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99 posts from January 2019

Albert Schram – after the venality of PNG, gratefully moving on

Schram case PC 29 JanALBERT SCHRAM

On Tuesday, after six months, the allegation of “false pretence” concerning Dr Schram’s PhD credentials was thrown out of the Port Moresby magistrate’s court for lack of evidence. Presiding magistrate A Kalandi struck out the case against Dr Schram and discharged him. But Mr Kalandi ordered that Dr Schram forfeit K2,000 bail for not appearing in court and stated he could be arrested if he returned to Papua New Guinea.

The academic had good reasons for not appearing. As he writes on his blog, he had been “in a no-win situation, unable to prove my innocence after being falsely accused, wrongfully dismissed, maliciously prosecuted and unlawfully detained”. You can read Dr Schram’s full account here. What follows is an extract about the life he and his wife Paulina are now leading in his hometown in Italy.

VERONA - Many readers have asked how we are doing after this ordeal. Today, I have moved on.

I feel relieved to be free from those terrible dishonest colleagues, all professed Christians, who unhesitatingly first knowingly falsely accused me, then threw me under the bus, and never again reached out or said or wrote a word to me (with only a few exceptions).

They must be experts in betrayal, since Jesus himself was betrayed by his own disciples.

It really pains me we won't be able to see the many good friends we have made in over six years living among the good people of Papua New Guinea. I can only come back to the country, if all charges are dropped and all costs and damages that my family and I suffered are reimbursed.

Continue reading "Albert Schram – after the venality of PNG, gratefully moving on" »

Heartless publicity stunt by PNG’s deputy prime minister

Abel torched vehicle
Charles Abel poses alongside torched vehicle where mother and son were killed


MADANG - Last week Charles Abel, deputy prime minister and member for Alotau, was publicly criticised for deciding to attend parliament while his electorate was under siege and locked down following a shoot-out between police and a gang of armed criminals.

Three people were reportedly killed following the incident. The provincial legal officer was gunned down while driving home and a young mother and her four year old son were burned to death after their home was set on fire.

In response Abel said he planned to visit the province on Sunday - four days after the incident. In other words when he felt it was safe for him to do so. He later posted pictures of his visit on the Alotau District Facebook page.

It all went wrong. 

First he posted a picture of himself striking a pose at the scene where the young mother and her son were tragically killed. Then he posted a selfie of him standing beside the legal officer's widow.

Continue reading "Heartless publicity stunt by PNG’s deputy prime minister" »

Jimmy Maladina and the 2017 election mystery

The final count
The final count in Esa'ala - Davis Steven won easily but then came an unusual court challenge


PORT MORESBY - Blink and you would have missed it. During February 2018 one of the many petitions challenging the 2017 national election results was dismissed.

It was alleged by the unsuccessful candidate, Glenn Tobewa, that Minister for Justice and Attorney-General, Davis Steven MP, won the Esa’ala Open seat using bribery.

While Tobewa’s allegations were rejected by the national court, wrapped within this easily forgettable action lies a much more memorable riddle.

In total 16 individuals stood for election in Esa’ala Open. Two of the candidates came from the Maladina family, Moses and Jimmy.

The first question that springs to mind is why two prominent brothers would contest the same electorate, and potentially split their vote, in effect, delivering the win to a candidate outside the family.

But here is where things get even more interesting. It was claimed in the national court that Jimmy Maladina was funding and supporting a rival for the seat, Glenn Tobewa.

The judge’s curiosity over the relationship between Glenn Tobewa and Jimmy Maladina was aroused when an Australian barrister from Queensland, Levente Jurth, fronted the case for Glenn Tobewa.

Continue reading "Jimmy Maladina and the 2017 election mystery" »

Unstoppable youth crime is destroying our social fabric

Kundiawa market
Kundiawa market


KUNDIAWA - Deviant behaviour is defined as behaving contrary to or outside the moral and ethical guidelines or rules in society. Deviants are people who break rules and often act abnormally.

Deviant youths are manipulators who con others; they tell lies, cheat, are aggressive and violent, and steal. They involve themselves in crime because they don’t know the difference between lawful and unlawful, right and wrong, moral and immoral.

Juvenile delinquency associated with drug abuse is a serious problem that undermines the fabric of our society. We live in constant fear that our security is at risk because there is no social cohesion, customary laws and morality to control the aggressive behaviour of young people.

Continue reading "Unstoppable youth crime is destroying our social fabric" »

Corruption of PNG’s political system infects economic statistics

Differences in economic measuresPAUL FLANAGAN | PNG Economics

CANBERRA - PNG’s economic statistics have been corrupted. Even the most basic economic statistic of “how big is the PNG economy” has been manipulated to tell stories convenient to the O’Neill/Abel government.

An extraordinary gap of 18% has opened between measurement of the size of the economy (‘gross domestic product’ or GDP) by the PNG government compared with measurements by independent outside observers, led by the International Monetary Fund.

Half of this gap (shown in the table at right) emerged in 2015 when PNG’s own National Statistics Office (NSO), with assistance from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), said the economy was actually 9% smaller than claims by the PNG treasurer.

Continue reading "Corruption of PNG’s political system infects economic statistics" »

Travelling with donkeys through the backblocks of PNG


GOLD COAST – As a kiap in the 1970s, I assisted the Lutheran Mission with one of the first herds of cattle introduced into the Menyamya Sub District.

The cattle drive started at the Bulolo roadhead, traversed the mountains between the Bulolo valley and Aseki Patrol Post before continuing along the Aseki-Menyamya ‘kiap road’.

