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76 posts from September 2018

PNG lands huge bond at nosebleed interest & considerable risk


NOOSA – Well those big swinging speculators certainly proved me wrong. As the Wall Street Journal headlined, ‘Papua New Guinea breaks bond-market jinx’.

The PNG government - in its fourth attempt since 1999 to sell hard currency debt – plunged into the market in what the Journal called “a test of investor appetite toward the world’s riskier borrowers”.

The bond issue, which some investors said was well-timed, raised about $US500 million (with orders seven times that) on which PNG will pay astronomical interest of 8.375% a year.

The Journal also pointed out that PNG faces numerous challenges, including a shortage of foreign currency and a sharp slowdown in growth.

Continue reading "PNG lands huge bond at nosebleed interest & considerable risk" »

Education has lost its way in curriculum wrangles & teacher quality

ClassroomJOE KUMAN

GOROKA - The diminishing educational standards of Papua New Guinea are of grave concern to citizens and stakeholders with the outcome-based curriculum (OBE) adopted a decade or so ago continuing to be blamed for this.

The talk now is of a standard based education/curriculum rescue package, which – if adopted - will surely take a time equal to the lost decade to recover the situation. This means that PNG might see quality and affordable education system in maybe 20 years.

I am of the view that there is no problem with either curriculum. OBE was fine in theory and design but not in practice. The implementers (teachers) were not ready for, nor receptive to, the change. And they were defeated psychologically by the foreign concepts and terms used.

Continue reading "Education has lost its way in curriculum wrangles & teacher quality" »

Right to information: PNG performs poorly on assessment

Delia Ferreira Rubio
Delia Ferreira Rubio, chair of Transparency International


BERLIN - The Transparency International secretariat has called on governments in the Asia-Pacific region to strengthen their right to information laws and make information more accessible to the public.

Transparency International also says existing laws need to be better implemented by public officials and used more widely by citizens, civil society and the media.

To mark International Right to Know Day yesterday, the organisation released a report assessing the right to information performance of 11 countries including Papua New Guinea, which failed to achieve seven of nine indicators.

“Several of the countries assessed in this report have recently been rocked by corruption scandals involving senior officials and political leaders,” said Delia Ferreira Rubio, chair of Transparency International.

“Most continue to score poorly on Transparency International’s corruption perceptions index.

Continue reading "Right to information: PNG performs poorly on assessment" »

Researching the morality of PNG’s ‘dark tourism’ initiatives

Mt Lamington explodes  5 February 1951
When Mt Lamington erupted in January 1951, it killed 3,700 people in Higaturu town, in 29 villages and at missions and schools more than 10 km away 

STAFF WRITER | Deakin Research

This piece is based on an article written by Dr Victoria Stead published in a special issue of ‘Anthropological Forum’ co-edited by Dr Stead with Professor Michèle Dominy (Bard College New York) on the theme ‘Moral Horizons of Land and Place’

MELBOURNE - Located on the slopes of volcanic Mount Lamington in Papua New Guinea’s Oro Province, the old Higaturu Station is a place marked by violence and memories.

It is less than an hour’s drive from the Provincial capital, Popondetta, on the way to Kokoda, which, depending on which way you are walking is either the beginning or the end of the Kokoda track.

That 96-kilometre track over the Owen Stanley Ranges is the focal point of a burgeoning but unevenly spread war tourism industry in the Province.

Between July-September 1943, at the height of World War II, 21 local men were executed in Higaturu for charges stemming from the ‘betrayal’ of eight to ten missionaries in August 1942 who were brutally murdered by occupying Japanese forces.

Continue reading "Researching the morality of PNG’s ‘dark tourism’ initiatives" »

Dare the heights

Distant galaxySIMON DAVIDSON

The stellar skies, and the infinite space,
Challenged man’s keenest curiosity,
Telling man, you can’t reach us,
We are beyond reach,
Of mortal man.

Man dared to rise the challenge,
He dreamed dreams to rise higher,
He willed to transcend limits,
And beat gravity’s pull,
And scale infinite space.

By airplane, man flew where bird’s fly,
Via rockets man quickly reached moon,
Thru manned flight the galaxies,
By imaginary novels - infinite space,
In inspired writ, Paradise.

Continue reading "Dare the heights" »

Discovered: An anthology from the first New Guinea writers’ club


NOOSA – Hannah and her boyfriend Tom had come up to the Sunshine Coast from Melbourne and, when they arrived last night to share dinner with the rest of the family, they brought a book for me.

Now Noosa is lacking in second-hand bookshops, thus depriving me of one of my favourite pursuits, so this was a welcome gift indeed. Furthermore, it was about Papua New Guinea and a unique writing initiative introduced during the dark years of World War II.

To dig your nose between the mottled brown pages of an old book and to soak in the musty aroma that is testament to its age is a treat. And I could tell from the book's ragged cover and well thumbed pages that the reading would be equally so, it had clearly done the rounds.

Hannah and Tom had come across, ‘Under the Atebrin Moon’, an anthology of short stories and poems by the soldier members of the New Guinea Writers’ Club and published by Angus and Robertson in Sydney and London in 1946. 

