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189 posts from June 2011

Thursday was the last day for entries to The Crocodile Prize for 2011.  Winners in the three categories (poetry, stories, essays) will be announced on Independence Day.  We received a flood of last-minute contributions and we thank all the writers who have joined the contest.  Details of the 2012 competition will be announced in October

Australia's 2nd great Papuan colonisation?


THE LAST CHAPTER in the saga of human global colonisation belongs to Papua New Guinea.

Around 3,300 years ago Austronesian-speaking people ventured from New Ireland and New Britain east into the vast South Pacific and populated the islands as far away as Samoa and Tonga, a distance of about 4,500 kilometres.

The travels of these adventurous seafarers are relatively easily traced because of the remains of their patterned pottery, called lapita, and their shell armbands and obsidian tools.

We know that Austronesian speakers also colonised the south coast of Papua because their descendants are still there in villages from Mailu to as far west as Manumanu. 

The supporting archaeological evidence has been thin on the ground however and it has been difficult to put these migrations into context or discover when they occurred.  To date they have been regarded as a reasonably modern phenomenon.

A new archaeological dig at Caution Bay, about 20 kilometres west of Moresby, during 2009-10 has now discovered extensive deposits containing lapita pottery which date to between 2,900 and 2,500 years before the present.

This date range is towards the end of the known lapita manufacturing period and is roughly the same time as the Papua New Guinean seafarers were reaching Samoa and Tonga.

There are archaeological sites on mainland Papua which contain pottery but these remains come from a later period, which began about 2,000 years ago and are different from the earlier lapita style.

The site at Caution Bay is very big, stretching some 6½ kilometres along the coast and up to 1¾ kilometres inland; making it easily the biggest lapita site so far discovered in the Pacific. 

The size of the site also indicates that it was a viable and permanent settlement for over 400 years rather than just a series of transient events.

At one of the dig sites the archaeologists worked their way through modern deposits to the lapita material and then down to evidence of pre-lapita occupation, including a burial that could be up to 4,200 years old.

This is interesting because it shows that the lapita pottery makers were colonising a previously settled coastline whereas out in the Pacific to the east they were the very first humans to arrive.

Like the Austronesian speakers, these previously settled places were occupied by people who also exploited the resources of the sea.

We know that the Austronesian seafarers were traders and tended to mix well with the people already living on the Papuan coast.

This could mean that Austronesian-speaking people, like the Motu, may have been in Papua for longer than originally thought.  This and other intriguing questions have yet to be answered.

Also intriguing is the possibility that the lapita makers may have gone even further west to the Torres Strait and even to mainland Australia.

For more details of the recent discoveries at Caution Bay by Ian McNiven and his colleagues see the latest edition of Australian Archaeology, No 72, June 2011.

Copper & gold evoke geological superlatives


GEOLOGISTS REGARD PNG as a rousing copper and gold region. “It’s a place where geologists have great fun,” says Harmony Gold CEO Graham Briggs, who is eager to build Harmony’s second PNG mine in joint venture with Australian company Newcrest.

Harmony, a $6.5-billion company, has a 50:50 management partnership with Newcrest, which is a $30 billion company.

Briggs makes no bones about the propensity of PNG’s near-mine communities to protest about any errant environmental behaviour that may occur. For instance, the joint venture’s Hidden Valley mine is being called to account for discharging sediment into a nearby river.

“It was simply sediment, not tailings, and, yes, there’s a bit of legal action, but the communities have been compensated,” Briggs explains.

PNG has adopted World Bank environmental protection standards and miners need to establish nurseries to replace vegetation on steep hills in order to prevent erosion, which can lead to landslides.

Malaria and waterborne diseases are prevalent in the remote Wafi-Golpu area, where Harmony intends building the new mine and where health services are having to be expanded to serve a community of 2 500 people. Since the joint venture has been active in the area, it has managed to get infant mortality down to zero.

“Even at this early stage, we can confidently say that Wafi-Golpu is going to be a mine. There’s no doubt about it,” Briggs tells Mining Weekly.

PNG is seismically active, but Briggs points out that most of the seismicity takes place 30 km below ground. This results in little more than “a rumble and a shake” on the surface, which engineers take into account when designing mine infrastructure.

The PNG government has the right to buy up to 30% of mining projects, but is required to contribute in full if it opts to do so. There is no “free carry”, says Briggs.

Although the government did not pursue its rights at Hidden Valley, it could still do so at Wafi-Golpu, where capital of $3-4-billion will be required to build the mine. Because of its high grades, Wafi-Golpu is not regarded as being a “capital-sensitive” project.

The Wafi part of Wafi-Golpu is a gold-only resource, and the Golpu part is a copper/gold porphyry.  “Wafi-Golpu’s grade beats everything around it,” says Briggs.

Harmony is eager to become increasingly involved in PNG, which is currently the world’s eleventh-largest gold-producing country. Where else in the world, Briggs asks, can an explorer go from zero to 70 million ounces of gold in ten years, as Harmony and Newcrest have done with their PNG Morobe joint venture?

By the end of 2011, Morobe expects to be at 100 million ounces of gold. “And there’s more to be found,” says Briggs.

Harmony expects the new Wafi-Golpu copper and gold mine to come into production in 2016.

The challenge is to build a mine as quickly as possible, probably while generating early cash flow from the high-grade Wafi areas and sinking a decline shaft into Golpu.

The expectation is that mining will take place at a rate of 30 million tons a year in order to yield 700,000 ounces of gold and 300,000 tonnes of copper each year.

“There’s no doubt that this is a corker when it comes to grade,” says Briggs.

Source: Mining Weekly

Over 1,000 new species discovered in PNG

A TREASURE TROVE of unknown varieties of animal, bird, fish, insect and plant species has been identified in PNG’s forests and wetlands over the last 10 years

A new type of tree kangaroo, a 2.5-metre-long river shark, a frog with vampire-like fangs and a turquoise lizard are among hundreds of new creatures found and documented in a report by conservationists.

Some 1,060 previously unknown species of mammals, fish and birds have been spotted.

The Final Frontier report, put together by the World Wildlife Fund, marks a brief respite from the escalating rate of animal and plant extinctions which has left a quarter of all known mammals on the endangered list.

The PNG species were all discovered, at a rate of two each week, in the period 1998-2008 by various teams and researchers who have visited the country and its extensive forests, waters and wetlands.

One team discovered a new bird, the wattled smoky honeyeater, within seconds of leaving the expedition helicopter.

Perhaps the most extraordinary freshwater discovery is the species of river shark which, given its size, has done well to evade discovery until now. The shy fish has been named the Glyphis garricki after the New Zealand zoologist Jack Garrick, who identified it. Because of its rarity it has immediately gone on to the endangered list.

In the salt waters a snub-fin dolphin that comes in a delicate shade of pink was spotted in 2005 and, after much scientific measuring and debating, now qualifies as the first new dolphin species to be found in more than three decades.

Dr Mark Wright, conservation science adviser at WWF, said the report was a fabulous reminder that "the world is full of fantastic and fantastical creatures, of quirky and improbable lifestyles. The more we look, the more we find".

PNG, in an area known as the "coral triangle", a region with the most diverse marine eco-systems on Earth. Over the 10-year period, 33 new fish species were found, including the damselfish, a strikingly brilliant blue wrasse and seven species of zigzag rainbow fish, an 11 cm-long creature which lives in shallow waters. In all, 218 new kinds of plants – including a flesh-like orchid, 43 reptiles and 12 mammals, 580 invertebrates, 134 amphibians, two birds and 71 fish were found.

New Guinea is the second largest island on Earth after Greenland, and it holds the third largest tract of rainforest in the world. But while its relatively low level of human population had protected its species, illegal logging is now projected to strip the island of half of its forest cover by 2020.

Source: Guardian News and Media

Jimmy in the morning: Give me a chance


You call me this
You call me that
You never know

You say I’m rough
You say I’m tough
You never know

You think I don’t care
You think I don’t dare
You never know

Give me a chance
I’ll show you the dance
For my love is immense

When you’re down
I’ll wear you crown
So you can be my princess

When you can’t fly
I’ll give you wings to fly
So I can take you to cloud nine

When you cry & head low
I’ll bring you rainbow
So you can cry no more

Come ride with me
On my magic mat
So we can sit side by side
And watch the world below us

If you fall
I’ll fall first
And wait for you on earth
You’ll fall into my arms
So you’ll never get hurt

If you die
I’ll die first
And wait for you at the gate
So I can go where you go

Archer leadership scholars visit Australia


THE KOKODA TRACK Foundation's Archer Leadership Scholars have just returned to PNG after spending two weeks with the Foundation in Sydney and Melbourne.

During their stay, the Archer Scholars completed an intensive, experiential leadership course where they developed the concepts, confidence, and connections to help them on their leadership journeys.

The students had one-on-one sessions with key government, business, and community leaders including Geoff Harris from Flight Centre, Richard Marles, Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs, and Samah Hadid, the 2010 UN Youth Representative.

They also visited and completed work experience at a range of organisations including World Vision, Oxfam, OzHarvest, Opportunity International, the Lord Mayor's Office, Deloitte, GetUp!, Oaktree Foundation, WWF, Street University, Oasis, Hopestreet, and Spark.

Enormous thanks to The Trust Company (as trustees of the Fred P Archer Trust), PNG High Commissioner Charles Lepani, Aaron and Kaitlin Tait from the LEADERS Project, and all the individuals and organisations involved in the leadership exchange.

Source: Kokoda Track Foundation

Axing TB clinics hurts PNG & Australia


Laming_Andrew THERE IS NO HEALTH inequality worldwide greater than Australia’s northern maritime border with Papua New Guinea.