I knew Menyamya already had some cattle and I’d heard there were some horses as the Assistant District Commissioner and his No 2 used to ride them.

The mission agricultural officer happened to mention that he’d been told by didiman Al Leong about a large mob of donkeys that were going to waste at Mumeng station. The donkeys had been imported into Papua New Guinea to alleviate the need for carriers on patrol.

Continue reading "Travelling with donkeys through the backblocks of PNG" »

Environmental wreck: More plastic than fish in Waigani swamp

The river of plastics and other rubbish penetrates the Gabagabada


PORT MORESBY – The Waigani swamp is a freshwater swamp known in the Motu language as Gabagabada or Big Swamp.

It stretches from Gerehu Stage 6, a contour north of Port Moresby, to 8 Mile, an area in the north-east of the city.

In those nostalgic days, just before Europeans invaded and paved the way for Asians and other people to migrate to Port Moresby, the Waigani swamp was a Garden of Eden to the Motu-Koitabu people.

It was home to edible fish species like the tilapia, gold michaels, stoneheads and eels. It was also a sanctuary for wild pigs, magani, deer, crocodiles, snakes, swans and many different species of birds.

As Port Moresby expanded, the city authorities decided to pipe some of the city’s sewage to the Waigani swamp turning it into a boiling shit-cream quagmire topped with a brown foam.

Settlers who had migrated to the city from the highlands colonised the rest of the swamp where the scorching sun and the pangs of poverty dented their dreams.

Continue reading "Environmental wreck: More plastic than fish in Waigani swamp" »

Rapacious loggers & bewildered people – the taking apart of PNG

Sabl-billboard-cartoon (PNG Exposed)
SABL cartoon (PNG Exposed)


CARDIFF, WALES – Those foreign loggers are so entrenched with the spivs of the national government that the Special Agriculture and Business Lease (SABL) saga can never end well for Papua New Guinea’s ordinary villagers.

In his letter written in 2002 and published recently in PNG Attitude, the late Sam Gallaher said:

“On the day they (Rimbunan Hijau) got access to this country’s timber they signed a deal with UMW Komatsu tractors and purchased 700 major items of second hand plant from UMW owned by a Malaysian company. The then prime minister of this country picked up a consideration of K60 million.”

In late October 2017 I was in Kavieng when I was handed a copy of Government Gazette G161 notifying the gazettal of a SABL over almost 80% of my wife’s island of Lavongai for 99 years free of any land tax.

Continue reading "Rapacious loggers & bewildered people – the taking apart of PNG" »

A teacher’s influence


As a stone creates ripples on a lake,
So a teacher’s creates ripples,
In a student’s life.

Influence subtle and powerful,
To change thinking and life,
And mold profoundly.

Like a surgeon, the teacher,
Cuts minds with wisdom’s scalpel,
To light the intellect’s ancient fire.

In darkened minds a blazing light,
In tender hearts a longing hunger,
To satisfy the thirst for knowledge.

Continue reading "A teacher’s influence" »

Corporal Kasari & the Gogodala nurse’s red bicycle

Corporal Kasari inspecting police with kiap John McGregor at Olsobip
Corporal Kasari inspecting police with kiap John McGregor at Olsobip, 1968


TUMBY BAY - Lance Corporal Kasari RN1297 RPNGC was something of a legend in the Western District in the late 1960s.

If you had some rough patrolling to do in the rugged mountains or tumbling rivers in the northern part of the district Corporal Kasari was the man to have at your side.

If it was a routine patrol and you needed someone to run the patrol post while you were away Corporal Kasari was always your first choice.

Patrol Officer John McGregor summed up the good corporal in one of his patrol reports out of Olsobip in 1968:

“Very capable leader of the detachment, who set an excellent example for his subordinates by hard and energetic work. His knowledge of bush craft and initial contact work was very beneficial to the patrol. At this stage, recommendation for promotion to full corporal should be considered”.

I first encountered Kasari at Olsobip when I took over as Officer in Charge in 1969. Despite John’s recommendation he was still a Lance Corporal.

Continue reading "Corporal Kasari & the Gogodala nurse’s red bicycle" »

Dude, where’s my car? Pacific nation loses official vehicle fleet

Fortunately, the whereabouts of the Maseratis are known (Natalie Whiting, ABC)

ROB TAYLOR | Wall Street Journal

PORT MORESBY - Papua New Guinea, an impoverished South Pacific nation known for jungles, crime and corruption, has a new problem since hosting world leaders in its ramshackle capital late last year.

Some 100 vehicles the government procured to ferry delegates around Port Moresby during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit have gone missing, officials say, along with computers, photocopiers and other office equipment.

Officials are pleading with their compatriots to track down the missing inventory, even offering an amnesty from arrest this month for anyone who returns the loot. A similar appeal in December turned up empty-handed.

“There are fire engines, buses, ambulances unaccounted for. You name it,” finance secretary Ken Ngangan said in an interview.

Continue reading "Dude, where’s my car? Pacific nation loses official vehicle fleet" »

A journey through the mountains not for the faint of heart

ElderPISAI GUMAR | My Land, My Country Blog

LAE - It is not a walk for faint hearted humans this trail beginning at Torowa in the Upper Erap area of Nawaeb District in Morobe Province and into the interior to Kokosan and Damet villages. A journey of more than two days.

So I just walked, walked and walked. Up and down steep mountain slopes, around sheer cliffs, across fast flowing streams rushing towards the Erap River and crashing against huge boulders to eventually marry with the mighty Markham River.

