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106 posts from July 2016

Wrap: Pressure mounting on PNG PM O'Neill over graft allegations

O'Neill in parliamentMATT SIEGEL | Reuters

ATTEMPTS by Papua New Guinea's opposition to oust prime minister Peter O'Neill over corruption allegations gained steam on Friday as five lawmakers defected from his government and a motion of no confidence was served against him in Parliament.

Parliament has been in recess since last month, when protests by university students boiled over into violent clashes with police and about 40 people were injured, including four with bullet wounds.

O'Neill appeared to be holding out until August, when a one-year grace period before an election would have come into force, protecting his government.

But this week, the supreme court ruled the maneuver unconstitutional and ordered parliament recalled.

Continue reading "Wrap: Pressure mounting on PNG PM O'Neill over graft allegations" »

Confidence vote delayed a week as PNG economy retreats


PAPUA New Guinea is not called the Land of the Unexpected only because things happen when you don’t expect them to, but because things don’t happen when you do expect them.

And so it turned out yesterday in parliament when, on a motion by a suddenly augmented Opposition, the no confidence vote in prime minister Peter O’Neill was postponed until next Friday.

This seemed to contradict a supreme court ruling which was thought to have directed a vote within five days but which in fact was satisfied that the motion merely be introduced.

Continue reading "Confidence vote delayed a week as PNG economy retreats" »

Much repair work required after PNG’s recession of 2014-15

Paul FlanaganPAUL FLANAGAN | PNG Economics | Edited extracts

PAPUA New Guinea needs more credible policies to rebuild confidence and assist recovery from a significant economic recession it experienced in 2014 and 2015.

Bank of PNG figures suggest that real growth was probably in the range of minus 3 to 5% - negative growth as we economists refer to it.

PNG’s history from the 1990s indicates this has usually involved reaching out to others for assistance and considering closely its leadership.

Updated Bank figures indicate the economy (outside of liquefied natural gas which affects very few people in PNG) has had a major fall in employment (7% over two years), especially in the Highlands, Southern and Morobe regions).

Continue reading "Much repair work required after PNG’s recession of 2014-15" »

Kick started by Juffa, post-flood Oro bridges opening at last

Washed away Girua river bridgeLINDSAY BOND

IN ORO Province, this coming Monday will be a day of heartfelt celebration with the opening of three bridges over the rivers Eroro, Girua and Ambogo.

The Ambogo is also known as Doublecross, a name taken from a different location, a much earlier double crossing.

The bridges are funded by Australia and were announced back in 2007-08 following the severe flooding throughout Oro of November 2007.

There had been much delay in the planning until the election of Gary Juffa as governor.

Continue reading "Kick started by Juffa, post-flood Oro bridges opening at last" »

Cassandra’s quatrains for a young man


Whenever I see a young man
Proudly made of steel
I wonder at the young woman
Sure to make him kneel

Wherever I hear a young man
Loudly praise his great deal
I ponder if a young woman
Might make much of his meal

Whatever a young man
Gladly claims to bear his seal
I tender that a young woman,
Somehow, had made him real

Continue reading "Cassandra’s quatrains for a young man" »

‘PNG crying out for change’ say opponents as crucial vote nears


AS THE day dawns on the much thwarted and ultimately court-ordered no confidence vote in the O’Neill government, both sides have predictably expressed great confidence in their prospects of victory.

Papua New Guinea's deputy opposition leader Sam Basil (pictured) told Radio New Zealand International he believes the no confidence motion will be successful even though he didn’t know if his alliance had the numbers.

Basil said that with universities shut down by protests and other services threatening to strike if prime minister Peter O'Neill doesn't step down, the country is in crisis.

"I think the current situation in PNG is crying out for a change,” Basil told RNZI. “O'Neill is a fighter, he will not go down without fighting but we are very adamant that he has done enough damage to this country and he has to go.

Continue reading "‘PNG crying out for change’ say opponents as crucial vote nears" »

PNG introduces new free 30-day tourist visa for Australians

Jerry AgusETB Travel News

PAPUA New Guinea has introduced a new tourist visa for Australians. Australian passport holders can now secure a 30-day free tourist visa on arrival.