Ranked number two on the UNDP’s Human Development Index, Australian soil is just three kilometres by sea from PNG; ranked at 137.

With tuberculosis being the most expensive single health issue to treat in the region, recent shifts in government policy risk aggravating the situation on both sides of the border.

The Torres Strait Islands Treaty between the two countries was signed in December 1978. It allows for free movement of both local populations between particular latitudes for food collection, hunting, fishing, ceremonies and social gatherings, traditional trade but not formal employment.

There is an estimated 2% tuberculosis prevalence in PNG with around 50,000 annual visits to the Torres Strait islands by PNG nationals.

Since 1999 the Commonwealth government has provided around $4 million each year to the local provider Queensland health, to compensate for the impact of treating PNG nationals who incidentally require public hospital health care.

In 2010 these costs reached $15.8 million annually, the blow-out attributed to the cost of managing tuberculosis. Instructed by the Commonwealth to reconfigure health services within the allowed budget, Queensland Health cancelled Torres Strait clinics as of 15 June this year, provoking furious debate on both sides of the Torres Strait.

Since 2005 expert tuberculosis teams have been visiting the far northern island clinics in Boigu and Saibai from Cairns. Evaluating around 30 new TB patients annually, clinical teams provided microbiologically verified treatment, in addition to evacuating seriously ill cases monthly to Cairns Base Hospital. The clinic was caring for around 50 patients at the time the program was cancelled.

Health services will always face moral challenges at international frontiers, particularly where a free movement treaty exists.

Beyond the utilitarian position that all nations should work to maximise the quantum and quality of tuberculosis care, richer nations ultimately need to prioritise services to its resident nationals.

Likewise moral hazard is likely to lead to poorer nations under-serving their populations where they know the sickest will cross borders for care.

In the absence of a bilateral health agreement or other forms of cost recovery, richer nations need to consider if it is more effective to invest directly in neighbouring health systems if returns exceed providing the same care domestically in higher-cost health services.

PNG is Australia’s largest foreign aid recipient. But after four decades, it is significant that there is still no substantial tuberculosis program in place. The Torres Straits clinics provided highest-quality care for the lucky few coastal villages able to reach Saibai and Boigu. Cancelling these clinics raises challenges for Australian bio-security, as well as existing and future PNG patients with TB.

Torres Strait Islanders are Australian citizens are thereby entitled to adequate TB surveillance. PNG arrivals for markets, commerce and personal travel present a recognised tuberculosis risk which cannot be combated from the regional hospital on Thursday Island, 150 km south of the maritime border. The demise of northern clinics raises the possibility of island hopping southwards in search of compassionate care.

A health planning decision to relocate the visiting clinical services from the Torres Strait to Daru appears to be the preferred option. Certainly, redirection of health investment into PNG services offers advantages over frontier service provision in isolation.

Health costs are far lower in poorer economies and a similar investment could support a significant tuberculosis program. The problem is that no such program is yet in place. Even if a TB coordinator, a doctor and a vessel was identified, the rate limiting step may be adequate clinical care at the south-western PNG town of Daru.

Current patients who are partially treated present significant risks of multi-drug resistance. That is because they become less responsive to the few remaining effective treatments and because they spread these difficult variants to others. This potentially increases the challenge of treating those exposed to TB in Australia and undermines PNG’s domestic efforts if supply of second-line treatments is unreliable.

Top-end TB services in Torres Strait began as bio-surveillance. But the quality of the care ultimately distorted patient movements by providing incentives for PNG patients to travel in search of care which was unavailable in local services.

Such a distortion increases the costs of Australian clinics until a point is reached where similar investments are better directed into PNG public health. Where resources are not sufficient to raise TB care in PNG to Australian levels, options appraisal suggests that a blended model may offer the best approach.

PNG should rapidly build its microbiological capacity around TB in Port Moresby to ensure it qualifies for WHO-provided drug treatments. A coastal TB service run by Australia’s foreign aid provider AusAID can raise levels of TB identification and improve the likelihood that initiated treatments are completed.

More AusAID assistance would also ensure better inpatient care was available in Daru, which in turn would reduce the numbers of PNG citizens with severe and untreated TB island-hopping south in search of life saving treatment.

In the end Australia will have to resign itself to offering incidental lifesaving inpatient tuberculosis care in locations like Thursday Island. Instead of being evacuated to Cairns, patients could ideally be transferred back to Daru to complete inpatient treatment when stabilised.

On those grounds it seems an unwise decision of Queensland Health to terminate Torres Strait clinics in the absence of a complementary service being established in Daru. Given that such a service could be functional within twelve months, the early termination of Torres Straits clinics presents both increased risks for TB infection of Australian residents and more costs than benefits in the medium term for PNG.

Dr Andrew Laming was elected in 2004 as the Liberal Member for Bowman (Queensland) in Australia’s federal parliament. He was an ophthalmic surgeon, obstetrician, gynaecologist and management consultant before entering politics

Friends for life


An entry in The Crocodile Prize

THE FIRST TIME this new girl joined my third grade class, I wanted to be her friend for life.

I was smitten with Grace ever since her family moved next door.  Grace and I attended the same Primary T School in our small suburb.  

As close neighbours, we grew up together through our school years.  At the beginning of each year, Grace and I found ourselves in the same class.

One Friday afternoon, our fifth grade was restless. We had worked hard on a new concept all week.  I could sense that the other students were also edgy with one another.

So to relax, we played a little game.  I asked Grace for us to write on a sheet of paper something nice about each other and sign at the bottom, “Friends for Life”.

Afterwards, we would read it frequently and make a big joke of it.  Grace treasured the list and neatly folded the papers to put them inside a small empty perfume bottle.

The years flew by fast and before I knew it, Grace was in my high school class.  We had by now developed a strong bond and were now more than just friends.

Soon, Grace and I completed Year Ten with high marks and left to pursue different challenges in life.  We parted as good friends.  It was the last time I would ever see Grace alive.

Thirty years passed and we lost contact. It was six years ago, after a trip abroad, that my uncle met me at the airport.  The drive home was quiet, each to his thoughts.  Then my uncle cleared his throat.

"The Ralai family called last week and asked for you.”

“Gee, I haven't heard from them in years. I wonder how Grace is."

My uncle said. "Grace died last Saturday.  The funeral is tomorrow, and her parents would like it if you could attend."

The funeral service was difficult for me. The pastor said the usual prayers. Grace looked very beautiful and appeared to be sleeping.  I was the last one to bless her coffin and stood there awkwardly.

After the funeral, all of Grace's school friends (and mine too) headed to her parents’ house for lunch.  Grace’s mother and father were there, waiting for me. They asked me to remain behind as everyone left, one by one.

Grace’s parents shared with me her personal photo albums.  They had kept a good collection of family photographs of both of us from third grade to final year of schooling.  I felt nostalgic.

"Before you go son; we want to show you something that is very dear to Grace's heart”.  “We’d like you to meet our granddaughter, Evonne”.

I thought I was seeing double and that Grace had come back to life.  Evonne’s angelic face told me all I needed to know why Grace never mentioned her daughter to me in her letters all these years.

Grace’s mother said, taking a small lady’s wallet to show me, "We found this in Grace’s tightly-clutched hand before she left us peacefully”. Evonne started to speak.

"Mum told me everything and I can see why now”. Her grandmother added, “We thought you might recognize this." She opened a plastic wrapping paper, and carefully removed two worn but neatly folded pieces of paper from a small perfume bottle.

I knew without looking that the papers were the ones which Grace and I had both written in fifth-grade listing all the good things we liked about each other and signed our names together, “Friends for Life.”  Grace's mother said. "As you can see, our Grace treasured it for years until the end."

"Mum always carried this with her at all times," Evonne said to me without batting an eyelash. "She had this faraway look whenever she talked about her special friend.

“He was always there for her and how she wished he was by her side in her final days”.  A lump formed in my throat.

“Mum told me who my real father is.  I am glad you came.  This was mum’s last dying wish, to know my father.”

Evonne started to stutter and tremble.  “Mum never stopped loving you.  Her only wish in life was to be able to hear you say that you loved her”, the rest was lost in a mumble of incoherent words.

I immediately extended my arms wide as she rushed to embrace me with an anguished cry.

That's when I finally broke down.  I cried for Grace and for all the years I wasted pretending to hide my feelings for her because of my obligations, and the ties that I had.

I cried for Evonne for denying her a chance to know me. But I cried now for my friend who I would never see again.

Evonne and I cried out loud our grief.  “I am truly sorry my dear Evonne, please forgive me.  Oh, darling Grace, you always knew that I loved you, but was afraid to tell you”.

Oh Grace, sobbing her name over and over in anguished lamentation to an empty room.

Evonne’s grandparents discreetly left us to reconnect.  It was a great healing feeling of self discovery between father - and daughter of his first true love.

The good Lord has blessed my loss and Evonne would always remind me of Grace. Thank you my darling Grace, I have always been your friend for life!

The density of people in society is so thick that we forget that life will end one day.  And we don't know when that one day will be.  So tell those you do love and care about that they are special and important.

Tell them you love them ... in the living years for it’s too late to say sorry when we die.

For privacy reasons, real names have been changed in this article

Classical music inspired by PNG’s people


LA Music Festival 

YOU DON'T OFTEN come across classical music directly inspired by Papua New Guinea.  But one notable exception is the US composer Christopher Roberts.

Several of his works have been directly inspired by the time he spent living a village life in the Star Mountains, and they have been performed by major orchestras in the US and Europe.

