exotic names. Umpit, Redcross, Tinmeat, Elbo, Want, Yokomo.

“At Hagen Primary T, an expat teacher renamed his entire class and the names stuck - Burt Lancaster, Mick Foley, Tony Curtis…”

Dave’s next assignment was a more serious bush posting at Keltiga.

“Kerry and two kids and not another white face for miles. To make matters worse we had no transport and I started to read the works of Robert Ruark (Uhuru) well into the night. Hair raising stuff and I was quick to buy a car.

“I became a liklik kiap with the local community, having to adjudicate all sorts of problems. I had a lot of respect for the bush kanaka and got on very well with the local MP, Pena Ou, who would share the odd beer with me and let me prattle on in awful Pidgin and reply in very acceptable English.

“Paias Wingti (in those days spelt Pius and pronounced ‘Puce’) was at my school at Keltiga. I never suspected he would become Prime Minister. Roman Catholics prevail around Hagen, thus Pius and they would tramp off to lotu on Sunday where the incumbent priest would revel in the full attendance at each Mass at 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11 o’clock.

"The only thing the priest wasn’t aware of was that it was the same congregation that came out of 6 o’clock mass that went back in for 7 o’clock and so on.”

We are going to miss Dave ‘Kurt’ Argent – and we are going to miss his rich fund of wonderful stories.

Let’s see more than a straw in the wind


“We can only hope that China rapes us gently. China will take over functions of government by building infrastructure not by military invasion. My last word on the subject” - George Manoi

FROM RAMU NICKEL to Somare and his men, and on to the weak, shilly-shallying, overbuilding of the Kumuls into the fully and regularly representative league team they can be.

On almost any subject you care to name where firm resolution is needed - policing, education, health, agricultural development, control of the costly and inefficient public service.

In every area of comment, controversy or expressed dissatisfaction, the weasel-words and lack of positivism and visible action by most of PNG's educated middle-class demonstrates daily that, for the most part, it has not the guts or the initiative to turn around the slow collapse of its glorious land and its manifest great latent human and material wealth.

The educated middle class, represented by the Papua New Guinean contributors to PNG Attitude have the ball at their toes but they are frightened to kick and follow it up the field.

God help PNG. No-one else will, it seems. And if the Goaribari of Kikori are to be believed, the country is in fact cursed by God because of their greedy consumption of the late Reverend James Chalmers and his companions in 1903. So no help from that source.

What a waste; what a load of sadness for the illiterate, subsistence-sustained, uneducated majority to have to languish under.

A big, highly-resourced social-leadership canoe, potentially the powerhouse of a working democracy, and crewed by well-educated, advantaged citizens.

But a canoe with no steersman, no paddlers and no conch-shell blower to announce its movement against the ever-rising tide of selfish and incompetent minority rule.

George Manoa, Reg Renagi, Tom Kulagi, Mari Ellingson, my friends in the coffee industry, all of you, have a look in the mirror tomorrow morning and try to see reflected there a determination and a will to stand up and be counted for deeds and positive activity.

Not the existing propensity for endless weasel-words published daily in this blog, castigating and endlessly criticising, but all to no visible, practical purpose.

Defence changes 3 – Budget considerations


Funding the PNG Defence Force does not have to be expensive, although budget cuts may be perceived as reducing the country’s capacity in effectively dealing with border security, maritime surveillance and internal security problems.

For the Defence Department, the central issue for budget planning are the enormous structural imbalances. These must be corrected to ensure Defence has in place an efficient program.

In the past, before cutting the Defence strength by 62% in October 2001, the Department spent some 70% on personnel.

This clearly left little for operational and capital expenditure. To correct this, the budget structure must be modified.

Over the next five years, the defence organisation must move progressively to a more balanced budget structure. This can be achieved by allocating 50% to personnel, 30% to operations and training, and 20% to facilities and capital equipment.

Even with a reduced strength, present funding levels are inadequate to meet future security requirements.

However, the changes proposed here can be met within existing financial appropriations. But they can only be realised as long as predicted savings are generated.

It is imperative that the Department of Defence implement strict financial management measures, and detailed cost-controlled programs.

Restructuring has been long overdue - since Independence - and will enhance the ability of PNGDF to retain an effective “core force”.

This will also assist the government to establish a viable National Youth Scheme as part of PNG’s national security strategy framework.

It is envisaged that both political and public support will be gained as a result of the implementation of a military reserve scheme and, subsequently, National Youth and School Cadet Schemes. The Ministry must also ensure various nation building initiatives.

A change of this magnitude will require sustained political and bureaucratic attention.

The reorganisation must be staggered to allow command restructure at minimum cost. The Ministry needs to have in place a five year rolling program in its Long Term Development Plan. These plans provide broad guidance for priorities to be set for force investment options, and guide judgments on the balance between investments, operating and personnel costs.

The planning and programming will be iterative - reviewed annually to readjust to changing strategic circumstances, defence guidance through government directions, changing community expectations and economic prospects.

The next few years should see a complete reorganisation of Defence headquarters. The main aim is to ensure that the whole Ministry functions well as one effective and efficient team.

By achieving a greater degree of synergy, the strategic aim is to enhance and develop a set of capabilities which can perform key tasks effectively within the overall mission of the defence of PNG and the maintenance of its national interests.

The November PNG Attitude magazine, 48 pages full of stuff worth reading, has been emailed to 950 free subscribers.  If you want to be kept well informed on PNG affairs, just drop us an email here.

It’s our game – and it inspires a nation


ALBERT VERATAU and Garry Juffa represent two clashing ideologies. Veratauism consists of building the rugby league code by forging strong relations with a major partner who will provide financial and technical support.

It reached an epitome in our relations with Australia when former prime minister Rudd pulled strings to get the ball rolling contemplating a 2015 National Rugby League entry for a PNG team.

At the operational level we saw a mass injection of technical assistance. A whole bunch of blokes flooded our shores bringing goodies. The Pacific Cup saw a full team of dimdims. Setting up the PA system, touch judges, promotion and marketing consultants, even water boys.

Why even the great Adrian Lam looked far and wide in the great southland for Kumuls. Recruited them from the north all the way to the south, and boy they put on a show. Trashing every Pacific country that came our way.

It was something and Veratauism had prevailed in bringing the code much needed attention.

However, the flaw in Veratauism, and one that persists in PNG foreign and investment relations, is its inability to be absorbed and sustained in national institutions. 

In this case, the PNGRFL’s inability to sustain human and financial capacity. So when the assistance comes, it’ll be mostly spent on consultants from down under and the four million evaporates.

The support services will likely all come from Australia, and will have no long term capacity-building potential for the PNGRFL staff and management. With continuous recruitment of big boys from Australia to play for the Kumuls, local talent is denied and therefore there is no exposure.

A more nationalistic intervention is attractive. And that is exactly what Juffaism brought. Nationalism + Discontent = Take Over.

With whispered neglect of affiliated associations all over the country, Juffa funded a meeting in Lae in 2009 which voted him as President.

It mattered little to the affiliated members of Rudd and Somare’s Rugby Aid, multimillion dollar sponsorships or Lam’s predominantly southland Kumuls.

At the end of the day, all that mattered to the voters was that associations were not progressing and, for some, that their boys were been denied a Kumul jumper.

In true Juffaism, Veratau’s pale crowd was chased out and Lam’s “southland” Kumuls flew away. But has this improved our game?

I don’t know, but what is clear is that there are no winners. As much as Juffa wants to bang the nationalistic drum, he needs technical assistance in management, commercialisation of the game and training programs to enhance the code.

While credit must be given to Veratau for bringing these activities, developing long term programs, recruitment of local based experts in formulating marketing, and planning must be in full and genuine consultation with PNG counterparts.

There are examples all over our country of why development assistance collapses and it is largely due to blueprints brought from Canberra and stamped into Waigani without inputs from PNG officials.

Veratau or Juffa, Lam or Gene, win or lose, one thing is for sure, the Kumuls are an instrument of inspiration and change.

Kids sit around the fire places in Kabaufa talking about the mighty Lahanas, boys paddling down the fly river chatter about the Kumul speedsters, school yard fights over who should be Steven Mead, and supporters like me go nuts looking for Kumul memorabilia.

Sport is capable of great things. Jesse Owens defied the irrational Nazi propaganda of Aryan superiority. Mandela and Pienaar united a nation on the brink of civil war. And who can ever forget what Pini gave PNG.

PNGRFL and the Kumuls don’t need wins, they need leaders.

On collecting books about Papua New Guinea


I started collecting books about Papua New Guinea in 1966 when I applied for a job as a Cadet Patrol Officer. In those days my tastes ran to the likes of Jack Hides and other adventure writers.

I’ve been collecting books ever since, but my tastes have mellowed over the years and the genres have widened considerably.

It’s not an especially expensive hobby - books about PNG don’t fetch big prices - but it does involve lurking about the dustier sanctums of secondhand book shops or rummaging through the stalls of library sell-offs and in places like Vinnies.

If I’m desperate for a special book, I’ll search the web and reluctantly pay the much higher prices that dealers demand.

I generally carry around a list of books that I’m seeking, and the act of crossing off a rare find is a real buzz.

Over the years I’ve accumulated about 250 volumes. If you’re interested you can see the list here. Download Phil's Booklist

The genres have become distinctive as the collection has grown. Because I do social mapping, there is a collection of anthropological and historical volumes and a bunch of reference books like the excellent Encyclopaedia of Papua New Guinea.

Then comes all the stuff written by kiaps, the odd doctor and, surprisingly, only a few teachers.

Then there is fiction, again dominated by kiaps, with a thin sliver of Papuan New Guinean writers.

One genre I tend to avoid are military topics, mainly because I’ve had an aversion to things martial ever since a certain lottery in the 1960s, and because there is so much of it published that I’d never be able to find the space.

I did enjoy Eric Feldt’s The Coastwatchers, however, and think it is a far superior work than the recent blatant rehash.

Another genre I’ve avoided is missionary literature. Much of that is pedantic, mildly racist and too self righteous for me. When I went to Uni, Marxism was the go; being a working anthropologist doesn’t help either. Each to his own.

However, I enjoyed Ben Butcher’s We Lived with Headhunters immensely and also APH Freund’s Missionary Turns Spy.

I worked with Harold Freund researching and writing a monograph on his Kukukuku artefact collection before he died in the late 1990s. That otherwise gentle and devout pastor harboured a hatred for the wartime Japanese that was chilling.

Which brings me to the point of this rambling yarn – one Hosea Linge, or Ligeremaluoga as he was known.

Ligeremaluoga was a Papua New Guinean and also a missionary. More than that, he was the first Papua New Guinean to write a book.

Vincent Eri published the first Papua New Guinean novel, The Crocodile, in 1970 but Ligeremaluoga wrote and published the first book way back in 1932.

It was a memoir and he wrote it in his native New Ireland Kuanua language. It was translated by Ella Collins for publication by FW Cheshire in Australia.

Until recently the book has been largely dismissed. Ulli Beier thought that Ligeremaluoga was just mouthing the religious platitudes of his white teachers and suspected that Collins’ contribution was more than mere translation.

Ulli also thought the book, because of its religious flavour, had contributed to the destruction of the culture of Ligeremalouga’s people. He especially thought the title, The Erstwhile Savage, was terrible.

Ulli was anti-colonial and taught that way. Only a few of his students, like Russell Soaba, questioned that line of thought.

With that sort of recommendation one might be wary of seeking out a copy. Don’t be deterred. It’s a lively book with some very interesting and original history. 

If you can’t get a copy of the original, he published an updated version in 1978 called An Offering Fit for a King, which I hear might be republished soon.

The subject matter might not be so relevant now but its place in the annals of Papua New Guinea literature is very important. The book sits very comfortably in my collection.

If you want to know more about him Eric Johns wrote about Ligeremaluoga of Kono in the Famous People of PNG series published by Longman in 2002.

Villagers angered by govt’s logging land grab


AAP - PNG villagers are angry their government has allocated more than a million hectares of pristine forest for "special agricultural leases" - which they describe as a land grab for logging.

At a landowner meeting in Kiunga this week, hundreds of disgruntled villagers said their land had been given away without consent or notification.

Western Province now has half of PNG's allocated 4.3 million hectares of what are termed "Special Purpose Agricultural and Business Leases”.

Last year, the government allocated 853,420 hectares to companies in the Western Province for special leases in areas such as the contentious Kamula Doso forest that has a court order preventing any forestry activity.

PNG's build-up of "special leases" has enraged green groups, NGOs and numerous government officials who contacted AAP to raise their concerns that PNG's forests were under threat by oil palm or "logging by stealth".

Western Province MP Boka Kondra, who addressed the landowners on Wednesday, told AAP it was a grave concern.

"They are giving away the land but we don't know what the future use is or the implications," he said.

"It is a surprise to see this, I will talk to the ministers concerned to find a possible solution because a lot of people on their land will see this as taking it away."

Western Province Land and Resource Owner Federation chairman, Paul Katut, said landowners had been duped.

"Its unprecedented the government gives one million hectares," he said.

"We have members of the companies here that all say they didn't agree to the deal."

PNG's Lands Department grants the "special leases" to companies to build, for example, oil palm farms, but in the past unscrupulous players have used the leases to bypass laws and cut down the forest, export the logs, and then leave.

Greenpeace forest and climate campaigner, Paul Winn, said increasing special leases was another example of PNG's disregard for its purported climate change policy and indigenous people's rights.