I won’t reveal any more about this book, which is nearly as old as I am, because the foreword, ‘Unbuckling the haversack’, tells you all you’ll want to know.

And what does the title mean? Well, the foreword tells you that too. But you'll have to read it through to the end. It's a fascinating story.

Continue reading "Discovered: An anthology from the first New Guinea writers’ club" »

CreateSpace dies; Kindle Direct Publishing rises from ashes

KDP - good innovation but useless if you live in Australia


TUMBY BAY - Amazon’s CreateSpace has been a boon to writers in Papua New Guinea.

Without any publishing houses of their own it was one of the few places a Papua New Guinean writer could get published.

Amazon has now phased out its CreateSpace printing and distribution service.

For those Papua New Guinean writers who have set up their own CreateSpace accounts it means transferring to a new combined service that Amazon has created with its Kindle eBook service.

This new service is called Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP).

Continue reading "CreateSpace dies; Kindle Direct Publishing rises from ashes" »

Lombrum naval base will be able to host larger US warships

RAN landing ship HMAS Choules at Lombrum
Australian landing ship HMAS Choules Lombrum Naval Base 2013 (Australian Defence Ministry)

STAFF WRITER | Naval Today

CANBERRA - Australia is taking further steps to improve regional maritime security with an $AU5 million upgrade of Papua New Guinea’s Lombrum Naval Base on Manus Island.

Wharf and shore-based infrastructure upgrades are to be undertaken by Fletcher Morobe Constructions Limited as part of the Australian government’s Pacific maritime security program.

The upgrades are interpreted as a response to China’s interest in redeveloping ports in PNG and gaining a military foothold in the region.

“The Lombrum upgrades will support the safe and secure berthing of PNG’s four new Guardian-class patrol boats,” Australian defence minister Christopher Pyne said, announcing the contract.

“The infrastructure works build upon existing security cooperation between Defence and the PNG Defence Force, including the recently established $2 million communications centre at Lombrum.”

Continue reading "Lombrum naval base will be able to host larger US warships" »

It’s a jungle. Teaching English to students in rural schools

St John Bosco Secondary School students  Dagua
St John Bosco Secondary School students at Dagua listen to presentations on Independence Day 2018 (Raymond Sigimet)


DAGUA - In my first year of teaching at a rural high school, I set a narrative writing task for students to complete and hand over for marking.

Without much thought about the task and looking forward to reading the students work, I got the shock of my life as I began to read the first paper. It was an unexpected moment and caught me off guard and unprepared.

It was like I was reading a mishmash of English words or something similar to the English language.

I checked the second paper in the pile, the third and the fourth and my spirit and self-esteem took a nose dive and crashed.

Every piece of writing had English words (some incorrectly spelt) but I quickly got lost in the structure and semantics.

At my second posting, I had a similar experience. Most of the students were from a rural feeder primary school and surrounding villages. My experience by then was that, of a class of 40 or 50 students, there would be less than five who had a suitable command of English, especially in writing.

Continue reading "It’s a jungle. Teaching English to students in rural schools" »

Day labour – is it a real thing in Gumine, or just a myth?

Gumine road workers 2JOE KUMAN

GOROKA - Day labour is a burning issue in the Gumine District of Simbu Province in the highlands of Papua New Guinea and I want to join the discussion.

Day labour is a form of work where labourers are hired to work and paid on a day-to-day basis. It is especially seen in construction, manufacturing sites and on plantations.

Day labourers can be employed by an agency or an employer on contractual basis for at least a day. Sometimes this happens when workers are needed for a specific project.

There is another category of day labour, though, where unemployed people wait around for an announcement of employment opportunities so that they can engage themselves as cheap workers to earn a bit of money for survival.

So how come day labour has become so popular around Gumine recently?

Continue reading "Day labour – is it a real thing in Gumine, or just a myth?" »

Elegant new Fitzpatrick novel looks at the illusion of ‘a simple life’


White River Road by Philip Fitzpatrick, Independently Published, 2018, 274 pages, ISBN: 978-1723947087, US$10.35 (hardcopy) from Amazon, US$1.00 (digital) from Kindle

NOOSA – Seventy-three year old Jack McAllister is sitting brooding in his nondescript unit in a small coastal town when a small black and white dog arrives on his doorstep and refuses to go away.

At the same time a lawyer’s letter arrives telling him that his long lost brother has died and left him an old house in a remote river valley.

Jack takes the dog to investigate and decides to settle in the valley with high hopes of living out his days in pleasant isolation.

The eccentric inhabitants of the valley welcome him into their lives and everything looks good. But as Jack knows, good things seldom last long, especially when it involves land rights and mining.

Continue reading "Elegant new Fitzpatrick novel looks at the illusion of ‘a simple life’" »

‘The most rewarding flying in PNG’: Diary of a medevac

Loading the injured woman into the plane at Simogu (Dave Rogers)
Loading the injured woman into the plane at Simogu (Dave Rogers)


GOROKA –Of all the flying I do in Papua New Guinea, I find medevac flights the most rewarding.

MAF flights benefit the communities we serve in many ways, but nothing has a more immediate and tangible impact than a medevac.