Christopher Roberts is a composer and double bassist, an idiosyncratic solo improviser on the bass and other instruments, who is comfortable within the Western classical, jazz, and folk traditions and in Pacific Rim musical traditions.

He grew up in Southern California (where his first bass was the prop bass replete with bullet holes from the Billy Wilder movie Some Like It Hot), but has spent much of his life since the early 1980s overseas.

Only fairly recently did he return to the US, where he currently teaches music at Whatcom Community College in Bellingham, Washington. He studied composition with Vincent Persichetti and double bass with David Walter at Juilliard, where he earned masters and doctoral degrees in both subjects.

Following the focus and intensity of the conservatory environment, Christopher Roberts shouldered his bass and went to live alone in PNG, on a quest to understand natural prosody in music.

This Thursday the Los Angeles Music Festival [pictured] will feature a major work by Roberts, Trios for Deep Voices, a composition for three double basses inspired by the music of PNG.

Roberts will be joined by two bass players from the Los Angeles Opera Orchestra. The composer writes about Trios for Deep Voices:

In 1981, I ran off to the jungles of PNG to study the natural prosody of music. I lived with the people of the Star Mountains and introduced them to my double bass, while they introduced me to their songs. I took part in drumbeat initiations and listened to the sound of hornbills in flight. I was overwhelmed. I had a dream in which I moved my bow across the strings of the bass in an entirely new way that recreated the drums, and the hornbills' wings, and the voices of the people whose every song tells a story.

The sounds in New Guinea and their constant shaping and recurrence hit me right away as a deep signature of a place, the way the water moved through its gorges, the tone of the insects, the way people there would sing, and the particular choruses of the birds. In fact I cannot imagine the vocal music without the environment surrounding, as my house was as open as a woven basket, and the sounds of the rivers and insects followed the cycle of day and night, drought or deluge. To remember songs, I stand near streams.

The Trios describe being in New Guinea, as the strings of a bass would tell it.  Hearing the hornbills in a mist-shrouded forest moving across the unseen world just above you … the atmosphere of being outside at dusk with the insects screaming and the water rushing … initiation ceremony music, when men as “hornbills” beating only taro enter the ritual house to become "birds of paradise" and emerge beating actual drums.

In the composition of music, I work with the medium of a written score, and the natural idiomatic way of a given instrument, following the technical inclinations of resonant strings .… Over time, over years, the impressions, the motifs most resilient in improvisation and memory unfold their stories to me in a developing variation proportionately whorled like some sort of topography across the score paper.

The first trio describes the initiation, and what it was like to be there in it. … The harmonic lyric contours describe the echo of the initiates singing as they approached the ritual house at a dead run straight up the mountain. … [in the booklet] my photos of the houses up in the Star Mountains evoke every sensation of being there, where you would be if you were singing in the way of the slow movements. … Some trios begin as lone preambles, and all are gathered into contemporary chamber music forms that I could relate to my friends.

Photographs from old New Ireland


GARY DE VERE has uncovered some fascinating photographs taken by his uncle around Kavieng prior to World War II.

His uncle managed a copra plantation manager and sent the photos to his wife in Australia before the war.

He was in New Ireland at the time of the Japanese invasion in January 1942, was captured by the Japanese and later drowned, along with more than 1,000 other civilians troops, aboard the ill-fated Montevideo Maru.

If you recognise any person or location in the photos, you can contact PNG Attitude.

Download Photographs from old New Ireland

Jimmy in the morning: Falling in love


If love was a grain of sand
I will spend my life collecting them
to build the road on which you will walk

If love was a grain of salt
I will spend my life evaporating the sea
To sprinkle a little on your plate

If love was a grain of rice
I will spend my life plowing the earth
To feed you so you never go hungry

If love was a drop of rain
I will spend my life collecting the clouds
To quench you so you never be thirsty

If love was a ray of sunshine
I will spend my life building panels
to give you strength so you never be weak

If love was a particle of air
I will spend my life synthesizing
to give you oxygen when you’re breathless

If love was a twinkling star
I will spend my life hunting the universe
to give you light when your world is dark

If love was a moon light
I will spend my life hiding the sun
to prove my love when you’re feeling down

If love was a petal of a rose
I will spend my life collecting roses
to make you a bed when you’re tired

If love was a sip of honey
I will spend my life collecting hives
to be sweet to you

If love was time
I will spend my life thinking of you
And If I’m thinking of you
I am falling in love

Michael Somare resigns as prime minister


SIR MICHAEL SOMARE has quit as Papua New Guinea prime minister because of ill health.

One month ago the 75-year-old leader underwent surgery to replace a heart valve and subsequently suffered complications requiring two further operations in a Singapore hospital.

His family later said they had feared for his life.

Sir Michael's son, Arthur, confirmed the resignation a short time ago.

The Grand Chief is recognised as the father of the nation and was instrumental in PNG attaining independence from Australia in 1975.

Buai trade is not economically rational


THE RECENT INITIATIVE by the National Capital District Commission to rid buai from the streets in Port Moresby has seen people expressing varying views on the issue.

While the health and hygiene issues that buai create are easily seen and well understood, I do not believe we have thoroughly considered and debated the economics of the buai trade.

Buai trade is a micro economic activity that enables many of our people, particularly the urban poor, to earn a living.  To take this away from them would be suicidal.  But does it help to grow our national economy?

From a macro economic perspective, buai is a commodity that adds no value to our total economy because it is neither an export nor a substitute for an import. Hence, the total worth of the buai economy remains the same, with the buai kina only changing hands between different individuals involved.

This results in a stagnant national economy or worse still, a declining economy when you consider the imbalance in population and economic growth.

Here is a hypothetical illustration of how the buai trade creates stagnation in the economy.

A household family has K100, which is what’s left of their father’s pay packet. If they do nothing else from now on but grow and trade widgets among themselves, they have no way of growing that K100.

Each member of the family will at some stage own a portion of the K100 and then shift it to the next person in the next trade. They continue doing this and live happily until they decide to buy a new radio for the family worth K150.

Everyone contributes towards this but all they can manage is an aggregate of K100 and are still short by K50.

Engaging in widget trade does not mean the family has been lazy. Unfortunately, they have been directing their time and energy towards an activity that never contributed in bringing new money into their total wealth.

Buai trade in our country works in a similar way. It does not mean our people are lazy but rather distorts their priorities and leads them to utilise their labour in an inefficient manner because of a lack of better alternatives.

It is a gainful activity for individuals but is not so when considered at a macro-economic level.

In my opinion, the key is for the government to start developing the rural areas and opening up access to markets by building and maintaining transport infrastructure and bringing other enabling services like health and education into these regions.

People will hopefully respond to this by going back home and engage in the production of export commodities such as coffee, cocoa and copra or alternatives for imports such as rice, fresh fruits and vegetables.

Buai vendors are not lazy people and must not be condemned to the doldrums.  In fact, these are the most enterprising and productive people who are unfortunately directing their entrepreneurial spirit and productivity towards an economically misguided activity.

The government must recognise this and step up and offer better alternatives for them to utilise themselves in ways that enable both individual as well as collective gains.

Magnificent artwork will aid memorial fund


Artwork 1 
JULIANNE ROSS ALLCORN has created an artwork for a silent auction to be held at next Sunday’s commemorative luncheon of the Rabaul and Montevideo Maru Society.

The artwork honours those people lost in the Japanese invasion of the New Guinea islands in 1942 and contributes to the fundraising for the Rabaul and Montevideo Maru Memorial at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

Photographed just prior to framing under glass in a beech frame, this original artwork shows the islands of Papua New Guinea with a Papua New Guinean face gazing out towards the viewer.

The known names of all those who died or who were killed in the islands and on the Montevideo Maru, and of those missing, have been painstakingly handwritten and appear as the currents of the sea.

With no definitive list to work from, missing names are represented by the following symbols:

Chinese: ceramic ginger jar
Norwegians: MV Herstein
Papua New Guineans: canoe, bush knife, kundu, Dukduk, bilum
Soldiers: slouch and tin hats; Wirraway aircraft
Missionaries: cross and rosary beads
Escape boats- lakatoi and MV Laurabada
Japanese: samurai sword

Artwork Detail In the corner is a miniature drawing of the American flag (waving in reverse).

A raised silhouette of the Montevideo Maru cut out of Japanese rice paper sits atop the creation.

Phone bids will be taken between 3.10pm and 3.20pm prior to the silent auction closing on Saturday 2 July 2011.

Bidders will need to pre-register their details by Friday 1 July 2011 on 0409 031 889.

Was the centrecourt at Pindiu all that great?

Pindiu Tennis Court 1969 
“IN ORDER TO dispel any further debate over the Pindiu Lawn Tennis Club,” writes Paul Oates, “I attach this photo taken in 1969 just after Colin [Huggins] left.

“You can see the ‘court’ actually had fairly limited facilities,” asserts Paul, clearly looking for some action on the rhetorical front.

Which has, as you might expect, drawn a prompt response from said Pindiu tennis aficionado 'Pancho' Huggins.

“My dear Paul - It is obvious that the court surface has been maintained, however, the lawns from my donga to the court have been left in some disarray.

“What memories to see those delightful low clouds coming up the valley again.

“I hope that you were not starved with no planes being able to come in from Lae?”

Cricket minnows deserve their chance


NOW, THIS IS more like it! Pakistan hosting Afghanistan and England hosting Holland – arrangements that look set to bolster claims to get the “world” back into the 2015 World Cup.

Add to that, Kenya welcoming Uganda and the cricketing globe starts shrinking that little bit further again.