The change in visa requirements was announced this week by the PNG cabinet and is the first time this option has been available to Australian visitors.

Papua New Guinea Tourism Promotion Authority CEO, Jerry Agus (pictured), said he is delighted at the news and sees the decision as an important step forward for the tourism industry.

“We wholeheartedly welcome this news,” Mr Agus said.

Continue reading "PNG introduces new free 30-day tourist visa for Australians" »

Sandaun's Terry Trainor - 'man of peace' - dies in Melbourne at 81


LONG-time Papua New Guinea resident Terence (Terry) Trainor (1935-2016) – proclaimed as ‘a man of peace’ by those who knew him - has died in Melbourne aged 81.

Mr Trainor spent more than 50 years in the Sandaun (West Sepik) Province as a teacher, kiap and church worker.

His first posting was to Sissano government primary school but he taught in many schools throughout the province.

It was rare for teachers to become patrol officers (kiaps) but he made the transition and had the distinction of being the last expatriate kiap in the province.

Continue reading "Sandaun's Terry Trainor - 'man of peace' - dies in Melbourne at 81" »

I’m not putting my name forward for PM, and here’s why

Gary Juffa speaking in ParliamentGARY JUFFA

AND so the vote of no confidence is on; and what a confusing array of alternatives.

Firstly, to all those proposing my name - many thanks for your kind support but I simply do not have a sponsor like some giant illegal logging outfit or giant construction firm or a cartel of illegal fishing operators, Pakistani salesmen or Israeli consultants.

And I do not have the numbers.

Guys let's understand this, in Papua New Guinea people do not vote for the government, politicians do.

If you look beyond the most influential politicians who determine outcomes, you shall see the puppet masters. They are not Papua New Guineans.

Continue reading "I’m not putting my name forward for PM, and here’s why" »

Crunch time looms as parliament sets itself for no-confidence vote


WAS Peter O’Neill’s ducking and weaving to avoid a parliamentary no confidence vote because he was running scared, or was it just in the nature of the man?

Well, when Papua New Guinea’s parliament resumes at 2pm tomorrow, we will find out.

O’Neill says he is confident he will survive the no confidence motion ordered by the supreme court.

Continue reading "Crunch time looms as parliament sets itself for no-confidence vote" »

Hal Holman leaves huge artistic legacy for Australia & PNG

Hal Holman with busts of former PNG prime ministers (Jacky Ghossein)KEITH JACKSON
Sydney Morning Herald

Hal Holman 1922 - 2016

HALDANE Sinclair 'Hal' Holman was a prodigiously talented artist who devoted much of his life - and his art - to Papua New Guinea.

This was especially seen in his creation of the iconography of its nationhood, everything from the national crest and a major contribution in the design of its flag to postage stamps.

Holman was awarded significant honours by the governments of both Australia and PNG for his art and sculpture.

Continue reading "Hal Holman leaves huge artistic legacy for Australia & PNG" »

Beneath the old rain tree


Beneath the old rain tree I wondered
About how this good friend of mine
Standing with its sleeveless branches
Wrinkled skin peeling off from its body
But still smiling to offer a free service
And yet – mankind has been ignorant
I wondered

It didn’t rain for days
But it stood there braving the sun
It was thirsty for water
But it only gained from the heat

The sun didn’t shine no more
But it stood there braving the cold
It was shivering for warmth
But it only lost weight at night

Continue reading "Beneath the old rain tree" »

Tensions mount as court rules vote against PM must proceed

Polye v O'NeillXinhua

TENSIONS are set to crescendo in Papua New Guinea in the coming week after the supreme court ordered parliament to hear a vote of no confidence motion against prime minister Peter O'Neill.

PNG's national parliament was suspended only moments before a vote of no confidence against O'Neill was to be heard on 8 June following clashes between student protesters and police.

Opposition leader Don Polye was forced to take the matter to the court as reconvening in August would not allow another no-confidence vote against O'Neill.

Continue reading "Tensions mount as court rules vote against PM must proceed" »

Court orders recall of parliament to hear no-confidence motion

Haus TambaranABC Pacific Beat

PAPUA New Guinea's Supreme Court has ordered the recall of Parliament in five days to hear a no-confidence motion in prime minister Peter O'Neill.

