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67 posts from December 2017

Papua New Guinea and the end of mankind


TUMBY BAY – The current rhetoric has it that if we don’t do something about climate change we will destroy the planet.

That isn’t quite right.

If we don’t do something about climate change we will destroy ourselves and a lot of other species but not the planet itself.

We will make the Earth very sick for a while and we will make it uninhabitable but it will survive, just as it has since it was formed.

When we are gone the Earth will still exist. Papua New Guinea and Australia will still exist, albeit in a geographically modified way. The only difference will be that we humans won’t be here to enjoy it.

Continue reading "Papua New Guinea and the end of mankind" »

The Captain of My Soul

Captain-jack-pirates-of-the-caribbeanA SHORT STORY BY JOHN KAUPA KAMASUA

If I told you that misfortunes have assailed me all the days of my life up until the day I met my uncle, it would be an understatement. I think an average person would have already crumbled under their weight.

You see, I had always had misfortunes in my life; thinking I was bad luck pretty much; good for nothing. And I blamed myself most of the time for not having someone around to look up to.

Sometimes it was a mixed bag; I still had troubles yet with something good among them.

I wrote a comical essay once, after a near miss with a town bus whose driver seemed to be pleased for making me run for my life.

That was when I was a student at the University of Papua New Guinea. I had described the scene as if I recorded with a video camera. I described vividly my fear and feelings and the look of glee on the driver’s face as the bus sped by me. He must have thought I was a common stray dog.

Continue reading "The Captain of My Soul" »

Terry Shelley dies at 77: tough, generous, a true man of PNG

Terry Shelley
Terry Shelley


CAIRNS - A great and generous man of Papua New Guinea - as gritty as the highlands people he respected so much - died here early yesterday morning.

Just turned 77, Terry Shelley succumbed in Cairns Hospital. Direly ill, he had travelled there by what he termed “Dr Qantas” as the cancer he suspected, but did little to address, eventually overwhelmed him.

Terry had little time for ill health, doctors, Australia or the Papua New Guinean elite. But he had every minute he could muster for his family and the people of PNG whom he served so well for 55 years.

His son, Trevor, who he admired and loved like he did all his family, sent me a note yesterday afternoon to convey the wretched news. Trev is an information technology consultant with BHP Billiton in Perth following upon a distinguished career in Australia’s Army.

“Dad passed away early this morning in Cairns,” Trev wrote. “The silly bugger was riddled with cancer and, because he is a stubborn old bastard, did not seek any medical treatment - he would have had this [the cancer] for some time given the amount he had. Refused to seek help until he was cooked.

Continue reading "Terry Shelley dies at 77: tough, generous, a true man of PNG" »

BCL says no one told it of Panguna mining moratorium



PORT MORESBY - Bougainville Copper Ltd has said it is yet to be notified by the Autonomous Bougainville Government of a moratorium on further developments at the Panguna mine, once one of the world's biggest copper and gold mines.

The company said in a statement that it is seeking clarification from Bougainville’s Department of Minerals and Energy Resources about the report.

Reporters could not reach the Bougainville government for comment.

Earlier this week there were reports from a Bougainvillean journalist that President John Momis had imposed an indefinite moratorium on exploration and mining at Panguna.

Continue reading "BCL says no one told it of Panguna mining moratorium" »

Why do archive files on Britain’s colonial past keep going missing?

British colonial police and Kenyan suspects
British colonial police and Kenyan suspects - an all-too common scene of imperial rule

SIOBHAN FENTON | The Guardian | Extracts

Read the full story here

LONDON - The (United Kingdom) National Archives are home to more than 11m documents, many of them covering the most disturbing periods of Britain’s colonial past.

The uncomfortable truths revealed in previously classified government files have proved invaluable to those seeking to understand this country’s history or to expose past injustices.

It is deeply concerning, therefore, to discover that about 1,000 files have gone missing after being removed by civil servants. Officially, the archives describe them as “misplaced while on loan to a government department”.

Continue reading "Why do archive files on Britain’s colonial past keep going missing?" »

Sapos yu lukim gutpela samting tru, esi esi, nogut oli gamon yu


TUMBY BAY - One of the sagest and most universal adages of this modern epoch of ours is “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is”.

While it is particularly good advice for the gullible, trusting, elderly and good-hearted people of the world, it is good advice for the naturally greedy and avaricious.

It is also essential advice in developing countries, unused to the predations of carpetbaggers, conmen and crooks.

These countries are particularly fertile ground for those who seek to make a dollar no matter how many people they harm or damage in the process.

In Papua New Guinea, scams perpetuated by unscrupulous people began many years ago with cargo cults, exotic combinations of quasi religion and fraud, and now present themselves as elaborate pyramid schemes designed to fleece the unwary.

Continue reading "Sapos yu lukim gutpela samting tru, esi esi, nogut oli gamon yu" »

Law firm offers to assist fraud squad resurrect O’Neill case

Francis Nii
Francis Nii


KUNDIAWA – The principal of Jaminan Lawyers, Christopher Jaminan, has announced on Facebook that his firm will provide free legal aid to the Police Fraud Squad and the Criminal Investigation Division if they want to resurrect the fraud case allegedly involving prime minister Peter O’Neill.