"These leases will never result in agricultural benefits to PNG they are just a way of sidestepping the logging laws," he said.

PNG Agriculture Minister John Hickey did not return AAP's calls, and the Lands Department could not be contacted for comment.

Dinosaur AusAID is out of touch with PNG


OUR LITTLE SCHOOL (The Children's University of Music & Art - CUMA) in Kaugere Settlement was the chosen charity for fundraising efforts by the Australian High Commission Social Club through the High Commissioner's Charity Ball in 2009.

Chris Moratis was High Commissioner and John Feakes Deputy High Commissioner at that time.

During the months leading up to the Ball we worked closely with many wonderful people from the High Commission in Port Moresby. Many of the officials, including John Feakes, came to Kaugere Settlement (without security) and witnessed our project for themselves.

On the night of the Ball, three Australian MPs from Canberra were present and stated "this is the sort of thing we should be supporting".

The true Aussies at the High Commission tried to get AusAID people involved and encouraged them to visit CUMA in Kaugere, but without success.

The only person from AusAID to visit us was the wife of the builder who built our first two real classrooms. "Bob the Builder" was a treasure. He came and taught our raskol boys how to build a real building (with helpers Wally and Jason who, like Bob, were also "trailing spouses"). Everyone in the community loved them for it.

We can attest from a grassroots level that AusAID is totally out of touch with Papua New Guineans and their plight.

We approached the AusAID "consultant" to the National Capital Development Commission long before we started CUMA. His reply was that our project (to educate settlement children and train 'raskols) did not "fit their criteria". We told him that his criteria should fit the needs of the community.

So we gave up on AusAID and went ahead in our own way; and we have succeeded where they have not.

The cost to the Australian taxpayer to employ an expatriate adviser for one year - with salary, housing, motor vehicle, private school fees, haus meri, security and the rest; - would run five of our schools. That represents the education of 1,500-2,000 PNG children.

We met AusAID PNG head Bill Costello at several functions that were promoting our little school. He was not the least bit interested in talking to us. His wife who is a PNG national was very interested.

We were fortunate enough, through Dr Carlie Atkinson. another wonderful 'trailing spouse', to have Professor Judith Atkinson and a team of facilitators come to CUMA and conduct the first ever "Family Violence; Community Recovery Workshop" in PNG. It was funded by Southern Cross University and cost about $15,000.

Judy is a leading light in Indigenous Healing who has extensive experience worldwide, including in Australia, Africa and East Timor. That workshop changed Kaugere Settlement forever, and made it a safer place for the whole community, especially the children.

Had AusAID been interested enough to organise and fund that workshop, it would have cost the Australian taxpayer in the vicinity of $250,000; most of it in "Admin and Consultancy".

AusAID is a dinosaur, full of people with no connection to the communities they are there to help. And, quite frankly, not interested in them.

They just want to ram their Western solutions down the throats of indigenous peoples and it does not work.

Eric Johns has donated his books to CUMA; and we look forward to using them because they are written for PNG school students and are relevant to their education.

Peter and Lydia Kailap founded CUMA, The Children's University of Music & Art, which you can link to here

Paul Pora: a great leader who loved the land


Pora_Paul MORE THAN 500 people attended Paul Pora’s government-funded memorial service in Port Moresby.

And at Kagamuga Airport outside Mt Hagen, thousands of mourners turned up to greet his body, covering the casket with mud - welcoming home a favourite son for the last time.

It’s been said that Paul Pora, who died of asthma last Friday aged 66, was the Highlands first multi-millionaire.

But I knew him as a quiet, thoughtful and ferociously clever political science student at the University of PNG in 1975.

We shared Prof Rex Mortimer’s politics honours class with Utula Samana, Ben Sabumei, Rabbie Namaliu, Sinai Brown and a guy who went on to be prime minister of the Solomons. It was quite a team. I was the only one never elected to Parliament.

Paul rarely said much, unlike the rest of us, particularly Utula. But what he did say was always insightful, expressed eloquently, and presented with humility. He had a charm and charisma that were understated, and the more potent because of that.

The last time I saw Paul was when we graduated in our light blue UPNG gowns in 1975.  But despite the many years in between, it was with a sense of great loss that I learned of his death.

He died with four wives, 17 children and many grand-children. As best I am able, I share their grief.

His son Allan said Yamuga Paul Pora, as he was known, was a wonderful father and a great leader, who loved simple things and was passionate about land.

“He left his family with a legacy of determination, drive and that ‘never say die’ attitude that he has instilled in us,” Allan said. “I appeal to all fathers and husbands today, hug your wife and babies because one day, we will all go down the same path.”

After leaving UPNG, Paul worked for the Reserve Bank of Australia, rising to be registrar of the savings and loans division, before becoming council clerk of Mt Hagen where he developed the council’s business arm, the still successful Wamp Nga group of companies.

He then went into business himself, establishing a prudently diverse enterprise - the Dobel Farming and Trading company. He was made the first chairman of Air Niugini and, in 1987, entered politics where he was elected three times as Member for Hagen Open, serving as Minister for Finance and Minister for Civil Aviation.

His political comrades speak of his honesty, loyalty and calm demeanor in the midst of PNG’s worst financial crisis in late 1980s when he was Finance Minister. “He was the ideal man to pull PNG out of financial strife when PNG’s biggest mining project, Bougainville Copper, prematurely closed,” said Sir Rabbie Namaliu.

“The task was on [Paul] to immediately design a rescue package for PNG that would minimise the impact of loss of revenue from BCL and stabilise the nation’s economy which he succeeded in achieving.”

Ben Sabumei recalled the business aspirations of the man who became the Western Highland’s first multi-millionaire. “He was a brilliant strategist and a visionary who forecast years back that PNG politics would change based on the discovery of oil and gas which would influence the political direction of the country.”

There are many stories of Paul Pora’s strength and courage.

I read a report that, when he lost his Hagen seat to William Duma in June 2002, Yamuga tribesman were angry. They had good reason. Three boxes from Pora’s stronghold areas remained uncounted when the returning officer declared Duma elected.

Hearing of the people’s anger, Pora sent word to the Yamuga men to gather at his Tega village. “The elections have just ended,” he said. “We have a new member for Hagen Open. Something happened that I do not agree with, but there is a due process. It is not for you to take any action. It is for me to take this course of action.

“I want all of you to return to your jobs and your homes. Everything must run as normal. The airport is a national airport and it must remain open. The highway is a national road and it must remain open. Mt Hagen town is ours. It must not be touched ...”

And, with that, he stepped out of politics.

Paul spent his last ten years in retirement at his Kuriva farm outside Port Moresby.

His last journey was on the open tray of a utility - led by a Seventh Day Adventist brass band and surrounded by many thousands of people -  as it made its way from Kagamuga Airport to Tega village.

The boy who had walked from Tega to Chimbu to get a school education had come home.

Paul Pora was a great Papua New Guinean.

So what attracted the comments in October


IN AUGUST PNG Attitude initiated a feature looking at the articles that month that were most commented upon by readers.

This month, mining in the Ramu dominated attention, but outcome-based education continued as a magnet for comment. And the Sydney Daily Telegraph front-page Pauper New Guinea shocker [on the Kumuls’ Australian tour] got readers railing against the excesses of Aussie tabloid journalism.

So to the top ten stories that galvanized our readers and caused them to reach for their keyboards in October …..

132 comments – Ramu Nico threatened us say landowners (Malum Nalu). This is a legitimately important story. Some readers showed a remarkable ability to fantasise about Chinese influence in PNG while others revealed a commendable grasp of the sometimes intricate facts of the impact of this kind of mining on the environment and on sustainable lifestyles. If you know what DSTP means,  you’re really into this debate.

53 – Corney steps up pressure in schools’ debate (Keith Jackson). Last month we received 106 comments on this story. It was still travelling well in October until most participants realised they’d really said all they wanted to and were beginning to repeat themselves. Other readers had worked that out long ago.

21 – Chrissy takes pissy, Kumuls sanap sitrong (Keith Jackson). There was pre-match controversy when a hapless Daily Telegraph journalist compared the market value of the PNG rugby league team with that of the Australian silvertails, arguably as overhyped as they are overpaid. Comparisons are odious, said Oscar Wilde. Our readers saw fit to agree.

21 – Ask questions of Richard Marles (Keith Jackson). We offered readers the opportunity to put their questions and concerns to Australia’s new Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs. Some 20 readers posed some smart questions – too many and too complex for my meeting with Mr Marles last Monday. But the first thing he said to me in his office was that he’d answer them. A great moment in reader participation.

10 – On writing words that people will read (Tom Kuligi). Tom despatched this article as a comment – but it was too good for that and got promoted. Tom explained he wanted to show his family what he’d written. “I have been writing to PNG Attitude for a number of months and cannot believe how my writing skill has changed.” Keep it up, Tom, you’re great.

9 – 3,000 Enga students fail final exam. Apart from being something of an endorsement for Corney Alone’s views on outcome-based eduaction, this was the 2,000th article to be published on PNG Attitude. It was a good one, too. It's always good when PNG Attitude gets into a debate ahead of the curve.

9 – Guts & courage: Kumuls versus Australia (Peter). The man who knows no publishable surname was in the crowd at Parramatta for the rugby league international and gave readers a wonderful description of the game, and especially of the crowd’s creative Pidgin barracking.

6 – Seeking goal compatibility in a risky climate (‘Dexter Bland’). The man who knows no publishable name provided a nicely balanced piece on how investors view their investments. The environment is an important factor – but only so far as it may trigger social discord that may drive commercial disruption. Many PNG Attitude readers look forward to 'Dexter' finding his real name.

5 – Royal Papua Yacht Club racist says artist (Donald Hook). It’s hard to believe that in 2010 there’s an institution in Moresby that can impose draconian and race-based impositions on PNG citizens. But, as Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere said when his followers asked him why he allowed the Tanganyika Yacht Club to prosper after independence. “When the day comes, we’ll know where to find them!”

5 – Statistics cast light on PNG law & order (Paul Oates). PNG has by far the lowest rate of police per head of population of any country in the South Pacific. And it arguably has the biggest law and order problem. Paul did us all a service when he analysed the numbers.

Scrapped program could transform schools


WHEN STUDYING the history of educational reform in PNG, I was saddened to read that in 1986 they “threw out SSCEP” - the Secondary Schools Community Extension Project.

With all the problems now appearing in the education system in PNG, maybe the authorities might like to go back to the good ideas behind SSCEP. The OBE people would approve because students’ studies were based upon an outcome: “going back to the village after your school years to run projects, to learn how to enter the cash economy and to be self-reliant in many ways”.

During 1982-83, I was Headmistress of Manggai High School in New Ireland. In 1980 it had taken on the role of trialling a new curriculum approach, the Secondary Schools Community Extension Project.

It was designed to help students to set up projects in their own village if, for one reason or another, they returned there after their schooling.

Manggai was an ideal school in which to trial this new approach as, due to a shortage of funds, it had set up many self-reliance projects such as carpentry, mechanics, plantation crops, tropical fruits, vegetables, pigs, poultry and cattle. Some of these were used as the basis for SSCEP projects.

In those days, the Education Department had a policy of streaming out less-academic students at the end of Year 8. These people were expected to return to the village. At Manggai, these students were allowed to stay on to complete Years 9 and 10, hoping that the SSCEP course would equip them with more skills for village life.

In fact, many of these students became more motivated and ended up winning places for further training. Those who were the “nominated stayers” at the end of Year 8 also showed a greater motivation and, after the School Certificate, in Year 10, most were offered further training in National High Schools (Years 11 and 12), and at agricultural, technical, teachers’, secretarial and nursing colleges.

Manggai was seen as one of the top schools in the country although on first sight it looked rather “poor and struggling”.

Manggai also trained students in many skills that could be applied in the village. We arranged periods known as Community Extension, where students lived in villages. Students did two weeks of CE in the first part of Year 10 and three weeks in the latter part of the year. All teachers spent many hours working out ways that the students could learn English, Maths, Science, etc while doing the projects.

For English, written reports were required; for Maths, various measurements were needed and practical mathematical problems were given to them that could be applied to their own village situation. A lot of time and effort went into the application of the various syllabi to the village situation.

As “students in the village” they also worked with cocoa, coconuts, vegetables and pigs. Some of the projects were set up by village youth groups, others by older relatives. We hoped that if students went back to the village after leaving school they would be able to set up similar projects themselves and so have a cash income and an improved standard of living.

CE was also a lesson in leadership and team work. As well as the main project they were involved in other mini-projects such as improving village water supply and sanitation system, teaching mothers about health and hygiene and better nutrition, and carrying out interviews.

The students enjoyed the freedom and responsibility of working on their own and the teachers visited them twice a week to observe progress.

Another aspect of Manggai’s self-reliance was in its building program. During work parades students made large bricks out of crushed local corronous (ancient coral) and cement. These were used in the building of classrooms and dormitories.

The woodwork department made most of the furniture used in classrooms and staff houses. These included beds, double bunks, chairs and tables, food safes, cupboards and benches.

I had heard that the Education Department was keen to see SSCEP introduced throughout the whole country. Now I find out it was scrapped. To me it seems the answer to the current problems in PNG education.

ExxonMobil faces huge PNG gas problems


NEW YORK TIMES - A founding myth in the Southern Highlands is said to have foretold the arrival of ExxonMobil, the American oil giant that is preparing to extract natural gas and ship it overseas.