Where to next? And is there a clue here for Test nations to take the Associates seriously through bilateral series?

Brilliantly co-operative stuff, and perhaps something that the likes of Australia and the West Indies in particular could learn from.

How about if Cricket Australia expanded the Big Bash League Twenty20 series to encompass Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and PNG?

England are already ahead of them – Holland, Ireland and Scotland all play in various guises as part of the English county tournaments and perhaps Italy or Denmark could be considered under this format, too.

And it’s not going to cost anyone too much in effort for a big reward in international terms.

Dutch skipper Peter Borren told CricInfo that there was huge value in the Netherlands’ getting a hit or two in the English 40-over league.

All it took was some fresh thinking, and yet another nation gets the chance to play more cricket at a time when the ICC seems intent on cutting teams out of the sport’s bigger picture.

Cricket fans should gladly embrace such moves – and dare to dream big and see them as stepping-stones to further the integration of the game.

West Indies v Canada, Canada v United States, England v Holland, Italy v Denmark, Afghanistan v Pakistan, Sri Lanka v Oman, India v Nepal, Kenya v Uganda, Namibia v Tanzania, Fiji v Papua New Guinea, Hong Kong v Singapore.

Not as endless seven-ODI marathons, but as neatly-added sides to the main Test series events.


Jimmy in the morning: Beautiful Dream


I don’t know why but I can’t stop thinking of you

Did you cut a piece of me and buried somewhere deep?
Or did you cast a spell on me so I’ll forever keep?
Night and day you appear like the sun and moon
Teasing my mind like sugar in a spoon

Kiss me and tease me
Net me and take me
Own me and keep me
Wow can’t imagine how it will be

Waves come kissing the shores and caressing the sand
Humbling my heart to embrace you to the end
You’ll send me to heaven if you take my hand

Born with a natural beauty you’re like no other
Unique yet you walk the streets like any other
To earth I sing your name louder than thunder

I don’t know why but I can’t stop thinking of you

Clouds kiss mountains each morning
Angelic Eyes tell me and I’ll be Mt Wilhelm each morning
Night kisses earth in unity
Tell me and I’ll blow out the sun for eternity

Sweet Mary Lou your smile melts my heart
Talking to me is like tearing me apart
Oh when you look at me I’m blown away
Please be careful with your touch I might not live the day

Trees stand in cold, I’ll keep you warm in my arms
Hills fall to earth, I’ll nourish you with my charms
If you cry, I’ll collect your tears and keep in my heart
Nothing is more valuable than the tears from your heart
Knock on my door and I’ll show you your throne
I want you to know it’s not a heart of stone
New as a baby you’ll be cradled in my heart
Girl you’re heaven’s perfect work of art

Ocean before me I look but you beyond the distance
Forcing my eyes but the horizon gives no chance

You’re a beautiful painting pasted in my mind
Overseas and mountains I never leave you behind
Undoubtedly you’re the Beautiful Dream I always carry

Now on board MV Nautica bound for the Black Sea.  Have discovered a work around to the internet problem.  It’s called “money”.  But emails with attachments are unlikely to get through the narrow band width to the ship, so include all material in the body of the email – and no pix for the next couple of weeks.  Also shorter comments are more likely to get through than longer ones, which you should bear in mind.  Thanks and cheers - KJ

June’s most commented upon stories


HERE IS JUNE'S summary (short a few days because the Black Sea is calling) of articles that generated the greatest amount of reader response in PNG Attitude.

None of my idiosyncratic potted summaries this month, I’m afraid.  I have seriously run out of time.  Can you hear the ship’s siren?

22 comments – Dear Minister Roxon: get cracking on TB? (Peter Kranz)

16 – Nightmare wait to take dead daughter home (Andree Stephens)

15 – Reshaping PNG-ROK summit diplomacy (Francis Hualupmomi)

13 – Act of bastardry: the burning of the canoes (Keith Jackson)

12 – Trumpet blowing never goes astray (Phil Fitzpatrick)

9 – Competition in a state-based market economy (Francis Hualupmomi)

7 – Tough battle to top for Lucy Bogari (Reginald Renagi)

6 – Conmen, scamsters & the genuine articles (Peter Kranz)

6 – Do I shave my legs or simple dye them (Phil Fitzpatrick)

5 – Female initiation in the Simbu culture (Rose Kranz)

5 – Working against corruption (Thomas Webster)

5 – Rio Tinto caused Bougainville war (Brian Thomson)

5 – Ambau wagai & other Simbu phrases (Peter Kranz)

Doctor appointed Greens PNG spokesman


THE GREENS PARTY, which gains the balance of power in the Australian Senate from Friday has created a portfolio responsible for PNG and the Indonesian Province of Papua.

Victorian Senator Richard Di Natale, who has been appointed to the position, is a medical doctor and public health specialist.

Before entering parliament last year, he worked in Aboriginal health in the Northern Territory, on HIV prevention in India, and in drug and alcohol programs in Victoria .

Dr Di Natale is married with two young sons and lives on a small farm in the foothills of the Otway Ranges. He played Australian Rules football in the VFA for six years. 

Some 1.6 million Australians voted for the Greens in the 2010 elections and by the end of this week there will be nine Greens in the Senate - an increase of four senators - and one member in the House of Representatives.

The Greens leader, Senator Bob Brown, has split the party's foreign affairs portfolio, creating mini, country-focused responsibilities.

So far on my travels, I've managed to keep PNG Attitude updated on most days.  Now I embark on a rather more difficult period for internet access, so you may have to bear with some delays in publication.   That said, there will be new material each day and, please, keep your (always welcome) comments flowing - KJ

Buai for sale – get your buai here!


BETEL NUT is the name given to the seed of the Areca palm.  Its botanical name is Areca catechu.  It grows in parts of the tropical Pacific, Asia and Africa.

Common names for the nut are adike, buai, fobal, gouvaka, kamuku, mak, paan supari, pinlang, sopari, tambul and tuuffel.

The name betel nut is misleading.  Piper betle is an Asian plant whose leaves are chewed with the areca nut and lime (calcium hydroxide).  It is through this association that the areca nut became known as betel nut.

It is not known where Areca catechu originated.  It may have come from the Philippines or an area near there.  Nearly all of the Areca catechu palms that are now cultivated for the nuts were deliberately planted, although wild palms can still be found growing in Malabar, a region in India between the Western Ghats and the Arabian Sea.

The palms are cultivated in parts of Arabia, China, East Africa, Egypt, Fiji, Hindustan, Indochina, Madagascar, Malaysia, Maldive Islands, Melanesia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Taiwan.

Cultivation is performed using pre-germinated seeds, like coconuts.  The saplings need to grow in the shade because they can be killed by strong sun.  The palms bear fruit when they are 10 – 15 years of age.  A productive palm can provide fruit for up to 75 years.  They are fairly hardy but prone to fungus infection, especially Ganoderma lucidum.

Betel nuts have been used as a drug for thousands of years.  The practice is thought to have started in south-east Asia and there is archaeological evidence to support this view. 

The Spirit Cave site in Thailand yielded palaeo-botanical remains of Areca catechu, lime and Piper betle that were dated between 7,500 – 9,000 years ago.  This makes it one of the earliest known uses of psychoactive substances.

Betel nut also appears in the literature going back many years. Theophrastus described the nut in 430 BC.  It is also mentioned in Sanskrit texts and Chinese records dating from 150 BC.  In Persia there were 30,000 shops that sold betel nut in the capital during the reign of Khosrau (590 – 628).

The custom of betel nut chewing is so common that raising Areca catechu palms for betel nut is a major economic activity.  It is estimated that 20% of the world’s people are users.  In Papua New Guinea betel nut chewing is as widely pursued as it is in India, mainland south-east Asia and Indonesia.

The effects of chewing betel nut can be compared to a mild amphetamine dose.  It also has an appetite suppressing effect.  Chewing produces large amounts of saliva, hence the red splashes you see everywhere it’s used.  In some parts of the world the nut is chewed with psychoactive mushrooms for a bigger hit.

Overuse of betel nut can cause a feeling of intoxication, convulsions, diarrhoea, dizziness and vomiting.  Long term betel nut chewers will eventually develop permanently stained teeth and are prone to mouth cancer.

You can buy betel nut on the Internet.  It is not illegal in the USA and is shipped from there around the world.  In Taiwan, betel nut booths and their scantily clad female sellers line the roads.

Betel nut is a hidden but significant economic aspect of the countries in which it is grown and sold. 

Prices vary considerably, especially with the dried product and ‘health’ concoctions to which it is added.  In China a fake betel nut has been developed and is sold as the legitimate product.

There is a tremendous opportunity in PNG to commercialise betel nut for worldwide sale but there is also a social cost, similar to tobacco, to consider.  However, as the Chinese move in on the market, it seems only a matter of time before this wider commercialisation happens.

Australia’s salivating miners & PNG revisited


AS RIO TINTO gears up to reopen the giant copper mine at Panguna, I offer a little reminder to the shareholders salivating over potential gains on the stock forums like Hot Copper: Rio Tinto has eroded all trust in its operations on the island of Bougainville. It is a difficult position from which to return.

Sitting next to Peter Taylor, chairman of Bougainville Copper, at a recent lunch in Sydney at which the subject of corporate social responsibility of mining in Papua New Guinea was informally discussed, I made the comment that the people of PNG would be unlikely to allow a return of BHP Billiton. The legacy of the environmental disaster that is the Ok Tedi mine, and events surrounding its exit from PNG, dog it still.

Taylor scoffed, stating BHP was already there, exploring.

