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Serious questions about Australian government spying on PNG

SEBASTIAN MANU | The Masalai Blog

Protesters at Jakarta embassy (Daily Telegraph)PRIME MINISTER PETER O’NEILL’s handling of the recent revelations that the United States and Australia have been conducting spying operations in PNG through the offices and affiliates of the Australian High Commission has been absolutely below par and certainly not what is expected of a leader of an independent sovereign nation like PNG.

The prime minister has not accorded the matter the seriousness and focus that is required to raise the matter to the awareness of all Papua New Guineans to understand the extent, the length and breadth of this secret spying that Australia has been and is currently carrying on in PNG.

Any prime minister of any sovereign state would have been immediately alarmed and gravely concerned with these revelations and taken immediate steps at diplomatic and other levels to seek an explanation, and put a stop to it, but not so O’Neill.

Recently Peter O’Neill reacted after over a month had passed, and only after the Indonesian President has taken a strong stand with Australia, has O’Neill come up with some lame statement on the subject.

What most Papua New Guineans want to understand and know is why Australians and Americans are spying on a small friendly country? We are supposed to be friendly nations and allies in the region.

Certainly during the last world war we fought alongside Australians and Americans. We hold no national grudge or offence against both Australia and America and these countries in turn play a major role as allies in economic and strategic interests in the region.

We have had a strong and abiding defence cooperation program that has continued since Independence.

In his first month, the prime minister, upon being granted political recognition by Julia Gillard, visited Canberra and signed a lot of agreements on behalf of PNG. There was no cabinet decision or consultation on those agreements.

Since then he has continued to sign many more agreements on bilateral matters with Australia, including the Manus asylum seeker processing centre agreement, without following normal government protocols and processes, which includes parliamentary and cabinet approval.

What has become self-evident from the revelations is that most of the bilateral agreements the prime minister signed have been observed by Australia’s spying activities in PNG.

The blunt question then is, why are they spying on us and for how long have they been doing this?

Specific questions need to be asked as to the level of Australian spying:

Who do they spy on and whose telephone conversations they listen to? From what has been revealed it is clear that Australia has access to our telephone system and listens in on our calls. In particular, Australia appears to have unfettered access to our mobile telephone conversations.

Does Australia spy on the Prime Minister and his wife, and their personal mobile phones?

Does Australia spy on Cabinet Ministers of PNG. If so why?

Does Australia Spy on the Opposition Leader, Hon Belden Namah?

Does Australia spy on Former Prime Minister Somare, and tap his telephone conversations?

Does Australia listen in on NEC Meetings at Morauta Haus with powerful listening devices?

Does Australia spy on certain individual businessmen?

Does Australia spy on certain key Departmental Heads and their cell phones?

Does Australia spy on other Embassies in PNG?

Does Australia spy on the Chinese Embassy, and its activities?

Does Australia spy on the cell phones of certain foreign businessmen in PNG?

Does Australia spy on certain foreign businessmen (and their wives) connected with the Prime Minister?

Does Australia spy on certain Eastern European Businessman connected with a certain senior Minister in government?

Does Australia spy on the RH Group?

Does Australia spy on the Ramu Nico company and operations?

Does Australia spy on certain senior Defence Force Officers, including the Commander?

Does Australia spy on certain Police Officers, including the Commissioner and Assistant Commissioners?

Does Australia spy on certain Israeli persons and their key supporters in PNG?

Does Australia spy on Dr Dan Weis?

Does Australia spy on all the Judges of the Courts of Papua New Guinea, including the conversations of the Chief Justice?

Does Australia spy on and listen into the conversations of certain Governors, and in particular, the Manus Governor?

Does Australia spy on Sir Julius Chan and monitor his telephone?

Does Australia spy on Bougainvillean Leaders; and especially on Sir John Momis?

Does Australia have an extensive spy network on Bougainville established since normalcy aimed at re-opening the Mine by CRA?

Does Australia have a spy working in MRA at present?

Does Australia have a file on Hon William Duma MP Minister for Petroleum and maintaining surveillance on his activities?

Does Australia have a listening and tracking device on Mr Sam Koim the operation Sweep team leader?

Does Australia listen in on conversations of former Morobe Governor Luther Wenge?

Does Australia monitor the activities and track the monetary transactions of Mr Augustine Mano the Managing Director of MRDC?

Does Australia spy on the movements and conversations of Mr Peter Yama of Madang Province?