According to the myth, called Gigira Laitebo, an underground fire is kept alive by inhabitants poking sticks into the earth. Eventually, the fire “will light up the world,” said PNG Finance Minister Peter O’Neill. “By development of the project and delivering to international markets, it’s one way of fulfilling the myth.”

But like all myths, this one is open to wide interpretation, as a group of men and women at a Roman Catholic parish here suggested before Sunday Mass recently.

“If foreigners come to our land, you give them food and water, but don’t give them the fire,” said John Hamule, 38, as the others nodded. “If you do, it will destroy this place.”

In 2014, ExxonMobil is scheduled to start shipping natural gas through a 720 km pipeline, then on to Japan, China and other markets in East Asia.

But the flood of revenue, which is expected to bring PNG $30 billion over three decades and more than double its gross domestic product, will force a country already beset by state corruption and bedeviled by a complex land tenure system to grapple with the kind of windfall that has paradoxically entrenched other poor, resource-rich nations in deeper poverty.

While the West’s richest companies are used to seeking natural resources in the world’s poorest corners, few places on earth seem as ill prepared as the Southern Highlands to rub shoulders with ExxonMobil.

The most impoverished region in one of the world’s poorest countries, it went unexplored by Westerners until the 1930s. Believing that this rugged, mountainous region was uninhabited, the explorers were stunned to find at least one million people living here in one of the world’s most diverse areas, largely in small, distinct communities separated by different cultures, languages and nearly impassable terrain.

Constant tribal wars over land, women and pigs — the last being prized measures of wealth, used to pay for dowries and settle disputes — have grown deadlier in the past decade with the easy availability of high-powered rifles smuggled in from Indonesia, just to the west, which are exchanged for the marijuana grown here.

Mr O’Neill says the Southern Highlands are too diverse, too fragmented, to develop the kind of widespread insurrection that exists in the Niger Delta of Nigeria.

But local leaders worry about the continuing inflow of guns into an area with almost no government presence, and no paved roads, electricity, running water, banks or post offices. They worry that the benefits of the gas project will fall short of expectations, begetting a generation of young men who will train their anger on ExxonMobil.

Already, in fact, angry landowners have forced ExxonMobil’s contractors to suspend work temporarily at several construction sites, and local businessmen bid for contracts with unconcealed threats.

“Any outside waste management company that is given the contract will not be allowed into Komo by force or whatever means,” said Robin Tuna, 34, whose company was bidding for just such a contract in Komo, an area south of here where ExxonMobil is building a large airfield.

And ExxonMobil faces the daunting prospect of dealing with PNG’s distinctive form of land tenure, which grants control over 97 percent of the land to customary landowners, primarily indigenous people whose ownership rights to small plots are inherited. More than 60,000 people own land where gas will be either extracted or transported.

To get their agreement, the government invited 3,000 to a meeting last year to hammer out benefit-sharing agreements. The government intentionally held the conference on an island to ward off gate-crashers, though 2,000 uninvited landowners eventually flew over, said Anderson Agiru, the governor of Southern Highlands Province. The meeting, scheduled for seven days, lasted six weeks.

And still thousands, who remain unsatisfied, have streamed to the nation’s capital, Port Moresby, to try to get their cut.

“They tell us they are busy or to come back the next day,” said Jim Tatape, one of hundreds of angry landowners milling around recently in front of the Department of Commerce and Industry, waiting to see anybody inside.

Source: New York Times, 25 October 2010

Spotter: Kevin D’Arcy

Cancellation of DWU Enga students air travel


THE ENGA STUDENTS of Divine Word University who are on scholarships would like to raise concerns with the Office of Higher Education regarding the cancellation of plane tickets.

Enga is a province located at the end of the Highlands Highway that starts in the Morobe and Madang Provinces.

There are many car accidents and hold-ups while traveling the pothole-filled highlands highway especially in the late and early hours.

Several Enga students have lost their belongings to rascals in Mt Hagen when buses drop them there in the early hours of the morning. Some of the incidents have been reported in daily newspapers and radio. There is no safety in Mt Hagen as rascal activities are escalating.

It was a privilege for us to travel by plane from Madang to Moresby to Hagen and catch a bus from Hagen to travel safely to Wabag. However, we learn that our return tickets have been cancelled this year. And we all Enga students are dissatisfied with this decision.

We raised our concerns with University administration but they said the Office of Higher Education had decided to cancel the tickets of the Enga scholarship students.

According to the Registrar’s office, the end of year travel budget was K44,000 short of what was required.

So the usual air travel for Enga scholarship students was cancelled and the DWU administration gave K100 to each student to travel by road to Enga.

The K100 bus fee given to each Enga student is the same amount given to students from Western Highlands, Jiwaka, Chimbu and Eastern Highlands despite the greater distances and PMV costs involved.

On the other hand, students from Southern Highlands and Ela were issued tickets to travel by plane.

Southern Highlands, Ela and Enga are of equal distance from Madang. Why have students from the other two been given tickets and not the Enga students?

Nowadays traveling the Highlands Highway is too risky. We hear from the daily newspapers and see fatal car accidents and hold-ups.

We Enga students feel that we are not being treated fairly. The safety of the Enga students has not been equally considered.

Golden chainsaw award to PNG government


AAP - GREENPEACE HAS presented the PNG government with a Golden Chainsaw award for being “greedy rather than green” when it comes to tackling climate change.

Greenpeace gave the award to PNG representative Federica Bietta during climate change talks in Nagoya, Japan, on Monday.

Greenpeace said it chose PNG for the dubious honour for continued corruption in the forestry sector, stalling UN talks on reducing climate change, disregard for indigenous people’s rights and rampant deforestation.

At the conference, Greenpeace released a 16-page report outlining its concerns that PNG is not ready for the complex UN plan known as Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD), which seeks to abate climate change through a series of donor funded schemes with forested nations such as PNG.

Greenpeace has criticised PNG for being more interested in donor money than seriously tackling climate change.

“The PNG government is hungry for international funding from REDD but has no plans to stop destroying its own rainforest or reduce its own emissions,” Greenpeace forest campaigner Sam Moko said.

Mr Moko, who is in Nagoya for the latest climate talks, said the PNG government could not be trusted to stop cutting down trees.

“How can the government be expected to enforce a sophisticated REDD program, which requires thorough monitoring of emissions from reduced deforestation, when it can not keep its own forestry sector under control?” he asked.

Earlier this month, AAP reported that PNG's prime minister and deputy prime minister were at odds with each other over controversial carbon trade schemes that have plagued their country with scandal.

PNG, with its massive forest coverage, has been at the forefront of the REDD debate but the country has been plagued by numerous corruption allegations.

Previous winners of Greenpeace's Golden Chainsaw include Malaysian logging giant Rimbunan Hijau and numerous logging companies in Brazil's Amazon forest and the Congo.

A macabre end awaited the Butcher of Tol

Nankai_1 IT WAS LATE 1946 and Colonel Masao Kusunose, 58, was about to be tried by the Allies.

The reason: at Tol Plantation on New Britain on 4 February 1942, he had authorised the bayoneting to death of 160 Australian prisoners.

The prisoners were military and civilian escapees from the Japanese invasion of Rabaul. Tired, hungry and demoralised after nearly two weeks in the jungle, they had decided to surrender. A couple of men miraculously survived the slaughter, and escaped to tell the story.

The Colonel, according to his peculiar code, was a man of honour. For him there was only one possible course: suicide.

He could not commit hara-kiri because his samurai sword had been confiscated by the Allies.

Death by drowning or jumping in front of a train would be improper. So he decided to end his life by starvation and exposure in the sub-zero weather.

While Allied authorities hunted him, Kusunose went to the foot of Fujiyama, to a deserted army barracks where he had soldiered as a youth.

He sat down facing the great mountain, which rose so steeply above him he had to bend his head back to see the splendor of the sunlit, snowcapped summit.

Kusunose sat down on December 9. On December 17 or 18, Death, which had been creeping nearer for nine days, sat down beside him.

As he sat dying, Kusunose covered 15 pages of his small black Japanese army notebooks with entries. He had been a soldier; he was dying as a soldier. The last entries concerned food and hunger.

On the last two days, he mentioned pains in his stomach and legs. His last entry was scrawled in red crayon: “Heaven will preserve Japan and the Emperor.”

When an Allied search party reached the barracks at the foot of Fujiyama, they found an old straw sandal, a chopstick and a rusty can. (Japanese lacking Kusunose's peculiar sense of honour had long since looted everything else.

The searchers also found Kusunose's body. But it no longer faced the sacred mountain. Before he died, Kusunose had found the strength to turn away. The diary explained why: “It would be disrespectful if I died in the presence of revered Fuji.”

Kusunose's left eye had been eaten away by rats.

Source: Time Magazine, 3 February 1947

Photo: Japanese troops, Rabaul, 1942

Amnesty speaks out against forced evictions


THEY HAVE LIVED next to one of PNG’s biggest gold mines, but they certainly haven't struck it rich.

Between April and July last years, PNG police illegally and forcibly evicted people from their homes alongside the Porgera gold mine, burning down houses and assaulting and threatening residents.

The livelihoods of families living alongside the mine have been compromised. Local police burned down over 100 homes, slaughtered livestock and reportedly raped women all for the sake of sending one blood-chilling message: Leave your home…or else.

These incidents are not random. The mine is 95% owned and operated by subsidiaries of the largest gold mining company in the world, Canadian-based Barrick Gold Corporation as part of the Porgera Joint Venture (PJV).

The company supplies accommodation, food and fuel to the police under an agreement that PJV claims was conditional on the police abiding by national laws and international standards.

However, even after the companies were made aware of police violence and illegal forced evictions ( Amnesty met face-to-face with Barrick and PJV executives to personally alert them), the companies continue to provide ongoing support to the police.

"When I saw the police drag my son and beat him, I was wondering will I die before my son, or will he die before me?” one father said.

Another elderly man whose home was burned by police told Amnesty: "I didn't steal gold and I didn't do anything wrong. Why are they burning my house?"

The Porgera people deserve justice. Barrick and PJV executives have a responsibility to treat the people who live next to their mining operations with dignity and respect.

Spotter: Kevin D'Arcy

Richard Marles & people-to-people power


RICHARD MARLES opened yesterday's discussion at Parliament House on a warm Spring day in Canberra by saying he would certainly answer the questions put to him by PNG Attitude readers.

Given that there were 30 pretty tough questions asked by 20 or so of the good denizens of this website (who knew I’d be meeting Mr Marles), former senior PNG journalist Don Hook (who accompanied me) and I reckoned that a fair response.

Richard Marles is Australia’s new Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs. He’s a young and affable man with a mature understanding of PNG. He's had some first-hand experience with PNG, and it shows, and stands him in good stead.

Of importance to us, the inhabitants of PNG Attitude, he’s a firm believer in the importance – and indeed the necessity - of effective people-to-people relationships.

Relationships that exist beyond government. Beyond commerce. Between people.

In this vein, he also strongly endorsed the role of PNG Attitude in providing a forum to enable  people in PNG and Australia to exchange views on a range of issues. And to bring those issues to prominence by elevating them to public debate. And to agree and disagree where they might.

He was particularly interested in the literary contest – The Crocodile Prize – initiated by PNG Attitude and the Post-Courier, and strongly supported by PNG Governor-General, Sir Paulias Matane.

Richard Marles is himself a prolific writer on the Australian blog, The Punch.

In his political role, he's working through a number of initiatives to improve connections between Papua New Guineans and Australians.

And, while I can’t disclose these ideas, to my mind they seemed both relevant and likely to have the desired positive effect.

We agreed, I think, that , if the reationship between our two countries is to go in the right direction, the Australian media will be need to be prominent in the picture.

I think PNG Attitude readers would agree about this after the recent Pauper New Guinea fiasco in Sydney’s Daily Telegraph, which was much, adversely and strongly commented upon by readers.

Our meeting with Richard Marles, and advisers Simon Fellows and Karyn Murray, was not a media event and there was no grand-standing. It was an opportunity to present PNG Attitude as an important new channel in the PNG-Australia relationship.

And it was an opportunity to get to know Richard Marles.

As a result of this experience, I think it’s fair to assure readers that there is a senior figure in the Australian Parliament who will thoughtfully and judiciously assess what it takes to construct and maintain an appropriate relationship between our two countries.

My bet is that Richard Marles will make a difference.

He ended our discussion by inviting me to meet him whenever I’m in Canberra.

While preferring the more predictable climes of Sydney, I think that’s a good indication that PNG Attitude, through the weight of its contributors and its growing and increasingly forthright readership, has a small seat at the table.

Let’s make good use of it.

Big future for coconut timber in PNG


FOR THE FIRST TIME coconut timber is being used in PNG in the manufacture of high quality furniture and furnishings.

The timber is coming from 120,000 coconut trees planted about 100 years ago at Dylup Plantation on the North Coast Road in Madang Province.

The 2,300 hectare plantation was established by the German Niugini Company in 1904. The expropriation of German property after World War I took place in the early 1920s, with plantations sold to Australian ex-servicemen.

Later, many of the plantations passed on to Pacific island trading companies engaged in the copra industry.

Ten years ago, Dylup Timber Products was established to develop the use of coconut timber - a resource that had been overlooked in PNG but utilised in South East Asia for many years.

The CEO of Dylup, Bill Gardner, says the use of coconut wood could lead to the rejuvenation of the coconut industry in PNG.