I walked through green coffee gardens decorated by red berries, the aromatic perfume from newly blooming flowers filling my nostrils.

The aroma kept up my strength and kept my mind awake, although my ankles were exhausted. Toenails and the soles of my feet rubbed against the rocky pathways causing blisters and some bleeding. My feet trembled and, when krusako leaves trapped my legs, my body felt like it should fall down.

Continue reading "A journey through the mountains not for the faint of heart" »

Gus Bottrill OAM dies at 94 – a splendid man in war & in peace

Bottrill & Michael
Gus Bottrill receives his OAM from Dr Ken Michael, Governor of Western Australia, in 2008


NOOSA - When Angus Matheson ‘Gus’ Bottrill was awarded the OAM in September 2008, the citation read “for service to the indigenous community, particularly through research and assistance with land title claims”.

It could have gone much further because as a soldier, kiap, court officer and advocate for the rights of indigenous people, he was a man of high values and exceptional dedication to his fellow humans.

Gus Bottrill has died in Perth at the grand age of 94. I knew him only in Rabaul in 1970, when he was a kiap engaged fully in the civil unrest at the time – a stocky man of avuncular demeanour and unflappable disposition.

Those times, which ended in the murder of a district commissioner, unsettled us all. For Bottrill, they would also have offended his sense of propriety about how human relationships should be conducted.

World War II broke out in 1939 and, as a student at Christian Brothers College in 1941, along with his mates Terry Murray and Ted Fitzgerald, Bottrill joined the air cadets. When they all turned 18 in 1942, his mates joined the RAAF and were killed as air crew gunners in Europe.

Continue reading "Gus Bottrill OAM dies at 94 – a splendid man in war & in peace" »

Reminiscences from a kiap’s scrapbook


1969 POs Kwikila
ASOPA patrol officers course No 2 of 1969 at Kwikila. Doug Robbins is seated at extreme right. Paul Oates is front row fourth from right (holding hat) 

SPRINGBROOK - What was being a patrol officer in Papua New Guinea all about?

I was one for a short time from 1969 to 1973, probably having been influenced in 1957 by our scholarship (Year 8) prescribed book ‘Danger Patrol’ by Leslie Rees.

A good account is also found in James Sinclair’s ‘Kiap’ (1981) and the Ex-Kiap website on the internet is also enlightening.

But my own PNG adventure generally matched Eric Feldt’s description in ‘The Coast Watchers’, written in 1946:

“The district officer (likewise, the patrol officer) was responsible for all forms of governmental activity in his district. He was thus, with all local authority in his hands, a power in his district.

Continue reading "Reminiscences from a kiap’s scrapbook" »

Are we in for a repeat of the Y2K bug hysteria?


DAGUA - Twenty years ago, in the months leading up to the new millennium, Y2K bug hysteria gripped Papua New Guinea and the world.

Rumours sped around the world that money would be useless, planes would drop from the sky, nuclear warheads would be set off and that the Y2K bug could mark the end of Times.

There was a general sense of fear and apprehension as computer experts said that, when the date changed to the new millennium, computers with old hardware and programs would not recognise the calendar change and would register the new year not as 2000 but as 1900.

At the time, I was in my final year of secondary school at Kerevat in East New Britain.

Continue reading "Are we in for a repeat of the Y2K bug hysteria?" »

PNG’s cancer neglect & my guilt & grief at the death of a friend

Ruth Kaupa
Ruth Kaupa

FRANKIY KAPIN | My Land, My Country Blog | Edited extracts

LAE - I was woken up on the morning of Sunday 12 January by a phone call and a familiar voice.

At around 5am, 21-year old Ruth Kaupa had lost her battle to breast cancer at Angau hospital.

Ruth was surrounded by her immediate family, close relatives and friends holding hands as she slowly closed her eyes.

I met Ruth last year around June-July, interviewing her and her parents at their home at Kamkumung in Lae.

I am not a cancer specialist or some medical practitioner. I began reporting about cancer in PNG three years ago and over that period acquired some understanding of the problem and the treatment options available in PNG.

Some cancers are treatable.  But in PNG treatment is lacking due to inadequate facilities.

Continue reading "PNG’s cancer neglect & my guilt & grief at the death of a friend" »

Burying (or ignoring) the wisdom that comes with age

New kiaps early 1960s
Cadet patrol officers new to Papua New Guinea watch police parade at Sogeri in March 1950


TUMBY BAY - The last batch of Australian kiaps in Papua New Guinea was appointed in the early 1970s. They were the tail-enders of a fraternity that shared a working experience that was decidedly uncommon in modern times.

As a loose cohort they continue to share camaraderie through continued interaction at reunions and other social events and through social media, where they interact on their own website and through other social media sites like PNG Attitude.

A significant majority of them maintain an abiding interest in Papua New Guinea.

There’s nothing unusual about that, people with common experiences tend to be drawn to this kind of sentimentality and nostalgia and often gather together to remember and celebrate their past and discuss what has happened since then.

Continue reading "Burying (or ignoring) the wisdom that comes with age" »

Women’s Micro Bank partners with The Leprosy Mission PNG

The Leprosy Mission PNG and Women’s Micro Bank at Kalo Village in Rigo District
The Leprosy Mission PNG and Women’s Micro Bank at Kalo Village in Rigo District


PORT MORESBY - More than 20 people living with leprosy and other disabilities opened bank accounts with the Women’s Micro Bank here in December.

This followed the signing of a memorandum of agreement between The Leprosy Mission PNG (and the Women’s Micro Bank Ltd in November.