Mr Jaminam’s offer follows the Supreme Court’s quashing of an arrest warrant against O’Neill in the case known throughout Papua New Guinea as Parakagate.

Mr Jaminam’s announcement drew immediate and overwhelming support across PNG although some Facebook readers, although welcoming the suggestion, were sceptical about its prospects of success.

These people claimed the judiciary has already been compromised and the effort would be futile as the case would drag on for years or be thrown out on petty technical grounds.

Continue reading "Law firm offers to assist fraud squad resurrect O’Neill case" »

Can a new alliance change the game in PNG politics?

Bryan Kramer
Bryan Kramer MP

MEDIA STATEMENT | Office of Bryan Kramer MP | Edited

MADANG - The Member for Madang, Bryan Kramer, has announced what he says is a “major political shift” in the way political parties are structured and operate in Papua New Guinea.

Flanked by the president of the Constitutional Democratic Party (PNGCD) Ila Geno and former chief ombudsman Nemo Yalo, Mr Kramer said PNG’s newest political party would be called The Alliance.

Mr Geno is a former PNG police commissioner and Mr Yalo, who co-founded the PNGCD with Mr Geno in 2010, was at one time also an acting national court judge.

Mr Kramer, who has a reputation as a political strategist, has spearheaded the plan to merge numerous tiny political parties into a more coherent entity.

Continue reading "Can a new alliance change the game in PNG politics?" »

Report: Bougainville puts temporary halt to Panguna rebirth

John Momis
President John Momis

STAFF REPORTER | Radio New Zealand International | Edited

WELLINGTON - Bougainville is to put on hold any new development at the controversial Panguna copper mine.

The mine was the catalyst for the civil war in the Papua New Guinea region and has been shut down for nearly 28 years.

The autonomous Bougainville government has been keen to re-open it in order to boost the region's economy as it prepares for an independence referendum in 2019.

But Bougainvillean journalist Aloysius Laukai has reported President John Momis as saying his government has imposed an indefinite moratorium on exploration and mining at Panguna.

Dr Momis said this was in the best interests of the landowners and people of Bougainville and was made on the advice of the Bougainville Mining Advisory Council.

Continue reading "Report: Bougainville puts temporary halt to Panguna rebirth" »

That fraud case: Impartiality of the judiciary is in question


KUNDIAWA - The Supreme Court’s decision quashing the arrest warrant for prime minister Peter O’Neill relating to an alleged fraudulent payment of K78 million to Paul Paraka Lawyers, a case that spanned three years, has not gone down well with many Papua New Guineans.

Many people are expressing dissatisfaction with the decision both on social media and in private gatherings.

What is in question is the very impartiality of the justice system.

Prior to the decision, chief justice Sir Salamo Injia had been photographed happily chatting with O’Neill in the grandstand of Sir John Guise Stadium during a November World Rugby League Cup match.

Continue reading "That fraud case: Impartiality of the judiciary is in question" »

Sensitive & wise stories about PNG women – by a PNG man


Survivor, Alive in Mum’s Loving Arms by Daniel Kumbon, Pukpuk Publications, July 2017, 172 pages, ISBN-10:1973724979, ISBN-13:978-1973724979

BRISBANE - In ‘Survivor, Alive in Mum’s Loving Arms’, Daniel Kumbon skilfully presents the separate lives of three Papua New Guinean women: Tuman Kende Apuulu, Julie Kumbon and the fictional Delisa Ingirum.

All three are connected (through ancestry or marriage) to the province of Enga in Papua New Guinea.

In 2016, the McKinnon-Paga Hill Fellowship Scheme, an initiative of Keith Jackson AM (editor and publisher of PNG Attitude), sponsored a two-week literary tour of Queensland and New South Wales for Daniel Kumbon and fellow PNG writers Francis Nii and Martyn Namorong.

I joined the trio in Brisbane for the annual writers’ festival where we presented a session on PNG writing which, as a result of a lively dialogue with the audience, led to Survivor as well as to the collection of women’s writing, ‘My Walk to Equality’.

Continue reading "Sensitive & wise stories about PNG women – by a PNG man" »

The great SIM card mystery – what is going on here?


TUMBY BAY – That keen observer of Papua New Guinea affairs, Busa Wenogo, informed us recently of the push by NICTA, Papua New Guinea’s National Information & Communications Technology Authority, for phone owners to register their SIM cards or face de-activation.

The widespread installation of telecommunications towers throughout PNG has significantly changed the lives of many Papua New Guineans who are now able to communicate with ease to all parts of the country.

So any interference in this capability looks very much like Big Brother at work: a reactionary effort from the O’Neill government to control what is published on social media.

The objective of SIM card registration appears fairly innocent and useful but once you pry into the details it gets decidedly suspicious.

Continue reading "The great SIM card mystery – what is going on here?" »

Christmas at Olsobip

Image from the PNG School Paper  November 1967
Yokomo & Omokoy Christmas, PNG School Paper, November 1967


First published in PNG Attitude on 24 December 2016

OLSOBIP - Christmas, and the entire festive season, is always a contentious time at the Gentlemen’s Club.

It is the cause of more disharmony than a federal election or a debate on the return of conscription and compulsory national service, or climate change. Goodwill and fellowship towards our fellow man, I don’t think so! What a load of humbug!

