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88 posts from May 2018

There is no better time to pay LNG landowners their money

Lng-protest-2FRANCIS NII

KUNDIAWA – There is no better time than this to pay PNG LNG landowners their entitlements since many lives have been disrupted and even ruined after the devastating earthquake in the region.

Jubilee Australia seems to have blown open a closely-kept secret on how much LNG revenue has been received by the government of Papua New Guinea and not been paid to landowners.

The Jubilee report generated a strong reaction from project developer Oil Search, whose chairman Rick Lee said community violence around the project was not the fault of his company but a result of the PNG government's failure to distribute royalties.

Continue reading "There is no better time to pay LNG landowners their money" »

Is there a better way to deal with landowners & royalties?

Boera villagers from near Port Moresby after receiving the first LNG landowner royalties


TUMBY BAY - On the face of it, the current process for distributing LNG project royalties seems simple enough – identify the right landowners and pay them the money.

Unfortunately, it is this kind of naïve simplicity that informs current resource legislation in Papua New Guinea.

That such a straightforward approach doesn’t work has been starkly highlighted by the debacle surrounding the payment of royalties from the Exxon – Oil Search LNG project.

Heavy-handiness from a multinational developer used to having its own way, illegal political interference and greed and corruption among landowners has clearly demonstrated the need for change.

Maybe it’s time to turn the system on its head and shift the responsibility for the disbursement of royalties directly to the landowners.

You might think this is a recipe for disaster but there are several reasons why it might work a lot better than the current system.

Continue reading "Is there a better way to deal with landowners & royalties?" »

Companies pass judgement: things are worsening in PNG

Port Moresby waterfront
The Port Moresby waterfront looking east


Being Heard: The 2017 Survey of Businesses in Papua New Guinea by Paul Holden with Paul Barker and Steven Goie, Institute of National Affairs Discussion Paper 105, Port Moresby, April 2018. Download the report here

NOOSA – The overarching message in a fine piece of research of 287 companies by PNG’s Institute of National Affairs is that the business environment in PNG is deteriorating,

“PNG remains a challenging country in which to do business,” the Being Heard report concludes, and the shopping list for improvement it offers is long.

The report says the biggest change since the previous survey in 2012 concern the problems flowing from an overvalued kina and lack of foreign currency availability, which are cited as damaging investment and growth and as a major impediment to business operations.

Continue reading "Companies pass judgement: things are worsening in PNG" »

Oil Search says landowner protests not its fault; govt to blame

RickLeeOil Search's Rick Lee - PNG govt to blame for non-payment of landowners; others disagree


NOOSA - At Oil Search's general meeting in Port Moresby on Friday, chairman Rick Lee strongly defended the company's compliance with its accountabilities on the $19 billion PNG LNG project.

Mr Lee said community discontent and violence around project was not Oil Search’s fault but a result of the Papua New Guinea government's failure to distribute royalties.

He said the company pays royalties to the government which is supposed to make the correct payments to landowners.

“Clearly it's the lack of distribution, not the lack of payment, that is the cause of [community discontent],” he said.

But this view has been queried by two men with close knowledge of the Oil and Gas Act under which mining licences are granted, lawyer Sam Koim and commentator Phil Fitzpatrick, who has worked as a social mapper in PNG.

Continue reading "Oil Search says landowner protests not its fault; govt to blame" »

Russians are coming & RAAF Darwin is on ‘complete readiness’

Russian navy training ship PerekopKEITH JACKSON

NOOSA - The 7,000-tonne Russian training ship Perekop with 200 cadet sailors on board arrives in Port Moresby tomorrow for a three-day visit, the first time a Russian warship has visited Papua New Guinea.

And in Darwin, the Royal Australian Air Force base has been placed on a short period of “increased readiness” just in case.

Perekop is armed with anti-submarine rockets and anti-aircraft guns and is on a two-month training mission from its home port of Kronshtadt in northern Europe, where it is part of the Baltic Fleet.