Indeed, according to the Mineral Resources Authority, new geological data sets created from airborne geological surveys funded by the European Union’s Mining Sector Support Program  (which has the objective of sustaining the economic performance of PNG’s mining sector), when released in April 2010, saw exploration applications submitted increase from 60 to 140, with the most interest from BHP Billiton, Barrick Gold, Rio Tinto and Newcrest.

As a guest of others at the lunch, to comment further would have been impolite, but there remains much to comment upon with regard to Rio Tinto’s own history in PNG.

In his statement to the 57th Session of the Commission on Human Rights in 2001, Klaus Töpfer, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Program, noted that human rights cannot be secured in a degraded or polluted environment.

The fundamental right to life is threatened by soil degradation and deforestation and by exposures to toxic chemicals, hazardous wastes and contaminated drinking water. Environmental conditions clearly help to determine the extent to which people enjoy their basic rights to life, health, adequate food and housing, and traditional livelihood and culture.

It is time to recognise that those who pollute or destroy the natural environment are not just committing a crime against nature, but are violating human rights as well.

Transnational mining companies in PNG have rendered some of the largest river systems undrinkable, unusable, irreparable. Riverine disposal of mine (rock and tailings) waste is used at Barrick Gold’s Porgera mine, at Ok Tedi, and was used at Rio Tinto’s Bougainville Copper mine.

Despite the United Nations Global Compact, the Millennium Development Goals and, in the case of PNG, the National Goals and Directives enshrined in the Constitution, and an increasing number of international fora within which disputes regarding environmental degradation may be heard, there remain few legal mechanisms to hold transnational mining companies accountable for environmental damage or resulting loss of access to fresh water, loss of food sources, human health, or other human rights.

Such potential action from Papua New Guineans in the home jurisdictions of mining companies such as Australia or Canada, was struck down with the rewriting of PNG law to prohibit any legal action for redress against mining companies in foreign courts.

Drafted in 1995 by Australian law firm Allens Arthur Robinson, as legal counsel for BHP, the Compensation (Prohibition of Foreign Legal Proceedings) Act had the specific purpose of negating a claim in the Victorian Supreme Court filed by landowners of the Ok Tedi region, seeking compensation for egregious environmental damage.

Justice Cummins of the Victorian Supreme Court found on 19 September 1995, that BHP had committed a contempt of court for its part in drafting Papua New Guinean legislation to block the $4 billion compensation claim against it.

Yet its actions were meek in comparison to Rio Tinto’s on the island of Bougainville….

Rio Tinto, like BHP, caused such damage to the environment and people of its host community, it destroyed its reputation.

On 23 June, PNG Mining Minister John Pundari stated BHP was not welcome in his country. Quoted in The Australian newspaper, he said the environmental problems at Ok Tedi were real and huge, and the company should have looked for remedial solutions instead of walking away.

“I personally find it very difficult to allow the return of BHP Billiton into this country, given its legacy with the Ok Tedi mine,” he said.

He is not alone. There are many people on Bougainville and beyond who feel the same about Rio Tinto.

What do you think?

You can read Alex’s complete and, as usual, thoroughly researched article here

Great lady who cares for the AIDS victims


THE AIDS/HIV PANDEMIC in PNG is getting worse over time. The number of orphans is increasing and it will soon become a humanitarian disaster.

It’s comparable to what’s been happening so some time now in the African Sub-Saharan region and in other parts of the developing world.

The woman depicted in the following Post-Courier news report is my niece, Mrs Tessie Soi, who is the director of her own family NGO entity Friends Association.

About once a quarter Tessie goes to the Port Moresby General Hospital mortuary when it is overflowing with bodies (the fridges have not been working well for years) and, along with her son and other family members, she get all the people (especially little children) who have died of AIDS related diseases and performs a mass burial at the Bomana cemetery just outside the capital.

The NCDC administration also helps to some extent in this regular burial exercise as the situation is worsening over time. The government has so far not been too responsive in coming up with an effective strategy as more orphans are created daily both in rural and urban areas.

PNG AIDS story like sub-Sahara, by Maureen Gerawa

Post-Courier, 24 June 2011

A TYPICAL story of children raising children due to the HIV epidemic in African sub-Sahara has become a reality in Papua New Guinea.

Early this year, a man and two of his wives died of AIDS-related illnesses, leaving behind eight children, ranging from ages one to 13. One of them, a 10-year-old boy, has decided to leave school so he can care for his one-year-old sister.

Director and Founder of the Friends Foundation Inc Tessie Soi had tears in her eyes when she told the little boy’s story when he came to see her.

She said when she asked why he was not at school, he replied in a vernacular language: “My aunt can’t take care of my little brother because her hands are full. She is caring for my other sibling I have to stay home so I can take care of this one.”

Her mum is the first wife who had seven children and died in February this year, three months after she came to see the foundation for help.

Mrs Soi said the mother looked healthy, but following the death of her husband and his second wife, there was a lot of discrimination and stigma against her, which contributed to her early death.

His step mother had one child who is HIV positive and was now being cared for by his aunt, while the older children can go to school.

The aunt has three of her own children and is not employed. Her husband does odd jobs here and there which cannot earn enough for all of them. Mrs Soi is appealing to kind hearted people to help. She said the foundation, a non profit organisation, has an orphan buddy system (OBS) that is currently helping 64 orphans by giving them K30 each every fortnight.

The money is given to the foundation by individuals who made a commitment to give this money every fortnight.

The money goes directly to the children who use it to buy little things they need. She said these eight children needed similar help.

She said if they each collected K30, this would go a long way towards helping them with food and other needs. Mrs Soi had also appealed for someone to help pay this boy’s school fees so he can return to school.

She said FFI had community home based workers in the village where this family came from and would help take care of the boy’s sister while he was at school.

Apart from the OBS, the foundation has a group therapy for both mothers and children. This is part of the prevention to parents and child transmission program, which is aimed at helping prevent HIV from being transmitted from parents to the child.

“Where is the government’s role in all of this?” she asked. “If I see this (orphans caring for their siblings) in Port Moresby, what is happening in the provinces?”

Interested people can call Mrs Soi on telephone numbers 3248246 or 3260775 and mobile phones 71687557 or 76833811.

Jimmy in the morning: Be strong Junia


Encouragement for Junia, the eldest of the orphans

Be strong Junia
Don’t let them cross the road
Don’t let them knock on doors
Always hold their hands
They can’t see but you can

Should they be hungry
You must not eat
Should they be thirsty
You must not drink
Should they need rest
Your eyes must be the last

The sun will stare
Do not look up
The rain will fall
Do not run away
Concentrate on the road

Do not look at what they wear
Do not look at what they bring
Do not look at what they eat
Do not look at who picks them up
You all enter the same gate

Focus on the next gate
Concentrate on the road
Be cautious with your steps
Walk firmly with confidence
The world will be yours

Be strong son

Rio Tinto caused Bougainville war: Somare


Prime minister Sir Michael Somare has accused Australian mining giant Rio Tinto and its subsidiary Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) of being behind the PNG military's bloody suppression of Bougainville rebels opposed to the company's Panguna copper mine.

An affidavit written by Sir Michael when he was Opposition Leader in 2001 - and never made public - alleges that Rio played an active role in military operations that ultimately led to a civil war and blockade of the island in which 15,000 people died between 1989 and 1997.

''Because of Rio Tinto's financial influence in PNG, the company controlled the government,'' Mr Somare's affidavit states.

''The government of PNG followed Rio Tinto's instructions and carried out its requests … BCL was directly involved in the military operations on Bougainville, and it played an active role. BCL supplied helicopters, which were used as gunships, the pilots, troop transportation, fuel and troop barracks.''

The Somare affidavit was lodged as part of an ongoing class action in the United States by the islanders against Rio Tinto.

The case has been bogged down in legal argument for 10 years, preventing much of the evidence, including the Somare affidavit, from being made public. In his signed statement, Sir Michael claims that without Rio Tinto, there would never have been a war.

''It is my opinion that absent Rio Tinto's mining activity on Bougainville or its insistence that the Panguna mine be re-opened, the government would not have engaged in hostilities or taken military action on the island.''

The affidavit will complicate Rio Tinto's current attempts to reopen the mine, which is being supported by Sir Michael's government.

Sir Michael was unaware that SBS's Dateline program had obtained his signed statement from sealed US court material until his office was contacted this week. Sir Michael is recovering from double heart surgery in Singapore and his office was unable to say if he still stood by his comments.

The ailing leader's statement reinforces claims from the islander litigants and former rebels that Rio Tinto had a hand in the military's efforts.

Sam Kauona, a former fighter, said: ''It didn't surprise me, all the time we knew.  ''We knew that BCL was financing this war on Bougainville because when we were fighting … all the BCL vehicles were being used by the security forces.''

Panguna landowner, former rebel and local chief Philip Miriori said Sir Michael's statement backs up his long-standing claims about Rio's complicity with the PNG military.

BCL chief executive Peter Taylor was aware of the affidavit, but said he was surprised Sir Michael would ''make these accusations knowing they're completely unfounded''.

Brian Thomson's report on the war in Bougainville screens on Dateline on SBS1 at 8.30 tonight

Source: The Age

Frontier rules: Life in the wild west of PNG


AN EYEWITNESS has made allegations of human rights abuses at a logging camp in the Western Province.  Kamusie logging camp is run by the Wawoi Guavi Timber Company a subsidiary of Malaysian Logging Giant Rimbunan Hijau.

Kamusie logging camp is located near the banks of the Guavi River and borders the Gulf and Southern Highlands Provinces.