“The best wood comes from trees that have stopped producing coconuts and are older than 60 years. There are millions of trees in that category in PNG and the country could be looking at a multi-billion dollar industry.”

Mr Gardner said coconut timber is a unique hardwood with many uses, and is environmentally friendly.

“Once a tree is removed it will be replaced by a young plant. By purchasing coconut timber, people will be saving rainforests from being cut down.”

He said the Papua New Guineans at Dylup had been well trained by a German craftsman and several containers of furniture already had been shipped to Queensland for sale.

In addition, there is a contract starting next year for the supply of three-metre lengths of coconut timber to furniture makers in Singapore.

Dylup Plantation was sold recently to the Madang Provincial Government, which plans to establish a vocational school on the property.

Contact Dylup Timber Products at (675) 853 7491, mobile (675) 7233 0593 or fax (675) 853 7468.

Miners are not having it all their own way


THREE BIG NEWS STORIES last week showed the mining industry in PNG is not having things all its own way - and that people power can make a difference!

The Ramu mine injunction

Last Friday, the National Court granted landowners a new injunction stopping marine dumping of mine waste from the Ramu project. The new injunction will be in place until a full hearing that will decide if the dumping is illegal.

While the court is allowing the mine owners, including Highlands Pacific, to put in the marine pipeline, it has made very clear the pipeline cannot be used.

This means that the mine cannot start operating until a full hearing takes place - and that is not scheduled until January or February next year.

Nautilus undersea mining

Canadian company, Nautilus Minerals, had expected to be given a licence last Thursday to operate the world's first undersea mine. But the ceremony, to have been led by Michael Somare, was cancelled at the last minute - reportedly because Nautilus is unhappy with the permit conditions.

The company still says it is confident the differences will be sorted out. Meanwhile there is strong community opposition to the project because of the uncertainties about its impact.

Tolukuma gold mine

Underground workers at the Tolokuma gold mine have shown their strength by going on strike over pay and conditions. The miners are paid just $2.40 an hour for extracting the mine ore, and claim their conditions have not improved since the mine opened 15 years ago

The Tolukuma mine has a bad environmental record and, two years ago, the South African owners pulled out leaving the PNG government to try and run the mine.

A better future?

The mining industry in PNG is expanding rapidly despite its poor environmental and social record.

But, if foreign companies operating in PNG can be pushed to apply the same standards that exist in their home countries in PNG, and to live up to the rhetoric of their own policies, a better future is possible.

Guts & courage: Kumuls versus Australia


A moment of confusion for the Kangaroos IT POURED with rain most of the day and all through the match.

The crowd was around 11,000 to start with, but some of the Tonga and Samoa supporters left at half time after Samoa's convincing win over Tonga.

This was a great game in its own right and the Samoans treated the crowd to a great victory haka.

By the time the Kumuls match started there were around 6,000 people left, fully 2,000 must have been from PNG.

The rain certainly didn't dampen the enthusiasm of the crowd and PNG pride was evident on every face, especially during the singing of the National Anthem which started proceedings.

The announcer spoiled his copybook by stating that the Kumuls coach was Stanley 'Jean'. Couldn't he have done a bit of homework and pronounced ‘Gene’ correctly? Gene means ginger in Kuman and the Kumuls certainly gave some pretty hot stuff to the Aussies.

We had quite a crowd of enthusiastic hecklers around us which bemused the Australian. Every time a player appeared to be hurt there were chants of "Haus sik! Haus sik!"

The ref got a lot of stick whenever a decision went against the Kumuls with loud cries of "lon lon!" and "pek pek het!", and every Kumuls’ tackle was met with "Old im em! Tait im em!"

Lotte Tuqiri was immediately labelled "Rasta boi!" I think PNG rugby barracking is an art form.

I'm no expert on the finer points of rugby league, but the Kumuls were fierce and brave in tackling any player who came their way. The Kangaroos will be feeling pretty bruised today.

Captain Darren Lockyer was nearly knocked out in the first half. In fact not long into the match, PNG nearly got the ball over the try line by picking up and bodily carrying the Australian with the ball about 20 metres.

But unfortunately they were let down by their backs, especially in the first half. After the Australians realised this weakness then sent long balls up the wings to be run down by their forwards, knowing the Kumuls’ backs couldn't deal with this tactic.

Australia scored at least three tries with these long penetrating kicks at the end of a set, with the ball fumbled or misjudged by the backs.

I thought the Kumuls played a better second half, certainly in the first 30 minutes, with Australia not being given the chance to make many long runs. PNG did get the ball over the line through a cheeky intercept, but unfortunately this was after a penalty had been called.

Overall, sloppiness and inexperience let down the Kumuls. The game was played with good humour, except for a near bout of fisticuffs near the end when a burly Kangaroo objected to a very determined tackle. Luckily this flare-up was quickly quenched, to the disappointment of the crowd.

Lockyer deserves the title of one of the all-time greats of the game and scored his 34th test try.

Final score, Kangaroos 42, Kumuls 0. But if you score pride, guts and courage I think the Kumuls won.

A few days in the life of a Governor-General

Applause PNG’s Governor-General SIR PAULIAS MATANE is a great communicator and correspondent, and occasionally he allows PNG Attitude to eavesdrop on his activities, which are admirably energetic for a man who last month turned 79.

THE LOGOHU AWARD Ceremony yesterday from 2 to 4 pm for 84 people went well, thanks to the good weather, the effective management of the program by the vice regal staff, and the peaceful participation by the awardees and their relatives and friends.

This morning, from 10 am, I met with Mr Michael Malabag [PNG Trade Union Congress President]. I base my discussion on two things, namely, Volunteerism and Public Service, how they relate to each other and how they moulded the minds and productive activities of some of us to be what we have been and what we are today.

From 11 am, I sign some contract agreements.

On Monday from 8.30 am, I address the PNG Human Resources Institute at Crowne Plaza.

From 10 am, I have briefings from senior staff of Foreign Affairs on Pakistan and Morocco.

At 10 am on Tuesday, I will receive a Letter of Credence from the Ambassador of Pakistan and, at 2 pm, I will receive one from the Ambassador of Morocco, both to be followed by meetings on bilateral issues.

On Thursday, I was supposed to meet with now the late Pastor Joseph Kingal ... no more, as he has sadly passed away.

On Friday, from 4.50 am, I will lead the last Governor-General’s Monthly Health Walk for the year, to be followed by refreshments to 6.45 am.

On Saturday 30th, I leave for Lae in order to officially open a Seventh Day Adventist church building there on Sunday 31st before leaving for Port Moresby.

On Monday 1st November, I meet with Professor Richard Teare, who had been working with us in the promotion of a rapidly growing Global University for Lifelong Learning.

Well, sorry to take up much of your time to read this, but that's the kind of life of volunteerism and public service I have been living and practising since 1957 - 54 years!

I better go upstairs (as I have been awake since 1.50 am), to find some kaikai! You all have a nice week. God bless.

Armi Wantoks: conscript chalkies and PNG


Conscripts Plaque Whilst Vietnam is etched on the Australian psyche and Malaysia is recalled but perhaps not as clearly, the actions of Australians in PNG just before Independence are almost unknown save among the few hundred soldiers who served and their families.

In Canberra last month, Australian Governor-General, Quentin Bryce unveiled the National Servicemen’s Memorial, dedicated to national servicemen who served in Vietnam, Malaysia and PNG over 40 years ago.

Much has been written about the New Guinea conflict during World War II with many volumes dedicated to the battles along the Kokoda trail, Milne Bay, Buna, Gona and Rabaul. That Australian conscripts were on active duty in the late 1960s early 1970s is almost unknown.

It all began when it was realised that the young Australians called up for compulsory military service included university and college graduates and technical qualifications that could be adapted for military use.

Mechanics, electricians, surveyors, health workers, nurses and a myriad of other occupations were eagerly deployed throughout the army. A number of teachers were retrained as infantry officers, but a select few were sent to PNG as instructors in the Pacific Islands Regiments based in Port Moresby, Lae and Wewak.

Their duties varied with the placement. Regular battalion duties were carried out at Taurama and Moem Barracks. Goldie River saw instructors guiding new recruits along their first steps of army life. And those at Murray Barracks gave a more structured classroom approach to seasoned military personnel. Each military group received an education in English, maths, science and civics.

These four academic subjects helped PNG soldiers gain higher qualifications. Many undertook trade training locally and in Australia. An elite few went to officer cadet school at Portsea in Victoria to emerge as commissioned officers in the Pacific Islands Regiment.

The Royal Australian Army Education Corps ensured that social as well as general education was provided. All soldiers studied a civics subject to understand the basic elements of democracy and the Westminster system of government.

The ‘chalkies’, as they became known, also assisted their battalions with civic action programs that the army undertook in various areas around the country.

It is believed the Education Corps began using National Service teachers as instructors in early 1966 and finished in 1972, when compulsory military service was abolished by the Whitlam Government.

From about 1967, groups of about 60 national servicemen arrived annually from Australia to take up instructor positions at the various centres, each person staying in the then Territory for 12-18 months.

The ‘chalkies’ undertook many activities: involving themselves in local sports associations, battalion mess committees, religious and civic activities, and visiting other parts of PNG during their time of recreation. This interaction encouraged their understanding of PNG life and of the various groups that comprised the PIR.

Some national serviceman chose to stay on after PNG Independence, but the scheme was scaled back considerably leaving only a handful of teachers in this role.

Unfortunately, the records of this time are scant. An oral history has been compiled by former National Service ‘chalkies’ in PNG and converted into a book entitled Armi Wantoks.

The authors have been in regular contact since 2003 and now number about 20, located mainly in the Brisbane area. The education sergeants posted to PNG came from all over Australia and numbered almost 300 in the seven years of the scheme’s operation.

Due to privacy laws, inaccessibility of some army records, people moving from their original address, teachers shifting to other professions or seeking employment overseas, contacting the PNG ‘chalkies’ has proved to be a difficult task.

Memories fade after 40 years or are distorted by time. The Brisbane-based group has set themselves the task of filling in the gaps of this historic and very important episode in the life of Australia and PNG.

Today’s PNG leaders in many cases came through military training in their formative years and the histories of the conscript Australian teachers is a valuable source of archival material highlighting PNG’s march towards self determination and the founding of a nation.

Terry Edwinsmith was an Education Sergeant at Taurama Barracks in late 1967 and all 1968. “It was a wonderful time in all of our lives,” he says.

3,000 Enga students fail exam: OBE blamed

CRITICS OF OUTCOME-based education, and there are many of them who read and write to PNG Attitude, will not be surprised to learn that education authorities in Enga Province were shocked and saddened by the results of recent final exams.

Some 3000 students from 12 high schools, including two international schools, scored well below the cut off mark to enter Grade 9 next year.

Markers said the highest grade of 41% scored by one student was well below the cut off mark of 60. The lowest score was two percent.

“All the students have scored a fail mark in all the subjects they were tested. I don’t know how the parents are going to accept these results,” said provincial exam coordinator, Nicholas Pombeam.

The disastrous result has prompted the Enga provincial government to call on the national government to revisit the outcome-based education system implemented in schools throughout PNG.

Education authorities in Enga blamed the poor outcome on OBE introduced under the education reform program, saying the students were pioneers in the new system.

“I just knew it. I had expected this to happen,” said Enga Governor, Peter Ipatas.

He said the introduction of OBE was rushed because the Government did not provide the necessary resources or train the teachers to carry out the system effectively.

“The Education Minister needs to revisit the new system. Let us go back to the old system and gradually bring the new system in when all the schools and teachers are equipped with the necessary resources and skills to carry it out.”

Education authorities said the results do not reflect the true intelligence of the students who could not grasp the OBE system and the way exams are structured.

This is the 2,000th article published in PNG Attitude since it was established in February 2006

The Kiaps' Honour Roll now has a permanent place on PNG Attitude in ATTITUDE EXTRA. The Roll, a work in progress, pays tribute to those post-war Kiaps who died or were injured in the cause of serving the Australian Administration in PNG. The guardian of the Roll is Paul Oates, who you can email at the link shown at the end of the section

Dear Richard: re Papua New Guinea

Tomorrow KEITH JACKSON meets with Australia’s Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Islands Affairs to discuss the PNG-Australia relationship. Last week, Keith provided Richard with a paper drawn from questions posed by PNG Attitude readers …..


The PNG Attitude blog that I publish attracts some 300-500 readers each day and the ancillary monthly magazine of the same name is circulated to a mailing list of more than 900 subscribers, one-third of them in PNG and many of these (like PNG's Governor-General) in positions of influence.

PNG Attitude began as an independent effort to provide a forum where Papua New Guineans and Australians could exchange views on the mutual relationship and on issues that affect both countries. It seems to be succeeding in this.

It also has spun off practical applications, such as garnering assistance from readers for needy PNG projects and, most recently, collaborating with the PNG Post-Courier, supported by Sir Paulias Matane, in organising national literary awards - The Crocodile Prize - for short stories, poetry and journalism. The first awards - cash prizes of K2,500 each - will be made on PNG Independence Day next year.

I recently mentioned on the blog that I was going to meet you in Canberra and asked interested readers to submit questions they would want to ask you if they had the same opportunity. As it turned out, there are far too many questions for the short meeting we will have, so I decided to summarise them in the hope that, under your auspices, they may be answered.

As you will see, most of the questions are relevant and astute. And I appreciate that a number of them will be difficult if not impossible to answer officially.