They are usually some of the most operationally difficult flights to manage given they come up at short notice, in the middle of our flying program, and often late in the day when weather or daylight is an issue.

This makes it all the more rewarding when you get it to work.

My most recent case was no different.

I was making my first stop on my second trip in the middle of a busy day when I was approached by a man asking if I could fly a badly injured woman to Goroka.

Continue reading "‘The most rewarding flying in PNG’: Diary of a medevac" »

Blockchain offers a secure, modern solution for PNG tourism

Blockchain Expo
Blockchain Expo promotion in Port Moresby


PORT MORESBY - Blockchain technology – a modern development understood by few –is worth learning about, no matter what industry you’re in.

Blockchain is currently popular in financial services but I’ll use the example of the hotel and tourism industry, potentially very significant for Papua New Guinea, where it can process and secure data in better ways.

For example, here’s a hypothetical scenario. Giluwe Hotel enters an agreement with an online travel agent, Wanol Travels, with a clause saying that, for the next six months, room nights booked more than five days in advance will offer a higher commission than those booked later.

With a non-blockchain model, both parties would sign a contract. When the deal ends, both provide reports to identify the total number of online bookings from Wanol Travels or use some commission consolidation service to document it for them.

Continue reading "Blockchain offers a secure, modern solution for PNG tourism" »

Confronting shame – & putting the real culprits in their place


Rashmii presenting at the 'Shame & Other Things' event

“Most people Sandra’s age can tell you in detail about how they came up, about the excitements and tragedies of being a young adult out in the world for the first time. This isn’t because their brains are any better than Sarah’s or because they did less drugs or drank less or had kinder childhood. It is because they’ve told their stories more often. Because they were consistently surrounded by friends or parents or partners or children who were interested in seeing them as a whole person. This is how true connection occurs…” (‘The Trauma Cleaner’ by Sarah Krasnostein)

BRISBANE – I used author Sarah Krasnostein’s reflections to introduce my contribution to the first of Vanessa Gordon’s ‘Shame and Other Things series of panel discussions, which drew a full house in Brisbane recently.

It was an opportunity to demonstrate to the audience how powerful storytelling can be as an aid for deepening understanding of often complex social issues. This has been one of the many skills I have refined through my Paga Hill writer’s fellowship, which is now coming to an end.

During the past six months, to bolster my many fellowship activities, I have purchased books and magazines that would help me along the way and Krasnostein’s ‘The Trauma Cleaner’ was a prize inclusion as I pursued the dedication to individual human rights which is one of the drivers that motivate me in the pursuit of equality, harmony, progress and, of course, a flourishing Papua New Guinea literature.

Continue reading "Confronting shame – & putting the real culprits in their place" »

After Guthrie: Restoring Australia's Pacific media presence

KEVIN McQUILLAN | The Interpreter | Lowy Institute

Kevin McQuillan
Kevin McQuillan

SYDNEY - The departure of ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie just two-and-a-half years into her five-year term reflects the board’s decision to seek "fresh leadership", according to chairman Justin Milne.

Announcing Guthrie’s sacking yesterday, Milne said “the board’s foremost consideration was the long-term interests of our own people and the millions of Australians who engage with ABC content every week”.

What Milne didn’t talk about was the millions of listeners, viewers and online visitors to the ABC who have been lost since the federal government and the ABC itself made cuts to its international output.

The appointment of a new Managing Director opens up the opportunity for Guthrie's replacement to re-engage the ABC with its international audience, particularly in the Pacific.

Continue reading "After Guthrie: Restoring Australia's Pacific media presence" »

That’s Modernity


Some have boxers, some have socks,
Some have seeds to feed the flocks,
Some work hard to buy one box,
That’s modernity baby; that’s modernity,

Some use cards and some pay cash,
Some child born and some child hash,
Some pick up a nasty rash,
That’s modernity baby; that’s modernity,

Some fly high and some go low,
Some are real and some for show,
Some go along with the flow,
That’s modernity baby; that’s modernity,

Continue reading "That’s Modernity" »

PNG silence on military aid betrays confusion over alliances

Lombrum (AWM)
Lombrum naval base on Manus Island in 1949 (Australian War Memorial)

SCOTT WAIDE | Asia Pacific Report

PORT MORESBY - The global trade war between China and Western powers has reached new heights in the Pacific, and in particular in Papua New Guinea.

As the government of Peter O’Neill courts China on the one side of the bargaining table, receiving, aid and other benefits, PNG’s traditional military partner, Australia, is growing anxious.

Australian media has reported that their government is planning to establish a military base on Manus Island to counter the growing Chinese influence in Papua New Guinea and the Pacific.

The PNG government has been largely silent since Australia’s announcement.

On Saturday, when I contacted Defence Minister Solan Mirisim, he said PNG has been in negotiations with Australia for “a military base and a training facility on Manus”.

Continue reading "PNG silence on military aid betrays confusion over alliances" »

Fight continues unabated in Daru – a world TB hot spot

People-with-suspected-TB-Mabuduan-Health-Centre (DFAT)
People with suspected TB await further tests at the Mabuduan Health Centre, Western Province


DARU - “Hurry up and come! The health workers are here!” With the help of an enthusiastic community member and a megaphone, the tuberculosis screening team announce their arrival in Bamu, a small community on Daru island in Papua New Guinea’s Western Province.