The Leprosy Mission is in the second year of implementing its sustainable livelihoods development project supported by New Zealand Aid, which has a micro-credit component.

The agreement gives the opportunity for those affected by a curable disease to participate in micro enterprise projects.

Over the years, the Mission has played a key role in supporting the Ministry of Health to manage leprosy in Papua New Guinea.

Continue reading "Women’s Micro Bank partners with The Leprosy Mission PNG" »

Trouble on campus as UPNG hierarchy is swept aside

New vice-chancellor Kenneth Sumbuk - unions question integrity and credibility

STAFF REPORTER | Pacific Media Centre

PORT MORESBY - Papua New Guinea’s Trade Union Congress has slammed the appointments of Jeffrey Kennedy as chancellor and Kenneth Sumbuk as vice-chancellor of the University of Papua New Guinea.

The Post-Courier newspaper reported TUC president John Paska as saying the congress initially welcomed an announcement to investigate administrative malpractice and other aspects of the university but these two appointments now question the credibility of the exercise.

He said this was a governance issue which attracted public attention and commentary.

“With the stroke of a pen [higher education] minister Pila Niningi has turned what appeared to be a step in the right direction into a farcical exercise denigrating it into a comical show piece,” Paska said.

Continue reading "Trouble on campus as UPNG hierarchy is swept aside" »

The mercurial Peter Yama dodges electoral bribery charge

Peter Yama (PNGi)
Peter Yama (PNGi)


PORT MORESBY - Unprecedented violence, fraud and intimidation ‘hijacked’ Papua New Guinea’s 2017 national election.

There was “widespread fraud and malpractice, and extensive vote rigging” says Nicole Haley, an associate professor at the Australian National University and lead author of an in-depth study into the election.

It is against this backdrop that, on 3 October 2018, two election officials were convicted by the PNG national court, after they failed to report a corrupt gratification they had received from a candidate during the vote count for the Madang provincial seat.

John Tumaing confessed to receiving K50 from the candidate and Nixon Kavo admitted to receiving K500.

Continue reading "The mercurial Peter Yama dodges electoral bribery charge" »

Cancer treatment: PNG definitely not the place to get ill

Spoiled flag (Lowy Institute)SCOTT WAIDE | My Land, My Country Blog

LAE - Many Papua New Guineans don’t know about the cost of cancer treatment until a family member gets sick.

The diagnosis alone is problematic.  In rural districts and outstations, many community health workers are not equipped with the awareness which would trigger a referral to a major hospital.

Look at a place like Baindoang in the Nawaeb District of Morobe province.  It is only accessible by plane.  A young mum with early stage cervical or breast cancer will not be able to get proper diagnosis until the disease is in its late stages.

If the community decides to send her to Lae, they will have to raise at least K2,000 for airfares and treatment in Lae. That is big money for a village community. And there is no certainty of the time it will take for them to remain in the city. I’ve come across wives separated from their husbands and children for weeks and months.

Continue reading "Cancer treatment: PNG definitely not the place to get ill" »

Security: Does Australia’s view align with the Pacific islands?

Napuat and Morrison (Dan McGarry)
Vanuatu Minister Andrew Napuat shows Scott Morrison the Australian-funded Police Training College in Port Vila (Dan McGarry)

DAN McGARRY | Vanuatu Daily Post | Edited extracts

PORT VILA - Last year, the Pacific Islands Forum defined security as everything that’s necessary for us to live in a peaceful, prosperous and safe environment.

They agreed that the single greatest threat to this aspiration is climate change. This declaration was signed by every Forum member, including Australia and New Zealand.

Back in Canberra, security is ships and guns and 1941.

A significant part of the strategic security crowd in Australia fears that China plans to create their own version of what Imperial Japan once called the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere.

They want to pre-empt Chinese militarisation of the Pacific islands by militarising it first.

Calmer voices remind us that the Western Pacific is seen as a ‘strategic backwater’ by the Chinese. Senior US analysts have told the Daily Post that the East and South China Seas are their primary focus.

Continue reading "Security: Does Australia’s view align with the Pacific islands?" »

After $50 million, Kokoda suffers from Australian meddling

Major Charlie Lynn
Major Charlie Lynn

CHARLIE LYNN | Spectator Australia

SYDNEY - Community museums and trade centres under construction along the Kokoda Trail are the latest taxpayer funded folly of our so-called ‘Australian – PNG Partnership’.

The use of ‘partnership’ by Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade operatives in Port Moresby is an oxymoron based on the principle of ‘we pay – you agree’ and it’s indicative of the empathetic divide between them and the people they are supposed to serve.

In this case there has been no consultation with trekkers or local villagers to see if such an initiative would meet their needs and no cost benefit analysis to justify the expenditure of other people’s money.

Apart from a few rusted rifles, rotted boots and mortar shells community museums will have little to display – and apart from the odd bilum bag or carved stick, villages along the trail have little to trade.

Continue reading "After $50 million, Kokoda suffers from Australian meddling" »

Living at ground level, Part 2 – More musings from Stan

Stan Gallaher portrait
Stan Gallaher


POPONDETTA - This guy Eliza, my night security, is from the Southern Highlands and he is married to a very pretty young lady from there, all have legs like fence strainer posts.

His lady is very church-minded and her and a group of church people, three ladies and seven guys, most from the highlands, walked to Port Moresby a month ago, nothing new, people been doing it for years. They did the crossing in two and a half days, f---- amazing.