Dr Euan Graham of the Lowy Institute told Primrose Riordan of The Australian newspaper that the diplomatic motivation behind the visit was unclear, considering the vessel had strayed from usual Russian naval routes.

Continue reading "Russians are coming & RAAF Darwin is on ‘complete readiness’" »

The outrageous & unfounded arrest of Dr Albert Schram

Albert Schram
Albert Schram - is his baseless arrest a sign of the kind of country PNG is becoming?

STEPHEN HOWES | DevPolicy Blog

CANBERRA - On Friday, Loop PNG reported that Dr Albert Schram, former vice chancellor of PNG Unitech, had been arrested earlier in the week in Port Moresby and charged with “false pretence.”

According to the newspaper, Dr Schram was “arrested over allegations he produced falsified and fraudulent documents relating to his PhD qualification, which he obtained on 24 November 1994 from the European University Institute.”

He has been released from jail on bail, his passport confiscated, unable to leave the country.

These developments are outrageous, damaging, and scary.

There is absolutely no doubt that Schram has the PhD he says he has. The University’s own website has a detailed record of it, including the date of defence and the names of examiners.

Moreover, the man has published a book from his thesis, with Cambridge University Press no less. The PNG Secretary of Higher Education has intervened and vouched publicly for the authenticity of Schram’s doctorate.

Continue reading "The outrageous & unfounded arrest of Dr Albert Schram" »

'No common sense, reason or sense of humanity'

Schram's triumphal return (PNG Blogs)
After an earlier deportation, the highly regarded Dr Schram's triumphal return to Unitech in 2014 - "he injected sound, practical & smart ideas"


NOOSA – Nearly two weeks ago, when entering Papua New Guinea through Jacksons Airport in Port Moresby, the former vice-chancellor of PNG’s University of Technology was stopped by migration authorities.

Dr Albert Schram and his wife Paulina were transiting Port Moresby from Cairns en route to Europe following his controversial dismissal from his academic post.

Immigration officers gave him a 30-day tourist visa then handed him over to police, who insisted on seizing his passport.

At Boroko police station the following day, he was told officers were investigating him based on a complaint lodged six years earlier, in 2012, by former Unitech pro-chancellor Ralph Saulep involving an alleged fraud concerning Schram’s doctoral degree.

The credentialing matter was subsequently investigated in a formal inquiry at which full proof of authenticity was presented and which dismissed the allegations as false. 

Continue reading "'No common sense, reason or sense of humanity'" »

Oil Search blames PNG government for slow payments

Oil Search's central processing facility at Kutubu
The Oil Search central processing facility high in the mountains at Kutubu

COLE LATIMER | Sydney Morning Herald | Extract

You can read the complete article here

PORT MORESBY - Community discontent and violence around Oil Search’s PNG LNG project, is because of the Papua New Guinea government's failure to distribute LNG royalties, the company says.

At Oil Search's general meeting in Port Moresby on Friday, chairman Rick Lee strongly defended the ASX-listed company's compliance with its responsibilities on the $19 billion project.

He said the company is paying the royalties to the government who is supposed to give that money to the correct land owners.

“Clearly it's the lack of distribution [of funds], not the lack of payment, that is the cause of it,” he said.

"As far as Oil Search is concerned we have delivered to government and our partners have delivered to government all those revenues that are required of us under the licensing arrangement. [However], we acknowledge that benefits flowing from the project have not yet reached all landowners."

Oil Search’s community obligations were under the spotlight at it as the company was slammed for its PNG LNG project's social impacts. The PNG LNG project is one of the largest single resources projects in Papua New Guinea, producing and exporting around 7.9 million tonnes of LNG annually.

Continue reading "Oil Search blames PNG government for slow payments" »

Moresby, Melbourne court hearings will clarify future of Panguna

The abandoned Panguna mine
The abandoned Panguna gold & copper mine - now the subject of separate court battles

KEVIN McQUILLAN | Business Advantage PNG | Pacific Media Centre

PORT MORESBY - Two court hearings next week – one in Port Moresby and the other in Melbourne – will help determine the future of the exploration licence for the Panguna copper mine in Bougainville.

