Manus camp refugees begin to look for employment in PNG
Society seems to have gone insane

PNG Attitude: A long journey & a short goodbye


NOOSA - PNG Attitude first appeared (under the masthead ASOPA People) in February 2006 and its mission soon evolved to be the creation of a dialogue between Papua New Guineans and Australians who were interested in the well-being of Australia’s former colony.

Over its 10 years of publication it has not only presented news, information and commentary but offered insights into the colonial period and PNG's history and heritage; all of this material preserved in the archives of the National Library of Australia.

The blog also has brought together people separated by distance and time, encouraged the emergence of many new PNG writers, provided funding for a host of worthy causes in PNG and, most eminent of all, innovated, incubated and driven forward the Crocodile Prize national literary contest in collaboration with author and ex-kiap Phil Fitzpatrick.

The Crocodile Prize has now evolved as a PNG entity and we will see what becomes of it.

We’ve achieved all this – and probably more – in a spirit of mutual respect and cooperation, critical only of institutions, authorities and individuals who have adopted untruth, incompetence, hypocrisy or corruption as their modus vivendi.

There are a number of reasons why I believe this is the right time for PNG Attitude to be allowed to reach its terminus. I am 10 years older and 10 years more weary; a process which is gathering pace.

PNG Attitude has occupied much of my waking life, often to the abandonment of other important or pleasurable things; and a rebalancing is in order.

And Papua New Guinea has changed. Under Michael Somare it was far from perfect but 10 years later its leadership is venal. In 2006, social media was in its infancy and Papua New Guineans lacked a public voice. That is not the case today.

Now it is necessary for middle class Papua New Guineans to pivot their disappointment, frustration and anger into tangible, protracted and coherent action. So far this has not been evident. Perhaps the corrupting of the Big Man culture has diluted a sense of purpose.

And, while the middle class fails to organise and act, so the leaders will continue to misbehave and fail to deliver and we will continue to see a great people – a wonderful almost magical tribal people - held back. The Papua New Guinean people do not deserve this.

To the outsider, especially those of us who have known and loved PNG, this is incredibly, almost unbearably, disappointing.

I feel I’ve done my bit. From a naïve, excited, enthusiastic 18 year old making my first PNG landfall to a wiser, beaten up, pragmatic 70 year old, ready to pull up stumps.

It’s been an intensely intriguing and often exciting journey. Our contributors and readers, to whom I am very grateful, have made it so much better.

The final edition of PNG Attitude will be published some time in February, so keep those articles, stories and poems flowing until then.

Lukim yu.


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Johnny Blades

A very great innings Keith.

You and Phil, your work has been truly outstanding. I think most people commenting here have summed it up.

I count myself as one of the beneficiaries of PNG Attitude's remarkable range of writings. As an outsider and student of Melanesia, I've found them frequently fascinating, informative, challenging and gritty, these depictions of PNG and its cosmos.

I would think that in years to come, the sheer importance of the service Keith has provided will come into increasingly sharp focus. An amazing body of work that still has the power to effect change.

So here's to you, your regular contributors, the writers and authors you have helped nurture and most importantly, to PNG!

Thanks. Aroha nui.

Slim Kaikai

mi 2 sad

very sad

your contribution has been immense

will there be life after u go?

frobably has been a great ride......tenks...

Marlene Dee Potoura

I read your article that you are leaving and is PNG Attitude is closing down and I am quite saddened. But you must do what you have to do.

I just want to thank you for helping me make my writing grow. I appreciated the way you tweeted my work and how the readers reacted.
Thank you for being who you are and the heart you have for PNG writers.

I have done so much writing so far and i just hope Ed Brumby is ready for me. I am also writing two non fiction novels on my father's story in Bougainville and another one on my grandfather's travels from Bougainville to Chimbu. A story of my family - history, war, and the lot.

I am planning on doing the two novels completely next year and aim to finish them before 2016 ends.

I just wish we'd meet one day. Thank you for taking interest in my writing.

Baka B Bina

Thank you Keith for having being the stalwart for PNG in many things but the rightful kudos should be for lighting the fire for Papua New Guineans to write.

I have benefited immensely from your site and it has brought me out to publish my 4 works. I could still have been wandering around with my manuscripts had it not for the the kindly assistance through PNG attitude and Phil's contributions on showing Createspace.

Whilst we may not have had the opportunity of direct contact and mentoring, the articles and comments on this site have provided much mentoring to all.

Cheers in the second retirement.

Dominica Are

Sad news indeed but I am glad to be part of it by sharing my stories and poems.
It is through PNG Attitude and Crocodile Prize that I have been motivated to write and read more.
I totally enjoyed this blog! Thank You Keith and Phil.

Best wishes in your next endeavours.