Within minutes, community members emerge from homes, gardens and fields to make their way towards the makeshift clinic. By the time the first people take their seats at the registration desk, the team is already hard at work preparing for another day in the fight against TB.

They are there with a clear mission: to screen as many people as possible, educate the community about the disease and link suspected cases directly to treatment services.

Health workers begin taking details. Weight and height are recorded. Counsellors run consultations to combat stigma and dispel fears around x-rays and a potentially positive result. Then one-by-one, each visitor enters the mobile screening van, where an x-ray and thermal image provides on-the-spot diagnosis of possible TB infection.

Continue reading "Fight continues unabated in Daru – a world TB hot spot" »

PNG still struggles to get its education reforms right

De la Salle Secondary exams
Students at De la Salle Secondary School during their Grade 12 mathematics examination


DAGUA - In May this year, national education secretary Dr Uke Kombra announced that 72,000 Grade 10 students would sit their English written expression examination on 7 June.

Examinations would be conducted in 322 provincial high and secondary schools across Papua New Guinea, an increase from last year’s 69,000 students in 301 schools.

Next month, from 8-12 October, Grade 10 students from all over the country will sit for the Lower Secondary School Certificate Examinations (LSSCE) set by the Measurement Service Division.

The LSSCE is an outcome-based education (OBE) reform which phased out the previous ‘objective’ School Certificate Examinations (SCE) about eight years ago.

In 2010, under the OBE reform, once non-examined subjects became nationally tested subjects alongside the four traditional English, Mathematics, Science and Social Science.

Continue reading "PNG still struggles to get its education reforms right" »

Analysing the power play against China in the South Pacific

A Royal Australian Navy warship off the coast of Papua New Guinea

ANDREW KORYBKO* | Asia Pacific Research | Edited

MONTREAL - Australia’s plans to return to the Lombrum naval base on Manus that it previously occupied in Papua New Guinea prior to independence in a power play for leadership in the South Pacific on behalf of the Quad’s desire to contain China in this strategic space.

(The Quad is the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue comprising the United States, Japan, India and Australia.)

This is significant for many reasons, not least of which is that Australia used to run a so-called “offshore immigration camp” here until it was closed last year after reports about the scandalous humanitarian state of its detainees caused global indignation.

More than 500 refugee men remain virtually trapped in so-called ‘transition centres’ on Manus.

Continue reading "Analysing the power play against China in the South Pacific" »

Let’s see if we can get some gear to Joe the designer in Fiji

Anthology Cover 2012PHIL FITZPATRICK

TUMBY BAY - Those readers who followed the Crocodile Prize for Literature in its first five years will remember the eye-catching covers of the annual anthologies.

They were all designed by Joe Bilbu, a Papuan designer based in Fiji.

Joe won a competition to design the 2012 cover and we were so impressed that we got him to design the subsequent covers.

Like most things related to the Crocodile Prize the covers were produced on a shoestring budget. Joe was happy to go along with that because he believed that Papua New Guinea literature was important.

As a self-employed graphic artist and designer he is now thinking about branching out and producing his own designs on tee-shirts, mugs and other paraphernalia.

To this end he has been saving his pennies to buy a heat transfer machine.

The machine isn’t particularly expensive (about AU$350) but the freight to Fiji is a problem, not so much because of cost but because the companies that sell the machines won’t ship them to Fiji.

Continue reading "Let’s see if we can get some gear to Joe the designer in Fiji" »

Why is Australia discriminating against its own PNG-born citizens?

Need a passportGUS LEE

PORT MORESBY - On 23 July this year, journalist Geoffrey Luck published an article in PNG Attitude entitled ‘The mysterious Citizenship PNG Unit is on the prowl’.

It told of how his daughter, born in Port Moresby in 1958 while luck was working in Papua New Guinea, had applied to renew her Australian passport six months ahead of its expiry date.

But, to her surprise, her current perfectly valid passport was immediately defaced by clipping the pages and she was told that, before a new passport could be issued, she had to prove her Australian citizenship.

The documentation required included her birth certificate, her mother and father's birth certificates, their marriage certificate and details of their parents' place of birth.

Continue reading "Why is Australia discriminating against its own PNG-born citizens?" »

Schram says PNG is compromising university independence

Dr Albert Schram


NOOSA - Former of University of Technology vice-chancellor, Albert Schram, said the PNG Higher Education Act of 2014 had “laid the basis for a fundamental change in university governance” and that this had helped create the conditions in which he was dismissed from his job.

“I warned about this before in a lecture at the Australian National University in 2016, but nothing was done,” Dr Schram said.

“Only independent universities, can protect academic freedom and freedom of expression. Democracies cannot thrive without independent universities and vice-versa.”

He had previously told the ABC’s Pacific Beat program that there was an orchestrated campaign to have him removed from his job at Unitech at a time the university was given a clean bill of financial health for the first time in 20 years.