They left Kokoda station in the morning and walked all day and all night with a one hour stop, the next day they did the same thing and then took a short cut and connected to a logging road that comes close to the top of the Kokoda Gap, got on a logging truck into Port Moresby.

The same day they got to Port Moresby they put one of they guys on a plane back here so people knew they had arrived and to prove they had done it in two and a half days.

That’s a four day walk during daylight hours, 12 hours a day by an extremely fit man to the point where they took the short cut. To do it in the time they took and in the dark is worth recording. She came back a week later well worn out but very pleased with what she had done, can’t say I blame her.

Continue reading "Living at ground level, Part 2 – More musings from Stan" »

Nearly 60 years ago we attended the famed Chimbu pig kill

Craig - Pikinini bilasDAVID CRAIG

KUNDIAWA - In 1961, when I was head teacher at Gon Primary T School on the edge of Kundiawa, I was privileged to be allowed to attend a ‘bugla inngu’ pig killing festival.

The ceremonial pig killing was held at the village of Pari on the slopes adjacent to Kundiawa.  The talk had gone out into the surrounding villages that it was Pari’s turn to celebrate. 

We heard the message at school and wondered what implications it had for us.  We soon learned that the school children were expected to be there.  I made enquiries to district education head office in Goroka whether we could declare a school holiday but was told no.

Further discussions took place and I explained that, if I said no, the students would go anyway and it would be impossible to discipline them, even if I wanted to.  Eventually permission was granted.

Continue reading "Nearly 60 years ago we attended the famed Chimbu pig kill" »

Who stuffed up PNG, Australians or Papua New Guineans?

Phil Fitzpatrick recent
Phil Fitzpatrick


TUMBY BAY - As a colonial power Australia was in the unique position of being able to set the agenda for Papua New Guinea’s future.

Systems and institutions that Australia established prior to independence were, whether consciously or not, designed for the long haul and were expected to persist well into the future.

One of these systems was the parliamentary process that prevails today.

If you look back at these developments two things become plain. The first is the heavy hand of Canberra and the second is the outside manipulation or absence of Papua New Guinean input.

In the first case, the decision makers in Canberra, and to a lesser extent in Port Moresby, consistently ignored the advice of those administrators on the ground in PNG.

This is no more apparent than in the wilful ignoring of input from the kiaps and other country-based personnel. Elsewhere I have described one instance where issues of law and order were arbitrarily taken from the kiaps and handed over to a poorly prepared police force.

Continue reading "Who stuffed up PNG, Australians or Papua New Guineans?" »

Despite promises, govt continues to condone illegal land grabs

Eddie Tanago


PORT MORESBY - It is one of the world’s biggest illegal land grabs, yet more than five years after the government promised to cancel the SABL (special agriculture and business) leases and return the land to its customary owners, the people of Papua New Guinea are still waiting to hear which, if any, leases have been cancelled.

Last month the United Nations wrote to the government for a third-time, accusing ministers of racial discrimination against their own people for not implementing the recommendations of the 2013 Commission of Inquiry and cancelling the leases.

Previous letters from the UN have been ignored by the government and PNG needs to be much more transparent.

We have heard so many excuses and seen so much misinformation from the government for so many years that people have rightly lost all trust in our politicians.

Continue reading "Despite promises, govt continues to condone illegal land grabs" »

Living at ground level, Part 1 – Stan's 'PNG factor'

Stan Gallaher in the wheelhouse
Stan Gallaher in the wheelhouse


Stan – a wild man of Papua New Guinea – died in Port Moresby three years ago and his son Luke Gallaher thought we’d find one of his letters of interest. It was written to his family in Australia in December 2002 and offers an insight into life in Papua New Guinea on the ground floor – where money is tight and relationships direct.

“My father made friends and enemies of prime ministers and was Kostas Constantinou's golden boy at one stage,” Luke says, “and was famously know in PNG as a man who would give the shirt off his back to anyone. Some say he couldn't see colour in people.” After Stan’s death, Luke made sure he obtained Australian citizenship for three of his half-siblings who now live in Australia with Luke and his family. Here’s Stan’s story written in his own inimitable style….

POPONDETTA - Its 0630 hours Sunday here and we have overcast skies just starting to lift, the sun burning the mist off the ground and birds have been at it in the mango tree for the past three hours.

PNG music playing in all the houses up and down the street, each trying to play their stereos higher than their neighbours, kids starting to give mums heaps waiting for breakfast, the normal shit that goes on every morning with the exception that its Sunday.

Continue reading "Living at ground level, Part 1 – Stan's 'PNG factor'" »

Fishing’s dark side: the cases of missing NFA observers

Vietnam-blueboatRAYMOND SIGIMET

DAGUA - A high risk job undertaken by young Papua New Guineans has been working for the National Fisheries Authority (NFA) as a fishing observer on foreign fishing vessels.

A fishing observer enforces standards, records catch volumes and prevents the exploitation of fish stocks by fishing vessels within PNG’s territorial waters.

Fishing observers live with foreign fishermen aboard foreign-owned fishing vessels on the open seas for weeks on end.

The NFA fishing observer program started in mid-2000 and PNG has one of the largest observer programs in the South Pacific. Currently there are about 65 observers stationed on fishing vessels in PNG waters.

Continue reading "Fishing’s dark side: the cases of missing NFA observers" »

Jon Bartlett, patrol officer 1963-81 – a life of family, friends & fun

Jon Bartlett
Jon Bartlett - a good life

COLIN MIDDLETON | Edited extracts

NEWCASTLE NSW - Jon Bartlett was a country boy from Wagga, whose family antecedents were Irish and Chinese.