Francis Nii

It saddens me when I read this announcement. The only social media I have ever known and ascribed to his PNG Attitude. I think it will be the last I have actively contributed and participated in with my piece of mind comes March, 2016.

In my five years association with PNG Attitude, I have benefited many good things.

It is through Attitude that I could freely express my thoughts on issues of concern to PNG and Austalia.

It is through Attitude that I can now confidently edit other people's writing. Thank you so much Keith and Phil for your editorial sword. I have learnt a lot from you two in the art of writing and editing.

It is through attitude that some of my personal needs were met. Thank you Keith Jackson, Philip Fitzpatrick, Robin Lillicrapp and others who compassionately supported me.

Up to now I have no idea how Baka Bina and the team is progressing on with the organising of the Crocodile Prize.

The last thing I will hate to know is the demising of the Crocodlie Prize which has motivated, exposed and produced many young PNG writers. This great initiative of Keith and Phil must thrive on.

Once again, thank you PNG Attitude and Barata Keith and Phil.

All the best and Merry Christmas. We will say bamahuta comes February 2016.

Kela Kapkora Sil Bolkin

No, no! PNG Attitude has to press on.

I know we mortal beings canot slough and replenish but we have to find some people to take over from Keith and Phil to keep their legacy going.

This news spoilt my day.

Daniel Doyle

Congratulations, Keith and Phil, and many thanks for the great work you have done during the past ten years. 'Attitude' will be greatly missed by many.

Arthur Williams | Cardiff & Lavongai

Just read the bad news which makes this drizzling grey Sunday morning worse....

What will life be like in March when Attitude has gone?
You guys brought me some hope for PNG's tomorrow as more PNG writers and readers were attracted to Attitude.
Daily I read the nation's two newspapers and despair often at some of the tip of the iceberg corruption found in them.
You'll be sadly missed!

Fraternal best wishes for this Xmas and hopefully many more to come your way.

Allan Kidston

From a former broadcast & film technical officer to the former station manager, well done Keith. I have followed PNG Attitude avidly over the years & one cannot fail to see the love Keith has for PNG and it's people. Have a good retirement Keith.

Mathias Kin

Thank you so much, Keith and Phil. You have inspired many in PNG through PNG Attitude and the Crocodile Prize.

Our discussions on issues have been very enlightening. I have certainly learnt so much from everybody who has taken part here in this forum. Thank you to all.

In Simbu the SWA blossomed, our positive outcome so far is that our children in the schools are writing and publishing their books and they are taking part in the Crocodile Prize comp.

Our public servants are writing - after the publication Jimmy Awagl's second book and Philip Kai's book on drugs, another group will launch a "Simbu Handbook"; all inspired by this phenomenon of writing going through the province now.

But do we RIP PNG Attitude and the Crocodile Prize at this stage?

In Baka Bina and his team formed last year in Kundiawa, we have some light on this seemingly dark track. Also I have said this before and I say it again, we need the universities to step up. Some vibrant new universities like Divine Word and Adventist University may like to take on this project.

But then again it depends on the personnel involved. We have some credible people at the Divine Word in Mr Yegiora and others.

Your comments on our leadership and general governance? Yes our MV PNG is sailing through very stormy times and the weather ahead is not getting any better.

People have had enough and can not stomach this any more. The country may fail and disintegrate soon.

We are all watching Bougainville, if they go after the referendum, East New Britain, Morobe, New Island and even Enga may want to separate.

Mipla long PNG inap pinis long ol displa rabis ol lidas wok lo wokim. Maybe we need a revolution, would that be an answer! Maybe not the type results in bloodshed but certainly something drastic need to happen.

What ever happens, Keith and Phil, sapos yutupla tru bai lusim mipla, mipla lo Simbu tok thank you tru long olgeta gutpla helpim na wok yu mekim lo mipla. I guess all good stories end sometime so ating displa stori bai end long hia?

Mipla wisim yutupla and family blong yu Merry Christmas na Happy New Year.

Raymond Sigimet

Thank you Keith, with your family, for selflessly giving and sharing 10 years of your life in fostering people to people dialogue through the PNG Attitude blog.

Your departure will surely leave a vacuum.

Thank you for the wonderful and informative publications from you and the many contribitors, from Australia and PNG, to your blog through the years.

Your blog inspired me to put pen to paper and I believe many others as well.

You will surely be missed. Best wishes from me and my family.

Yu stap long longpela resis na yu win tru,
na nau yu kamap long mak bilong yu,
yu strongpela man stret,
stori bilong yu bai stap longpela taim yet

Daniel Ipan Kumbon

The late Archie Markham as a VSO inspired me to write in the early 1980s. Keith and Phil, you've influenced countless PNGeans to write.

I share with you a poem late Archie Markham wrote. I think its a love poem. Here it is...