Nevertheless, given that they do represent matters of current concern raised by a group of interested and well-informed people, I hope it will be possible - over the coming weeks - for you to address them in order that the responses may be subsequently published in PNG Attitude.

I realise you and your staff must have quite enough on your plate without this additional imposition, but I believe continuing dialogue between Papua New Guineans and Australians in the civil domain is of great importance in strengthening the vital relationship between our two countries.

Addressing people's concerns, and dealing with their legitimate worries about a range of issues, is I think a purposeful and useful exercise. I hope you will agree.

Mine will lead to armed conflict: villagers


Terry Kuning & Gideon Sioba
GIDEON SIOBA understands that the stakes are high. He knows that unless he speaks out now to raise awareness in his local community, his people in the Astrolabe Bay area of Madang face a future tainted with serious environmental degradation.

Over the last nine months, Gideon [right] has become a key member of a peaceful local resistance against Ramu NiCo – the Chinese state owned company building the Ramu nickel mine in Madang Province.

This campaign has turned Gideon and many others into hardened activists dead set against Ramu NiCo’s plans to dump, over 40 years, more than a hundred million tons of mine waste into Madang’s Astrolabe Bay.

“I am willing to risk everything to save what is ours,” Gideon says. “Our children face an uncertain future.”

Ramu NiCo says otherwise. In its public relations campaign it has tried to sell the concept of Deep Sea Tailings Placement (DSTP) to try to convince people the method is safe. The debate has become part of a year-long legal battle that resulted in a successful court injunction that ran for six months until the three remaining plaintiffs withdrew the week the case was to go to a full trial hearing.

Gideon, like many others, has good reason to be concerned about the future. Experience and age-old wisdom tell him that dirty water from mine waste disposal will kill coral reefs and eventually drive the fish away from easily accessible fishing areas in the bay.

He is also unsure of the chemical composition of the waste. In two separate reports, scientists from the Scottish Institute of Marine Science and Australia’s Mineral Policy Institute also raised concerns about the high probability of damage to marine life and people in the bay area.

Local communities who support the anti DSTP push are not just worried about Ramu NiCo’s activities. They’re also worried that, if the court approves Ramu NiCo, Australian company, Marengo, which operates the Yandera mine in the mountains north-east of the nickel mine, will construct a tailings disposal pipeline that will also end up in Astrolabe Bay.

“Other people are just seeing all this as a campaign against Ramu NiCo and against development,” said a resident of the bay. “It’s more than that. This is our life. It doesn’t make sense to have two big mines dump waste into the same sea.”

Despite increased attempts to convince local communities to accept DSTP, there remains a steady chorus of people who are increasingly dissatisfied with the PNG government’s indifference to their concerns.

Terry Kunning [left] is from Mindere village, located across from the Basamuk Bay refinery. Mine waste will be pumped into his backyard. He is no scientist but he expects to see a change is water color and a subsequent decline in fish numbers.

“When we started talking about the possible harm, people started thinking seriously about it,” he says. “All this is important for the children we leave behind.”

Terry who spent 25 years working as a government forester in South Bougainville saw the environmental damage caused by the Panguna mine.

He also saw the people’s discontent that led to a 10-year armed struggle against the PNG government that cost thousands of lives. He believes his people are slowly following a path towards an armed struggle of an even greater scale in the not so distant future.

“The lessons we were supposed to have learnt on Bougainville, we have not learned.”

Entreaty for a beloved land: Lapieh Landu

An entry in The Crocodile Prize


Our land, our home, our abode
Once a place of tranquility and peace
Once a place of love and equity
Once a place of silver and gold, abundant
A land solely ours

Our land, our home, our abode
Now a place bare and damaged
Now a place noisy and filth filled
Now a place with shortage and conflict
A land belonging to them too

Our land, our home, our abode
Will be a place of no land and sea
Will be a place with no yam and fish
Will be a place of no trees, no streams
A land foreign to all

Findings on Montevideo Maru to be revealed

Montevideo Maru Capetown,  1926 WORLD WAR II historian and author of Lost Women of Rabaul, Rod Miller, will disclose new findings from his research into the tragedy at a lecture in Sydney next month.

Rod Miller is Australia’s pre-eminent researcher into the events surrounding the ship, on which more than 1,000 civilians and servicemen died in Australia’s worst disaster at sea.

Amongst the still unresolved matters that he will address in the Brigadier EJH (John) Howard CBE commemorative lecture will be who was on board the vessel, why was it sailing to Hainan when it was torpedoes and how much did the Australian Government know about the sinking before the war ended.

As the Australian Army still scours its archives for evidence of exactly who was on the ship, Mr Miller’s new findings on a matter that has come back into public focus over the last year or so seem set to take knowledge of the decisions and events a big step forward.

The lecture is sponsored by the Military History Society of NSW and will be delivered on Saturday 20 November.

A television documentary, Sisters of War, based on Rod's book about the Rabaul nurses who were captured by the Japanese is to be broadcast on ABC-TV before Christmas.

Details of the lecture:

Saturday 20 November at 2 pm

Mitchell Theatre, Sydney Mechanics School of Arts, 280 Pitt Street, Sydney

Admission: $10 at door

Bookings essential by Wednesday 17 November

(02) 9331-1202     [email protected]

The tragic loss of evangelist Joseph Kingal


Kingal_Joseph PAPUA NEW Guinea is in mourning after the sudden and tragic loss of evangelist Joseph Kingal.

Kingal, in his early 40s and from the Western Highlands, was the head of The Word, The Spirit and The Cross evangelistic ministries based at Omili in Lae.

He was seen as the flag bearer of hope and redemption in a country racked with social problems.

The graduate accountant turned preacher and his wife, Susan, registered the evangelistic movement in 1996 and went on nationwide crusades wooing thousands to their nightly sessions.

Their Bible-based messages at week-long crusades hit a chord with thousands of people at all levels of society.

Many people from the streets and settlements of Lae, Port Moresby, Mt Hagen, Goroka, Madang and Rabaul were shocked upon learning of Kingal’s demise in a nasty traffic accident on a bridge in the Markham Valley while returning from a crusade in Madang.

Susan was admitted to Angau Memorial Hospital requiring surgery, but she and her children are said by doctors to be in a satisfactory condition.

Outside his ministry at the old Tanubada ice cream factory at Omili, hundreds of mourners and well-wishers were prevented from gaining entry.

Members of the ministry barred the public, only allowing pastors to enter where Kingal’s body lay, having been transferred from Angau Memorial Hospital.

Mourners flocked by road from Madang and the highlands provinces. Traffic officers at Air Niugini said many more were travelling from Port Moresby, Kimbe and Rabaul.

In Port Moresby, a prayer vigil was held by fellow evangelist Pastor Joseph Walters and was attended by hundreds of mourners.

Pastor Kingal’s death has gripped a nation. Public office holders, including Governor-General Sir Paulias Matane, and settlement dwellers were sending condolences to the media.

Next week, the November PNG Attitude magazine, companion of this blog, will be sent to over 900 subscribers.  Like this website, it seeks to encourage continuing dialogue between Papua New Guineans and Australians on matters of mutual interest. You can receive your magazine at no cost by emailing us here

Chrissy takes pissy, Kumuls sanap sitrong



A MOCKING ARTICLE by journalistic nonentity Christian Nicolussi in Sydney’s Daily Telegraph two days ago has fired up PNG sporting folk.

The article offensively headlined PAUPER NEW GUINEA, and the accompanying photo, characterised the PNG Kumuls national rugby league team as a bunch of low paid islander turf munchers overwhelmed by the opportunity to fly on a plane.

Let me give you an example of this yellow press put-down:

There is a teacher who earns little more than $16,000 a year. A security guard who pockets $3,500. A welder on $5,000.

A tyre worker. A meat worker. And a group who happily help out with a cocoa exporting firm….

Meet the PNG Kumuls, who will live the football dream when they take on the $10 million Kangaroos this Sunday at Parramatta Stadium.

Football dream? At Parramatta?

The report compared PNG and Australia players’ match payments, bragging that each Kangaroos player stands to earn $12,000 for playing PNG — a fee that outstrips what several Kumuls take home each year.

The report also said several Kangaroos players will individually earn more than the entire 24-man Kumuls squad ($670,000). The Kangaroos are said to be ‘worth’ $10 million.

Christian Nicolussi is clearly one of those hacks who thinks value is something to be measured with money. Whoever dies richest wins, eh Chrissy baby?

PNG Attitude reader Ray Baloiloi wrote to me:

G'day Keith, You may want to include this article that this stupid Oz journo hasn't been to school, hence was unable to spell my country properly? I think his name is Christian Nicopussy.

Tell him, in representing PNG as a Kumul, we don't play for money, we play for pride - pride in wearing the red, black & gold (this is old news to you, I know hehe). Anyway, quantifying the value of how much each player earns is childish, if not DUMB!

And Jonathon Tolpare wrote:

Sad how the Australian media decries the national pride the Kumuls. We may be referred to as Pauper New Guinea Kumuls (the poorest team of the four nations tournament) but our pride in the national colours and the passion we have for the game is as rich if not richer than anybody's. It’s not money that we are worried about but the opportunity to do great things.

Another correspondent made a good point about perceptions of Australia created by this kind of mindless stunt:

I must say this picture deeply hurts me. It is this kind of Australian arrogance that is creating ill feeling towards the Aussies.

Respected PNG Attitude contributor Paul Oates has taken the argument a step further. He’s whisked in a complaint to the Australian TV program Media Watch, which keeps a jaundiced eye on the sometimes inane (as in this case) Australian media.

Could you please advise if this doctored photo meets the Media Code of Ethics? The revealing nature of personal information which has absolutely nothing to do with football must surely at the very least be outside the realms of any reasonable concepts of decency. It has offended people in Papua New Guinea and it offends me.

Go Kumuls! Those Kangaroos aren’t the Kokoda Diggers, they’re gold-diggers.

The Kumuls play the Kangaroos at 4 pm [Australian Eastern Summer Time] tomorrow

Paul Metzler, World War II aviator, dies at 96


Metzler_Paul 1941 I FIRST CAME ACROSS the name Paul Metzler when I was researching Australian nurses who were captured by the Japanese during the invasion of Rabaul New Britain in 1942.

Paul was the captain of Catalina flying boat A24-8 that radioed the position of the Japanese invasion fleet steaming towards Rabaul on 21 January 1942. With this warning, the small and ill-equipped military contingent on the Gazelle Peninsula, Lark Force, was alerted and, as best it could, made ready for the invasion.

Paul has just died in Sydney at the age of 96.

Paul had flown off the small island of Gizo in the northern Solomons and managed to locate the invasion fleet. In 1963, he wrote of his mission:

Writing this now I shudder far more when I think of it than I did 21 years ago. Tropical skies often offer little or no cloud cover, a Catalina’s top speed never was much over 150 knots, its defensive armament consisted of a few World War I Lewis guns and it carried no less than 1,460 Imperial gallons of fuel contained in non-self sealing and highly exposed wing tanks. All this amounts to a high degree of vulnerability.

Fortunately in 1942 my thoughts were directed almost completely towards such purely offensive aspects as accurate navigation, precise ship-recognition and precise sighting reports. There’s no doubt about it, you can’t beat being young.

After reporting the fleet’s position, Paul was ordered to shadow it until he and his crew were finally shot down by Zero fighters launched from the carriers. Paul and the surviving members of his crew were picked up by a Japanese cruiser and taken to Rabaul.

From Rabaul, he was then transported to Zentsuji POW camp in Japan for the duration of the war. There he met the officers of the 2/22nd Battalion and 1st Independent Company who had been captured in the New Guinea Islands and shipped from Rabaul in the Narita Maru.

The servicemen, non officers, and the civilians were shipped on the Montevideo Maru – and all died when the ship was torpedoed in what is still Australia’s greatest disaster at sea.

Paul Meltzer’s survival was very much against the odds: he was shot down in flames without a parachute and rescued by the invasion fleet that went on to take Rabaul.

After the war, Paul stayed in the air force rising to the rank of Group Captain until his retirement in 1975. He is also an accomplished tennis player and author having written 7 books on tennis which he still plays today at the age of 92. 

He was a true gentleman and a good bloke!

The dutiful wife in an unforgiving society


An entry in The Crocodile Prize

THE EARLY MORNING FOG which hangs over Mondia Hill obscures her view of the small township of Kerowagi below.

Nancy Suaire walks carefully down the slippery track that leads to the main road - and the bus stop at Kerowagi station. A few paces in front is Tobias Dinanem, her husband of two years.

He walks boldly and confidently despite the mud and dirt covering his stockman’s boots to the brim; and despite the slippery track they tread.

From time to time Tobias turns a corner and disappears from her sight, or his figure is obscured by the early morning fog which hangs low on the ground. Nancy walks faster to keep pace with him.

She is walking faster now. Nancy sees Tobias Dinanem a few meters in front. She imagines what might be evident on his face. He is determined to get to the Kundiawa airport on time for the 10:30 flight to Port Moresby.

“He might not be coming back for a whole year or two,” she speculates as she trudges behind.

Uneasy thoughts burden her. ‘Teine and Tom might come and take the two piglets. I am only a woman. I’m not strong enough to stop them.”

Tobias’ younger brothers took to marijuana and home-brew five years ago. They are incapable of living a decent village life, let alone sustain themselves.