Asked why he spelt his name without the ‘h’ of ‘John’, he said he liked swimming and was an admirer of Jon Henricks, the Australian Olympic and world swimming champion and changed the spelling of his name to match.

Jon was a self-effacing and caring family man of considered thought. He loved music, food, cooking, beer, fun and laughter. He had a keen sense of humour and had an infectious laugh.

After school, Jon worked for a time with the Dalgety wool company in Wagga. He enjoyed his time with them in the saleyards which taught him many things about stock and especially working dogs.

Jon joined the Papua New Guinea Administration in the last permanent patrol officer intake of 1963 – probably completing the one month ASOPA course before a month-long orientation in Port Moresby before his initial posting to the Kainantu Sub District.

Continue reading "Jon Bartlett, patrol officer 1963-81 – a life of family, friends & fun" »

BCL calls out lack of credibility of group contesting Panguna rights

Mark Hitchcock
Mark Hitchcock


PORT MORESBY – The general manager of Bougainville Copper Ltd, Mark Hitchcock, has cast serious doubts on the credibility of the Special Mining Lease Osikaiyang Landowners Association which he says has created a misleading impression that it represents several hundred Panguna customary landowners.

Not only is it not representative but nor does the Association “own the mineral rights at the old Panguna mine” as its so-called developer of choice, RTG Mining Inc, has asserted, Hitchcock said.

Hitchcock cited a letter from Michael Pariu, chairman of the Panguna Developments Company, to the Department of Mineral and Energy Resources which states that “the membership of the PDC, comprising legally appointed block agents and next of kin, completely reject the validity of the above Association to assume they represent ex-SML [special mining lease] landowner blocks and their landowner community”.

Continue reading "BCL calls out lack of credibility of group contesting Panguna rights" »

How Australian ignorance created a disastrous ‘bigman’ system


Phil Fitzpatrick at mic
Phil Fitzpatrick

TUMBY BAY - In 1958 a clash between the colonial Administration and Tolai dissidents in New Britain led to a review of the functions of the role of kiaps in Papua New Guinea.

The man tasked with the review, Professor David Derham, was an early version of the long line of consultants that Canberra has engaged to advise it on what to do in PNG.

Derham spent 37 days in the territory and did not seek the advice of kiaps in the field.

Nevertheless he seemed particularly offended by the kiap practice of informal mediation in local disputes and much preferred a formal system similar to the one used in Australia.

JK McCarthy, the director of the Department of Native Affairs, said in 1963, "The Derham Report, written by a man who had no practical experience of the country, and who undoubtedly was inspired by an equally ignorant person [the Minister for Territories], was accepted without question.

Continue reading "How Australian ignorance created a disastrous ‘bigman’ system" »

Landowner anger grows about continuing mining destruction

Peter Kinjap
Peter Kinjap


PORT MORESBY - One of the world’s largest underdeveloped copper and gold deposits on the Frieda River, a tributary of the Sepik, is opposed by local indigenous landowners and all right-thinking Papua New Guineans.

The Frieda River deposit is thought to contain 13 million tonnes of copper and 20 million ounces of gold and tens of thousands of people fear the likelihood of serious river system contamination and the threat to the ecosystem that supports them.

A spokesman for environment group Project Sepik, Emmanuel Peni, said there was widespread opposition to the mine’s development plan.

“From Iniok village, which is where the barges and ships stop at the Frieda River, right down to the mouth of the Sepik, people are against the mine,” Peni said.

“They are concerned about possible contamination of the river system and the destruction of the environment along the Frieda and the Sepik River system.”

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Climate change concerns soured Morrison’s South Pacific tour

Scott Morrison (Mark Metcalfe)
Scott Morrison (Mark Metcalfe)

ALAN BOYD | Asia Times | Extracts

SYDNEY - Australia’s efforts to woo Pacific states away from China’s embrace kicked into a higher gear with a rare visit by Prime Minister Scott Morrison to Fiji and Vanuatu.

Despite the symbolism of a head of state visit, Morrison’s tour was a sobering reminder of how little control he has over the counter-balancing agenda.

To be sure, there were plenty of sweeteners on the table, including allowances for Fijians to work in Australian rural regions, new teacher training programs and funding to broadcast Australian TV programs in the island nation.

But Morrison’s counterpart, Frank Bainimarama, had a different issue in mind: climate change.

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Readers provide information on the death of Caroline Benny


NOOSA – At a court hearing in Goroka in 1978, Wayne Ryan – who grew up in the Papua New Guinea highlands and lived there in the 1960s and 1970s - was found guilty of the manslaughter of Caroline Benny after a domestic argument.

Mr Justice Pritchard said “the death of Miss Benny, 21, from Losuia in the Trobriand Islands, had occurred in distressing circumstances during an emotionally violent scene”.

Ryan, who was 23 at the time and originally charged with murder, spent three years in gaol in Lae. His family still believe the death was an accident.

Susan Francis is completing a memoir, which will soon go to the publisher, and had been urgently seeking further information on this matter.

Many thanks to Arthur Smedley from Milne Bay who provided some first rate detail for which Susan Francis has expressed deep gratitude. She will soon be rushing to the publisher with the final manuscript.

Thanks to colleagues & benefactors, a literary immersion


BRISBANE - In October 2017, Keith Jackson AM enquired whether I would be interested in attending the Women In Media Conference and, if so, he would sponsor my attendance at the two-day event at Bond University on the Gold Coast.

Without any journalism or media training, I wavered as to my suitability of being seated in the same room as a bunch of over-achieving women in the context of the high-powered organisations headlining the event.