All of these problems started some years ago when the club’s committee, in its infinite wisdom, decided to invite member’s submissions for the club’s Christmas celebrations to cover such items as suitable dress codes for the festive season, Christmas luncheon menus, after luncheon entertainment and the like.

As well, you can imagine the membership divided into roughly two distinct camps. On the one hand there were the traditionalists led by Enoch McGraw, ex cattle station owner; whilst on the other hand the reactionary group, led by Archibald Blumfeld-Bingington, ex public servant, favoured the Anglo/European yuletide celebratory practices.

I must own up to being a traditionalist myself and I favoured the national festive wardrobe of black football shorts, blue singlet and thongs as evolved by our ancestors against the imported traditions of collars and ties and the like, which are totally unsuited to the local climate. However; eventually a compromise was reached and open collars and long slacks and appropriate footwear, including socks, are now the order of the day.

Continue reading "Christmas at Olsobip" »

Jesus Christ, God’s perfect gift to humanity

Melanesian Nativity
Melanesian Nativity (courtesy Peter Kranz)


KUNDIAWA - Many Christians around the world have adopted a material and secular meaning of Christmas: giving and receiving gifts to strengthen social and economic bonds; reuniting with families and friends; celebrating; and taking holidays from work.

Special gifts are given to special friends at this time of year, representing personal commitment, appreciation, beauty, joy, pride and positive experience.

In Papua New Guinea, and especially in the Highlands where I live, the true meaning of Christmas is not fully observed. Rather, it is seen as the time to receive and remit bride prices, celebrate weddings, pay compensation, hold funeral feasts, drink and enjoy in a more casual way.

The problems to be solved can wait.

Continue reading "Jesus Christ, God’s perfect gift to humanity" »

An Australian bush Christmas


This poem by the late Jane Belfield - a journalist who did fine work in Papua New Guinea around the time of independence - was first published in PNG Attitude on 22 December 2007

'Tis the night before Christmas,
And all through the house
Little creatures are stirring -
From cockroach to mouse.

There are moths in the wardrobe
And fleas in the bed;
Angry ants in the breadbin;
Rabid rats in the shed.

There's a snake in the ivy
Outside the front door,
And redback and whitetail
Spiders galore.

Continue reading "An Australian bush Christmas" »

Time to rehabilitate the swamps, including PNG’s swamp

Swamp draining (cjones)CHRIS OVERLAND

ADELAIDE - One of Donald Trump's catch phrases has been his undertaking to "drain the swamp" in Washington DC.

While Trump has never bothered to clarify just what he really means by this oft repeated phrase, I infer he is talking about expelling the rent seekers, carpet baggers and special pleaders who infest the US capital.

While I am no fan of Trump I think that he is onto something here, although, as usual, his proposed solution is unworkable.

There is indeed a Washington swamp that needs attention because, frankly, there always is a swamp when it comes to democratic politics.

Democracy is necessarily an ongoing argument about the distribution of public goods and resources. Thus a swamp infested with competing interest groups is and will remain a necessary part of the democratic process.

Continue reading "Time to rehabilitate the swamps, including PNG’s swamp" »

Does the economy actually matter?

PHIL FITZPATRICK On the plus side

TUMBY BAY - I can’t say I know much about economics and I’m not sure I really want to but we are so constantly bombarded by it in the media that perhaps I should.

If we believe the economists and politicians the economy is the be-all and end-all of everything we do. It is, so it seems, the very reason for our existence.

At this point it might be wise to remember that it takes something like 6,387 economists to change a light bulb. I don’t know how many politicians it takes. Maybe we need a royal commission.

Anyway, Donald Trump has just given the corporations in the USA a massive tax cut. 35% down to 21%, which is apparently all they were paying anyway thanks to those smart lawyers.

Continue reading "Does the economy actually matter?" »

When police try to arrest the prime minister

Peter O'Neill (looking left)BAL KAMA | The Interpreter | Lowy Institute

CANBERRA - Papua New Guinea’s Supreme Court has decided to void the arrest warrant of prime minister Peter O’Neill, bringing to an ‘end’ one of the most controversial legal cases in the country’s history.

The saga began in June 2014, when an arrest warrant was issued for O’Neill after allegations that he fraudulently authorised the payment of a reported K72 million sum to a national law firm, Paul Paraka Lawyers.

The investigation was carried out by the country’s then anti-corruption investigators, Task Force Sweep, in conjunction with the National Fraud Squad. The Prime Minister refused to comply with the warrant and forced the resignation of the police commissioner and disbanded Task Force Sweep. The matter hastily reached the court rooms.

Continue reading "When police try to arrest the prime minister" »

Lives ruined on Manus: Australian cruelty & Dutton's perfidy

Peter Dutton
Peter Dutton MP


NOOSA – A prominent Australian academic has provided PNG Attitude with two related reports from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which he says, “despite my knowledge of the situation in Lorengau, shock me profoundly.”

“It’s not just the perfidy of Peter Dutton and his echoes in the ministry,” the academic writes, “but also just how limited the medical services are in Manus for Manusians - and the mutual unhappiness of some Lorengau people and the asylum seekers.