The roar of automobile engines signals that Nancy and her husband are closing on the main road at Kerowagi station. She edges along behind, as a dutiful Kuman wife must do. As she walks, her heart aches. She knows with each passing moment that her husband is closer to being gone.

He will be separated from her physically and spiritually. Her husband is going to Moresby, a place Nancy has never seen in 22 years of existence. She contemplates life in the village without a husband and the many challenges that she must endure alone … without him. Her heart becomes even more embittered by the thought.

There is a crowd of people at the bus stop. Tobias Dinamen and Nancy wait in tense anticipation. A coaster bus stops right beside them. It is time to leave. Tobias looks at Nancy and she looks at him. He extends a hand. He longs to hug and embrace her and to tell her that he will come back as soon as he can.

She takes her husband’s hand in hers and they shake hands. She knows that Tobias could not hug and kiss her at the Kerowagi bus stop.

Nancy steps back as the “boss crew" pulls the door shut and the bus moves away. She walks into the throng to let the broken heartedness dissipate. She understands she is a woman whose favour, and her people’s favour, has been gained by a large sum of money as bride price.

She must remain dutiful to her husband, whether she is with him or without him.

She is enraged by the realization that she is left with no choice but to face the challenges of living in the village alone.

A dutiful Kuman wife, contending with the hardships, until her husband returns from the city.

The Crocodile Prize is Papua New Guinea's new literary contest, offering cash awards of K2,500 each for the best short story, poem and piece of journalism. Full details can be found under ATTITUDE EXTRA in the left hand column.

ANZ, Westpac et al – the world is watching


THE RAPID GROWTH of China as a supply centre has seen its rise as an economic powerhouse, that is itself now ‘off-shoring’ to cheaper labour locations with even more lax environmental regulations…such as PNG.

Chinese companies have already been granted large manufacturing zones – referred to as ‘special economic zones’ – guaranteeing exemptions from taxes and import duties.

Far from being a boon to the local population of a poor country desperate for employment opportunities, Chinese companies have been exempted from the immigration laws of PNG and have already imported thousands of Chinese labourers to construct factories.

At a recent state visit to China, Prime Minister Michael Somare welcomed Chinese investment in a diverse range of industries, including mining, logging of old growth forest, palm oil plantations and commercial fishing, for which even Exclusive Fishing Zones have been created.

An economic zone as described, called Pacific Marine Industrial Zone (PMIZ), will be built in Madang, fronting the pristine Astrolabe Bay that is also the proposed site of the dumping of millions of tonnes of mine waste material from the Australian-Chinese joint venture projects, Ramu nickel mine (Highlands Pacific and MCC) and Yandera Copper mine (Marengo Mining and NFC).

The PMIZ will house facilities for all the above-listed industries, including a tuna processing plant. Clearing of 216 hectares and building of a wharf and other infrastructure is expected to commence early 2011. The refinery for the Ramu nickel mine is presently under construction at Basamuk, Madang.

Such are the extraordinary benefits bestowed upon the Chinese for these investments, opposition Member of Parliament, Belden Namah, took a full page advertisement in local newspapers recently demanding the government show where was the national benefit of such deals, so skewed in favour of Chinese corporations, and so great a threat to the environment. He is yet to receive an answer.

With local landowners physically intimidated and allegations of bribery at the highest levels, the legal battle to protect Astrolabe Bay from the mine waste dumping of Ramu Nico (MCC) Limited has already revealed how the local population might be treated as this presence and influence grows.

And with China’s reputation for human rights and environmental care such as it is, this does not auger well for PNG or other nations who might also find themselves an attractive destination for Chinese investment. Timor, Fiji and Australia included.

It is beholden on all corporate customers of these companies (Australian and Chinese), all financial services providers such as ANZ, Westpac and HSBC who are signatories to the Equator Principles, and all investors – especially institutional investors who are signatories to the United Nations Principles of Investing – to examine their portfolios for the companies involved, because your own reputations are right now at serious risk.

The world is watching.

Source: ‘China rising: Your reputational risks with it’ by Alex Harris, The Reputation Report.  Read the full article here.

Royal Papua Yacht Club is racist says artist


H&S FOUNDED IN 1921, the Royal Papua Yacht Club in Port Moresby has more than 3,000 members and proudly describes itself on its website as “one of the world’s friendliest yacht clubs”.

But PNG artist Martin Morububuna didn’t find it all that friendly when he went there on last month’s Independence weekend for the annual Luksave art exhibition.

Martin and other PNG artists were invited to display their work at the Club. But on arrival they were made to sign a document agreeing not to consume alcohol, to 'minimise smelly body odours' and to avoid free interaction with club members.

In a letter to The National newspaper, Martin said that, as a senior artist, he was appalled by the treatment. “It is a regret that the very weekend we celebrated PNG’s 35th independence anniversary, discrimination and racist conditions were imposed on some Papua New Guineans.”

He said three non-national artists were offered champagne and were able to move freely among the expatriate club members, while the PNG artists were ordered to remain standing in one spot.

Martin said he was offered a glass of champagne on arrival but club staff soon removed it.

“Local artists were not treated in such a manner in previous Luksave exhibitions,” he said. 

Ar work Martin Morubulbuna’s letter appeared in The National of 6 October. No response has been sighted  from the Royal Papua Yacht Club.

And, yes, the year is 2010.

Keith Jackson writes: Martin Morububuna is regarded as one of PNG’s most accomplished graphic artists. He was born in 1957 in the Trobriand Islands and is a graduate of the PNG National Arts School. He held his first solo exhibition in 1977 and has since exhibited frequently in PNG and Australia. He undertakes major public and private commissions for clients worldwide.

Brisbane meeting to challenge PNG miners

THE CAMPAIGN to improve the behaviour of overseas mining companies operating in PNG is coming to Australia.

Next Tuesday, 26 October, there will be an information night in Brisbane about the Ramu nickel mine and the role of Australian mining companies in PNG. The evening is a joint production of Act Now! in PNG and Friends of the Earth in Australia.

“The information night is an initiative of Act Now! to help take the fight to Australians,” says CEO Effrey Dademo.

“The agenda aims to generate awareness of deep sea tailings placement and other impacts among Australian audiences in an effort to put pressure on Highlands Pacific and other Australian companies to act responsibly in their operations in PNG.”

Last Friday the National Court in Madang heard three applications from local landowners opposed to the marine waste dumping plans of the Ramu nickel mine. The court will announce its decision on one of the applications tomorrow.

Another application, for 37 new landowner plaintiffs to join the legal case alongside the existing 36, was adjourned to be argued today. Lawyers have indicated there are up to 100 more landowners who also want to join as the movement to assert landowner rights gathers pace along the Rai Coast.

“Australian companies must be held accountable for their practices in PNG,” says Effrey Dademo. “Highlands Pacific, an Australian listed company, plans to dump millions of tons of mining waste into the sea in PNG.”

The information night at Friends of the Earth will brief people on the PNG situation and also enable people to get involved in the campaign to stop deep sea tailings disposal.

The event also aims to gather volunteers for an upcoming event in Brisbane, details of which will only be disclosed on the meeting.

You can find out more about the event by emailing here.

Location: 294 Montague Road, West End
Time: Tuesday 26 October, 5 – 6.30 pm
RSVP: [email protected]

PNG's education system – reform and neglect


THE POLICYMAKERS write, launch, and celebrate new policies every few years. Has there been real assessment of the changes, especially in education, in the last 5-10 years?

What is the yardstick to measure the effects of education reform, and especially Outcome-Based Education since its inception? In the last 15-20 years many reforms have taken place, but are we the guinea-pigs for the educationalists and their sponsors?

We can proudly count some of our achievements. We have more PNG trained nurses, teachers, clerks and policemen. We also have accountants, economists, writers, doctors, judges, pilots, engineers, architects, builders, surveyors, scientists, agriculturalists, chemists, biologists, foresters, you name it. In retail, banking, IT and communication, we have seen growth of professionals.

In 35 years we have produced university graduates at the highest level and have provided professors to some of the world’s leading universities. We have made entrepreneurs who are millionaires and have many professionals serving overseas. We have come of age.

But today’s leaders are products of the good old education system of the pre-reform days. Has the post-colonial system been of any use in contributing to the current workforce and the leaders of the nation?

Recently, an Australian government sponsored university review committee, with Sir Rabbie Namaliu as a member, did an injustice in producing a report undermining PNG’s higher education system by not giving a realistic picture of the status of universities. Some parts of the report even denied existence of a couple of schools and courses offered at the University of Technology.

Over the years, education reform architects seem to have tried to systematically kill off the brains of this nation by suggesting the education system was not producing results.

A government policy some years ago gave lower budget priority to the higher education sector and the result is dilapidated and run-down infrastructure in the nation’s higher learning institutions. Only in recent years has the higher education sector received additional funding and support in science, technology, research and some infrastructure rehabilitation.

What was wrong with the old basic Science, Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry, Social Studies, English, Manual Arts and Home Economics that produced the leaders of today? PNG labour is marketable in many parts of the world. This is the result of the old schools. What went wrong with the education reforms introduced in the late 90s and 2000s?

The imbalance in funding and lack of training at technical and university levels has left an excess of school leavers and fewer qualified professionals. The system seems to have created more followers and fewer leaders.

With the introduction of OBE and the education reform, all paid for by Australian tax monies, the government appears to have produced illiterate elementary to secondary school drop outs, made fit to return to village life and engage in traditional agriculture.

Papua New Guineas are returning to the village and can no longer speak English. No wonder they feel disadvantaged and marginalised.

Those who are in urban centres and whose parents can afford for them to be educated in private schools or even Australia, get to go on with their education while the others are left to fend for themselves. The gap continues to widen between the haves and the have nots, the rural and the urban, the private schools and the government schools, the domestic and the overseas scholars.

Where is PNG heading with its education system? Why are we so gullibly accepting OBE or for that matter and any other reform? Reform from what? And for whose benefit?

OBE/HIV is one of the serious killer diseases in PNG’s education system. There may be a systematic donor-sponsored illiteracy mindset being forced onto our people.

OBE policy will forever change the scenario of high school education after 2010. The results will be known in 2012, when applications are processed for university entry.

Rural elementary students, who are taught in vernacular languages in their first three years, get spelling, speaking and writing mixed up when they move to Grades 3-8 because of the vernacular and Tok Pisin training in their formative years. They are not properly prepared for the basics in English reading and writing skills in primary school.

Since we want everyone to enter high school, the system automatically puts all good and bad apples through the process. So far the OBE process has not brought out the best in our students.

I hear of teachers being forced to be “a jack of all trades” in their classrooms. Teachers teach everything in all subject areas with little in-depth knowledge in any subject.

There is a wide gap between elementary scholars in the government schools and those in private schools. More and more Papua New Guinea parents are sending their children to private schools as they realize the level of performance and standards are dropping or being compromised by lack of commitment by teachers in the public schools.

Where are we heading with the education reform agenda? Where are we going with OBE? Do the consultants and Waigani paper experts who have pushed this education system onto PNG, that has been known to have failed in other countries, have some hidden agendas? Why did we change in the first place? Did the old system fail or collapse? Whose music are we dancing to here?

This generation of educators must be held responsible for the rise or the fall of our next generation of Papua New Guineans and the nation’s future.

Somare's reputation sinks as PNG booms


PNG’S CAPITAL Port Moresby is growing bigger and wealthier in the wake of the country’s LPG and mining projects.

Construction work costing many millions of kina is going ahead at a frenetic pace to provide accommodation and office space in - or close to - the city’s central business district.

The new five-star Grand Papua Hotel dominates the skyline and is due to open next year. It will have 166 luxury units and is being built on the site of the old Papua Hotel, destroyed by fire in 1991.

Not far away, the Ela Beach Hotel, formerly the Davara Motel, is being expanded with 42 new units overlooking the waterfront.

The Grand Papua and the Ela Beach belong to a nationwide hotel chain owned by Steamships Trading Company.

At present, the leading hotels in Port Moresby charge K800 - 1,100 a night. A budget hotel such as the Weigh Inn, off the Poreporena Freeway, costs K320.

A huge new complex known as Harbour City is being built on reclaimed land across from the Hubert Murray Oval. It will comprise shops, offices, a supermarket and residential units.

According to a real estate agent, flats are being built “everywhere” in Port Moresby. “As soon as they go up, they attract rentals of up to K3,000 a week,” he said.

One long-term expatriate businessman said he was building two flats, and defended the high rentals being asked by owners. “Rentals have always been high in Port Moresby because the cost of building is great and there are other expenses.”

Another businessman spoke of a small unit overlooking Koki Market, that has had its rent increased twice this year from K600 to K1,200 and is now K1,500.

The influx of cashed-up foreigners also is good for car sales. Ela Motors reports that sales have gone up 28 percent so far this year.

A spokesman said sales were expected to increase by at least the same amount next year. “Eight years ago there was a big drop in sales and I thought we’d go out of business. But it’s different today,” he added.

The boom period, however, is not good for everyone. Many Papua New Guineans can no longer afford to live in what has become a very expensive city and have moved into settlement camps outside Port Moresby.

And that raises the big question, constantly asked: Whether the people of PNG as a whole will benefit from the unprecedented economic growth from the LNG and mining projects?

Only time will tell. But there is one area where the ordinary person is already benefiting and that’s due to the communication revolution.

Most of the population now has access to satellite telephones through either Telikom or the Irish-owned Digicel, which continues to mount an aggressive marketing program.