Accessibility is limited to chartered aircraft or a dinghy ride to the district headquarters of Balimo.

The air service is provided by local aviation company, Airlines PNG.  Coastal shipping does not reach Kamusie although the Panakawa Veneer Mill and the nearby logging camp of Sesereme are on the schedule.

This lack of transportation is compounded by a lack of telecommunications with the outside world.

Isolated within a vast rainforest area; this logging camp has become a black market hot spot.

Drug runners from Komo in the Southern Highlands travel by foot via Mt Bosavi to Wawoi Falls and then to Kamusie.

A 500 ml bottle of home brew aka steam costs K100 while a 25 oz bottle of PNG’s favorite coffee punch costs K360 and a can of beer K15.

The prices of food sold at the company run store are reasonable. A 1kg packet of rice is K5.50 and a can of coke K3.

The local landowners created a mechanism allowing them to borrow against future royalty payments. When a loan was transacted, it was witnessed by a policeman, the landowner chairman, the debtor, the creditor and the forestry officer stationed at Kamusie.

Highlanders (mainly from Southern and Western Highlands Provinces), who travelled to the site to sell store goods, loaned money to the landowners at 100% interest, creating resentment.

In February this year the landowners received around K2.2 million in royalties. One landowner was said to be left with only K2 in his pocket after his share of the royalty payment was used to service debts.

The debt crisis personified by the K2 man, prompted leaders to meet with police and company officials to find a solution. The illegal sale of alcohol and drugs was of concern to the police and company officials and they forced the removal of the Highlanders.

Between April and May this year, members of the Papua New Guinea Police Task Force rounded up, physically abused and locked up the Highlanders. Their goods, mainly clothes and household items, were confiscated and the vendors were beaten and locked up for a month in cells made of shipping containers.

Long-term Kamusie resident and businessman, Andy Asuma, had his business ransacked by the police. Property and goods worth hundreds of thousands of kina were lost in the carnage.

Mr Asuma’s case has been reported by The National newspaper. Mr Asuma, now based at Balimo, will travel to Port Moresby to begin court proceedings for damages.

Meanwhile, the Highlanders who had been locked in the shipping containers were deported in two phases. The men were flown out last month to Mt Hagen on a chartered Twin Otter aircraft run by the Mission Aviation Fellowship, while the women were repatriated earlier this month.

The planes were chartered under the name of Micah Esami, a local landowner leader. Mr Esami however denied any knowledge of paying for the charters.

Police brutality at Kamusie logging camp was previously documented by the ABC Foreign Correspondent program that visited the area in 1999.

Read Martyn Namorong’s THE NAMORONG REPORT at

Family meets to discuss Somare's future

PRIME MINISTER Michael Somare’s family will gather round the old man’s bedside in a Singapore hospital this week to decide whether he can continue in the top job.

The family gathering indicates that retirement, after 42 years in parliament and a decade as Prime Minister, is near.

His son Arthur, the Minister for Public Enterprise, has given the first account of his father's health issues since the ailing prime minister flew to Singapore three months ago.

Arthur Somare told media in Port Moresby that Sir Michael, 75, had developed a problem with his heart's aortic valve, which was replaced successfully in a first operation at Raffles International Hospital.

But one of his kidneys and his lungs then began to malfunction, requiring two further operations.

It took some time for his kidney to start functioning again. And he also suffered a fungal blood infection.

Arthur Somare said the family was "quite concerned" they might lose their father during the second and third operations.

But now, he said, "the kidney is functioning and his health is stabilising", although he has been in the hospital's intensive care unit for almost five weeks.

"Next week, we hope he is out," Arthur said. The family decided not to allow visits by well-wishers. Now, Mr Somare said, "we are hopeful that he can recover in his own time without pressure" - reinforcing the likelihood of retirement.

Source: The Australian

Report says more NZ aid should go to Pacific

A NEW REPORT on how New Zealand aid is spent, echoing a recent report on AusAID, says it goes to too many programs and should be focused more on the Pacific.

Auckland think-tank the Maxim Institute, which published the report, says the aid system is not as effective as it could be.

"New Zealand aid is very small internationally and with 800 programs, that's just way too many for one department to be handling," Maxim Institute researcher Jane Silloway-Smith said.

The institute recommends that New Zealand stop giving aid to poor countries around the world and focus on the Pacific.

Around 56% of NZ aid is channelled to the Pacific, with the largest amounts to the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea. Most of the rest goes to countries in Asia and Africa.

The government says it is already committed to helping the region.

"We have some very chunky investments we are making in the region right now, we are trying to slim down the number of activities, focus on areas that are going to make a difference," Foreign Minister Murray McCully said.

Source: Television New Zealand

InterOil pipeline order for PNG project

INTEROIL CORPORATION will order $100 million in condensate and process gas line pipes as well as other infrastructure needed for its developments in Papua New Guinea, keeping it on track for a planned 2014 start-up.

Following the company’s annual meeting, InterOil said its directors had approved the spending ahead of a final investment decision being made on its Gulf liquefied natural gas project.

Based on the company’s development of its Elk-Antelope gas field, the project entails work on the field, on a mid-size onshore LNG plant being developed with Energy World Corporation and a condensate-stripping project being developed with Japan’s Mitsui.

The project will also support a new floating liquefied natural gas project between InterOil, Flex LNG and fabricator Samsung Heavy Industries.

In a presentation to shareholders, InterOil said it was moving ahead with all project activities to reach FID, targeted before the end of 2011.

It also said it was planning to complete the third phase of a seismic program over the Bwata field, aiming to start preparation of a drilling locations with new construction equipment due to arrive this week

Source: Upstream Online

PNG community of Newcastle fundraising
The PNG Community in Newcastle is holding a fundraser today, Saturday, from 7pm to 11:30pm.  It will be held at Wallsend Memorial Hall,  corner of Cowper and Low Streets.  Entry is $20 per person and free for children 16 and under.  PNG style refreshments will be served, entertainment provided  and raffles held to help raise money for the Newcastle PNG Association.  All friends of PNG most welcome!

Tough battle to the top for Lucy Bogari


CONGRATULATIONS TO LUCY BOGARI on her appointment as the new PNG High Commissioner to Australia. I am sure Lucy will do a great job there from where Charles Lepani left off.

Ms Bogari has excelled to date as a foreign service diplomat and deserves this key posting.  Back in February 2009 (I think), a special NEC meeting was held in Wewak and cabinet made among other things a decision to appoint new department heads.

It was reported in the media widely that Lucy Bogari was appointed as the new Foreign Affairs Department Secretary. But unfortunately this decision was never implemented.

It was constantly undermined by certain cabinet ministers as well as a former acting secretary to the department who seemed biased about a woman replacing him in the top post.

The public knew this person was biased towards Lucy and did not want her in the job.  So he made things very difficult for her to take up that official appointment as head of the department.

Lucy even went to court at great cost for to clear her good name against some trumped-up charges against her before she was reinstated as a deputy secretary.

Lucy Bogari, as one of the most senior foreign service officers and a professional in her field, should have been Foreign Affairs Secretary a long time ago. The public knew she was being discriminated against because she was a woman.

Readers must know that, despite strong denials by senior officials, even today there are strong cultural male biases in most government agencies which militate against the appointment of women to senior positions.  This still prevails today. 

Their male counterparts and many superiors are not prepared mentally to cope with smart and intelligent women in senior management positions within our public service.  The private sector is the same.

Whenever PM Somare returned from his many overseas trips, he did not immediately take to task his former deputy on his constant failure to implement the NEC decision, taken at a meeting Sir Michael had chaired.

And so  a competent foreign-service officer was unfairly denied her official appointment to head the department.  It was gross incompetency on the part of the political leadership then and now.

I am betting that after her Canberra stint, Lucy Bogari, will be on the short-list for the Foreign Secretary's job. But again we will see the same old Catch 22.  I hope I’m proven wrong.

As in politics; the civil service is still not a ‘level-playing field’ for women in PNG who are constantly not given a 'fair go'.

Now readers may understand why Dame Carol Kidu has such a hard time pushing through much-needed legislative change.

Why is PNG’s parliament reluctant to openly support her much-heralded private member's bill to create 22 reserved seats for women?

Dame Carol will not get it approved in this term of parliament no matter how well she networks with her peers.  Again I want to be proven wrong because it is a good initiative.

PM Somare will not now do it.  He procrastinated and time is not on his side.  It is up to the next new prime minister to do it for our women.

We need a new transformational and visionary PM and government to run our national affairs.  The current political leadership has failed our women.

Interestingly, Belden Namah, recently stated in a public forum that he supports Dame Carol’s bill.

I hope he is reading this and will make the required changes to transform PNG in future.

Jeers as BHP says it wants back into PNG

MINING GIANT BHP Billiton is expressing interest in re-investing in Papua New Guinea after it divested its stake in the Ok Tedi mine nearly ten years ago, leaving behind widespread environmental damage.

Mining Minister John Pundari told parliament the company has now lodged applications for exploration tenements, a revelation that prompted angry howls from MPs, especially those from areas near the Ok Tedi mine.

Mr Pundari said he would have a hard time accepting BHP's return, but will take the matter to cabinet for consideration.

The Ok Tedi mine was plagued by environmental issues and allegations of river pollution and prompted BHP to transfer its share in the mine to the Sustainable Development Company chaired by Ross Garnaut.

Mr Pundari said BHP should do more for the Ok Tedi region if it wants future exploration licenses.

Sources: Business Spectator, The Australian and Radio Australia

Musing on Dre Dragii, the beautiful girl


Dre Dragii THE DRE DRAGII is a most beautiful orchid which should be the provincial flower of Simbu.