The decision to refuse an extension of Bougainville Copper Ltd’s (BCL) exploration licence and to impose an indefinite moratorium over the Panguna resource followed a statutory warden’s meeting in December 2017.

There was “a narrow divide between those supporting the mine to be opened by Bougainville Copper Ltd and those that oppose it”, according to Bougainville President John Momis.

BCL has successfully sought leave to apply for a judicial review of the decision to refuse its licence extension, citing legal and procedural concerns.

Continue reading "Moresby, Melbourne court hearings will clarify future of Panguna" »

Pacific journalists launch environment group at media summit

PEJN launch in Tonga
Moses Steven, Imelda Abano & Iliesa Tora cut the cake to mark the launch of the Pacific Environment Journalist Network

STAFF CORRESPONDENT | Pacific Environment Journalist Network | Pacific Media Watch

NUKU'ALOFA - The Pacific Environment Journalist Network (PEJN) has been officially launched in Nuku'alofa, Tonga, on the eve of the opening of the 5th Pacific Media Summit.

It aims to bring together journalists who are interested in reporting on environment issues and to provide them with the space, training and resources to do so.

“It is time Pacific Islanders tell the world their own stories and this is a part of it. I would like to congratulate everyone behind it,” said Pacific Islands News Association president Moses Steven.

He said PEJN should work with national media organisations to develop and grow reporting on environment issues because "we have to take ownership of our stories".

Continue reading "Pacific journalists launch environment group at media summit" »

Creativity: Scaling the loftiest peaks of the mind

Power-of-the-mindSIMON DAVIDSON

KOKOPO - The mind is the most complex organ in the cosmos. It is one of God’s masterpieces. Neuroscientists call it the two pound universe.

Yes, weighing only two pounds it contains billions of neurons and trillions interconnections. It is the mechanism that controls human life.

The brain is also the source of creativity and innovation. Elegant prose, scintillating art, breathtaking melody, the loftiest religious abstractions, the digital marvels of the 21st century – everything. All engineered by the brain.

How does one access this creative citadel? Many of the most creative minds that have graced our planet have revealed that they take time to be alone, to meditate, to imagine and to create.

Continue reading "Creativity: Scaling the loftiest peaks of the mind" »

Is Lupari telling the truth about the missing school subsidies?

Parents contribute food to Gumine Secondary
Gumine, Simbu, parents pose behind the food they contributed to keep their secondary school going


KUNDIAWA – Delays in the disbursement of the so-called ‘tuition fee free’ (TFF) subsidy gets worse each year and the underlying indication is that the national government simply is short of money.

In Monday’s Post Courier newspaper, chief secretary Issac Lupari stated this was not the case and that it was all the fault of the Education Department in not releasing the funds.

But his statement was confusing and full of contradictions.

On one account Mr Lupari stated, “Currently K50 million is sitting in trust accounts and will be released but it is up to the Education Department to make the move.”

“When money hits central bank accounts, the Education Department will be given authority for the release of the money to respective school accounts,” was one explanation.

While another statement said: “There is K50 million sitting in a trust account in central bank now that needs to get to schools.”

Continue reading "Is Lupari telling the truth about the missing school subsidies?" »

Women who suffer & die because of what they know

Phil Fitzpatrick at micPHIL FITZPATRICK

TUMBY BAY - In this era of changing and declining employment opportunities we often hear the phrase ‘loss of corporate memory’.

Corporate memory is the accumulated experience and knowledge of workers. When a company retires, lays off or replaces older workers it inevitably loses some of this memory and mistakes and actions that should not occur often do.

When the kiaps and other expatriates left Papua New Guinea at independence they took a lot of corporate memory with them and the new nation suffered for it.

Just like corporate memory there is also a body of knowledge that could be called ‘cultural memory’.