By E. A Markham

It is no accident
this accident
a lost wife
in the lift
day after day –
The smile today
straying some way past
Tomorrow, preened
I shall make amends. Tomorrow
will our fray
commence. What
if the happy run
of accidents
Prove tomorrow
An accident?
I shall curse
the memory, and
when the memory
starts to please –
I shall be old.

Rob Parer

Wow, Keith, you have raised the bar so very high. Sincerest thanks for the extraordinary unique product that is Keith Jackson's PNG Attitude.

As I have said previously, you have achieved more for PNG than the two daily newspapers and the universities - and all done off shore.

What a mighty effort. Blessings to you & yours for a Joyous Christmas.

Giorgio Licini


Andrew Greig

Keith you've done a magnificent job and it's often good to move on to new challenges. Seems it's time perhaps for another PNGer - indeed one who lives there - to take over the torch.

Daniel Ipan Kumbon

It will be like a bad dream for me when PNG Attitude goes. I stumbled upon the 'Attitude' by mistake only early this year and fell in love with it at first sight. What amazing stuff I saw there.

I tend to agree with Barbara, but Keith it's up to you to decide. You and Phil served the PNG people in different places at different times but through PNG Attitude you have impacted the whole country.

Gentleman, the two of you have touched the hearts and minds of a young generation of working-class men, women and students who have been lacking fatherly advice, awareness, insight, guidance, encouragement, self-esteem and a chance to think and express themselves critically.

You provided them with a platform and a voice to argue and express themselves not only through comments but through literature.

If PNG Attitude were to exist for another 10 years the country would soon produce internationally acclaimed poets, writers, authors, illustrators etc.

The reviews I have seen of books like Sibona and poetry by Michael Dom, Philip Kaupa etc are world class. But with PNG Attitude gone how will our budding writers be exposed is a nagging question.

Keith, you break my heart when you ask us to "keep those articles, stories and poems flowing until February 2016".

I cannot thank you enough but wish you and Phil and your families a Merry Christmas. Yakaa piylino (thank you in the Enga language).

Garry Roche

I only 'discovered' PNG Attitude last year, but I found it very very informative and interesting. Also I managed to reconnect with a few former friends through it.

A sincere thank you to Keith and Phil and all who made it possible.

Paul Oates

The old saying: 'All good things come to and end!' rings so true.

All of us who have appreciated Kieth's ongoing commitment to this project would obviously like it to continue. We must however accept and appreciate that this was not just a labour of love. PNG Attitude and it's predecessors were a personal commitment to PNG and her people from Keith and the community he caused to create.

There will be other blogs and websites where those who feel so inclined can and should contribute. Accentuate the positives is the catch cry we should be making and forget about the negatives.

Keith, we all appreciate just how much you and your family have contributed to enriching the blog sphere and initiating interest and enthusiasm about PNG and her people.

There will never be a perfect time to hand over as many of us found in 1975 but now is the time for a PNGian to put their hands up and take over.

Husat inap a?

Chris Overland

I am truly sorry that the curtain will shortly be drawn on PNG Attitude. What a show it has been over the years.

It is my strong impression that it has, certainly in recent years, been required reading for those with an interest in PNG and its affairs.

I can only commend Keith and Phil for their selfless application to the task of fostering PNG writers and creating opportunities for an emergent class of educated, literate and articulate Papua New Guineans to publish their work.

There has certainly been some tremendously good material published over the last 10 years.

Despite the positives, like Keith and Phil, I just cannot see how PNG can reach its true potential under the current political circumstances.

It will require someone of enormous determination, integrity and stature to galvanise Papua New Guineans into demanding and achieving significant political reform.

The evidence of history indicates that nothing short of revolution will make this possible. This will necessarily be a painful process. There is no point in pretending otherwise.

What may trigger this is hard to say but the forthcoming referendum on Bougainville may lead to a critical pivot point, whereby the tendency to disintegration inherent in the country becomes manifest.

After all, if Bougainville decides to go it alone, why not Enga or Oro Provinces too? After all, their cultures are no less unique than those of the Solomon Islands.

An existential crisis of this type might, just might, stimulate the emergence of the genuine, profound and robust nationalism that is, I think, a pre-condition for PNG becoming the vibrant and wealthy country that it has the capacity to be.

I still harbour the slightly mad idea that PNG could become a new state of Australia but this is probably a bridge too far for both countries.

Some sort of affiliation of the type that exists between Australia and New Zealand is much more feasible but would require huge changes in the governance of PNG.

At a minimum, the now institutionalised corruption and incompetence would have to be rooted out and the rule of law firmly embedded before any Australian government could even think about selling this notion to a public who are, in the main, profoundly ignorant about PNG.

What I would like to see is a large scale re-engagement between Australia and PNG whereby both parties formally agree to the selective involvement of Australians in guaranteeing the underlying integrity of the processes of government and the law.