Yet, being closely mentored by Jackson throughout the pilot phase of the ‘My Walk to Equality’ project through preparing media releases and participating in print and radio interviews, I accepted the opportunity he was championing for me.

It would stand as a serendipitous moment in the convergence of literary activities I undertook in 2018.

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Those old-style police were community leaders



Policeman against warfare (Forster)
A local policeman joins the front rank to show his enthusiasm to put a stop to inter-clan fighting, Minj, 1972 (Robert Forster)

NORTHUMBRIA, UK - This photograph was taken at Minj in the Western Highlands early in 1972 and supports Phil Fitzpatrick’s view that good ‘bush policemen’ made their own special contribution to the development of rural Papua New Guinea.

It also contradicts a post-independence view, put forward by a number of opinion formers, that before 1975 many PNG policemen were self-serving individuals more interested in feathering their own nest than promoting social stability at village level.

The photograph shows armed clan warriors, who have decided to give up more than three months constant confrontation with a neighbouring village, on their way to a peace-making ceremony.

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The scintillating & uplifting choral music of Melanesia


MORRISET – When I first went to Papua New Guinea, my pastor Dad gave me one bit of advice.

"Peter you must listen to the church choirs."

And, what do you know, my university-assigned house at Fort Banner was next door to Vincent's, who was the conductor of the local Catholic church choir.

I was able to enjoy hearing them practice every Friday evening.

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PNG government’s appalling human rights scorecard

HumanrightsSTAFF WRITER | Human Rights Watch

NEW YORK - Despite an economic boom led by extractive industries such as mining, an estimated 40% of people in Papua New Guinea live in poverty.

The government has not taken sufficient steps to address gender inequality, violence, corruption, or excessive use of force by police. Rates of family and sexual violence are among the highest in the world, and perpetrators are rarely prosecuted.

The government has been the focus of sustained protests, including student boycotts and acts of civil disobedience, over allegations of corruption. Reports of mob violence, especially against individuals accused of sorcery, continue to be reported.

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How the Kokoda Trail almost killed me; & why I’d do it again

Scott on the Kokoda Trail
Scott on the Kokoda Trail - gutsy, passionate and very, very persistent

SCOTT PHILLIPS | The Motley Fool

SYDNEY - It didn’t exactly end the way I expected. I finished… walked every bloody step of the aptly nicknamed ‘bloody track’, but the last hill was really hard.

‘Jesus, that last hill was tough’, I said to my mate Simon just after we walked through the archway that marked the end of the 120km, eight-day trek.

‘No mate, that was easy’ he said. And I realised how crook I was.

Fair to say, that night was tough, and I felt like death warmed up when I woke the next day for my flight home. Fast forward a few days, and I was in an intensive care bed back in Australia.

But we’ll get there.

Continue reading "How the Kokoda Trail almost killed me; & why I’d do it again" »

My ‘beyond Kudjeru' patrol’: The final stretch

Kudjeru patrol mapPAUL OATES

GOLD COAST - I had sent two men on ahead to notify the people at the airstrip construction site that we were coming and to bring some food back for us.

By mid-afternoon I was starting to get a bit worried that my patrol might have been misdirected. We had only enough food for another night or so and I had used most of my own tinned food to help the carriers.

Then, at about 3pm, I heard voices ahead and we met three men with bilums of cucumbers and fresh food. I took a cucumber and sent the rest back to carriers.

I ate the cucumber whole, like I would an apple, and have never tasted anything more delicious. Fresh food, after three days of preserved and boiled food, was is marvellous.

We finally arrived at airstrip site just as it was getting dark. You could see why these people wanted an airstrip, they were so far away from anyone. Remote took on a new meaning.

There had been good preparation. The people had planted food gardens where they were going to clear and level the land. The villagers ate the food as gardens were cleared and levelled for the strip and its surrounds.

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Sir Mek says O’Neill & Temu must fix health crisis, not deny it

Peter O'Neill and Sir Puka Temu (EMTV)
Peter O'Neill and Sir Puka Temu - 'thousands of deaths on their consciences'


PORT MORESBY - Prime minister Peter O’Neill and health minister Sir Puka Temu should start listening to doctors and patients throughout the country and admit that the health system is in crisis.

Recent statements by Dr James Naipao, president of the PNG Doctors’ Association, and professor Glen Mola from the Medical School, highlight urgent and serious issues that the government is refusing to acknowledge or do anything about.

The health system is in crisis – everyone knows that – but Peter O’Neill and Puka Temu are just letting people die or suffer.

They have thousands of deaths from preventable disease, from common illnesses, from injury, on their consciences. When are they going to acknowledge the duty they have to manage the health system and fund health priorities properly?

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Remote colonial life: Waiting for the K boat & other inconveniences

Baimuru Patrol Post  1962 (John Fowke)
Baimuru Patrol Post, 1962 (John Fowke)


ADELAIDE - My first experience of Papua New Guinea was arriving at Jacksons Airport on a sweltering day in mid 1969.

Having survived the rather desultory attention of Customs, I joined a slightly bewildered group of young men who had gathered around a man carrying a sign indicating that he was there to collect us.

There followed a scramble to board a decrepit blue and white Bedford bus which proceeded to convey us along the dusty road between Moresby and our training camp at Kwikila.

This was where we would undergo the six weeks of training that constituted the introduction to our roles as newly-minted junior kiaps.

A later sojourn at the Australian School of Pacific Administration (ASOPA) in Sydney was promised but never eventuated.