Continue reading "Women who suffer & die because of what they know" »

As govt cash dwindles, debt-ridden Simbu schools face closure

Rosary College Kondiu
Simbu schools, like many nationwide, are beginning to close in PNG as government funding dries up


KUNDIAWA – High and secondary schools in Simbu Province are on the verge of closure due to the delay in the release of the tuition fees by the national government. At least two secondary schools in Simbu suspended classes last week.

Rosary College Kondiu (pictured) and Gumine secondary schools put classes on indefinite hold on Friday and students were sent home to await further notice.

Joe Kalasim, a policeman based in Kundiawa whose child is a student at Rosary Kondiu, confirmed that classes at Rosary were suspended.

“Kondiu, yes, we parents are having emergency meeting today (Monday) to discuss how parents can assist ease the delay under the tuition fee free policy of school subsidies” he said.

Continue reading "As govt cash dwindles, debt-ridden Simbu schools face closure" »

If a friendship is allowed to wither, it will inevitably die


Leaving PNG  May 2018
Despite the frustrations, it's hard to say goodbye to PNG

NOOSA – I had a pleasant enough visit to Papua New Guinea these past 10 days, although  mobility-limiting spinal problems and my old chronic fatigue companion severely restricted adventuring, including having to bail out of a much anticipated return to Rabaul.

Still, I did manage two important activities – a presentation to Abt PNG governance professionals at the invitation of director Dr David Kavanamur and meetings with PNG Attitude friends I had previously encountered only in these columns – although not as many as I would have liked.

The governance facility is a relatively new Australian aid program to support the PNG government in strengthening its institutions and processes, especially those that contribute to security, stability and economic growth.

You’ll find my talk here, which focuses on the PNG-Australia relationship in which the governance facility has great interest as it works at the formidable task of creating ethical and capable public sector leaders.

In the presentation, I issued a challenge for our two countries to work towards a true partnership, and I set out criteria by which progress towards that might be measured.

Continue reading "If a friendship is allowed to wither, it will inevitably die" »

The surprise hotline that’s helping quake survivors in PNG

A home in ruins after the 26 February earthquake (Thomas Nyobo  Unicef)
A home in ruins after the 26 February earthquake (Thomas Nyobo | Unicef)


PORT MORESBY - More than two months after Papua New Guinea’s strongest earthquake in almost a century, stranded survivors are turning to an unexpected lifeline: a small domestic violence hotline run by a non-governmental organisation.

Although the risks of violence against women rise after disasters, most callers aren’t women. They’re men reaching out for support, enquiring about how to obtain food, shelter, and other services, or fearful of violence that has broken out in some areas after tribal clashes.

The toll-free line has been ringing almost non-stop with calls from people whose lives are still upended by the 7.5-magnitude earthquake that struck the country’s remote highlands region on 26 February.

The quake triggered landslides that toppled villages, wiped out food supplies, and blocked key access roads. Authorities say the disaster killed dozens and left an estimated 270,000 in need of help. But tens of thousands of displaced people in isolated areas are still waiting for food, water, shelter, and other emergency aid.

Continue reading "The surprise hotline that’s helping quake survivors in PNG" »

How New Guinea’s highlanders came to live all over PNG

Boroko Hotel ad from 1969PHIL FITZPATRICK

TUMBY BAY - Remember the old Boroko Hotel on the corner of Okari Street and Angau Drive and its popular beer garden?

Pictured here is a faded 1969 newspaper advertisement offering its glories – it was a place “where Sportsmen meet” apparently.

It was first opened in 1956 and was added to in a haphazard way in subsequent years. The entrance moved around a fair bit but finally found its niche behind a pretty tropical garden on Okari Street.

By the late 1960s it had become the favourite watering hole for Port Moresby’s highlanders, particularly those from Chimbu.

They called it ‘Two Hundred Yards’ after an illuminated sign up the street that announced you were nearly in reach of a cold SP beer.