Parliament has not reconvened since a rally by University of Papua New Guinea students turned violent when police shot into a crowd of students on 8 June.

The government had intended not to resume until August, which would have avoided a vote of no-confidence.

With the court win, the Opposition will be further emboldened in its bid to oust Mr O'Neill as groups move to disrupt essential services in Papua New Guinea and former leaders renew their attacks on the prime minister.

Continue reading "Court orders recall of parliament to hear no-confidence motion" »

O’Neill returns fire on former PMs saying PNG ‘recovering well’


AS the war of words continues at the top of Papua New Guinean politics, prime minister Peter O’Neill has described yesterday’s statement by Sir Michael Somare and Sir Mekere Morauta’s as “absolute nonsense”.

The two former prime ministers had called for O’Neill’s resignation saying he led a government that had demonstrated “mismanagement, waste and corruption on an unprecedented scale”.

They said that under O’Neill’s leadership, the PNG economy is heading towards disaster.

Mr O’Neill has returned fire, telling Loop PNG that the economy is recovering well from the decline caused by global commodities’ price fall.

Continue reading "O’Neill returns fire on former PMs saying PNG ‘recovering well’" »

Jeffrey Nape dead – ‘the most corrupt speaker in PNG history’

Jeffrey NapeNIUGINI OUTLOOK | PNG Blogs | Edited extracts

FORMER speaker Jeffrey Nape’s death last weekend didn't make an EMTV Youtube upload and the O'Neill government was totally silent about it.

The newspapers ran small-as-possible articles announcing his death and placing them far down paper. The National didn't even bother running a photo to accompany their obituary.

Even opposition leader Don Polye, who raved over Nape and supported him as a candidate at the 2012 election, was silent.

In fact, not one public figure rose to defend Jeffrey Nape when his death was announced on Monday.

Continue reading "Jeffrey Nape dead – ‘the most corrupt speaker in PNG history’" »

Bougainville calls for international sanctions on Rio Tinto

Rio TintoRadio New Zealand International

BOUGAINVILLE president John Momis wants the International Council on Mining and Minerals to sanction Rio Tinto.

This comes after the multinational miner gave away its shares in Bougainville Copper Ltd in equal amounts to the Papua New Guinea and Bougainville governments.

The move means Bougainville has not got the majority shareholding in the company it had been demanding ahead of a possible resumption of mining in the autonomous PNG region.

Rio Tinto also told Bougainville it now has no ongoing obligations over environmental and social issues blamed on the mine.

Continue reading "Bougainville calls for international sanctions on Rio Tinto" »

Mismanagement, waste & corruption on an unprecedented scale

Rt Hon Sir Mekere Morauta and Rt Hon Grand Chief Sir Michael SomareA joint statement by SIR MEKERE MORAUTA & SIR MICHAEL SOMARE to the PNG people

TODAY Papua New Guinea is at a turning point.

On the one hand we can choose to start afresh with new leadership, new vision and new hope for the future.

Or we can continue down an uncertain, slippery road, led by a person who is increasingly behaving like a dictator, with total disregard for the law.

As former prime ministers we have made our choice, and we ask our fellow Papua New Guineans to join us in rescuing our country. 

Continue reading "Mismanagement, waste & corruption on an unprecedented scale" »

Indon spin offensive as West Papua issue grows in intensity


THE opinion piece by Sade Bimantara, ‘Melanesia’s spearhead – strong man or sick puppy’, seems rather misleading.

The author hasn't mentioned that New Caledonia's FLNKS (Kanak Socialist National Liberation Front) indigenous Kanak movement is the fifth full member of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) and has an aspiration for, and timetable towards, a possible decision on independence.

So there is a precedent within the MSG for the West Papuans to have membership.

Indonesian officials continuously characterise the ULMWP (United Liberation Movement for West Papua) as a group representing overseas Papuans. But in fact we know that the ULMWP has huge support in Papua.

Continue reading "Indon spin offensive as West Papua issue grows in intensity" »

Unfinished struggle: West Papua’s future depends on its friends


WEST Papua has not stopped its decolonisation agenda after more than 50 years of living with Indonesia.