“The global reporting of their plight does such damage to PNG and to Australia.”

It sure does. The consequences of John Howard's original "we will decide who comes to this country and the circumstances in which they come" policy, Labor's leveraging of this and the Coalition's cruel exploitation of it, have made our nation worse than  shabby. We have shown ourselves as a shallow people more than ready to put fear of outsiders and partisan politics above humanitarian values.

Continue reading "Lives ruined on Manus: Australian cruelty & Dutton's perfidy" »

Will NICTA’s SIM card plan de-register millions of phone users?

Cell phone towerBUSA JEREMIAH WENOGO | PNG Informal Economist

PORT MORESBY – Of late, NICTA, Papua New Guinea’s National Information & Communications Technology Authority, amplified its calls for phone owners to register their SIM cards or face de-activation.

One particular aspect of this that baffled me was how NICTA would deal with rural phone users.

Thanks largely to Digicel’s widespread installation of towers many folk in the rural areas of PNGare now able to communicate with relatives and friends living in other parts of the country.

This has significantly changed the lives of many Papua New Guineans. It has happened slowly but has been profound in its consequences.

Continue reading "Will NICTA’s SIM card plan de-register millions of phone users?" »

PNG mobile revolution about to enter new high-speed phase

Mobile revolutionSCOTT WAIDE | Pacific Media Watch

LAE - In 2007, when Digicel entered the PNG market, Papua New Guineans realised how much in unnecessary charges they had been paying for mobile and internet services.

Until then, the mobile phone monopoly run by a government subsidiary, BeMobile Communications, forced customers to pay K125 for a mobile start-up kit which contained a SIM card, and K100 in phone credits.

Digicel slashed costs and flooded the market with up to one million handsets selling at K30 a piece with free SIM cards.

Over the last 15 years, the implementation of government legislation and regulations have drastically improved the digital landscape in Papua New Guinea.

Continue reading "PNG mobile revolution about to enter new high-speed phase" »

The ‘tru’ meaning of Christmas could have been so different


TUMBY BAY - With Christmas nearly upon us, I have a couple of questions.

But let’s start off with some suppositions.

If you are a believer the true meaning of Christmas is the birth of Jesus Christ. Sent here by God to save mankind from itself no less.

If you are a non-believer the meaning of Christmas is mostly to do with the end of seasons and celebrations of goodwill through acts of giving and eating too much.

This is personified by a character variously referred to as Santa Claus, Father Christmas, Saint Nicholas or Kris Kringle in the USA.

I wonder who sent us Santa Claus. Maybe Mammon or was it an American spin doctor? We do know that in 1881 this illustration by Thomas Nast in the US magazine Harper’s Weekly, helped create Santa’s modern image.

Continue reading "The ‘tru’ meaning of Christmas could have been so different" »

10 years in the morgue: JK (‘Kanaka Jack’) Murray, nation builder

Colonel JK ('Kanaka Jack') Murray as Administrator of PNG


This article was first published in PNG Attitude on 13 September 2007

SYDNEY - Sir Jack Keith (JK) Murray OBE [1889-1979] was an agriculturalist, a soldier and an administrator – and he excelled in every field.

His parents separated when he was two and his mother supported him by working as a domestic servant.

Murray later wrote he found it “impossible to pay an adequate tribute to her”. His mother saved the money that enabled him to enter St Joseph's College at Hunters Hill in Sydney in 1904.

He graduated from Sydney University just after the start of World War I with bachelors’ degrees in agricultural science and arts and, after service with the Sydney University Scouts, a diploma of military science.

In 1916 he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force, serving in France before undertaking post-war agricultural studies and being demobilised in 1920.

In 1923 he became principal of the Queensland Agricultural High School at Gatton and later took up a concurrent appointment as foundation professor of agriculture at the University of Queensland.

Continue reading "10 years in the morgue: JK (‘Kanaka Jack’) Murray, nation builder" »

PNG cabinet appoints top diplomats for APEC 2018

Ivan Pomaleu and Lahui Ako
Ivan Pomaleu and Lahui Ako

MEDIA RELEASE | PNG Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Secretariat

PORT MORESBY – Earlier this month, Papua New Guinea hosted its first ever APEC event since joining in 1993: an informal senior officials meeting.

APEC is the regional economic forum established in 1989 to leverage the growing interdependence of the Asia-Pacific and PNG becomes the chair next year.

As part of consolidating its APEC team for 2018, PNG’s national executive council recently appointed two of its top diplomats for important roles.

Ivan Pomaleu from Manus has been appointed chair of the senior officials meeting for 2018 and Lahui Ako, currently director-general of the PNG APEC Secretariat, will be PNG APEC senior official replacing Pomaleu in 2018.

Continue reading "PNG cabinet appoints top diplomats for APEC 2018" »

Submarine AE1 found off Duke of Yorks after century-long search

HMAS AE1 & convoy
Last known image of the HMAS AE1 with HMAS Yarra and HMAS Australia, 9 September 1914 (Sea Power Centre)

STAFF REPORTER | Australian Broadcasting Corporation

CANBERRA - The first Allied and Royal Australian Navy submarine lost in World War I has finally been found after a 103-year search off the coast of Papua New Guinea.