Continue reading "How New Guinea’s highlanders came to live all over PNG" »

The Highlands Labour Scheme – a personal experience

Junker tri-motor at Wau MATHIAS KIN

KUNDIAWA - In the early 1950s, my father Kin - together with five other people from his Keri Hobelku tribe and more than a hundred other people from other tribes in the Gumine Valley - was contracted to work on a coffee plantation in Bulolo.

A white man came to their village at Deri and recruited them.

From South Chimbu they crossed the Wahgi River on the rope bridge below Yobai to Elimbari, then walked to Nambayiufa and over the Koko Mountains before crossing the Asaro River to Goroka. The walk took three days.

That evening Kin and his friends were given some bad medicine to drink, which he said he did not like at all. Many of them vomited. Kin said that, when they were working at the plantations, the bosses regularly gave them more of the same medicine and they got used to it.

Continue reading "The Highlands Labour Scheme – a personal experience" »

I didn’t know my dad, then you published this photograph

The man in the white shirtDANIEL KUMBON

WABAG - Kolly Koka, the son of the man in the white shirt and bow tie in the background of this photograph, graduated last week from the University of Papua New Guinea with academic excellence and a leadership award.

The man in the bow tie was Yapi Koka, the board chairman at Kandep High School many years ago who died when his children were very small. His son Kolly graduated last week, two uncles beside him and the Alitip Kewan clan of Kandep very proud. It had been a long battle.

Students who are forced to struggle to complete their studies after one or both their parents have died understand what life is and quickly learn what they need to do to succeed.

When Yap died in the 1980s, young Kolly desperately wanted to attend school but nobody could help him with school fees. At one stage he was chased from the classroom by a class teacher accompanied by a tirade of abuse.

Continue reading "I didn’t know my dad, then you published this photograph" »

Mary Tenge: Melanesian athlete & the pride of Barengigl


BARENGIGL – Seventeen year old Mary Tenge is participating in the Melanesian athletic championship in Vanuatu and the people of Barengigl are mightily proud.

A Grade 9 student, Mary lives in Barengigl village in the Gembogl District of Simbu Province, the second child of Boi and Degba Tenge - the only girl child among their four children.

Mary – a specialised 1,500 metres and steeple chase runner - is in Papua New Guinea’s athletics team for the regional championships.

She discovered her potential as a middle distance runner in 2015 during the annual Mt Wilhelm relay marathon, the initiative of the former MP for Kundiawa-Gembogl, Tobias Kulung.

Every relay marathon team comprises six members who each run a distance of seven kilometres to complete the 46 kilometre race. Mary was the opening runner in her team and her speed over the distance led to her potential being discovered.

Continue reading "Mary Tenge: Melanesian athlete & the pride of Barengigl" »

Benefiting from hindsight; beyond fake news to find the truth

PaulPAUL FLANAGAN | PNG Economics | Edited

CANBERRA - The recent Australia-PNG Business Council forum in Brisbane last week was an interesting experience for me as the co-author of the ‘Double or Nothing – The Broken Economic Promises of PNG LNG’, as this report had raised questions about the overall benefits of the PNG LNG project – indeed, it raised serious questions about its potential costs.

In his keynote address to the conference, Papua New Guinea prime minister Peter O’Neill made clear he considered an analysis of the PNG LNG project as utter nonsense and fake news.

It was surprising the prime minister mentioned the report but, once mentioned, the dramatic nature of his attack was not unexpected. Unfortunately, I’d been down that road before – so a quick history of ‘fake news’.

In December 2014 I dared suggest that the fall in oil prices would have adverse impacts on PNG’s budget, balance of payments and economy.

Continue reading "Benefiting from hindsight; beyond fake news to find the truth" »

Dear mother, your hands

Mother & child  Pukapuki  SepikMICHAEL DOM

Dear mother, your hands,
Once so strong,
Are now as tender as warm sweetpotatoes,
And palms as leathery as those dry roasted roots,
Have not now the strength to withhold me from life.