Indonesia claims that development has brought progress to the life of the Papuans but Papuan experiences tell the opposite.

Hazardous development combined with human rights abuses, land grabbing, intensive resource extraction and massive migration that is making Papuans a minority in their own land have led to Papuan self-awareness that there is no future within Indonesia.

Recently, West Papuan anti-colonial movements have transformed themselves into a more consolidated mobilisation involving non-violent and urban-based resistance groups.

Continue reading "Unfinished struggle: West Papua’s future depends on its friends" »

Now PNG’s professionals call upon O’Neill to step down


PETER O'Neill faces a new threat to his leadership as a coalition of senior professionals across a range of organisations in the aviation, maritime, telecommunications, education and transport sectors have given him until Wednesday to step down as prime minister.

“If the prime minister does not step down within the 48 hours given, then he can expect all major sectors and industries in the country to stop work by Wednesday morning,” said spokesman, lawyer Moses Murray.

“The prime minister has bluntly turned a blind eye and a deaf ear to issues not only on the current crises but also on a number of serious allegations levelled against him which are still outstanding,” he said.

Continue reading "Now PNG’s professionals call upon O’Neill to step down" »

Micah’s Rio share claims ‘misleading & mischievous’ says Momis


BOUGAINVILLE president Dr John Momis has described a statement on the Tinto shares in BCL by PNG’s petroleum and energy minister Ben Micah as “misleading and mischievous nonsense”. 

Dr Momis was commenting on a claim by Mr Micah (pictured) that PNG-owned company Kumul Mineral Holdings Ltd will retain the 36.4% of Rio’s shares in BCL until the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) accepts them.

“Kumul, Micah, and the national government have no role in relation to the 36.4% of BCL shares available to the ABG,” Dr Momis said. “The ABG has two months in which to decide whether to accept the transfer of the shares.”

Dr Momis said Micah’s statement that Kumul Minerals will keep the shares until then was “misleading and mischievous nonsense intended to give the impression that somehow he and Kumul Minerals are in control of the shares and concerned to look after Bougainville’s interests.

Continue reading "Micah’s Rio share claims ‘misleading & mischievous’ says Momis" »

Melanesia’s spearhead – strong man or sick puppy?


IN ALMOST one decade of its existence, the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) has shown its potential to be “the strong man of the South Pacific”.

It is making the region more economically integrated while sustaining its Melanesian cultural identity. However, one issue threatens the group’s core interests and imperils the whole MSG project.

The United Liberation Movement for West Papua’s (ULMWP) continuing disruptive and destructive practices in the MSG process are dangerous for its unity and integrity.

It was created to represent the voices of overseas Papuans, who may still have Indonesian citizenship and many who have renounced their citizenship.

Continue reading "Melanesia’s spearhead – strong man or sick puppy?" »

Unitech vice-chancellor says critics must back up claims

Albert SchramRadio New Zealand International

THE vice chancellor of Papua New Guinea's University of Technology says critics of his management need to substantiate their claims.

Dr Albert Schram was speaking after works minister Frances Awesa repeated demands for the university management and local police to be replaced after the murder of a student and the burning of university buildings two weeks ago.

Mr Awesa says they had failed to do enough to avoid the violence.

But Dr Schram says the standing committee of the university's council has endorsed the actions taken by him and his officials.

Continue reading "Unitech vice-chancellor says critics must back up claims" »

Enga’s obscure poets & authors emerge on a bigger stage


Can’t Sleep: Poems, First Impressions, Satire & Essays on Cultural Aspects of Enga Province, Papua New Guinea, Compiled by Daniel Kumbon, Enga Writer’s Association, ISBN: 978-1535133845, US$6.38 plus postage from Amazon Books

THE people of Papua New Guinea have a long traditional history of oral literature.

Like many societies that have always lived close to the earth, there are many natural story tellers and poets among them.

This is especially so in Enga Province in the central highlands where resides the largest cultural group in Papua New Guinea.

Continue reading "Enga’s obscure poets & authors emerge on a bigger stage" »

A highlands life: The birth & early years of Yaltom Yal-Wai


YALTOM Yal-Wai reflected on his life; especially his difficult childhood. He had never known his mother, Apal-wai. She had died from complications soon after his birth.