In fact, the company has virtually painted PNG the colour red with its nationwide advertising.

Telikom concentrates on the large urban areas while Digicel aims to soon service the whole country, including the large but sparsely populated Western Province.

During peak hours, a person can call anywhere in PNG for less that 50 toea a minute. Off-peak is cheaper. Digicel sells mobile phones for K29, and there are top up facilities in the smallest villages.

PNG’s Foreign Minister, Sam Abal, recently visited the US for talks with NASA – the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. On his return he said the use of mobile telephones in PNG had shown how communications could transform a society.

He added:” This can be further accelerated with our own satellite project”

Sam Abal, a former public servant and diplomat, comes from Enga Province and enjoys considerable support, especially in the highlands.

In a country where one is constantly told that it’s time for a change, Sam Abal is seen by many as a future leader – even as a replacement for Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare after the 2012 elections.

Nobody I met during three weeks in PNG had a good word for Somare or his government.

I found this hard to accept. I knew Michael Somare in the 1960s and 1970s, and I admired his leadership and his determined campaign for independence in 1975.

As a journalist we had regular contact, and I regarded him as a good friend.

Today, one hears many stories of corruption and nepotism involving the discredited Somare Government.

Somare himself is referred to as Michael Mugabe, and - instead of Grand Chief – he’s called the Grand Thief.

It’s all very sad.

It is time for a change.

Statistics cast light on PNG law and order


IN 1975, WHEN PNG was preparing for Independence in 1975, the then Territory had a population of around three million.

Royal Papua and New Guinea Constabulary (RPNGC) numbers were at that time around 3,000 or about 0.1% of the population. However, rural RPNGC numbers were bolstered, prior to Independence, by Kiaps, who were also sworn police officers.







In 2010, PNG reportedly now has 4,200 regular police and 600 reservists.

There are a total of about 45,000 police in all Australian States and Territories. These numbers are considered a necessary requirement for a population of 22 million people.

If we compare the current statistics for PNG and Australia, they translate into the following percentages for each country.













It is not surprising that PNG is reported to have an increasing law and order problem. Australia has nearly three times the number of police pro rata and far better resources available to its police services.

With PNG’s population rapidly increasing, the PNG government has allowed police numbers to sink well below previous levels. Recent pay rises announced by the prime minister can only do so much to improve morale.

Further funding is needed to improve recruitment, operations, equipment and conditions, including living quarters. And increased pay doesn’t put police ‘on the beat’ as a visible deterrent to escalating criminal activities.

Morobe Governor Luther Wenge trumpeted his success in getting rid of the Australian police assistance program a few years ago. That action was apparently welcomed by the Somare government who did nothing to prevent the Australian police leaving. Governor Wenge has recently now suggested that capital punishment be reintroduced in order to combat increasing crime rates.

It’s hard not to sympathise with the loyal members of the RPNGC who are getting older (very many serve on past retirement age) and being asked to do more with increasingly less resources, fewer police numbers and increasing crime rates.











Cook Islands












Marshall Islands












































PNG govt turns blowtorch on Garnaut & BHP


AAP - THE PNG GOVERNMENT has attacked the development group headed by Australia's climate change expert Ross Garnaut for failing to deliver improvements needed after BHP Billiton's environmental disaster at the Ok Tedi copper mine.

Professor Garnaut is chairman of the billion dollar PNG Sustainable Development Program that is responsible for overseeing aid and income generating programs across PNG.

PNGSDP was set up by BHP Billiton after their Ok Tedi mine, in PNG's Western Province, caused devastating environmental damage to surrounding river systems in the late 1990s.

BHP Billiton divested its 52 percent Ok Tedi shareholding and established the PNGSDP in 2002.

This month PNG Treasurer Peter O'Neill wrote to BHP Billiton, that appoints three of the six PNGSDP board members, calling for Professor Garnaut and his team to be sacked for failing the country's most deprived people.

Mr O'Neill told AAP there were growing concerns amongst PNG leaders and citizens that PNGSDP had achieved little after nearly a decade.

"Professor Garnaut is appointed by BHP and his tenure is a matter for BHP," he said.

"I met with Garnaut and raised these issues. He is fully aware. BHP needs to review the whole structure that's what we are encouraging them to do.

"The reality is the people on the ground are not satisfied. The potential of such a large program, it is not delivering. We also want to ensure there is new blood at board membership level that will create a new sense of direction for the organisation.

“We raised it with BHP; changes need to come. It's worrying there has only been one new board member since 2002,” Mr O’Neill said.

A BHP Billiton spokeswoman said the company is in "ongoing correspondence" with the PNG government. "BHP Billiton is committed to ensuring that PNGSDP remains effectively governed for the benefit of the people of PNG and the Western Province in particular," she said.

"The performance of the company to date speaks for itself. This is clearly documented in the projects showcased within the company's public annual reports."

BHP is completing a board skills review as part of the recruitment process for a new board member to replace Jim Carlton who leaves at the end of this year, she said.

Professor Garnaut, who is also director of the Ok Tedi mine, said an independent review of the PNGSDP, undertaken by Harvard Institute of International Development director, Professor Dwight Perkins, has been made public.

"At various times, people in the PNG Government have proposed that they take over control of the assets of PNG SDP and upon consideration have dropped the proposals," he said.

"Such a takeover would require the agreement of BHP Billiton and the Independent State of PNG.

"Others can judge whether the PNGSDP directors have discharged their heavy responsibilities well and whether the current attempt to take over the assets of PNGSDP is at all related to the performance of the company."

Despite billions in international donor money yearly going to PNG, the Pacific island country languishes at 148th on the UN's Human Development Index, two places below Bangladesh and trailing 40 places behind Fiji.

Development in PNG is incredibly complex issue with a recent review of Australia's $457 million annual aid to PNG finding both sides share "widespread dissatisfaction" with the program.

Photos tell inner story of HIV/AIDS victims


Lavenia LILLIAN SIWI and Melvin Kualawi, researchers on a project called Komuniti Tok Piksa (, are in Sydney to tell their stories and exhibit their photographs.

Lillian, who facilitates the photo workshop, is the Director of the Garden of Eden Care Centre in Goroka, which provides counselling and treatment support to people living with AIDS.

They are part of the team behind Em Mipla, Na Yu?  [This is me, what about you?], an exhibition of photos taken by people living with the virus in PNG. The photos, and accompanying stories, were created after a workshop run by Komuniti Tok Piksa.

Komuniti Tok Piksa is a project that uses photography as a tool for people living with HIV/AIDS to tell their own stories and this week Sydney people have a chance to meet Lillian and Melvin.

Lavenia: "When I contracted HIV, my mother brought me to the hospital.

“She never left my side, or rejected me or told me to go away...

Alvin "The flower means my mother's love for me. The hands belong to my mother."

Alvin: "The dog represents me.

“It sits at the gate and thinks about where to go...."

The photos will be on display for one night only - this Friday 22 October.

You can see the photos, meet the team and find out more about Komuniti Tok Piksa at Mori Gallery (168 Day Street, Sydney) from 5 pm.

RSVP: [email protected] today.

The genesis of a great and visionary project


Peter and Lydia PETER IS A MUSICIAN and an artist. I am a chef and an accountant. We went to stay with Peter’s mother in a tiny one-room tin shack in Kaugere Settlement.

According to PNG custom; a man must bring his wife home to stay with his parents to get their approval and acceptance. It was our intention to stay a couple of weeks and move on. But something irrevocable happened to both of us.

We saw the way the people lived. We saw children suffering from starvation, the lack of basic human rights, of education and medical care. We saw lack of water and the verbal and physical abuse suffered daily by a community swathed in hopelessness.

It was like they were alive; but not living. They were dull, weak, listless, and unresponsive to stimulation. The youth were wallowing in alcohol, drugs, violence, and crime in an effort to escape their hopelessness. It was too heart-wrenching to describe. There was absolutely no-one to care about them or to help them.

Simply; we could not leave. We had to try and do something to help. We had no idea how to do it; but we decided to stay and do “something”.

We have always believed that knowledge is power; that education is necessary to a human being. Since PNG Independence in 1975, the standard of education has dropped to the point where about 90% of the people are totally uneducated.

Schooling is not free in PNG; families must pay school fees for their children to attend. Fees can be as little as K150 ($60) but this is a fortune to families where the average wage of a worker is K120-200 ($50-80) a fortnight.

Most Papua New Guineans have large families (6-10 children) and as a result, most children grow up without an education. For just one child in the family to be educated, often requires the whole family to virtually starve for long periods of time.

Because Peter is highly respected in the community, and because I am a white woman, many of the children and youth would come to our house, in the hope of getting something to eat and some attention. Many of the raskols hung out with us.

Our first attempts to do something in the community was with these young men. Sadly, no-one in PNG wants to assist a raskol in any way; we could not get support from anyone except an Englishman named John Edwards, the managing director of Pacific Assurance. The company owner, Johnson Tia, donated K10,000 to start us off.

Peter’s mother had always wanted Peter to start a school and teach children music; so we started a school. We had virtually nothing to begin with. We had 150 children, a handful of volunteer teachers from the community, a tarp on the ground as our classroom, a few books and charts, and a beautiful alphabet chart that was hand drawn by Omsy.

We covered it with strips of clear sticky-tape to protect it; it’s still at CUMA being used to this day… a tad faded but a beautiful part of our history.

Our boys, now ex-raskols, did all of the hard manual labour to build the school over time as funds became available. These are the boys who deserve the credit for building CUMA. All they received for their hard work was water throughout the day and a plate of rice and stew in the evening. Yet, since the beginning of CUMA, they have steadfastly supported the school and done everything in their power to help. Why?

As one of our boys, ‘Gator’, once said: “Mum: I wish you had come here when I was small and made a school; then I would not have turned out the way I did. I want the small ones to have what we older ones didn’t have.”

Despite a life of poverty and crime, Gator and all our boys still have the lovely heart of a child. CUMA has meant so much to them because it has given them purpose and something to be proud of. They rightly deserve to be proud of what they have built and been part of.

These boys are the main reason CUMA needs to expand and grow in all areas of its mission; to give them and boys like them all over the country the opportunity to learn, work, grow and succeed.

The business arm of CUMA, Ricochet, will provide much of this opportunity in a nutshell, whilst helping CUMA with ongoing funds to operate and expand.

Visit CUMA’s website here

You can contact Lydia or Peter at P.O. Box 245, Konedobu, NCD, PNG
[email protected]
[email protected]

We encourage PNG Attitude readers to support this visionary project.

Bank account details: The Children's University of Music & Art
ANZ Port Moresby
BSB: 018-900
Account No: 1357 5894

Crucial lessons in China’s recent behaviour


THERE ARE SOME writers on current affairs for whom I have a particular soft spot. One of them is Paul Krugman who writes for the New York Times twice a week, who has his own blog (called The Conscience of a Liberal) and who is a Nobel Prize winning economist.

Commenting on a recent clash at sea involving a Chinese trawler colliding with two vessels of Japan's coast guard, Krugman observed that “the incident shows a Chinese government that is dangerously trigger-happy, willing to wage economic warfare at the slightest provocation”.

Krugman also slammed the US government for allowing an “unreliable regime [to] acquire a stranglehold on key materials”, in this case rare earths, which play a crucial role in applications ranging from hybrid motors to fibre-optics.

Until the mid-1980s, the US dominated production of rare earths; then China moved in to undercut the US industry.

“The result was a monopoly position exceeding the wildest dreams of Middle-Eastern oil-fuelled tyrants,” writes Krugman. “And even before the trawler incident, China showed itself willing to exploit that monopoly to the fullest.”

Krugman draws these conclusions from the rare earth case study.

First, the world needs to ensure non-Chinese sources of strategic materials.

Second, the world's newest economic superpower is not prepared to assume the responsibilities that go with that status.

“Major economic powers, realising they have an important stake in the international system,” says Krugman, “are normally hesitant about resorting to economic warfare, even in the face of severe provocation.

“China, however, showed no hesitation about using its trade muscle to get its way in a political dispute, in clear - if denied - violation of international trade law.”

“What you have is a portrait of a rogue economic superpower unwilling to play by the rules.”

The lesson for PNG – and Australia - is very, very clear.

Source: ‘China on collision course’ by Paul Krugman, New York Times, 19 October 2010

Spotter: Ross Wilkinson

On writing words that people will read


I AM WRITING this to change the focus a little, and also to show my family. I have been writing to PNG Attitude for a number of months and cannot believe how my writing skill has changed.

This is partly the result of having letters edited by Keith Jackson and also by using other letters as models.

When I started, my letters had long paragraphs of 4-5 sentences. Keith cut these to two sentences and even to one sentence. This is how journalists write in the newspapers.

I am always pleased to open my letter on the blog and find that the sentences and words have been improved.

I used to write in Tok Pisin ways with short sentences. I tried to write longer sentences. Then I realised that short sentences - one idea only - is the way to write. I am now back to one or three short sentences in each paragraph.

I feel that I am back in school having my work improved. I like the styles on PNG Attitude, particularly expatriate writers Paul, Alex, John, Marilyn, Robert, Barbara, Peter, Rod and Robin.

I read their work and try to use the techniques. I also read the polished work of Reg in the newspapers. We all seem to be improving our style of writing. Use of words is expanding.

I recommend this blog to students particularly those who want to be journalists. I wish I had my life over again. But this blog can help me to inspire my children.