Continue reading "Schram says PNG is compromising university independence" »

Australian soldiers for PNG as fears grow about China's influence

ASFANDREW GREENE | Australian Broadcasting Corporation | Extract

Read the complete story here

CANBERRA - Australian soldiers could soon begin regular military rotations to Papua New Guinea as anxiety over China's growing influence in the Pacific region continues to rise.

The ABC has learned planning for short-term troop deployments to the former Australian territory is well advanced, similar to the current army training rotations at Malaysia's Butterworth Air Force base.

About 30 Australian army officers are already embedded with the PNG Defence Force (PNGDF), but that number is down significantly on past decades.

A senior Defence department official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Australia had "taken its eye off" PNG during the long Afghanistan war but was now "refocusing on its close neighbour".

Continue reading "Australian soldiers for PNG as fears grow about China's influence" »

From bus stops to bridges: Chinese influence a 'wake-up' call

ChinaCOLE LATIMER | Fairfax Media | Extract

SYDNEY - Chinese signs on Port Moresby bus stops are one indication of Beijing's growing influence and investment in the country and should be a wake-up call for Australia, warns the head of a major oil and gas company.

Oil Search chief executive Peter Botten said China had been investing in Australia’s nearest neighbour as part of its global $1.4 trillion Belt and Road infrastructure building program, involving hundreds of infrastructure projects co-funded and mostly built by China in 70 or more countries.

Botten warned that China’s increasingly heavy investment there risks Australia missing out on PNG's rapid development.

Continue reading "From bus stops to bridges: Chinese influence a 'wake-up' call" »

Why PNG goes for high interest loans: to avoid scrutiny


ADELAIDE - The post global financial crisis era (Americans call it ‘the great recession’) of virtually free money is drawing to a close.

After years of quantitative easing (let’s call it ‘printing money’), the world's central banks are slowly but surely beginning the tricky process of pulling excessive liquidity out of the world economy.

The aim is to carefully defuse the world's enormous debt bomb without causing an explosion.

Also, thanks in part to Donald Trump's massive tax cut for America's corporations and wealthy individuals, interest rates on US Treasury Bonds are heading towards 3% pa and beyond.

Continue reading "Why PNG goes for high interest loans: to avoid scrutiny" »

Kiap days: The ballad of the Wantoat - Leron road

Chips Mackellar
Chips Mackellar


TUMBY BAY - There were very few kiaps who didn’t have a big sense of humour. This was understandable.

They had been given the monumental task of bringing Papua and New Guinea to self-government and eventual independence on a mean shoestring budget grudgingly doled out by the bloody-minded mandarins in Canberra.

Most kiaps managed to keep their private opinions under control and only discussed them among themselves. This internal dialogue within the ranks was often tinged with a heady mixture of humour, scepticism and cynicism.

And among the ranks of that august body of field officers there were those who excelled at quick and pointed repartee.

There were many targets but particularly the letters, memos and reports they had to prepare for their superiors.

Continue reading "Kiap days: The ballad of the Wantoat - Leron road" »

Phil’s had it up to here: it’s time to take action, he says

Ugly Head
Phil Fitzpatrick -  Papua New Guinea, enough is enough


TUMBY BAY - Papua New Guinea is in a great big mess.

It has spiralled down the plughole and is sitting in the u-bend among such smelly companions as EthIopia, Angola, Sudan and Outer Woop Woop ready to be flushed away into oblivion.

Its intention to issue bonds to pay off its enormous debt have been greeted by raucous laughter in the financial capitals of the world.

China is gearing up to buy it, lock stock and barrel, probably as a launching pad for its expansion into the Asia-Pacific and as a convenient stick to shove up Donald Trump’s nose.

Its great mate down south is no help. It’s running around like a chook with its head cut off trying to work out why it keeps tripping over.

What to do?

Well, as Paul Oates keeps pointing out, the first step is to identify the cause.

Continue reading "Phil’s had it up to here: it’s time to take action, he says" »

PNG tries to raise funds in a challenging bond market

Village marketJULIE WERNAU & MANJU DALAL | Wall Street Journal | Extracts

You can read the complete article here

NEW YORK - A planned $500 million bond sale from Papua New Guinea, a country that has tried and failed to sell foreign debt before, will test whether investors are still receptive to riskier borrowers after a selloff in emerging markets.

The offering could conclude this week, and would mark the first sale of junk-rated sovereign-dollar debt since July, when Angola sold $500 million in 30-year bonds, according to Dealogic.

In recent months, rising US interest rates and a stronger dollar have hit emerging-market stocks and bonds. That has made it harder for developing nations and companies to borrow, especially those with junk, or below investment-grade, credit ratings.

Continue reading "PNG tries to raise funds in a challenging bond market" »

Health complacency; unsanitary conditions caused polio outbreak

Vaccination (Wikimedia Commons)STAFF REPORTER | Down to Earth

NEW DELHI - Eighteen years after Papua New Guinea was declared polio-free, the virus has come to plague the children of this island nation in Oceania.

In May, lower limbs of a six-year-old boy from in the city of Lae became paralysed.