The untrained village midwives had been unable to save her.

The story of his mother losing blood, being carried on a bamboo stretcher the nearest health centre and meeting death in a decrepit ambulance on the way to hospital was constantly in his mind.

His father Yalkuna told him the midwives had to choose between him and his mother.

Yalkuna had been confused and found a space in a corner of the building where he uttered a quick silent prayer to God. “If you save my wife and son, I will go to church.”

Continue reading "A highlands life: The birth & early years of Yaltom Yal-Wai" »

Rio Tinto should toe the line on global mining principles & ethics

PangunaJOHN MOMIS | President, Autonomous Region of Bougainville

In this article Dr Momis criticises what he calls the “greedy irresponsibility” of Rio Tinto following the global mining giant’s decision to end its majority shareholding in Bougainville Copper Ltd.

RIO Tinto’s predecessor, Conzinc RioTinto Australia (CRA), made immense profits from operating the Panguna mine – so much so that BCL was often described as the ‘jewel’ in the CRA crown.

But in operating the mine, it was Bougainville that bore severe environmental and social costs.

Continue reading "Rio Tinto should toe the line on global mining principles & ethics" »

If we’re smart Panguna, Frieda & Ok Tedi can transform PNG


THE  decision  by Rio Tinto to vacate Panguna and to transfer its 53.8%  shareholding in the mines to the national  and the Bougainville government  is  welcomed  although it  cannot by  any measure  adequately compensate for the pain and sufferings  and loss of life   sustained by Families during the Bougainville crisis.

Let  me  state  for the benefit of the post Bougainville crisis generation  that the crisis was brought about as a result of a dispute over  the adequacy of the royalty payment of 2.5%  calculated on the basis of the total value of exportable ore paid as rent to the national government for copper ore exported from the Panguna mine.

Continue reading "If we’re smart Panguna, Frieda & Ok Tedi can transform PNG" »

A Good Man Died Today

Wardley Barry at workWARDLEY D BARRY-IGIVISA

An entry in the 2016 Crocodile Prize

In memory of the good men who, of all days, died today


A good man, like all good man, died today.
It can’t happen on any other day.
Sundays and Mondays are too lacklustre
For the death of one meant to live forever.

Tuesdays and Wednesdays are incomplete;
The grave is not satisfied with half-wits.
Thursdays are when lovers beget romance,
And love is too lofty for death’s weapons.

Fridays are fun and Saturdays holy.
For the grave to strike it would be folly.
But today—pure, perfect today, is fine;
When the earth sprouts, and sun, moon and stars shine…

Perhaps, God made good men to die today,
For today, of all days, is a good day.

Continue reading "A Good Man Died Today" »

UPNG takes the easy way out & punishes boycotting students

Albert-mellamPost Office Box

THE vice chancellor of the University of Papua New Guinea, Albert Mellam, has proven himself to be incompetent at conflict resolution.

From the initial stages of the boycott, Professor Mellam could have easily defused the situation by facilitating freedom of expression.

Instead, he prematurely chose a hard line stand leaving no room for escalation should tensions rise. He brought guns to a peaceful call gathering. He issued threats when students made a peaceful call.

He tried to smother democratic freedom of expression by disallowing and delaying a referendum. He did all this in a democratic country.  

When students protested, he quickly requested an armed police presence on campus, effectively burning all his bridges and cutting of any chance of dialogue with students. He created distrust when he should have built relationships.

Continue reading "UPNG takes the easy way out & punishes boycotting students" »

A reconciliation process for university students in PNG


THERE have been a couple of months of student unrest in almost every university in Papua New Guinea over an issue of great national importance.

At the University of Papua New Guinea, the academic senate has terminated the remaining academic year after some students reacted violently to police shootings.

The Department of Higher Education, Department of Education, National Executive Council and other decision makers should now consider becoming partners in consultation and collaboration to resolve this serious matter.

Meanwhile, the University of Technology in Lae has seen one death and facilities worth millions of kina burnt to ashes. A senior politician from the province of the dead student called on the university’s vice chancellor and provincial police commander to step down and demanded the vice-chancellor be deported.