In my childhood your hands were like steel
And their punishments were mine to suffer.
But those lessons were not to defeat
Your hands, mother dear,
Were sweeter than some special treat
To remove the bitter day,
To remind me that I am better today.

Continue reading "Dear mother, your hands" »

Australia caught in a pincer: the key is Pacific engagement

The image before Facebook censorshipBEN BOHANE | Vanuatu Daily Post

PORT VILA – China. China. China. All the talk is of increasing Chinese influence in our region. But this is to wilfully see past the elephant in the room.

Contrary to most commentary, the biggest destabilising player in Melanesia over the past five years is not China but Indonesia, which through its “look east” policy has deliberately paralysed the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) while financing local MPs and political parties across the Pacific to try and stop snow-balling regional support for West Papuan independence.

Indonesia already has Peter O’Neill onside in Papua New Guinea, and Frank Bainimarama in Fiji, and is busy trying to neutralise Vanuatu, the Solomons and FLNKS leaders in New Caledonia, who are resisting Indonesian influence.

The reason Vanuatu and other Melanesian nations may be turning to China is because they are more worried about Indonesia, which has directly threatened Vanuatu over its strong diplomatic support for the West Papuans.

Continue reading "Australia caught in a pincer: the key is Pacific engagement" »

A particular view of the PNG-Australia relationship

StreetsignKEITH JACKSON | Talk to the Abt PNG lunch, Friday 4 May

PORT MORESBY - These days I publish and edit the PNG Attitude blog, as I have for the past 12 years, as a means of maintaining a conversation between Papua New Guineans and Australians and encouraging people to write about Papua New Guinea, its issues, challenges, heritage, society and stories.

Professor David Kavanamur's invitation to give this talk allowed me to crystallise in my mind many aspects of the PNG-Australia relationship over the half century I have been associated with PNG.

In seeking simplicity and context, I have divided my thoughts into periods that are meaningful to me because of where I was located at various times. In the compressed form required by this talk, I have tagged these periods to the constantly evolving relationship between PNG and Australia over half a century.

Continue reading "A particular view of the PNG-Australia relationship" »

PNG journalists work in fear says media freedom advocate

STAFF REPORTER | RNZ Pacific | Pacific Media Watch Titi Gabi

PORT MORESBY - A senior journalist in Papua New Guinea says there is no media freedom in the country and journalists are often working in fear.

Media freedom advocate Titi Gabi said local media had become a public relations entity for the powers that be.

Ms Gabi said World Press Freedom Day on Thursday was a reminder of the many issues that exist in PNG.

“There’s interference from outside influences right up to setting the news agenda to bribing journalists to threats to threats of court action against journalists,” she said.

Continue reading "PNG journalists work in fear says media freedom advocate" »

Inclusive education became real at Goroka’s 21st graduation

Dr James Aiwa  Emmanuel Simon  Palme Kami (Emmanuel’s guide)  Israel Kine and Israel’s motherJOE KUMAN

GOROKA - The University of Goroka has hosted its 21st graduation with more than 700 students graduating in various academic programs.

Among them were two functionally blind students - Immanuel Simon from Gumine in Simbu with a diploma in technical vocational education and Israel Kine from East Sepik graduating in communication and creative industry.

Both men had enrolled at the university in 2016. and completed the two year diploma programs successfully.

Parents, guardians, academics and relatives and special education teachers from Simbu and Mt Sion Blind Centre who facilitated the duo’s learning were also present to witness their graduation.

The photo shows Dr James Aiwa, Emmanuel Simon, Palme Kami (Emmanuel’s guide), Israel Kine and Israel’s mother

Continue reading "Inclusive education became real at Goroka’s 21st graduation" »

PNG speeding towards train wreck & Australia doesn’t give a stuff


TUMBY BAY - Everyone and their dog in LNG-rich Hela Province are claiming to be landowners. Sorting out the true landowners is a nightmare.

The anthropologists that the government have sent in to do the work have been sucked into some of the false claims.