After samples were sent to the US for testing, the fear of polio outbreak was confirmed. Since then 12 children across five provinces in Papua New Guinea have been diagnosed with this debilitating disease.

The children affected by polio are aged between 12 months and 10 years. All of them have experienced paralysis, with some unable to walk and others comparatively less affected.

Continue reading "Health complacency; unsanitary conditions caused polio outbreak" »

Can the ADB solve the corruption crippling PNG’s health system?

Health Minister Dr Puka Temu - just three months ago was proclaiming PNG's health standards were improving

STAFF REPORTER | Tokaut Blog | PNGi Central

This article was first published on 5 June

PORT MORESBY - The Asian Development Bank says it will assist Papua New Guinea address the systemic failings in its health system through a new $195 million program, but can this externally driven project successfully address the chronic problems of corruption and mismanagement in the sector?

Over the last 10 months PNGi has repeatedly exposed the systemic problems in the procurement and supply of medicines in PNG that is ultimately causing unnecessary deaths and incalculable suffering across the country.

Profiting from Sickness’ Part 1, Part 2, and  Part 3 focused attention on the abusive commercial transactions that are leading to the circulation of overpriced and substandard medical goods in our hospitals, health centres and aid posts, while Part 4 looked in detail at the problems on the logistics side of the supply chain.

In one instance, a senior Health Department official is alleged to have been paid more than K250,000 to facilitate payments to a logistics company involved in distributing medical kits. Despite the clear documented evidence of the payments, no action has been taken by the Health Secretary to refer the matter to the police.

Continue reading "Can the ADB solve the corruption crippling PNG’s health system?" »

'Threats & untruths': Former UNRE boss accuses chancellor

In a statement sent to students and staff at PNG’s University of Resources and Environment, former vice-chancellor Professor John Warren has responded from his home in Wales to what he terms a “grandiose" and “untrue” letter from interim chancellor Professor Kenneth Sumbuk and revealed the story behind his resignation from the university. Warren also calls into question the truth of an interview given by PNG's head of higher education, Father Jan Czuba. 

John Warren
Professor John Warren - "The most important untruth in the letter of 13 August is Professor Sumbuk’s claim that he did not threaten me"


LLANFARIAN - In his letter to you [UNRE students and staff] dated 13 August 2018, the chancellor of UNRE made several untrue statements that I feel compelled to clarify so that you have an honest and full picture of events surrounding my departure from the university.

[Professor Sumbuk’s] letter opens with rather grandiose statements about my breaching my oath of office. Unfortunately, history reveals that university councils within Papua New Guinea have a poor track record of understanding their role.

The 2010 Garnaut and Namaliu report on the state of PNG universities and the 2013 external audit of UNRE both emphasise that PNG’s university councils do not understand governance.

Continue reading "'Threats & untruths': Former UNRE boss accuses chancellor" »

DFAT health sector report pulls punches on a critical situation

Health Minister Puka Temu
Health Minister Dr Puka Temu administers oral polio vaccine - when the dreadful disease returned recently after 18 years, he tried to play down its impact


NOOSA – Australia’s foreign affairs department (DFAT) has just released a report evaluating the contribution that international donors have made to Papua New Guinea’s health system.

The report by Ian Anderson and Renee Martin was presented to DFAT last December, well before the recent outbreak of polio confirmed a shocking reality that many of us suspected - that health services in PNG are going downhill fast and have now reached a danger point.

The report, which you can read in full here, assesses the efforts of six multilateral development partners - the Asian Development Bank; the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria; the World Bank and three United Nations agencies, UNFPA, UNICEF and WHO – over a six year period.

Anderson and Martin have done what many consultants do when reporting upon big and powerful organisations – intimating problems while pulling punches about some of the most inimical reasons and about where real responsibility lies.

Continue reading "DFAT health sector report pulls punches on a critical situation" »

Papua New Guinea ‘Quo Vadis’? (Whither Thou Goest?)

Albert Einstein


GOLD COAST - The constant issue everyone seems to agree on these days is the demonstrable lack of real leaders who can enunciate both a clear vision and a set of achievable national objectives.

Whether it be at social get-togethers or standing in line waiting to pay for groceries, everyone seems to be agree on the same issue. While I don’t immerse myself in social media, I know that is discussing much the same thing (if one excludes ‘fake news’).

So if most people agree on the problem, why is it so difficult to devise an effective solution?

Therein lies the real issue. Collective inertia. While total collapse can be put off until some time in the future, we still enjoy our days in the sun.

Yet we all know that, at some irrevocable point ahead, the proverbial chickens will come home to roost.  At least, perhaps we hope, that might happen on someone else’s watch.

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Reflections on our 43rd year of independence

Students in Huli attire mark the 43rd anniversary of Papua New Guinea Independence
Students in Huli dress mark the 43rd anniversary of Papua New Guinea independence

| Shadow Minister for Treasury & Finance

PORT MORESBY - On the occasion of our 43rd anniversary of independence from Australia on 16 September 1975, it is timely to reflect on how our great country has been going over the last twelve months.

On balance there is a pretty mixed report card, with some good achievements and some clear problems.

Our 43rd year started in a thrilling way with our wonderful PNG Hunters team winning the Queensland rugby union grand final by defeating Sunshine Coast 12-10.