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Spearhead for women's rights: the career of Dame Carol Kidu

Wedding of Carol to Buri Kidu in 1969
Wedding of Carol to Buri Kidu in 1969

MARY FAIRIO | Women Tok PNG | Edited extracts

Link here to read the complete profile of Dame Carol Kidu

PORT MORESBY - Dame Carol Kidu travelled a remarkable journey from her suburban Australian home to Pari village in Port Moresby, and was to break the political glass ceiling to become Papua New Guinea’s first female opposition leader.

Entering politics in 1997, Dame Carol achieved remarkable policy victories especially focused on women, children, disabled people and minority ethnic groups in two consecutive terms as Minister for Community Development.

Born Carol Millwater on 10 October 1948, Carol spent the first 20 years of her life in Shorncliff, Queensland in a lower middle class Australian family. She has described her family as “not poor, but we were not rich, they struggled to get us educated”.

Her parents created an environment of compassion for others and emphasised that everyone was equal. Carol developed an important social consciousness.

In 1969 when Carol was 16 and in Grade 11, she met and fell in love with Buri Kidu, a Papua New Guinean, at Tallebudgera Camp School on the Gold Coast.

Continue reading "Spearhead for women's rights: the career of Dame Carol Kidu" »

Papua New Guinea’s two police forces; old & new, good & bad

The badge and uniform were changed in 1964
The badge and uniform that were changed in 1964


TUMBY BAY - In 1958 a number of dissident Tolai groups in New Britain banded together to refuse to pay their personal tax or line up for census checks.

The District Commissioner decided to force the issue and sent a large force of officers and armed police into the area.

The subsequent confrontation resulted in a melee during which two Tolai men were killed. Assistant District Officer Jack Emanuel fired the first two shots into the air but it was thought that the men had been hit by police .303 rifle bullets.

The upshot of this event was that the Minister for Territories, Paul Hasluck, ordered a review of the structure and functions of the Department of Native Affairs. This was the department run by the kiaps and which largely governed Papua New Guinea.

The separation and limitation of executive, police and magisterial powers held by officers of the department then became a ministerial objective.

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Of extreme weather, kindness & fear of sorcery

Extreme weather  Honiara
Honiara storm


CARDIFF, WALES - I live in a maisonette built by the local council in 1952 and have been tolerating four years of recurring intermittent leaks into my bedroom.

Then, at 2.20am on 28 December, a square metre section of the ceiling collapsed. I was in bed but luckily it missed me.

My landlord had three different builders look for the cause. The third one managed to solve the problem.

His reasoning reminded me of the cleverness behind the design of various traditional huts I had occupied during my life in Papua New Guinea. The builder looked at the roof and noticed it had been constructed at too wide an angle from the apex. Its slope was very gentle.

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Bigger words to say I'm sorry


Are there bigger words to say I'm sorry?
Of those hidden scars and painful bruises,
as we sit and stare without a worry

The sovereign house can fall from glory
For no one wants to put words to truces
Are there bigger words to say I'm sorry?

What of the stories and their memory?
Of starry nights and poetic muses,
as we sit and stare without a worry

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We beat a retreat from PNG. There was a sort of welcome home

Paul Oates
Paul Oates - what to do with a used PNG kiap back in Australia?


GOLD COAST – I recall how, as a contract officer in the service of the Administration of the Territory of Papua New Guinea, I was prepared for my return to Australia.

I was given a short dissertation on how to apply to the Commonwealth Employment Service for unemployment benefits (‘the dole’.)

I was also to ensure that I applied to the Professional Employment Office to have my name registered for job opportunities.

While permanent officers were given a payout (commonly known as the ‘golden handshake’) and seconded officers returned to work in their previous departments, contract officers were expected to throw themselves on the labour market and start from scratch.

No training, briefings or preparation were offered for the culture shock of returning to a country that didn’t know and didn’t care about Papua New Guinea or anyone who had served ‘up there’. (I sympathised with Vietnam veterans on this aspect).

No investigation or screening was conducted to find out if we were medically fit or had contracted or suffered from any medical condition or injury whilst on duty in PNG.

Continue reading "We beat a retreat from PNG. There was a sort of welcome home" »

Smoke over the hills

Smoke over the hillsRAYMOND SIGIMET

There's smoke over the hills
A wafting trail up the green foliage
Reaching and meeting the air
From where it came stood a house

A house of sago thatched high roof
It stood under a clearance
on short stumped posts of nine,
with limbum slats for decks

And sprawl under this break in cover,
near where the thatched abode stood,
there thrives a garden
of taro, pitpit and banana

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Simbu on edge as governor vote recount triggers violence

Kundiawa election violence
Kundiawa fears a return to election chaos as recount for governor's seat triggers violence


KUNDIAWA - The Papua New Guinea electoral commission should consider a deteriorating law and order situation in Kundiawa before a recount of votes from the 2017 general election.

The long-delayed election of a new Simbu governor is occurring in a volatile climate of violence and arson as supporters of one of the candidates demand the venue for the recount be moved from Lae to a neighbouring province, preferably Goroka in the Eastern Highlands.

The national court ordered the recount completed by 7 February after a petition filed by former governor Noah Kool against the election result and the winning candidate Michael Dua.

After an affidavit was submitted by the electoral commission, the court also decided that Lae should be the recount venue.

The decision was badly received by governor elect Dua and his supporters.

Dua cited as his reasons in objecting were the distance, risks and costs to candidates and scrutineers in making their way to Lae. But the court dismissed his application for a change of venue.

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