Does Australia through human intelligence gathering and electronic means spy on political parties and party leaders in PNG?

Does Australia spy on activities of activists and certain NGO Groups and activists?

Does Australia monitor, listen in on conversations and track the Governor for Northern Province, Hon Garry Juffa?

Does Australia conduct high level surveillance on the social media networks including computer malware and cookies to trace and monitor individuals’ conversations, inputs and outputs?

Does Australia monitor the travel of certain individuals of interest in and out of Australia and other countries?

Does Australia keep track of financial transactions in PNG in PNG banks by citizens of PNG and PNG businesses?

Does Australia carry out surveillance on the business activities of the Prime Minsiter, his off-shore bank accounts, businesses carried out by him and held for him by certain affiliates?

Is the Prime Minister aware that Australia has details of his business activities held under other arrangements, arrangements that over the years haave not been declared to the Ombudsman?

If so, how long has Australia been spying on the Prime Minister?

Has Australia used, and continue to use information collated using such covert operations to “blackmail” Hon Peter O’Neill into sacrificing the interests of Papua New Guinea?

Who else does Australia spy on in PNG and for what purpose?

Is it true that Australia listens in on all telephone conversations going in and out of PNG using its Pine Gap facility in the middle of Australia, and the Darwin facility.

Is it true that PNG is used by Australia (at the Australia High Commission) to train its young spies of the two large spy agencies of ASIO and ONA? In this respect half of the former High Commissioners of Australia to PNG have ended up either in senior positions or heading ASIO or ONA.

Is it true that Australia has been dishonest in the job descriptions of its spies working out of the Australia High Commission normally describing them as diplomats, when in reality they are more spies than diplomats in diplomatic positions (as a cover)?

Is it true that PNG Foreign Affairs Department and the Minister do not know and are misled on the diplomatic positions, job descriptions, and in reality most accorded diplomatic status are spies, which is an abuse by Australia of the Governing International Conventions?

Is it true that the Defence Signals Directorate, Australia’s third Spy agency operates in the Australia High Commission in Godwit Road, for and on behalf of the Americans with high level sophisticated listening and code deciphering devices that can listen in on any person or embassy they choose in Port Moresby?

Is it true that foreign Central Bank Advisors and key economic advisors from World Bank and IMF regularly meet with Canberra to set the optimum currency exchange rate band width for PNG and its economy, and these are monitored in PNG through the High Commission?

Is it true that all AusAID consultants, ECP Officers, AFP Officers, in all PNG Government Departments have a reporting obligation back to Australian High Commission for intelligence purposes?

Is it true that Australia has an agenda to control PNG through spying and information management, for political and economic manipulation, to take advantage of PNG and its resources for its own economic gain and strategic purposes?

In the light of the revelations of Australia’s clandestine spying on PNG, why should the common Papua New Guinean trust a two faced person- who poses as a friend, but is really a deadly enemy?

It is now on record that Australia cannot be trusted ever again in PNG.

It is most disappointing and distressing to say this but that is the reality. Australia does not trust PNG. Australia has ulterior motives. Despite all the good work a lot of good Australians and Papua New Guineans do and have done to build relationships, the heart of Australian government is still dark, evil and cannot be trusted.

At the moment Australia is using what information it has on the PM and certain Ministers’ activities to effectively blackmail them to give into signing so called “bilateral” agreements, certain programs, like the Asylum Deal and the ECP Program that are not in PNG’s sovereign interests.

The Public Enterprises Minister, Foreign Minister and Attorney General give in to the Prime Minister’s antics because they are busy and happily chewing on the other side under various arrangements.

The prime minister has sold us out to protect his personal interests. He has amassed incredible wealth like no other Prime Minister ever done in such a short time.

That is precisely why, the prime minister has not taken a strong stand on this spying scandal that is breaking all over the world, including in Indonesia and Malaysia.

The citizens of this country should call the Australian High Commissioner and Mr Abbott to account!

This represents breach of trust by Australia at a deeper level. It puts to absolute shame all the aid programs dubbed as “partnership” or “helpim pren” or “mutual assistance” etc. The smaller Pacific countries like PNG look up to Australia as the older or bigger brother in the region.

To the US and Europe and Asia it poses as the baby sitter of the Pacific. But the revelations (with more to come) show Australia as a chronically and terminally dishonest, and cannot be trusted. It is running separate agenda in PNG that PNG is not aware of. This is breach of trust at a very deep level.