"Australia's oldest naval mystery has been solved," Defence Minister Marise Payne said.

"It was … a significant tragedy felt by our nation and our allies,"

HMAS AE1 was carrying 35 crew members when it went missing off the coast of the Duke of York Islands on September 1914.

Twelve previous private and government-funded expeditions over the years failed to find the vessel, which was a grave to so many.

The latest, 13th and final search began on board the vessel Furgro Equato last week.

Continue reading "Submarine AE1 found off Duke of Yorks after century-long search" »

What a nice little earner: Selling ‘kuria kee’ to abandoned wives


PORT MORESBY - Politicians, bureaucrats and men of all sizes continue to marry younger girls leaving their legally wedded wives, if you like, in a state of sex famine.

Most of these wives are abandoned with children and without any support.

Some legally wedded wives may have been housed by their well-to-do husbands in high covenant houses protected by razor wire or German shepherds (of the canine variety) and would never have slept with, or even seen, their husbands for many months or years.

Other middle income earners including security guards house their wives in urban ghettos or rural villages, parking them with relatives, and forget about them and their children’s’ welfare. The husbands reside and spend their meagre income with the latest wife.

Continue reading "What a nice little earner: Selling ‘kuria kee’ to abandoned wives" »

PNG’s digitally deprived – there are millions of them

Digital technologyPHIL FITZPATRICK

TUMBY BAY - Whenever major social, political or technological changes occur there are always people who are left behind.

In most cases these are people who either lack the wealth or education to keep up with everyone else.

This has been particularly so in the case of digital technologies and nowhere is it more pronounced than in places like Papua New Guinea.

We know that there has been a huge uptake of mobile phones in PNG thanks in large part to Digicel, but appearances can be deceiving.

Once you travel out of the larger towns the number of mobile phones drops off sharply.

Continue reading "PNG’s digitally deprived – there are millions of them" »

Exemplary fictional work offers a close connection to readers


The Restorer by Michael Sala, Text Publishing Company, February 2017, 352 pages, $20.75, ISBN 9781925355024

BRISBANE - Several weeks out from this year’s Brisbane Writers Festival), I received a copy of Dutch-born Michael Sala’s latest novel from his publisher, Text Publishing Company.

Opening the white postage packet, I retrieved the book and was immediately struck by Australian writer Hannah Kent’s challenge on the front cover: “I would defy anyone to read this story and remain unmoved”.

It was a most accurate prediction.

The Restorer is Sala’s second novel and follows his critically acclaimed debut offering, The Last Thread, for which he was awarded the New South Wales Premier’s Award for New Writing and was a regional winner in the Commonwealth Book Prize.

The Restorer is a compelling story that captures the dynamics of everyday individuals bound by unspoken and unacceptable personal violation.

Continue reading "Exemplary fictional work offers a close connection to readers" »

Greedy, gormless politicians: What is to be done?


ADELAIDE - I strongly agreed with the sentiments expressed by Phil Fitzpatrick in his recent article, ‘Forget the Puppets; Go After the Puppet Masters’.

It is astounding to me that the so called progressive forces in politics are so obsessed with identity politics, asylum seekers, special interest groups and what I regard as the ephemera of politics.

They are indeed so obsessed that they seem unable or unwilling to tackle the huge problems of hunger, poverty, discrimination, inequality and racism to which Phil referred.

Where is the Left's alternative economic vision, whereby the huge corporates, and the mega-rich financial manipulators who control them, are brought to heel?

The neo-liberal consensus, despite the growing evidence of its many flaws and failings, seems impervious to any coherent leftist critique.

Papua New Guinea is special only in the sense that the self-serving behaviour of foreign powers, large corporations and the political elite is clearly visible.

Continue reading "Greedy, gormless politicians: What is to be done?" »

Continuing PNG's journey of literary opportunity

Benjamin Law
Benjamin Law
Rashmii Bell
Rashmii Bell


BRISBANE - After eleven years on air, the ABC’s The Book Club screened its final episode on Tuesday. Host Jennifer Byrne and regular panellists Marieke Hardy and Jason Steger for the last time engaged in literary discussion and debate.

They were joined by guest panellist Benjamin Law, whose Quarterly Essay was the subject of an article I wrote in October, ‘Awakening to LGBTIQ – experience, disagreement and acceptance’.

Steger’s selection for one of the five best books of 2017 was ‘The Restorer’ by Michael Sala, which I will review for PNG Attitude readers tomorrow.

It goes without saying that the journey of our online community of Australian and Papua New Guinean readers and writers, as promoted by PNG Attitude and Pukpuk Publications, has been relentless in exploring and creating opportunities to encourage and expose contemporary Papua New Guinean writers, not only within the nation but also in Australia.

Continue reading "Continuing PNG's journey of literary opportunity" »

Cavendish: The world's top banana could become extinct

The imminent death of the Cavendish banana (BBC)
The imminent death of the popular Cavendish banana

LUCY CRAYMER | Wall Street Journal

You can read the full article here

NEW YORK - In June, a team of European researchers travelled to Papua New Guinea on a mission of global significance. They came to search for the Giant Banana plant.

The scientists travelled through the jungles of the South Pacific nation, by car and on foot, accompanied by two armed guards.