This was important for lifting national pride and also making clear to our friends in Australia that PNG is a force to be reckoned with as the win was achieved in only the fourth year of competition.

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In the shadow of the volcano

SES logoBEN JACKSON | Sun Earth Sea Blog

Our world is filled with a diversity of cultures, geographies and ideas. Sun Earth Sea is a new blog that celebrates exploration; the elements that make places and people unique; and values and characteristics that are ubiquitous. It is about creative expression, balanced living and respect for the earth. Sun Earth Sea shares the stories of locales that amaze, individuals that inspire and food that nourishes. Here is its introductory offering. Archive this link to stay in touch - BRFJ

RABAUL - The town where my sister was born is long gone.

It disappeared in a shroud of burning ash more than 20 years ago.

At that time, the inhabitants of Rabaul picked up what remained of their lives – in many cases, not much – and moved some 30 kilometres down the coast to start again.

Today, the new hub Kokopo seems like it has always been at the centre of activity.

The streets are lined with department stores, hardware houses, banks and supermarkets. Youngsters spill out on the streets each weekday after school to buy drinks and food. They walk along laughing and talking together.

This is the only life they’ve ever experienced, and it’s a good one, but many of the older generation long for the days in the shadow of the volcano.

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Dai lukluk i stap

Arapesh children
Arapesh children


‘Dai lukluk i stap’ is translated as ‘Death is looking’. It is a village figure of speech which refers to a deceased person lying in the mortuary or funeral home awaiting burial. This is a cultural poem based on mourning and ceremony. The ceremony is called ‘Gabah/Gabahash’ in Arapesh society or ‘Stretim ol Kandre’ in Tok Pisin. Other societies have their own vernacular names. The poem speaks of the emotion when a person dies (stanzas 1 and 2), the preparation and mourning stage (stanzas 3 and 4), the transactions and funeral ceremony where payment is made to the ‘kandre’ or maternal relatives of the deceased (stanzas 5 and 6), finally the (human folly that is associated with this practice and a personal comment from the writer poet (stanzas 7 and 8) - RS

Yumi pilim bel i pen
Na aiwara i kam olsem ren
Taim dai lukluk i stap

Yumi lukim lewa i buruk
Na painim kaikai long kuk
Taim dai lukluk i stap

Yumi sindaun wantaim sori
Na tingim bek olgeta stori
Taim dai lukluk i stap

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Happy 43rd birthday PNG - & 98th to the great Fred Kaad

Bill Brown and Fred Kaad
Bill Brown MBE & Fred Kaad OBE


NOOSA – Fred Kaad OBE, pictured here with his close buddy Bill Brown MBE, has just celebrated his 98th birthday and it seemed a good opportunity today to link this with Papua New Guinea’s 43rd anniversary of independence.

Both Fred and Bill were significant contributors to nation-building in PNG after World War II and both rose to the distinguished rank of district commissioner, the senior field officers who directed the men known as kiaps who explored, pacified and administered what is now an independent country of eight million people.

After serving in the Australian Army in Papua New Guinea during World War II, Fred Kaad OBE joined the colonial Administration as a patrol officer in 1946, being promoted to district commissioner in 1960.

In 1964 Fred was district commissioner in Madang when the light aircraft in which he was flying crashed, fatally injuring the pilot and leaving Fred a paraplegic with third degree burns to both legs, continuing neuropathic pain.

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In response to Peter O’Neill’s Independence Day message

Peter O'Neill - a message empty of meaningful content and nothing that might serve to engage people's hearts.


ADELAIDE - Periodically, all political leaders feel the need to play the role of statesman. This is when they seek to rise above the noise, dysfunction and mundane squalor of ordinary politics and articulate a noble and worthy vision for the future of the nation.

These speeches usually are carefully crafted pieces of work, where the language chosen and the sentiments expressed are calculated to inspire the hearer to believe that the nation can and will, by harnessing the collective talents, energy and commitment of the people, become wealthier, greater and nobler.

This is often accompanied by reference to elements of national mythology, drawing upon shared ideas of nationhood, as well as notions that qualities like resilience, creativity and industry, supposedly at least, are possessed in abnormal abundance by the nation.

Such speeches are often carefully rehearsed, so that the tone, cadence and rhythm can be choreographed to achieve maximum impact upon the hearer and, especially, to appeal to their emotions.

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Only independence will appease Bougainvilleans, O’Neill told

Bougainvilleans, bearing their flag, marching for an independence day that has yet to come

PATRICK MAKIS | PNG Post-Courier/Asia Pacific Report/Pacific Media Watch

BUKA - The people of Bougainville will only accept independence from Papua New Guinea and nothing else, says concerned Bougainvillean and independence hardliner Gabriel Moses.

And no amount of greater powers or autonomy will appease the people – especially after the loss of more than 15,000 lives during the 10-year Bougainville war.

Moses was speaking in reaction to comments made by Papua New Guinea’s prime minister, Peter O’Neill, this week, who reportedly said that the PNG Constitution did not permit the granting of independence to any province or region in the country.