We should as a proper response freeze all military, police, aid and other forms of cooperation with Australia, suspend the visas of all their diplomatic staff (to a number proportionate to our staff numbers in Canberra in PNG High Commission there), suspend Manus processing centre, suspend Visa at airport for Australians, until we obtain:

Written published apology to the government and people of PNG from Mr Abbott

A written explanation from Mr Abbott

A written answer to the above questions

A written undertaking that Australia will not in future listen in on PNG Telephone, email, fax and other electronic communications in Australia or PNG, nor carry out spying without full disclosure to PNG government under a mutually acceptable agreement.

This is the least PNG should do to preserve its honour, dignity and sovereignty.

Will prime minister Peter O’Neill step up and put the national interest first, or will he allow this to blow over because he put his own private interests first.


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Peter Kranz

And there is this assessment from Profs Nakapi Tefuarani & Glen Mola -

"The Medical Society of PNG appeals to the Prime Minister to reject the recommendation from the CSTB in this case, and insist that tenders for the nation’s medicines only be accepted from ISO Quality Management System accredited companies who promise to only supply medicines from GMP accredited manufacturers. Could the leaders of all public spirited organizations please support the Medical Society in the matter."

Mrs Barbara Short

Maybe some intelligence gathering might save your life, Sebastian..Maybe they heard about somebody in the Health Department accepting a very big bribe from Borneo Pacific Pharmaceuticals, or maybe he just bought a very expensive house in Cairns...

The Australian government has been warned a $38 million medical aid project in Papua New Guinea could be used to foist deadly counterfeit drugs onto some of PNG's poorest villagers.

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade bureaucrats in Canberra are refusing to say if Australia will continue to bankroll the distribution network despite warnings from the PNG medical community of corruption allegations surrounding the project.

Borneo Pacific Pharmaceuticals has won the $28 million contract to supply medical kits to the PNG government with Australian aid, then send the drugs to aid posts and medical centres around the country.

Internal DFAT documents identify Borneo Pacific as PNG's largest provider of drugs from manufacturer North China Pharmaceutical Group, a known offender in China's fake drugs crisis.

Advertisement PNG's medical society alleges that Borneo Pacific ''is renowned for giving presents to people in the government procurement system'', has branded the process ''corrupt'' and warns that counterfeit medicines supplied under the deal could kill.

The revelations come despite promises to clean up the PNG Health Department's drug supply division, described in 2011 by its own minister as ''riddled with corruption''.

The internal DFAT documents show officials knew Borneo Pacific did not hold the required quality standards accreditation to compete in the tender, and were worried when the requirement was simply removed by PNG's Secretary of Health after the tender's deadline.

The same document shows the non-profit IDA group, which does hold the required accreditations, offered to supply its high-quality kits for $8 million less than Borneo Pacific's bid.

An internal DFAT review of the health kits program by the Burnet Institute tells of the IDA drugs supplied by Australian aid being saved for the most desperately ill villagers by doctors and nurses who distrust the locally supplied drugs. The draft Burnet report warns of a ''serious problem'' of ''transparency and accountability'' at national level in drugs supply and procurement.

The distribution scheme, part of Australia's $38 million PNG Health and HIV Procurement Program, has been lauded as a success in its first three years.

But AusAID, before its takeover by DFAT, warned it would walk away if unhappy with the governance surrounding the program's next round.

In Canberra this week, officials from DFAT were trying to enforce an information blackout on the fate of the project. ''Detailed information on the priorities of the aid program - including arrangements for funding the distribution of medical supplies - will be provided by the government in due course,'' a spokeswoman said.

But Nakapi Tefuarani, of the Medical Society of PNG, was more blunt about the program's future. ''It seems that this year the process will be corrupt once again,'' Professor Tefuarani said.

He warned of the dangers of Australia's aid agency walking away from the distribution network, and called on PNG Prime Minister Peter O'Neill to reverse the award of the tender.

''We will be left with local 'wantok' distribution companies sending out low-quality and possibly counterfeit medicines to our hospitals and health centres,'' Professor Tefuarani said.

In response to accusations in the PNG Parliament this month that the medical kits deal with Borneo Pacific bypassed by the nation's Central Supply and Tenders Board, Mr O'Neill defended the process.

Local media reported the Prime Minister as saying the deal had gone through ''a rather rigorous approval process'' in which it was sighted and approved by the pharmaceutical and medical boards, the Department of Health and the National Executive Council.