Continue reading "A reconciliation process for university students in PNG" »

Oil Search bid for InterOil falters as Exxon appears on the scene

Oil Search area of operationGRETCHEN FRIEMANN & BRIDGET CARTER | The Australian | Edited extracts

US ENERGY giant ExxonMobil is expected to officially wade into the race for the Papua New Guinea-focused InterOil next week in a $3 billion-plus move that threatens to end Oil Search’s takeover ambitions for its smaller rival and intensify pressure on French major Total.

As flagged by this column, Oil Search, an Australian-listed, Port Moresby-based company, led by industry veteran Peter Botten, fulfilled a long-considered strategy in May when it launched a $US2.2bn tilt at InterOil.

But it risks losing out to a contest between two super majors if Exxon’s entry draws counter fire from Total. Even if the French titan stays clear, Oil Search’s directors will be wary of locking horns with Exxon, the world’s biggest oil company with a market capitalisation of $US386.1bn.

Continue reading "Oil Search bid for InterOil falters as Exxon appears on the scene" »

Rattled, ineffectual UPNG bosses let down students & nation

Dr Nicholas Mann & other UPNG leadersKEITH JACKSON

THE Administration of the University of Papua New Guinea has continued to disgrace itself by abandoning classes for the remainder on 2016 and ignoring the real culprits behind violence at the university – police who shot live rounds into a crowd of unarmed students.

In a response that defies reason and intellectual integrity, the university’s bosses have conflated student protests with student violence with no hard evidence adduced about who was responsible and no condemnation of the police shootings that transformed a peaceful protest into something far worse.

Continue reading "Rattled, ineffectual UPNG bosses let down students & nation" »

Much-loved Adventist leader Geoffrey Pomaleu dies at 54

Geoffrey Pomaleu (Adventist Record)KENT KINGSTON | South Pacific Adventist Record

GEOFFREY Pomaleu, the leader of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Papua New Guinea, has died after collapsing at a camp for pastors’ children.

Pastor Pomaleu, who was elected president of the Papua New Guinea Union Mission last September, had dealt with a number of serious health issues in recent months.

He had a bowel operation earlier this year and was rushed to hospital in May after experiencing severe chest pains.

After a period of recovery and with prescribed medication, he was able to return to work with light duties.

Continue reading "Much-loved Adventist leader Geoffrey Pomaleu dies at 54" »

PNG’s 2015 agriculture exports less than half 2011 levels

The harvestDAVID JAMES | Business Advantage PNG | Edited extracts

PAPUA New Guinea’s agriculture export income in 2015 was less than half of 2011 levels, according to recent Bank of Papua New Guinea data.

Income from palm oil exports was at its lowest level since 2009, while coffee exports were less than half the value of four years ago and income from rubber exports almost halved in a year.

Some of the decline is attributable to lower export prices. The bank’s most recent Quarterly Economic Bulletin says in 2015 coffee prices were down from 2014 levels by 1.2%, palm oil prices fell by 18.5%, tea by 5.8% and rubber by 16.7%. Cocoa prices rose by 14.4% and copra by 1.3%.

Continue reading "PNG’s 2015 agriculture exports less than half 2011 levels" »

Inquiry into university unrest dismissed as a 'whitewash'

Kerenga KuaRadio New Zealand International

OPPOSITION MP and former attorney general, Kerenga Kua, says the commission of inquiry into unrest at the nation's universities is likely to be a whitewash.

Classes at Papua New Guinea’s three main universities have not been conducted since the beginning of May due to a student boycott and subsequent violence that left one student dead and several others injured.

The students had demanded the prime minister Peter O'Neill step down to face fraud allegations.

Mr Kua said the commission of inquiry had not been tasked with investigating the demise of political accountability which caused the student protest.

Continue reading "Inquiry into university unrest dismissed as a 'whitewash'" »

PNG may escape seabed mining: Nautilus Minerals facing collapse

Seabed mining iconAct Now

CANADIAN mining company Nautilus Minerals is facing a severe financial crisis that threatens its plans for experimental seabed mining in Papua New Guinea and the future of the whole company.

Nautilus says not it is delaying further project spending and it desperately needs short-term emergency funding to continue company operations and allow staff more time to look for significant additional funds.