Even the basis of what constitutes a landowner in Hela culture has yet to be fully established. A brand new system of 'traditional' inheritance has been invented in an attempt to get a piece of the royalty cake.

In this sense, the legitimate landowners have been compromised by the dishonest people in their own society.

Continue reading "PNG speeding towards train wreck & Australia doesn’t give a stuff" »

Sir Reginald Barnewall, aviator & businessman, dies at 93

Sir Reginald and Lady Maureen Barnewall in 2008ROB PARER

BRISBANE - Sir Reginald Barnewall, a descendant of Anglo-Norman knights and the founder of Polynesian Airlines, has died at the age of 93.

Sir Reginald, pictured here with his wife Maureen in 2008, served in Papua New Guinea during World War II as a lieutenant with the Royal Australian Engineers and Z Special Unit AIF. He lived at Mt Tamborine in Queensland.

He was in Aitape with the Army engineers in 1944 and after the war flew around many parts of PNG with Mandated Airlines. He had first met the Parer family, pioneering PNG aviators, in the 1930s.

Sir Reginald had been well and attended recent Anzac ceremonies in Brisbane.

Son of a wealthy Victorian grazier, he founded Goulburn Valley Air Services (later Southern Airlines Ltd) in 1954.The airline serviced Victoria and Tasmania including King and Flinders islands.

Continue reading "Sir Reginald Barnewall, aviator & businessman, dies at 93" »

P&O Cruises announces its new PNG itineraries for 2019

Pacific AriaELIZABETH ROBINSON | Cruise & Ferry

SYDNEY - P&O Cruises Australia is to sail six itineraries to Papua New Guinea in 2019, taking guests to destinations such as Alotau, Kitava Island, Rabaul, Kiriwina Island and the Conflict Islands.

The line will offer five 10-night ‘New Guinea Island Encounter’ cruises from Brisbane. The sixth cruise will be an 11-night round trip from Sydney onboard Pacific Aria in mind-November, which will include a call at the Conflict Islands, one of the most remote locations in the Coral Sea.

P&O Cruises became the first cruise line to ever visit the islands in 2016, allowing guests to explore the group of 21 islands that surround a lagoon and are home to one of the world’s most bio-diverse reef systems.

Continue reading "P&O Cruises announces its new PNG itineraries for 2019" »

PNG govt defends gas project but landowners grow restless

Peter O'NeillJOHNNY BLADES | Radio New Zealand

AUCKLAND - Papua New Guinea's prime minister, Peter O’Neill, has lashed out at a new report saying the country has not benefitted from its huge ExxonMobil-led liquefied natural gas project.

The report by social justice organisation Jubilee Australia said the US$19 billion LNG project had failed to create jobs or spinoffs for PNG's economy despite big promises by political backers.

The Jubilee report said ExxonMobil's project had created mostly negative economic impacts for the country since LNG exports began in 2014.

A co-author of the report, economist Paul Flanagan, says that on the projections of rapid growth and an influx of easy money from the project, PNG's government went on a spending spree from 2013-2015 which has since crippled the economy.

Continue reading "PNG govt defends gas project but landowners grow restless" »

China investment bank approves PNG as new member

AiibSTAFF REPORTER | South China Morning Post | Edited

HONG KONG - The China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) has approved Papua New Guinea as a new member as Beijing tries to bolster its economic influence in Asia and beyond.

AIIB head Jin Liqun has dismissed allegations that one of the bank’s roles is to support the growth of China’s soft power, saying it had its own operating standards.

With PNG and Kenya’s participation, the development bank expands its membership to 86, but the United States and Japan have stayed away amid scepticism over its governance and lending standards.

Beijing has sought to boost infrastructure networks in Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa to attain its goal of more closely connecting nations under its ‘Belt and Road Initiative’.

Continue reading "China investment bank approves PNG as new member" »

Deferral of local elections is unconstitutional, says Transparency


PORT MORESBY – Transparency International PNG (TIPNG) says the deferral of local level government elections to April 2019 is a breach of the Papua New Guinea constitution.