It is widely used in decorations and in traditional cultural events.

My wife Rose says it is especially prized because of it's lovely perfume, which persists long after the flowers have wilted.

In the Kuman language of the Simbu people it is called Dre Dragii, which means beautiful girl and you can appreciate why.

I believe it is the species Dendrobium Habbamesse, which normally grows only on trees and rock in moist conditions above 5,000 feet.

This explains why our cuttings didn't last long in Moresby, even though, as I have written previously, we had the most beautiful garden [pictured below] at our home in the university settlement.

Our garden UPNG 

Bishop-elect ready for Alotau mission


A FORMER MISSIONARY who spent 10 years in Papua New Guinea is preparing to return to the country, but this time as a bishop.

Father Rolando C Santos CM who was elected a bishop on 3 April, will head the Alotau-Sideia diocese where he served as formator of seminarians and as executive secretary of the Episcopal Conference of PNG and the Solomon Islands from 2000-2010.

He goes back to PNG after having served as the head of the Congregation of the Mission Philippine Province as its eighth Provincial Visitor.

Bishop-elect Santos will be ordained and installed in PNG next week.

Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales gave the bishop-elect his blessings.  “God works in mysterious ways. We thank you for accepting to be bishop to the people of PNG. We may not be there in person but rest assured that our prayers go with you,” the cardinal said.

Bishop-elect Santos was born in Malabon City in 1949 and ordained a priest in 1974. He and served as director of the Daughters of Charity from 1988-2000 before volunteering for missionary work in PNG.

Source: UCA News

Preserving wealth in Papua New Guinea


“Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it” - George Santayana

IT HAS BEEN OBSERVED that it takes one generation to build up a gigantic fortune and the next one (or two, or three) disperses it with some combination of bad decisions and lavish living.

The guiding principle is: ‘Don’t touch the principal’. Yet even the invested ‘principal’ or capital can disappear as demonstrated in the recent Global Financial Crisis.

‘Bricks and Mortar’ was another successful stand of yesteryear, however look at what happened to the US property market where houses and properties are now being repossessed and selling for a fraction of their original value as borrowing agencies try to recoup their losses?

PNG’s Liquefied Natural Gas Project is about to come on line.  It will be the largest investment scheme in PNG’s history. Production is expected to start within four years and has the potential to double the country’s income.

In Port Moresby, the government faces the challenge of ensuring this prosperity is handled responsibly. Ministers have announced plans to set up a sovereign wealth fund to save some of the revenue for future generations. This proposal has a familiar ring to it.

The Republic of Nauru was declared in 1968. The island’s economy was solely based on the extraction and export of phosphate rock, a left over from when the island was uninhabited and a roosting/nesting place for Pacific birds.

The birds shed their guano over thousands of years and that eventually compacted on top of the coral rock to become phosphate, a prized component of fertilizer.

In the 1960’s and 70’s, the island’s population of less than 10,000 enjoyed the highest per capita income in the South Pacific from phosphate royalties.

 Download Paul's complete article on Preserving Wealth in PNG

Blood and Treasure - SBS TV [Sunday 8:30pm, Monday 1:30pm]

It’s 14 years since the war ended over what was once the world’s largest copper mine, at Bougainville and now Dateline has uncovered claims that the PNG government was acting under instruction from mining giant Rio Tinto when thousands of people were killed in the civil strife that ensued, a claim denied by Rio Tinto subsidiary Bougainville Copper Limited.
SBS chief correspondent Brian Thomson reports for Dateline and, with negotiations now underway to reopen the abandoned mine, asks if Bougainville could be heading for a repeat of the bloody battle over its resources.

Somare intends to stand down this year

THE PRESIDENT of the ruling National Alliance Party Simon Kaiwi has confirmed that Sir Michael Somare intends to step down from office later this year.

Mt Kaiwi says it’s in the interests of the party that a new leader emerges this year to take the party into the 2012 elections.

The 75-year old Sir Michael, who’s been prime minister since 2002, is in Singapore recovering from heart surgery.

“According to the constitution it is an issue that can only be discussed at the party caucus meeting scheduled to be held in August,” Mr Kaiwi said.

“But the Prime Minister, in his own mind, made his intention known that he’d like to leave the leadership available for a younger person to take over some time this year.”

In Sir Michael Somare’s absence, acting prime minister Sam Abal has sacked Don Polye, who has had leadership aspirations, prompting the Highlands executive to ask for Mr Abal to be dismissed from the party.

Source: Radio New Zealand International

Con men, scamsters & the genuine articles


BEWARE THE FORMIDABLE con men of Papua New Guinea.  White expats particularly vulnerable.

I do not mean this as a criticism of Papua New Guineans generally - quite the opposite.  There are guys on the make in every city, and my PNG friends have helped save many people – including me - from scamsters and tricksters.

But be warned.  There are more plausible rogues about than Noah Misingu and the great investment opportunities offered by the Bank of Mekamui (in permanent liquidation).

When you live in PNG, you get used to people asking for money.  It is not outright begging - I saw very little of this – so much as a much more subtle play on your sympathy and gullibility, interspersed with the occasional genuine pleas for help.

One man, a gifted wood-carver, sold me several lovely pieces, then came to me one day crying and saying his grandfather had died and he was the closest blood relative.

He need just K1,000 to go back to the village, bury him properly and raise a gravestone.

Luckily I had a brilliant secretary with my interests at heart who took me aside and whispered 'don't listen to him - he is a con man!'

Then there was the man who claimed to be working on behalf of the local people poisoned by the residue of the Tolekuma gold mine.  He just needed a few hundred kina to finalise the legal paper work and would return thousands to me in compensation.

After a few inquiries my friends told me he was from the southern highlands and had no connection with Tolekuma landowners whatsoever.

Then there was the fellow who claimed to represent Simbu landowners whose land was being confiscated by the government to extend the Highlands Highway.  They wanted help in applying for compensation.  

I found out after a few discreet inquiries that his friends had rushed to the side of the highway when the announcement was made and rapidly planted gardens to ensure that they were 'impacted' by any development.

There was also my 'cousin-brother' who claimed to have land rights to a massive limestone-mining development by the Chinese in the Highlands. He needed help with the licence fees - just a few hundred kina.

And the ex-Minister relative who needed a few hundred to help start an airline - a sure-fire business opportunity which could make me millions. Apparently he had an operational licence, but no planes. My reply to him - no plane, no gain.

But you must put these cases against this the many genuine requests for help with medical procedures, school fees and basic needs. You quickly learn to separate the con-men from the reality if you live in PNG.

Sad but true.

Court postpones decision on deep sea dump

THE NATIONAL COURT has again postponed its much-awaited ruling on deep sea waste disposal from the Chinese-owned Ramu nickel mine. The ruling has now been postponed until 26 July.

The legal action was brought by landowners concerned about the impact the waste could have on their marine resources.

Justice Canning had been due to deliver his final decision on the landowners’ application for a permanent injunction restraining the Ramu nickel mine from dumping its toxic tailings waste into the sea yesterday.

This is the second time the judgement has been delayed since the end of the trial on 23 March. A decision was originally due to be given on 23 May. There has been no reason given for the further delay.

All activities at the mine site and processing plant are currently on hold after the PNG Inspector of Mines issued a stop work notice two-weeks ago over health and safety concerns.

Sources: Ramu Mine Watch and Radio Australia.     Spotter: Paul Oates

US celebration of Pacific attracts hundreds

PACIFIC NIGHT, Washington’s single largest annual event celebrating Pacific culture, took place at the New Zealand Embassy yesterday. In recognition of the diverse cultures, peoples and cuisines of the Pacific, the large-scale reception attracted hundreds of people.

In recognition of the diverse cultures, peoples and cuisines of the Pacific, the large-scale reception is a collaboration by Pacific embassies and missions which brings a slice of Pacific life to the US capital.

“Pacific Night seeks to encourage awareness, cooperation and understanding on a range of issues of mutual importance to the Pacific and the United States,” said New Zealand ambassador Mike Moore.

“The reception was a great night out, which also provided an opportunity to highlight the challenges facing the Pacific region.”

In a first, prior to this year’s reception, a seminar was be held on The Future of the Pacific with speakers including Dr. Kurt Campbell, Assistant Secretary of State, and Chris Seed, New Zealand’s Deputy Secretary of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

The seminar was chaired by Meg Taylor, a former Papua New Guinea ambassador to the United States, now the Compliance Advisor at the International Finance Corporate and the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency.

At the reception, Pacific-style food and drink were served, and guests were entertained by a range of performers including a didgeridoo player from Australia, and dancers from Samoa, Hawaii and Fiji

Source: New Zealand Embassy Washington

Cricket PNG in accelerating growth phase


THE BOARD OF CRICKET of Papua New Guinea held its annual general meeting in Port Moresby last weekend and marked what was described as a year of great growth and good governance.

“While the business operated in deficit for the year the Board supported investment in new infrastructure through the continuing development of Amini Park and an amazing level of international performance that has seen the Hebou Barramundi’s climb the world rankings,” said chairman Mick Nades MBE. 

He said the business has grown at a significant rate. “As Chairman I continue to be excited about the future prospects for our sport in PNG.”

Mr Nades said that “whilst 2011 has been a year of massive growth and achievement none of this would have been possible without the financial support and business guidance of [the late] Sir Brian Bell and the Brian Bell Group of companies, the stability and assistance provided over the years by Stan Joyce and SP Brewery as well as support from Telikom PNG for national teams.”