They were tantalised by images circulating online, purportedly taken by locals, that depict a towering banana corm, several stories high, with leaves about five yards long.

The researchers found plenty of unusual banana varieties, but their quest to find the Giant, and to sample its bounty, proved fruitless.

Continue reading "Cavendish: The world's top banana could become extinct" »

Bent coppers creating a massive law & order dystopia


PORT MORESBY - State institutions in Papua New Guinea are hijacked, corrupted and abused by power elites, a pillaging that starves the PNG people of public goods.

The Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary (RPNGC) is one such institution in which citizens have no trust.

It is regrettably not ‘royal’ anymore ; it is rogue – and, what's more sick, it is subjective.

Policing requires maintaining law and order and upholding the security of the nation through combating crime and ensuring people comply with government laws, regulations and rules.

Effective policing involves fighting all forms of corruption in the performance of policing duties and the promoting high standards of honesty, integrity and ethical behaviour for police and all employees of the RPNGC.

Continue reading "Bent coppers creating a massive law & order dystopia" »

Christianity & the ‘perfect pragmatism’ of the people of PNG

The first on Tami Island PNG
The first church on Tami Island PNG


ADELAIDE - The spread of western civilisation across the globe was, inevitably, accompanied by efforts to spread the Christian religion in its various forms.

So the Spanish were enthusiastic proponents of Catholicism in South America, whilst the Dutch promoted an austere version of the Protestant faith in what is now Indonesia.

The British promoted Anglicanism which was and is effectively a state religion given that the Queen is its Governor.

Papua New Guinea, being colonised rather late in the era of rapid European imperial expansion, became contested ground for the various types of Christianity.

Continue reading "Christianity & the ‘perfect pragmatism’ of the people of PNG" »

Evidence of media manipulation surrounds Manus refugee story

Protest at the Manus Island detention centreBEN ROBINSON-DRAWBRIDGE | RNZ Pacific | Extract

You can read the full article here

WELLINGTON - Few reporters have been able or allowed to report on what has really been happening on Manus Island.

Secrecy law prevents the dissemination of official information from Australia's refugee detention centres in Papua New Guinea and Nauru.

Leaked intelligence, claims from politicians, advocates and the refugees themselves have formed the basis of many reports in this vacuum.

Among those who are not sure what to believe are New Zealand MPs.

The government's offer to resettle 150 refugees from offshore detention has repeatedly been knocked back by Australia.

Continue reading "Evidence of media manipulation surrounds Manus refugee story" »

Forget the puppets, go after the puppet masters


TUMBY BAY - In a previous article I argued that most governments are now firmly controlled by big corporations whose interests take precedence over everything a government does.

Politicians don’t care so much about people anymore; their main concerns are pleasing the corporations who pay them.

To take this a step further it is necessary to define exactly what constitutes a corporation. Just who are these super manipulators of everything we do?

In Papua New Guinea, for instance, Rimbunan Hijau is a corporation that exerts enormous influence over the government.

Continue reading "Forget the puppets, go after the puppet masters" »

10 Years in the morgue: Alf Conlon, John Kerr’s first dismissal

John Kerr
John Kerr was to become a controversial figure in Australian politics when, as governor-general, he dismissed prime minister Gough Whitlam


This article was first published in PNG Attitude on 19 September 2007

NOOSA - As regular readers will know, PNG Attitude has been pursuing the story of Alf Conlon, the erratic genius who conceived the idea of the Australian School of Pacific Administration, ASOPA, and then engineered it into existence.

The saga of Alf Conlon's departure from the School is told in John Kerr's 1978 autobiography, ‘Matters for Judgment’.

When he returned to the Sydney bar from ASOPA in 1948, Kerr had handed his principalship of the School to Conlon, who began a losing battle with Canberra over making ASOPA a research-oriented colonial training college with the status of a university.

Conlon, a reclusive figure, also began battling his ASOPA colleagues, who had begun to resent his lack of collaboration and isolationist behaviour.

Continue reading "10 Years in the morgue: Alf Conlon, John Kerr’s first dismissal" »

The impact of western religion - has it made PNG a better place?

Rose Kranz
People can be beautiful but does religion really make us better?


NEWCASTLE - The Catholics were the first missionaries in the upper Simbu in the highlands of Papua New Guinea, and some got killed for their trouble.

Then the Lutherans came to Kundiawa in central Simbu and built a church mission station that remains to this day.

The missionaries were infused with a desire to bring the message of God to the 'heathens', a zealousness which is still seen today with evangelical Protestants spreading the word using pop music and, in their fund-raising back home, with fake news about Christianising the 'savages'.

In PNG overall, these 150 years of Christian contact have had a profound impact on traditional culture - in big ways and bizarre ways.

Missionaries offended by bare breasts and instituted the Mother Hubbard, or meri blouse, introducing skin complaints along with prudery.

And of course polygamy was beyond the pale.

Full membership of the church was refused to men who had more than one wife.

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Australia’s bigoted media: much reporting breaches racism codes

Number of stories by ethnic group & type of reporting
Number of stories by ethnic group & type of reporting

CHRISTINA HO | The Conversation | Pacific Media Watch

Read the complete article here

SYDNEY- Half of all race-related opinion pieces in the Australian mainstream media are likely to contravene industry codes of conduct on racism.