It says “there can be no assurances that the company will be able to obtain the necessary bridge financing or project financing on acceptable terms or at all”.

This may lead to it suspending or terminating the development of the seafloor production system and the PNG Solwara 1 Project.

Continue reading "PNG may escape seabed mining: Nautilus Minerals facing collapse" »

Mining threatens the mighty Sepik River with utter ruin

Frieda_river_near_sepikGLEN BARRY | EcoInternet

A PROPOSED large-scale copper and gold mine in Papua New Guinea will irreparably harm the relatively pristine Sepik and Frieda Rivers, and devastate the region’s primary rainforests and indigenous cultures.

The Sepik is one of the largest wild river systems left in the Asia Pacific. The Frieda River runs for 100 kilometres from the mine site in the steep, forested highlands before it joins the Sepik which flows another 600 kilometres through a wetland-dotted plain before reaching PNG’s northern coast.

Continue reading "Mining threatens the mighty Sepik River with utter ruin" »

The uniting of forces: Once upon a time at Murray Barracks


IT WAS almost four years ago, November 2012. The afternoon sun setting behind Brigadier Hill cast its last red yellowish rays through a thick line of rain trees that guarded the soldier’s football field.

Just a short distance away was the PNG Defence Force headquarters at Murray Barracks in Port Moresby.

The strong, sweet-smelling fragrance of crushed coconut oil and yellow ginger mixed with leaves filled the air as groups of elderly men and women swayed to the rattling of sea shells and the rhythmic beat of bamboo and kundu.

Huge pigs grunted from under a long table filled with bananas, taro, vegetables of all kinds and freshly butchered pork.

Continue reading "The uniting of forces: Once upon a time at Murray Barracks" »

Child prostitution & forced labour: PNG hammered in US report

Child_labourGIFF JOHNSON | Radio New Zealand International | Edited extract

PAPUA New Guinea has received the worst possible ranking in a just-released United States government's report on human trafficking.

The report outlined numerous trafficking issues in PNG, saying the country "is a source, transit and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labour.

“Foreign and local women and children are subjected to sex trafficking, domestic servitude and forced begging or street vending,” the report said.

Continue reading "Child prostitution & forced labour: PNG hammered in US report" »

It’s a man’s world


This poem is about gender equality, or rather inequality,
and is a reminder of the unique struggles that women face
in male-dominated societies.

No woman no more
The days of your youth and innocence have faded away
No longer can you hide behind your fathers’ protective barrier
The days of being in your mothers’ care are over
No more carefree days, no more time to laze
No woman no more.

Continue reading "It’s a man’s world" »

It’s a pity PNG’s parliament didn’t establish an upper house


I WROTE this on the day that Australians were trekking to polling booths throughout the land to elect a new federal parliament.

It was a long and boring election campaign but the outcome was very interesting. As you read this the results are still not known.

The ostensible reason for calling an early election was to curb the power of unions in the construction and building industry but this was soon forgotten and hardly mentioned in the government’s campaign for re-election.

The real reason for calling the election was to clear perceived obstructionism by the upper house, the Senate, and in particular the influence of independent senators.

Continue reading "It’s a pity PNG’s parliament didn’t establish an upper house" »

PNG’s violated women do not deserve to be treated as Cassandras

Apollo and Cassandra by Erika Meriaux (Georgia Museum of Art)RASHMII BELL

IN Greek mythology, Apollo in his romantic pursuit of Cassandra (daughter of the king of Troy) gifted her with the power of prophecy.

Eventually Cassandra refused him and, when she did, Apollo spat into her mouth to inflict a curse that nobody would ever believe anything she would say.

And so it transpired that, despite their accuracy, Cassandra’s  warnings were never heeded and she was called crazy and a liar.

Consider how frequently words like ‘delusional’, ‘angry’, ‘talking nonsense’ or ‘attention-seeking’ are thrown around. It’s a common chide when one has spoken out about a negative personal experience or expressed an opinion about poor customer service at the local shoe shop or an inappropriate brush of the hand by a doctor in the examination room.

Continue reading "PNG’s violated women do not deserve to be treated as Cassandras" »

Cook Islands look like a good model for Australia–PNG relations


IT PROBABLY hasn’t crossed your mind, but the Cook Islands is a place definitely worth a visit.

