Pictures of an expedition: Barbara Kirk revisits her PNG images
Is PNG’s regression to tradition a response to elite failure?

Australia scrambles as China cements its position in the Pacific

Chan welcomes Bishop to New Ireland: 'Shine coming off the relationship,' he says


NOOSA – Confronted with the reality of a resurgent China bolstering its profile in the Papua New Guinea and the Pacific, Australia has undertaken one of its periodic charm offensives with a whirl through the region by foreign minister Julie Bishop.

The ABC’s Papua New Guinea correspondent Eric Tlozek reported that Bishop’s tour was a sign that the Australian government is “making a push to re-establish itself as the dominant nation in the South Pacific, with fresh aid spending and official visits”.

But, with Australian investment in PNG going backwards as Chinese money becomes more dominant, it appears once again that Australian diplomacy fits more into its chronic “too little, too late” category rather than signalling a new era of partnership with the region.

But New Ireland governor Sir Julius Chan rained on the parade telling Ms Bishop the shine was coming off the Australia - PNG relationship.

"I actually told Australia that it is very, crucially important that we keep the lustre between our friendship, which was established during the war years and thereafter, but now we're losing that lustre," he told the ABC.

But Ms Bishop said Australia is funding programs to promote good governance which will strengthen relationships.

"We believe that we are the natural partner of choice along with New Zealand for the islands of the Pacific where we work across a whole range of areas," she said.

Sources: Radio Australia and Radio New Zealand


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Bernard Corden

Bliss the Spa at Airways will be doing a roaring trade.

Stephen Charteris

A positive sign, a move in the right direction. Governance yes, but please Ms Bishop more focus on health and education through appropriately designed and sustained partnerships with those operating at the coal face.

This is where Australia has the opportunity to make a significant contribution.

Paul Flanagan

Interesting that prime minister O'Neill has not put out a press release welcoming the foreign minister's visit.

Also interesting in this increasingly contested space of strategic partnerships that O'Neill did put out a press release on 22 March headlined "The United States of America is watching over PNG and sending us their best wishes. They have huge respect for the people of PNG, our prime minister and the safety of our country'.

It was in fact a short note on the PNG earthquake signed by President Trump. It started "Dear Mr (sic) Prime Minister".

It would be good if the US knew how to address PNG's prime minister.

Why do I sometimes fear what is happening in this world?

Will Self

Was that the sound of a stable door slamming shut?

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