The BSP school cricket program grew from strength to strength with over 53,000 boys and girls all over PNG participating in cricket education. The program won the International Cricket Council global award for the best junior development program in 2010.

“I was exceptionally excited to see the fulfilment of a dream with the building of our first ever turf wickets at Amini Park and Colts Cricket ground,” Mr Nades said.  “This project without doubt has long-term benefits for the game.  In August the Air Niugini Supa Series was held for the first time in PNG on our new turf wickets.”

He said the work of Australian Test legend Andy Bichel and the inclusion of former Australian test cricketer Greg Campbell as national operations manager paid dividends across the entire range of Cricket PNG’s men’s, women’s and junior International teams.

“Cricket is growing in PNG primarily because of local support. Being well managed is a credit to our hard working team at Cricket Haus but without financial support Cricket PNG would not be achieving the results that have been achieved to date,” he said.

“As a sport we have audited proof of over 85,000 participants in 10 provinces.”

Source: IEWY News

Resource development - where to from here?


EXTRACTIVE INDUSTRIES are by their very nature, disruptive to the existing environment. The existing natural environment is very often the only source of wealth local landowners have. It may also be the only source of income and food production available.

In addition, local customs and traditions concerning the land may stretch back many generations. This involves the ability to hunt and fish and where necessary, obtain building materials and other personal requisites from the surrounding forests.

Initial payments to landowners made by developers may at first be very welcome. When the offers of money, new schools and education opportunities, health facilities and infrastructure development may first be well received, subsequent misunderstandings over who receives what share of the available remuneration can lead to subsequent disputes.

A lack of formal education may promote miscommunication between the parties concerned. This can inevitably lead to mistrust and possible conflict. Signed contracts are not a feature of traditional village life and may not be viewed in the same way as in a western country.

Having a signed contract that has been endorsed by the government has demonstrably been proven to be no guarantee that there won’t be future disruption and possible cessation of operations and loss by the developer.

What happens when the available ‘compensation’ is fully spent and no longer available or completely missing for future generations is also a divisive issue.

Future benefits for a few local landowners may be disputed by others who see themselves missing out. The PNG government will also wish to assume financial benefits that will be claimed are for the whole population.

If these subsequent monies are then lost through corruption, the responsibility under Melanesian custom, could be seen to include all those involved with the original contract.

Local people may well ask what long term and lasting benefits will be? Who will maintain the schools and health centres when the development activity ceases?

When mining ends and the company leaves, who will pick up the pieces? Is there any enforceable arrangement available to the local landowners if they cannot rely on their government to act for them and defend their interests?

Who will be responsible for the restoration of the local forests, rivers and marine resources if they have been irrevocably destroyed, either intentionally or unintentionally?

What surety is being offered in case a natural disaster occurs and the by products of a development activity pollute the local environment?

Download Paul's full article on Sustainable Mining in PNG here

Sir Michael expected to leave intensive care

SIR MICHAEL SOMARE is expected leave intensive care in his Singapore hospital next week.

It has been more than two months since Sir Michael, 75, went to Singapore to have surgery to replace a valve in his heart.

Today his son Arthur spoke publicly about his father's condition for the first time.

He confirmed Sir Michael twice required corrective surgery and has suffered from other issues including lung and kidney problems.

"There is great uncertainty as to the period of time for his recovery," he said.

"We anticipate by Tuesday next week that he will be out of ICU."

He says it is too soon to say if Sir Michael will return to work.

Source: Australia Network News

Somare era over as Abal beats ouster vote


ACTING PRIME MINISTER Sam Abal has withstood an attempt to oust him from PNG's governing National Alliance party.

And, as Rowan Callick observes in today's The Australian, this assertion of will virtually signals the end of the Somare era

In a decisive encounter, the powerful highlands bloc of the National Alliance split, with elected MPs supporting Mr Abal and provincial governors wanting him out of the party.

The governors also pressed for former foreign minister Don Polye and former resources minister William Duma to be reinstated to their posts.

Both ministers were sacked last week by Mr Abal, who cited their poor discipline as the reason for his decision.

After a series of meetings in Port Moresby over the past week, 14 provincial NA heavyweights voted to dump Mr Abal from the party.  However, the parliamentary wing - with superior numbers - continues to support him.

Meanwhile Mr Abal has named replacements for the two sacked ministers as part of a major cabinet reshuffle.  Ano Pala is the new foreign minister and Francis Potape is petroleum and energy minister.

The new cabinet also includes the controversial Patrick Pruaitch as finance minister, Peter O’Neil in works, Philip Kikala in agriculture and Charles Abel as minister assisting the prime minister.

Mr Pruaitch’s appointment comes despite his suspension as finance minister last year after he was referred to a leadership tribunal over allegations of double-dipping, improper receipt of funds and misappropriation of grants.

The suspension was later overturned but the allegations are still to be heard in court.

Political scientist Dr Ray Anere says Mr Pruaitch's reappointment sends out the wrong message.

"That certain leaders in the community do not really care much about the principles of good governance and the integrity of parliament," he said.

He says Mr Pruaitch should remain on the sidelines until he clears his name.

Sources: ABC News, Channel 9 News, Radio New Zealand International and The Australian

Wimbledon: Heather Watson in happy land


Watson_Heather THANK HEAVENS for Heather Watson. The new kid on our tennis block, 19 year-old Watson spent her childhood in Guernsey and her teenage years in Florida. Perhaps that explains why her outlook is so relentlessly upbeat.

When Watson wins, she leaps around like a Mexican jumping bean. When she loses, she shrugs, smiles and moves on.

Asked to explain the rapid rise in her world ranking — which entered the top 100 earlier this month — Watson replied: “It’s about enjoying what I do because a lot of people put too much pressure on themselves. We’re playing tennis for a living — it’s fun!”

She inherits her cheerfulness from her parents: father Ian, a Mancunian by birth who recently retired from the electricity company in Guernsey, and mother Michelle, who hails from Papua New Guinea.

The Watson family had a hunch that Heather might have a special talent when she was not yet in her teens. “I was 12,” she said, “and doing a lot of activities: tennis, swimming and dancing. My parents sat me down and said, 'Heather, is there one of these things you do that you want to focus on?’”

Having packed his daughter off to Florida for six years at the world-famous Bollettieri Academy, Ian now travels with her whenever he can, although he was on holiday in Egypt last month when she achieved her most notable feat at senior level, defeating Stephanie Foretz Gacon at Roland Garros to become the first British woman in 17 years to reach the second round in Paris.

At different times, Heather has described her father as her idol, her motivator and her biggest influence. “I call him almost every day and he supports me 100 percent,” she said. “He’ll say 'I don’t care whether you won or lost, just give me a mark out of 10 for how positive you are’. If it’s over eight, he’s happy.”

Watson is thriving, having relished the opportunity to play world No 3 Vera Zvonareva at Eastbourne last week. Although she lost 6-3, 6-3, she clearly earned the respect of her opponent, who said: “If she keeps improving like this we will hear a lot more of her in the future.”

Watson may have some way yet to travel, but she is already entitled to say — as she did after that first-round win at Roland Garros – that she is living in “happy land”.

Source: The Telegraph, London

PNG will get a league chance in 2015


EXPANDING THE NRL to 18 teams might not happen until 2015, national rugby league boss David Gallop believes.

With a new broadcast deal to be in place from 2013, bidders have been lining up to become the new sides in the competition.

Papua New Guinea, Perth, Brisbane, Ipswich, NSW Central Coast, Central Queensland, and Wellington have expressed an interest in joining the NRL.

With an independent commission to run the game delayed but likely to come on board later this year, Gallop has never made a commitment to expand in 2013.

But on Sunday for the first time he flagged 2015 as a possible entry date.

"Personally I would have thought we would get to 18 teams by 2015," he told ABC radio.

"It might come earlier but we should be giving our existing clubs a couple of years with the new television money to get themselves stable before we introduce new teams into the competition."

The new broadcast deal is expected to fetch somewhere in the vicinity of $1 billion, a massive increase on the current contract.

Gallop said a new franchise would need 18 months to two years' lead time to be ready.

Source: Nine MSN

Tom Hungerford – writer & commando

Tom Hungerford NOVELIST, POET, playwright and autobiographer Tom Hungerford has died in Perth, aged 96.

He served in the army during World War II, joining the commandos and attacking the Japanese in guerilla raids behind enemy lines in Papua New Guinea.

He drew from his war experiences to write the 1952 novel The Ridge and the River, which Edward ‘Weary’ Dunlop called "the essence of jungle warfare as it was fought by Australians".

His best-known work, Stories from Suburban Road, made into a play and a television series, described his youth growing up during the Great Depression in the semi-rural outskirts of Perth.

Speaking to The Australian in 2005, he played down his achievements.

"I'm a hardworking professional writer who has been on the job for 60 years, has some wonderful friends and wonderful memories," he said.

"I'm proud of what I've achieved, which isn't a hell of a lot, but it's something."

Source: The Australian

Trekkers warned of Popondetta violence


AUSTRALIANS PLANNING to walk the Kokoda Track are being warned of potential danger after violence erupted in the town of Popondetta.

The murder of a young man in Popondetta last Friday sparked fighting that left another man dead.

Local reports say schools and businesses are closed and the situation remains tense.

Australia's Foreign Affairs Department says there is potential for more violence, and travelling on the road between Popondetta and Kokoda may be dangerous.

A small number of Australian tourists who travel to PNG to walk the Kokoda Track visit Popondetta.

The Kokoda Track Authority says there are no trekking groups in the area at present.

A spokesman says most trekkers avoid Popondetta altogether and fly in and out of the village of Kokoda.

Source: ABC News