“It is hard to compensate the 15,000 to 20,000 lives that were lost during the conflict even with K20 million or 100 pigs or even greater autonomy, free and just association or whatever,” said Moses.

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‘Lurking beast' of polio casts a shadow over independence day

Polio vacc
At Malahang health clinic near Lae, a health worker administers oral polio vaccine

LISA MARTIN & KATE LYONS | The Guardian | Extract

You can read the complete article here

PORT MORESBY - Sunday should be a day of celebration but the outbreak has brought anger at a lack of health funding while millions are spent on the APEC summit

At a waiting room in Port Moresby’s Gerehu general hospital, red, gold and black balloons – the colours of the country’s flag – deck the walls in the build-up to independence day.

Around the back in the stifling heat, nurses are administering vaccine drops from cool boxes.

About 30 adults and children are queuing under a canvas tent, awaiting their dose to protect against polio, a disease Donald Lippert, a Catholic bishop from the Southern Highlands, characterised as “a beast lurking in the darkness, ready to spring forth”.

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Fred Hargesheimer’s legacy lives on in the Nakanai region

Richard Hargesheimer and his wife Christy surrounded by students and teachers of Nantabu, where new teachers’ housing will be built


KIMBE – Seventy-five years after he was shot down and rescued, and eight years after his death, the Airmen’s Memorial Foundation established by Fred Hargesheimer is still honouring his legacy.

The latest act of benevolence came this week with a ground-breaking ceremony at Nantabu Village in West New Britain, the village where Fred Hargesheimer was sheltered and nursed back to health.

The foundation’s newest development is to build teachers’ housing at the village school, a project that will cost K100,000.

The ceremony was attended by Fred’s son, Richard Hargesheimer, who travelled from Lincoln, Nebraska to administer his late father’s legacy.

“It is a great honour to return once again to West New Britain to serve the people that saved my father’s life,” Richard Hargesheimer said.

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Embracing the future - we must believe in ourselves

PETER O’NEILL CMG MP | Prime Minister Plag

PORT MORESBY - We must prepare our communities to adapt to changes in the modern world.

This includes dealing with natural disasters brought about by climate change so we can protect our people.

We must better adapt to the evolving global economy, so that we not only insulate ourselves from economic shocks – but we must take advantage of economic opportunity for our people.

Our country has products that the world wants and needs to buy.

This is not just our oil and gas resources, but we have renewable resources that are in high demand.

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The essential Chips Mackellar

Chips Mackellar
Chips Mackellar - master storyteller, anecdotalist and, by definition, historian


TUMBY BAY - I’ve been reading the words of Malcolm ‘Chips’ Mackellar for many years now.

I first came across his writing in ‘Una Voce’, when it was just a journal dedicated to the interests of retired officers and superannuants who had served in the Territory of Papua New Guinea.

I rather enjoyed that old journal. It was produced on the smell of an oily rag and pretty rough and ready. It somehow mirrored the make do, jack of all trades, master of none TPNG culture.

Some of the reminiscences and stories in the journal were classics and Chips was there in the thick of it with his wry sense of humour, colourful descriptions and the ability to bend what some might regard as the truth right to the edge of breaking point.

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Backstage as a volunteer at the Brisbane Writers Festival

A role model of mine for social and human rights advocacy, Kon Karapanagiotidis OAM, leads a panel discussion on his book 'The Power of Hope'


BRISBANE – I immediately notice the images to my right – a line of A4 sheets pegged along a string that sways lightly in the gentle breeze of this clear Spring day in Brisbane.

Dancing across a white backdrop is a scattering of handwritten words and slogans: ‘BOOKS’, ‘BAN PLASTIC BAGS AND SINGLE USE STRAWS’ and ‘CONNECTION TO THE PHYSICAL WORLD AROUND US’ as well as ‘UNICORNS’, ‘GARLIC BREAD’ and ‘BIODEGRADABLE GLITTER’.

These are the shared thoughts of patrons who had answered the question, ‘What does the world need now?’ on a public wall at the Brisbane Writers Festival, now in its 56th year.

It’s a timely question as it underpins and encapsulates the reason for my involvement at this year’s festival.

Recognising the opportunities it has afforded Papua New Guinean writers, set in motion by the PNG Attitude family and supported by Paga Hill Development Company, I elected to undertake three days of volunteering as one of my final activities for the MWTE Writer Fellowship 2018.

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Frenzied not strategic: Are we being played in the Pacific?

Fergus Hanson
Fergus Hanson

FERGUS HANSON * | Australian Strategic Policy Institute

CANBERRA - If you were trying to design a low-cost strategy to constrict the operational horizon of an important US ally in the region, China’s ploys in the Pacific wouldn’t be a bad model to examine.

China has been talking a big game in the Pacific. It’s been reported as looking to fund a major regional military base in Fiji and scoping Vanuatu for a military base of its own.

And it apparently has plans to refurbish four ports in Papua New Guinea, including the strategically significant Manus Island. Over the decade 2006–2016, it has committed US$1.8 billion in aid, and Chinese telco Huawei has sought to build undersea internet cables in the region.

Australia’s response has been frenzied, but perhaps not yet that strategic.

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