So, for example, the Treasury and Police could be populated with sufficient numbers of seconded Australian Public Service finance and accounting professionals, who are not susceptible to coercion, intimidation and bribery, and can support PNG professionals in that department to operate in a lawful way.

Similarly, the AFP has the capacity to support the reformists with the ranks of the RPNGC who very much want to restore that body to its former position of effectiveness and respect within the community.

Combine this with a genuinely independent and powerful anti-corruption body, headed by someone like Sam Koim, and I think that real and lasting change is political behaviour is possible.

If this looks like a quasi-colonial arrangement then I say, so what? Do the great mass of Papua New Guineans want a country that actually works for them or would they prefer the current political processes to continue?

The ugly truth is that PNG is not now truly independent: too many of its political class and business elite are in the pockets of foreign business interests for this to be anything other than an illusion.

Would it not be better to be under the direct influence of an Australian "big brother", who is motivated by the greater good, than of nameless, faceless foreign business people whose primary aim is to enrich themselves and their cronies?

Unless and until PNG can confront these questions directly and honestly, it will stay mired in its current problems.

Anyway, I guess my opinions do not really matter much but at least PNG Attitude has given me a chance to have my say on this and many other matters.

For that, I offer my most sincere thanks to Keith, Phil and many others for their indulgence.

I will greatly miss PNG Attitude.

Barbara Short

70 wow, you are just a youngster!

I understand your situation but I think the world still needs PNG Attitude....maybe under another name.

I have been accepted by the Sepiks. I call myself a “coach”... a life coach. I have been thanked hundreds of times. Joseph Sukwianomb, one of our members, has just been sorting out things up at Goroka UOG. Just like I had to sort out things at Keravat a number of times.

Back in the provinces they still need help to get the crooks sorted out, to cope with the lack of education in many of the officials MPs, bureaucrats etc every level, to cope with the big overseas companies in mining, forestry, fishing and all other avenues on foreign investment.

The articles that I get from PNG Attitude are well read and digested on the Sepik Forum. I don’t use all of them. Just ones that are about what is really going on in PNG.

With your background you have followed the stories that matter. You know the writers to follow. You have a better idea of who you can trust and who you can’t trust.

I spend a few hours each morning on the Sepik Forum then just pop back for 30 mins or so a few times during the day to join in the various discussions. The Forum is really just like a blog. We have hundreds reading it. Often many comments. But they are not the silly old comments you used to get. Now we have really good discussions by the people who are directly involved with all the various aspects of development. The purpose of the Forum is to discuss development in the Sepik region.

Today, quite often, Sepiks put on the relevant articles before me. Wonderful. But there are still plenty of topics that they haven’t quite grasped e.g. how politicians have to be accountable to them, the electors.

There are still many things they need help with. I realize that even though I taught development economics at Keravat for 7 years I’m now doing it again on the Sepik Forum, applied Development Economics!

By just trying to restrict myself to the two Sepik provinces, I have a better hope of achieving what I have set out to do.
But I need you, or people like you, to lead the way, with articles for PNG as a whole.

Aussies are still needed in PNG, not the exploiters, the life coaching ones!

Hopefully other expats will join in. I have about 20 expats who read the Sepik Forum. Many make comments. Mark Palm the pilot, who runs Samaritan Aviation, in the Sepik just liked my article on illegal logging. He would know about it as he flies over the Sepik River a lot and would have seen the barges taking out the timber! They got in via an illegal SABL and they are still there.

One of the Sepik young men that reported on a youth group clearing a pathway through the bush for a road promised by O’Neill, has now complained about the illegal logging. He is someone I feel I can work with to get photos of the illegal logging and a protest and petition set up.

John Pasquarelli says he is going back to his beloved Angoram when he gets his knee-replacement. The place is a mess. But recently they have appointed a DA that I’m trying to train into becoming accountable.

There is so much going on that is good. I could go on and on.

Anyway, I guess you have made up your mind, But I don’t agree with it. You need something challenging in your retirement, especially if you have arthritis. You can still do PNG Attitude with arthritis. Your wife will be busy with all her jobs. You need yours!

Love and best wishes, especially at Christmas, ......a time to think of others.... PNG still needs you!

God bless.

Lindsay Bond

In February 2016, I will be inclined to say, in cricket parlance, a sound and satisfying innings. Well played, sir.

Phil Fitzpatrick

I've been continually amazed at the growing sophistication of PNG Attitude and all the hard work that goes into it.

And I've certainly enjoyed being a small part of it all by contributing articles and helping with the Crocodile Prize.

But we are all getting old and there are other things to do.

I share Keith's despair at the parlous state of PNG and I'm past trying to find excuses for it.

It's time to accept the truth and wish the country a bon voyage - to wherever it is going.

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