In research released this week, the Who Watches the Media report found that of 124 race-related opinion pieces published between January and July this year, 62 were potentially in breach of one or more industry codes of conduct, because of racist content.

Despite multiple industry codes of conduct stipulating fair race-related reporting, racist reporting is a weekly phenomenon in Australia’s mainstream media.

We define racism as unjust covert or overt behaviour towards a person or a group on the basis of their racial background. This might be perpetrated by a person, a group, an organisation, or a system.

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3 ships will accommodate 10,000 at Moresby’s APEC summit

Pacific Explorer

STAFF REPORTER | Cruise Industry News

SYDNEY - Carnival Australia has announced the charter of three of the cruise company’s ships to support Papua New Guinea’s hosting of the 2018 Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Port Moresby in November next year.

P&O Cruises’ Pacific Explorer and Pacific Jewel as well as Princess Cruises’ Sea Princess will be supporting the accommodation of up to 10,000 delegates and officials, the company said.

The three ships will be moored alongside within the APEC security zones to provide hotel accommodation for those attending the summit.

Carnival Australia Executive Chairman Ann Sherry said the company was pleased to be playing a part in the successful delivery of Papua New Guinea’s first hosting of an APEC Summit, which will attract member nation’s Presidents and Prime Ministers along with thousands of delegates and observers.

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KTF teaches for tomorrow as 660 more teachers graduate

TESS GIZORIA | Kokoda Track Foundation

Happy graduates show their certificates
Huge crowd of graduating teachers celebrate in Simbu Province

PORT MORESBY – The Kokoda Track Foundation (KTF), the Papua New Guinea Education Institute and the National Department of Education have collaborated graduated another 660 teachers under two programs sponsored by ExxonMobil PNG, Steamships and Australian aid.

Some 556 teachers from Simbu Province and a further 111 from Central Province and the National Capital District participated in KTF's ‘Teach for Tomorrow’ program which enables partially-trained teachers to complete their Certificates of Elementary Teaching and become fully-fledged teachers

Once certified, the graduate teachers will have the opportunity to access government payroll positions for the first time after volunteering in schools for many years.

“The trainee teachers worked tirelessly as volunteers in village schools while waiting for this training,” said KTF CEO, Dr Genevieve Nelson, of the teachers who attended a six-week program at Kupiano in Central Province

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10 years in the morgue: I encounter the trading vessel ‘Desikoko’

Model of the MV 'Desikoko'


This article was first published in PNG Attitude on 30 September 2007

SYDNEY - I was visiting the NSW south coast for a school reunion last weekend and decided to stay on the shores of Jervis Bay at a guesthouse in the pleasant village of Huskisson.

From the mid-19th century until the 1950s, Huskisson, located on a safe anchorage in a region of straight and tall timber, was a thriving boat building community.

What I didn’t know until my recent visit was that, in the years before World War II, local boat builder AW Settree constructed inter-island trading vessels for WR Carpenter & Co, a household name in PNG and the Pacific.

The photograph is of a lovingly constructed model of the  vessel, ‘Desikoko’, built in Currambene Creek at Huskisson and launched in May 1934. She was 232 tons, made of local wood and 120 feet long.

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Mark Rakatani is inspired by his war hero great-grandfather

Officer Cadet Mark Rakatani (Gary Ramage)
Officer Cadet Mark Rakatani with a portrait of his great grandfather Sergeant Major Katue MM (Gary Ramage)

IAN McPHEDRAN | The Australian

CANBERRA - Officer cadet Mark Rakatani has carried the memory of his great-grandfather and the hopes of his nation’s defence force onto the parade ground at the Australian Defence Force Academy.

He was the first soldier from Papua New Guinea to graduate from the elite military campus of the University of NSW in Canberra when, with more than 250 young officers including 14 foreign students, he marched out in front of thousands of family and friends.

Mark Rakatani comes from a long line of warriors.

His great-grandfather, Sergeant Katue, is regarded as one of the finest Papuan soldiers of World War II, fighting deep behind enemy lines in the jungles against the Japanese invaders.

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Doctors threaten to withdraw services over non-payment issues

Yockopua_Dr Sam
Dr Sam Yockapua


PORT MORESBY – The Papua New Guinea's Doctors' Association is threatening to withdraw its services across the nation.

Association General Secretary Sam Yockopua said the government is running out of time to address seven issues he and his colleagues have raised.

The issues relate to payments and allowances owed to doctors and outstanding contractual matters.

Dr Yockapua said one of these was unpaid rent allowances for doctors' accommodation. He said some doctors have been evicted because they haven't been paid for up to six months.

So we're asking the government and we've given the deadline; they come as one package; failure to do so will result in withdrawal of services.""They've got to be completely insane to think otherwise.

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BCL slaps down claims as RTG tries to edge its way into Panguna

The Panguna copper & gold mine


BUKA – Bougainville Copper Ltd has lashed out at what it calls an “unscrupulous campaign” by rival RTG Mining which it says undermines its position as the Bougainville government’s preferred company to re-open the Panguna copper and gold resource.

In a statement, BCL said RTG, which it characterised as “a junior speculative company”, had sought to create the false impression that BCL had no support among key landowners and that it had claimed a dispute between two leading landowners had been resolved in a way that would undermine BCL interests.