Read more:

Wake up PNG, you need more "intelligence" on how you have been tricked ..over and over again.

Peter Kranz

As Dame Edna memorably said -

"For a while I feared I was being stalked by Australian Intelligence.

Then I realised there wasn't any"

Peter Kranz

On a related note, PNG is bringing in an Israeli company to help beef up cyber-security, and registration will be required for the purchase of mobile SIM cards, to cut down on "anonymous" calls and comments.

"Beef up surveillance, PNG escalates spy row, brings in Israelis"

"PNG govt to control Mobile sim cards"

Plus of course the Chinese are building the PNG government computer network.

Who to trust?

Mrs Barbara Short

Dear Sebastian Manu, I think it would be fair to say that Australia has not been doing much "intelligence gathering" in PNG over the years. Most of our politicians don't seem to know much about PNG.

Maybe if we had known more about the corruption and the SABLs and all the other bad things going on in PNG we could have helped you more.

I read where our military forces are often up in PNG doing various types of aid projects, helping the people, and being thanked for it.

I'm sure Tony Abbott is not busy spying on PNG as he has too many other pressing problems on his mind.

In 2009 when this alleged spying took place some Indonesians were being very aggressive against Australia.

As far as I can see Australia looks on PNG as a country that is a good friend and neighbour and needs all the help that we can give it.

Peter Kranz

The phone tapping revelations have hit the headlines recently, courtesy of Edward Snowden, but Wikileaks is still releasing documents some of which shed some light on Australia's security assessments about PNG.

This is from the US company Stratfor which is contracted to the CIA, ASIS and many others (including Australian politicians) to provide intelligence assessments around the world. How they gather their intelligence is anyone's guess, but they do rely on senior politicians as sources.

They did an analysis of O'Neill's likely impact at the time of the last election. Here are some extracts...

"O'Neill could represent a stark contrast to the Somare regime, which was seen by many as corrupt. Because of O'Neill's Australian heritage, Canberra will see his time in office as an opportunity to reverse the more anti-Australia stance of the Somare government, especially with regard to liquefied natural gas projects."

And -

"Australia, may be anxious to see how an O'Neill-led government will behave, specifically with regard to liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects. Most LNG in Papua New Guinea is owned by Australia and the United States, with ExxonMobil, Santos and Oil Search holding the majority of the shares. Canberra is trying to establish an LNG
project estimated to be worth at least $13 billion, and it will want to know where O'Neill puts this on his agenda.

Canberra will likely seek to capitalize on this opportunity to bring back Papua New Guinean LNG under the Australian sphere of influence.

O'Neill's past business interests pertain mainly to telecommunications, but he is a strong proponent of this and other LNG projects. O'Neill represents a constituency in Southern Highlands province, which is where the LNG project, scheduled to come online in 2014, is in place.

According to the source, O'Neill sees such projects as a vital source of revenue to alleviate poverty, personal gains notwithstanding. Former Public Enterprises Minister Arthur Somare, now suspended from office, was heretofore overseeing the country's LNG projects, and he, like his father Michael, was more anti-Australia than Canberra hopes O'Neill will be.

Notably, Arthur Somare upset many Papua New Guineans because he was seen as having sold out to ExxonMobil and, by extension, Australia and the United States. O'Neill will need to bear this in mind if and when he increases energy ties with Canberra.

Though China has increased its influence in Papua New Guinea of late, O'Neill's election is unlikely to dramatically change relations with Beijing in the short term. Papua New Guinea holds limited value for China, but it does serve as another target for Chinese foreign investment - its mineral resource sector is of particular interest to China.

It is unclear what will happen leading up to popular elections in 2012, but STRATFOR sources say many in Papua New Guinea are confident that O'Neill, if nothing else, will bring stability to the prime minister's post until then."

And this from one [email protected]

"I think we need to have a few sentences on China in here - we talk about Oz, but we need to reference China's increasing interest in PNG and the islands as a way to explain why we are in fact addressing PNG at all - why this piece has significance outside of internal domestic pol.

On 8/5/11 11:12 AM, Cole Altom wrote:

Thanks to east asia team for babysitting. one thing to note, though. Some language in here is kind of damning (we dont outright say PNG is a corrupt melting pot of sin, for example, but the implication is kind of there).

"I tapered the wording accordingly but bc it came directly from insight, and bc (because) insight is what makes this piece relevant, i didnt want to change too drastically. suggestions of course welcome, but just something to keep in mind."

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