“Deferral of the elections is a complete denial of statutory and constitutional responsibilities and not consistent with the leadership the people of PNG deserve,” a statement said.

“Any dilution of this right, even if for pragmatic reasons, is unacceptable.

“The spirit of the constitution is that national and local elections should have concurrent terms.

Continue reading "Deferral of local elections is unconstitutional, says Transparency" »

Kiaps, the late colonial rush & muddling through

Kiap badge circa 1988PHIL FITZPATRICK

TUMBY BAY - Statistics normally don’t interest me that much, especially when they are averaged out in an attempt to represent some sort of generic view or condition among a particular group of people, industry or country.

A few statistics can be very telling however, especially for what they don’t say.

Skipping through the March 1971 colonial Division of District Administration staff lists and isolating the number of local Papua New Guinean kiaps is a case in point.

By 1971 you would have expected the boss kiaps to be contemplating the eminent arrival of self-government (1972) and then independence (1975). You would have thought that by then they would have beefed up the numbers of local kiaps in anticipation of them continuing with the work of government out in the bush.

Continue reading "Kiaps, the late colonial rush & muddling through" »

PNG Ombudsman stops K10 billion lease for K1 billion build

Patrick PruaitchKEITH JACKSON

PORT MORESBY - The Papua New Guinean Ombudsman Commission has prevented the O’Neill government committing to a K10 billion kina office rental agreement for a proposed 32-storey complex in Waigani.

The million kina a year deal would compare with the government’s current annual office rental budget of K230 million.

And just one year of the lease would have been enough for the construction of a perfectly adequate building.

“This negotiation was being concluded at a time when government was in default over numerous rental payments,” said opposition leader Patrick Pruaitch (pictured).

Continue reading "PNG Ombudsman stops K10 billion lease for K1 billion build" »

There’s no escape from Australia’s refugee gulag

Detainees protest inside the compound at Manus detention centre (Refugee Action Coalition)MARK ISAACS | Foreign Policy | Extracts

You can read the complete article here

MANUS - When I first entered the Manus Island detention centre in early November 2017, I was confronted with an apocalyptic scene.

Toilets overflowed with urine and faeces; campfires burned in litter-filled corridors; blood-red graffiti riddled the walls; and zombielike figures lay slumped at odd angles on dirty mattresses and tables.

Australia operated and financed this immigration detention centre in Papua New Guinea, 1,200 km from the Australian mainland’s northernmost point.

I had arrived in the midst of a standoff between the Australian government and the refugees and asylum-seekers it had imprisoned there.

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Failed predictions & resource curse leave people worse off


CANBERRA - A major study released yesterday by Jubilee Australia, ‘Double or Nothing: The Broken Economic Promises of PNG LNG’ concludes that “on almost every measure of economic welfare, the PNG economy would have been better off without the project”.

The report, co-authored by me and Dr Luke Fletcher, compares the projected economic benefits of the PNG LNG project with actual outcomes.

It uses PNG government data to examine the predictions of the 2008 project report commissioned by ExxonMobil and promoted by Oil Search and this examination finds that the very positive predictions for the PNG economy were largely incorrect.

Specifically, growth in the resource sector has matched the confident predictions even with the fall in oil prices in 2014. However, all other parts of the PNG economy have not done as well as predicted.

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First US$500 million Eurobond offer is O’Neill’s moment of truth


WEWAK - Peter O’Neill is taking Papua New Guinea global this year in an attempt to raise the first US$500 million Eurobond and the nation is bracing itself for judgment from the international financial markets on its bankability.

The international money markets will make a decision on whether Mr O’Neill and his lead advisers Secretary Vele and Secretary Lupari have their confidence in investing this large amount of money under their leadership of PNG Inc.

Also important will be the leadership role of the governor of the central bank in managing the fallout of either a successful or negative outcome of the bond offering.

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