In fact, the National Court under Justice Kandakaski has endorsed a continuing mediation process and ordered that the matter return to the court on 6 February to determine whether reconciliation has resolved the dispute to the satisfaction of the broader group of Panguna landowners.

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10 years in the morgue: Stan’s life recipe – active, balanced, caring


This article was published on 27 October 2007. Stan Jackson died in 2012 aged 98

SYDNEY - My father Stan Jackson OAM is 94 today. He’ll get out of bed at about 8.30, greet his partner Helen, brew a pot of tea, and wander out to the gazebo he built a couple of years ago - overlooking the vegetable garden - to eat his porridge.

The gait is a little stiff now, after two knee replacements, but the posture remains ramrod straight. Later he’ll wheel his bike out of the shed and cycle to the Lane Cove shops to buy a few groceries.

For most of the rest of the day he’ll sit in front of a word processor, two-finger typing the plan for his next project, an organisation called Planet Earth Partners – which he’s financing.

“Its message is simple,” he says. “It’s ‘Be ABC’ – keep active in body and mind, whatever your age; keep in balance with your health and with Nature; and cooperate with the community by supporting it”.

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10 years in the morgue: ‘Masta Kis o husat?’

A tale of mistaken identity from the PNG Attitude archives of 1 December 2007

SYDNEY - Each year the Sydney Cricket Ground Trust, through its chairman Rodney Cavalier AO, former NSW Education Minister, hosts a gathering of friends in the Members’ Pavilion overlooking the ‘sacred turf’, as Rodney calls it. Yesterday I was privileged to attend this event.

Over the last 20 years at various times I have been mistaken for various public figures who, like me, have wild hair, thick glasses, generous girth and roguish features.

After the 1983 election, where I had waged a vigorous but ultimately unsuccessful campaign in the Labor interest, I had reason to visit Orange – some four hours’ drive west of Sydney - and was enjoying a pre-prandial beer when I engaged the attention of a group of women on the other side of the horseshoe-shaped bar.

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Troubled Nautilus deep-sea mine faces environmental challenge

How the Nautilus sea floor mining technology works

HELEN DAVIDSON & BEN DOHERTY | The Guardian | Extract

Read the complete article here

SYDNEY -  A controversial experimental deep-sea mine is being challenged in court by environmental groups who have accused the Papua New Guinea government of withholding key documents about its approval.

Nautilus Minerals Inc, a Canada-based company primarily owned by Russian and Omani mining firms, wants to extract gold and copper deposits from 1.6km below the surface of the Bismarck Sea, using a seabed mining technique never before used in commercial operations.

Nautilus told the Guardian it has conducted dozens of community meetings – reaching more than 30,000 people from nearby islands – and has had its key documents, including a detailed environmental impact statement, publicly available for years.

But members of nearby communities, represented by the Port Moresby-based Centre for Environmental Law and Community Rights Inc (Celcor), claim they were not adequately consulted and that they hold grave concerns over its impact.

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The refugees of Manus: A style of poetic resistance

Behrouz Boochani (Huffington Post)
Behrouz Boochani


TUMBY BAY - There was an inspired piece of journalism published over the weekend in Australia’s The Saturday Paper. It was one of the best essays I have read this year.

It was written by Behrouz Boochani, a Kurdish journalist from Iran. He is currently a refugee held on Manus Island.

The essay was read before an audience by Maxine Beneba Clarke at the Malthouse Theatre in Melbourne. Maxine is a black Australian writer with origins in the Caribbean.

What struck me about the essay was its underlying humanity. Boochani is a man who has great cause to be bitter about his treatment by the Australian and Papua New Guinean governments but what shines through is his and his fellow refugees care for those things in life that are truly important.

These stand in stark contrast to what our politicians deem important. This contrast is becoming more and more apparent, in so many ways, every day and is a cause for great concern.

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What’s in a name? Probably quite a bit more than you expect

GARRY ROCHE What's in a Name

DUBLIN – Papua New Guinean writers may find it useful and educational to research the meaning of the names in the language of their own locality.

In most languages, personal names and family names have meanings. For example the original meaning of “Peter” is “Rock” and the name Stella means “Star”.

It may be that parents nowadays choose a name for a child more because of sound rather than meaning, but it is still interesting to ponder the meaning of PNG names.

I look at the names of some of the writers who contribute to PNG Attitude and wonder what they mean. I look at politicians names and wonder if they have meaning.

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The rise of the corporates & the fall of governments

Jefferson on corporatesPHIL FITZPATRICK

TUMBY BAY - At the best of times politics is a strange animal but in the last few years it has been getting decidedly stranger.

Contributing to this situation is the fact that in most jurisdictions this strangeness defies analysis. Even the so-called experts don’t seem to know what’s going on.

How do you explain, for instance, the rise of narcissistic and dangerous political morons like Donald Trump in the USA?

Closer to home, how do you explain the continued tenure of a corrupt, election-rigging dictator-in-waiting like Chairman O’Neill in Papua New Guinea?

Even from my thankfully remote eerie on the far west coast of South Australia, it is apparent that there is in progress some sort of struggle among the political forces of the world.

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