Govt says give us money; readers disagree


PNG Attitude readers urge me to raise the issue of direct aid with Australia’s Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs, Richard Marles.

Meanwhile, PNG’s National Planning Minister, Paul Tiensten, tells donor nations to align their development programs with the government or take their money elsewhere.

“Developing countries around the world require aid to develop, but we must tie the aid into our budget,” says Mr Tiensten.

“If we do not tie the aid, then we will be running parallel systems that will undermine the budget,” he explains.

As he sees it, over the last 35 years, development partners have "gone out of their way to sign sweetheart deals" with government agencies to run their aid programs.

Mr Tiensten says development partners put money into HIV/AIDS programs that get no results. He says that, instead, they should spend money on the government’s priority areas.

But PNG Attitude readers, briefing me on issues that should be raised with Parliamentary Secretary Richard Marles, strongly disagree.

“Funds can be managed by neutral authorities composed of church leaders,” says Corney Alone. “There's little trust within government circles. Money given to them disappears though their network of dodgy contractors - the likes of the Keravat RESI funds.”

“Approaching the 2012 election, it would be wise to get the politicians' hands off these aid funds,” he says.

And Paul Oates says direct funding of projects in PNG should be introduced. “Arrange to increase direct funding of PNG health, education and communications at a rural level with a guaranteed exit strategy and publicly audited results,” he told PNG Attitude.

Mr Oates goes further and says the Australian assets of any PNG politicians found to have illegally obtained them should be frozen and sold to help fund education and health programs in PNG.

Trevor Freestone says, on a recent visit to the Highlands, he observed many buildings constructed since Independence were now dilapidated. “The government no longer seems interested in maintaining these assets,” he says.

Mr Freestone suggests Australia could help with a project to make computers available directly to more schools.

“Direct funding is the only way the money will get to the people,” say Peter and Lydia Kailap. “Once all the advisers are paid, and the ‘hungry dogs’ have a dibble, there is nothing left for the people it was intended for.

“The children remain the same; starving, uneducated, without even basic health care, and no hope for their future.”

Dubious wizards of the white shoe brigade


RESOURCE DEVELOPMENT history tells us that there are negative aspects associated with every project, and while this is in no way an argument to stifle resource projects, it does mean that we have to show greater sophistication in how we deal with the potential negative impacts.

Over the last few decades, we have seen environmental issues, especially with Ok Tedi; people displacement issues of those who live in the pathway of mining infrastructure; civil strife in Bougainville; and the recent unsettling of certain land owners along the Rai Coast. These examples have had a very public face.

Similarly, human rights have also come under challenge including recently introduced amendments to the Environment Act that raise serious concerns over the roughshod political management of legal redress by those affected by major projects.

It is also ironic that these developments that come in the name of progress, and by implication lifting living standards, often accentuate poverty, break down family life by increases in alcohol use, sex work and HIV/AIDS, and create larger disparities in wealth within the resource affected areas.

While the benefits of resource development can create large wealth to land owners, many, if not most, are unequipped to deal with such wealth.

Financial literacy remains poor and, combined with a cultural bias of live for the day rather than to a long term wealth accumulation plan, much of the passed on resource wealth is subject to dissipation.

Similarly, landowners can be fractious, with powerful personalities hijacking equitable dispersal to those legitimately entitled.

Overlay this with an expatriate white shoe brigade with dubious claims of financial wizardry, and we see how management of landowner royalties remains a hugely unaddressed problem.

In all of the above complexity, one thing is very clear. There is a need for engagement and to seek accord no matter how difficult the perceptions of the people affected and the complexity surrounding the issues. We need to improve on our current approach.

While expectations are understandably always high around new projects, what we now need is a process to marry expectations with reality and ensure that there remains a sense of “win-win” among all stakeholders.

Failure to ignore our recent history consigns us to a merry-go-round of confrontation, stop works and divisiveness that never really heals.

Pacific Secretary targets media on PNG

B&W In an article, 'PNG, a forgotten neighbour', for The Punch*, Australia’s new Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs, RICHARD MARLES, concludes the Australian media needs to pick up its game on PNG

IT HAS A POPULATION of 6.3 million. It is one of Australia’s two really large recipients of aid.

PNG, just up the road

We are its largest trading partner. It is our 19th. It’s about 400 times closer to us than New Zealand.

Yet for some reason our media and public discourse doesn’t seem to rate the importance of Papua New Guinea. On this website [The Punch, apart from Richard not big on PNG] a search on Papua New Guinea yields 23 hits compared to 35 for Spain, 76 for South Africa and 94 for Iran [I only made it 10 its, something wrong with The Punch’s search engine].

For much of the twentieth century Australia had responsibility for the administration of some or all of PNG. Aside from the historical connection that establishes, at a human level it now means that almost everyone knows someone who has spent time in PNG. 

Battles have been fought on PNG’s soil which go to the core of the Australian identity.

With the exceptions of New Zealand and the UK there is no other country in the world with which Australia has such a deep historical and social connection.

With that connection PNG deserves our attention. PNG deserves to be understood. And the bilateral relationship at a government level deserves all the public scrutiny that great matters of policy need.

There is much in this relationship that is worth talking about.

Australian aid in recent years has provided 539,000 primary school text books around the country. It has been part of a push which has seen an increase in the rates of primary school participation from 41.5 to 56.9%.

60% of the programme to combat the spread of HIV is funded by Ausaid with more than 6,000 people having been supported by antiretroviral therapy by the end of last year.

More than 2000km of roads are being maintained with the support of Australia, providing invaluable infrastructure. This includes the Lae-Goroka road: the busiest highway in PNG.

But, of course, the expenditure of $470million in aid must come with an obligation to ensure that Australian taxpayers are getting value for money and that Papua New Guineans are seeing real benefits. Both Governments have commissioned an independent review of our aid partnership which is an intelligent document that will ultimately see the spread of our aid narrow and a greater emphasis on grass roots service delivery.

We have agreed to consider an Economic Cooperation Agreement – an important step to changing the paradigm of a relationship previously based on aid.

A sign of this change is PNG’s resources boom and in particular the Exxon-Mobil LNG project.

This is a US $15 billion project that at the height if its construction will employ 12,000 people and increase PNG’s GDP by up to 20%.

In its own right the LNG project has the potential to transform the country.

Already it’s transforming our bilateral relationship. Australia has extended a US$500million loan facility to the project: not as an act of aid but rather a commercial decision in the Australian national interest. Australian companies have won A$1.3billion worth of contracts in the construction of the project with many more opportunities still to come.

A project of this size generates its own gravity. It needs, for example, the same number of truck drivers as there are in the whole of PNG. Thankfully Exxon-Mobil appears to be approaching this with a view to training more truck drivers rather than simply poaching all the existing ones.

Yet it highlights that if the LNG project is not done right it could be as much of a curse for PNG as a blessing.

The resources boom has seen PNG’s GDP grow by 5.5% last year and an expected 7.5% in 2010. These are numbers that would be the envy of any country in the developed world.

But it is essential for PNG that the growth in this wealth is translated into real prosperity for ordinary Papua New Guineans. It is a challenge which will be difficult to meet and in this regard Australia has a role to stand by PNG as a friend and to lend a hand.

PNG has an emerging economy, an emerging population and is already a significant emerging nation in the Pacific.

Australia welcomes this. It is in our interest to have another large partner to help us and the region assert our position in the world. And as a close friend we will stand side by side with PNG to help it meet its national aspirations.

With so much going on in our northern neighbour now is the time for the Australian media to emerge with a rightful degree of attention to Papua New Guinea.

* Richard Marles has been a regular contributor to The Punch website since 1 July 2009; 41 articles so far - productivity that makes PNG Attitude breathless with envy

Sustainability - old technology is right for us


A SYSTEM IS being developed here that will enable village farmers to remain permanently on a fixed block of land and develop and extend it for future generations.

I’m spending about K12,000 a month to get this farming project going. I intend to make use of sub-soil drains using clay tiles to drain this very heavy clay soil. A kiln to burn the clay bricks is a work in progress.

I have previously noted a lack of reality relating to the cultivation of grain crops and rice here. Rice, corn and wheat should be treated as a necessary part of a rotation, not as a way to make as much cash as kaukau and cabbages.

Farmers of arable land in developed countries have a major profitable crop and another less profitable crop as part of their rotation practice. In PNG farmers, because of slash and burn, strongly believe they can consider only one major crop in a new garden.

But grain crops need to be part of a rotation, and farmers’ incomes should come from the entire rotation necessary to sustain the farm’s fertility.

It is erroneous to think that traditional farmers have an inborn understanding of how to plant crops. PNG farmers are mentioned as good examples by permaculturalists for the way they intensively multi-crop their gardens. Like everyone else in this world they are driven by necessity.

When they clear a new garden they know that fertile soil is scarce. Therefore they multi-crop the fertile soil. The next crop could be peanuts and the final crop sweet potato or cassava. From there the soil goes back to bush fallow. This is not sustainable farming.

PNG has a clean environment. I made this point when I was trying to promote produce production during my election campaign. I took dried mushrooms, bananas and tomatoes as samples to the villages. Very acceptable.

We have, growing here without the benefit of acid rain and windblown pollution, populations of wild mushrooms such as Shiitake, Maitake, Cep, Porchini and various others. Fresh on the Kainantu roadside at K4 a kilo.

The mushrooms are in quantity and are freely Most village households have access to wild mushrooms. The present world export market is in the billions.

PNG is training experts in mining, intensive plantation agriculture, information technology and the various professions that have parallels in developed countries. But there are a lot of proven technologies fit for rural people that, if promoted, would improve life at the village level.

These technologies were discarded by developed countries as other technologies improved. But there is a place for lower level technologies.

Sustainable farming should use appropriate technologies and include local skill development to enable the communities to be as self-sufficient as possible. They should obtain only such supplies as are not available in the local environment.

British born Tony Flynn came to PNG in 1959 and is a naturalised citizen. His company funds a sustainable farming project employing about 50 workers

Settlement of hope: an inspirational story


Kailap_Peter A COUPLE OF DAYS ago Peter and Lydia Kailap left a message on PNG Attitude for me to deliver to Richard Marles when I meet him in Canberra next Monday.

“All people are born equal, with each entitled in equal measure to life, liberty, prosperity, human rights and good governance,” Peter [left] and Lydia said, quoting Nelson Mandela, adding, “That just about covers it.”

There were more suggestions than that, however (read them under Comments above), and the couple signed off saying, “Hope someone will listen.”

But Peter and Lydia are doing more than living in hope. They are working to deliver hope.

I discovered this when, intrigued by their comments on the blog, I went in search of something about them on the Internet.

It turns out that Peter and Lydia are making a mighty contribution to the well-being and stability of Port Moresby’s Kaugere settlement, where they live.

Peter is an artist and musician and Lydia a chef. They’ve raised a rather large family in Kaugere and, as reporter Tania Nugent says in the news report below, “when they saw no hope, they created some - for theirs and all the settlement's children.”

This is an inspiring story. The story of how Peter and Lydia started a school in this tough precinct of Port Moresby.

As Peter Kailap says: “You have all the top criminals, they breed them here, and they work out of here which is what his place has had a name for and it's been ongoing, but since the school, it's sort of broken that cycle. They don't want their children to be like that.”

Check out the video on the Australia Network website.

Sobering pictures from the South Pacific war


John Jones I HAVE BEEN in telephone contact with John M Jones [right], the last surviving member of the Tarawa [Kiribati] Coastwatchers, and will drive north from Taranaki [New Zealand] to interview him in detail.

John Jones was kind enough to send me copies of some rare photos from the Solomons and the Zentsuji [Japan] prison camp in World War II: not the best, but all I have.

Tarawa Coastwatchers The photo at left was taken in August 1941 by Jones, and shows six of the seventeen Coastwatchers who were decapitated by the Japanese in October 1942, shortly after an American bombing raid on Tarawa.

Jones and his group of seven in the northern Gilberts (Kiribati), were captured within 48 hours of the attack on Pearl Harbor, and were among the first Allied POWs sent to Japan, to be interned in the Zentsuji POW camp along with other early internees from Guam, Wake and New Guinea.

Jones said they were relatively well-treated, compared to POWs in other camps, but that, in the summer of 1945, they were told that if the Allies invaded Japan they would all be executed.

Zentsuji w Grave Pit In this photo you can see, in the bottom right-hand corner, one of the pits dug for their burial at Zentsuji.

Of course, the war against Japan did not end with invasion. It ended with the two devastating atomic bomb explosions in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Keith Jackson writes: Most of the Australian officers captured by the Japanese in the New Guinea Islands ended up at Zentsuji, taken there on board the Narita Maru.

They included AIF Chaplain John May and Lt Jack Lusby Burns, of 1 Independent Company, both of whom died earlier this year, and both members of the Rabaul and Montevideo Maru Society.

Society members Lt Stan Cooper of the Coastal Artillery and Capt Lex Fraser of 1 Independent Company were also interned in Zentsuji.

The captured New Guinea Islands service personnel who were not officers, together with the interned civilians, were on their way to Hainan on board the Montevideo Maru bound for Hainan when it was torpedoed off the Philippines, and none survived.

Bruce M Petty and his wife, Dr Daniele Lonchamp-Petty, have lived and worked in the United States, France, Saipan, Saudi Arabia and, now, New Zealand. Daniele is a paediatrician, and Bruce, a former navy petty officer and a nuclear medicine technologist, is now a writer and self-proclaimed house-husband.