I travelled there from Auckland but there’s also a direct flight from Sydney these days.

The Cooks is an interesting place. Not just because of the laid back island feel and warmth of the people, but for a better model of how Australia might treat Papua New Guinea.

Continue reading "Cook Islands look like a good model for Australia–PNG relations" »

Momis: PNG government equal equity in BCL a threat to peace

Irregular Bougainvillean soldier near Panguna mineKEITH JACKSON

TENSIONS between Bougainville and Papua New Guinea escalated this afternoon after the president of the Autonomous Bougainville Government, Dr John Momis, condemned “a disgusting and shady deal between the national government and Rio Tinto.”

Dr Momis accused the PNG government to have been “deeply involved” in Rio's decision to transfer 17.4% equity in Bougainville Copper Ltd (BCL) to make the national government an equal shareholder with the ABG.

Earlier in the day, prime minister Peter O’Neill PM had told Dr Momis he had no prior knowledge of the Rio Tinto share deal and indicated his willingness to work with Momis on the serious concerns the Bougainvilleans have about control of BCL.

Continue reading "Momis: PNG government equal equity in BCL a threat to peace" »

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Does PNG want 19% of a mine or 36.4% of a conflict?

Momis & BougainvillePRESIDENT JOHN MOMIS | Edited extracts

THE Rio Tinto decision to divest its shares in Bougainville Copper Ltd (BCL) is a remarkably unprincipled, shameful and evil decision.

Yet this is a decision by an international mining giant, a company that holds itself out internationally as bound by quite different standards.

The shame and evil does of Rio Tinto’s decision does not lie in the withdrawal from BCL. Rather, it relates to two key aspects of the way in which Rio has withdrawn from BCL.

First, Rio has directed that of its 53.8% equity, 36.4% should be offered to the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) and 17.4% to the PNG Government. So the ABG and the national government will be equal minority shareholders in BCL, each with 36.4%. The remaining 27% will still be held by small shareholders all over the world.

Continue reading "Does PNG want 19% of a mine or 36.4% of a conflict?" »

A fierce encounter with defence secretary John Porti

Defence Secretary John PortiIT WAS almost 6.30 pm as I stepped out from beneath the roof of the senior NCO’s mess at PNGDF headquarters Murray Barracks and into the gathering darkness.

I felt disgusted as my clean black boots sank deep into the embracing mud.

The grounds looked deserted and were strangely quiet as I trudged through a line of trees, struggling for balance every step on the slippery track. There had been a heavy downpour that afternoon.

The pale red glow of one of the lights near the graveled car park cut through thick trees and cast crooked shadows on the pavement as I tried to scrape the mud from the underside of my boots.

I reached the building and headed for the stairs.

A sudden cough split the quiet, emanating from the one lighted room at the top of the stairs. I took a deep breath and dragged my bony frame to the third floor.

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Silent Scream


THIS poem, Silent Scream, is about the continuing issue of domestic violence in Papua New Guinea and is a warning to women to be careful with their choice of a partner.

It is also a call on women to opt out of abusive relationships early or seek help to end an abusive relationship before it is too late.

And remember, abuse in a relationship comes in all forms, not just physical.

Silent Scream

Is that him coming?
Quiet click of the door
The creak of the stairs
Shuffling on the carpet.

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Students hold firm as UPNG bosses bulldoze & propagandise

Rapa_KennethKENNETH RAPA | Edited extract

I WOULD like to make a proper statement of the recent turn of events here at the University of Papua New Guinea since Thursday 23 June to clarify the position of the UPNG students’ representative council.

I and my fellow SRC Council members were restrained by a court order obtained by UPNG Administration restraining us from conducting further boycott and protests.

Any actions taken by my council members and myself to mobilise students would been seen as actions undertaken to boycott classes and we would be in contempt of court.

The confrontation between the students and Uni Force [security] is an isolated situation from the peaceful protest we have held so far.

As a matter of public interest, it is important to understand the underlying issues which actually prompted a large number of students to mobilise against Uniforce after an initial small confrontation.

Continue reading "Students hold firm as UPNG bosses bulldoze & propagandise" »