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111 posts from May 2019

James Marape is Papua New Guinea’s new prime minister

James Marape
James Marape is hugged by a supporter after his election yesterday

KATE LYONS | The Guardian

PORT MORESBY - Papua New Guinean politicians have chosen James Marape as the country’s new prime minister after a tumultuous few months in the country’s political life.

Marape, a former finance minister and sometime ally of the outgoing prime minister Peter O’Neill, was elected by MPs who voted overwhelmingly, 101 to eight, to make him the next leader.

Marape, the member for Tari-Pori in New Hela province was a key minister in O’Neill’s government and his defection from the government to the opposition camp in April accelerated O’Neill’s resignation from office.

For a time he was the opposition bloc’s candidate to replace O’Neill as prime minister, before he was beaten in a secret ballot to become opposition leader by Patrick Pruaitch earlier this week.

Continue reading "James Marape is Papua New Guinea’s new prime minister" »

New prime minister Marape installed in Papua New Guinea

PATRICK O'CONNOR | World Socialist Website

James Marape (EMTV News)

 SYDNEY - After weeks of acute political turmoil, the parliament in Papua New Guinea yesterday voted by an overwhelming 101-8 to replace prime minister Peter O’Neill with former finance minister James Marape.

The country’s ruling coalition remains in place. Marape, who resigned last month over a natural gas deal and defected along with others to the opposition, returned to the government side along with his supporters.

As finance minister, Marape had a major hand in formulating the austerity measures imposed on working people.

O’Neill, in office since 2011, had announced last Saturday that he intended to step down, appointing as stand-in leader Julius Chan, parliamentarian and former prime minister between 1980-1982 and 1994-1997.

Continue reading "New prime minister Marape installed in Papua New Guinea" »

Marape must look beyond his hausman to take back PNG


PORT MORESBY - When Peter O'Neill accepted Patrick Pruaitch’s surprise nomination for the prime minister's post yesterday it dismayed everyone including James Marape.

Guided by recent political history and the latest developments in the political spectrum, Marape would have no doubt been reasonably confident of his nomination and eventual election as prime minister.

So the decision of O'Neill to accept the nomination would have shocked him and may even have changed his view of the former prime minister.

This is where I believe the opposition may have succeeded despite the fact that they did not achieve the desired outcome of electing their prime minister.

Continue reading "Marape must look beyond his hausman to take back PNG" »

A genuine alternative - or could it be just more of the same?


PORT MORESBY - If and when Papua New Guinea’s ‘Alternate Government’ finally puts an end to the O’Neill regime, and it should be this morning, the celebrations could be short-lived.

Very serious questions need put to the opposition, which comprises two distinct political archetypes and presently holds a majority on the floor of parliament.

One is the original opposition – the Juffas, Birds, Kramers and others – which has steadfastly battled PNG’s institutionalised political and public sector corruption from a seemingly impossible minority starting point.

The second group comprises the opportunists – the Pruaitchs and Marapes – whose modus operandi is power (and money) and who are willing to float wherever the political wind takes them with acolytes in tow.

Continue reading "A genuine alternative - or could it be just more of the same?" »

Yesterday’s political change shows revolution has just begun

Peter O'Neill "referred to Kramer as the Facebook prime minister. He forgot that Papua New Guineans populate Facebook and that they were behind his call for change"


PORT MORESBY - Tuesday 28 May 2019 will remain one of the most memorable moments of my life.

It was the day I witnessed a turning point in Papua New Guinea’s political history.

It was a day on which the whole nation stood still.

The supermarkets, markets, alleys, roadsides and streets of Port Moresby were almost deserted.

In their homes, vehicles and tucker shops Papua New Guineans tuned into their TVs and radios to witness and hear the unfolding of events at parliament house.

It was something I had rarely seen and it was clear that Papua New Guineans anticipated a change.

Continue reading "Yesterday’s political change shows revolution has just begun" »

O'Neill forced to resign. Marape to be next prime minister

James Marape (2)
This morning James Marape is likely to become the next prime minister of Papua New Guinea


PORT MORESBY - Today Prime Minister Peter O'Neill was forced to resign, announcing his resignation on the floor of Parliament.

Was it expected?

Short answer is yes.

I had expected the resignation to be next Thursday 6 June, the date the notice of motion was to be tabled and voted on.


Having no other option, and to avoid the humiliation of being voted out of office, I expected O'Neill would instead resign in an effort to dislodge the opposition's notice of motion.

Continue reading "O'Neill forced to resign. Marape to be next prime minister" »

O’Neill goes – not a trick this time, he saw the writing on the wall

Last supper
Peter O'Neill has a final meal with his closest supporters after he resigned his position of prime minister in Port Moresby today


BRISBANE - Papua New Guinea prime minister Peter O'Neill resigned this morning with a parliamentary vote for a new leader to be held tomorrow.

O’Neill told parliament today he had tendered his resignation to the governor-general but he will remain prime minister until a new prime minister is elected and sworn in.

O’Neill told parliament he delivered his letter of resignation to governor-general Sir Robert Dadae at 9.45am.

Left with no room to move, he said “we can deal with this matter once and for all. Once and for all.”

The resignation came after some futile attempts to save his leadership had failed and it became clear a confidence vote brought by a newly buoyant opposition would succeed.

On Monday O’Neill had backtracked on an earlier commitment to step down in order to buy time.

Relieved opposition MPs praised O’Neill for listening to the people and stepping down to allow new leadership.

“By your resignation today, you beat me and beat many of us and outclassing many of us to the view some of us have of you that you are power hungry,” said opposition MP James Marape, engaging in some celebratory hyperbole.

Continue reading "O’Neill goes – not a trick this time, he saw the writing on the wall" »

PNG in constitutional chaos as O'Neill clings to minority rule

Peter O'Neill
Peter O'Neill this afternoon showed he is willing to trash democratic parliamentary process to cling on to power

KEITH JACKSON | Also with information from Scott Waide & sources

PORT MORESBY – The Papua New Guinea parliament ended in chaos yesterday afternoon after Speaker Job Pomat refused a motion from opposition leader Patrick Pruaitch to suspend standing orders and allow the house to vote to remove him.

It was clear when parliament resumed at 2pm that the opposition now has a majority on the floor of the house but prime minister Peter O'Neill is refusing to concede that this means the end of his control of parliament and of the country.

As soon as question time opened Pruaitch - who appears to likely to be the new prime minister if the opposition prevails - proposed a motion to remove Pomat as Speaker.

“There are a number of motions I intend to move. One of them is to challenge your position as Speaker of parliament,” Pruaitch said, seeking leave to move the motion.

Continue reading "PNG in constitutional chaos as O'Neill clings to minority rule" »

Expert team is working on alternate government policies

Michael Somare at policy meeting
Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare sits in at a policy meeting. At far left is former PNG chief justice and attorney-general, Sir Arnold Amet


PORT MORESBY - I know that a lot of people in Papua New Guinea and beyond are asking what the Alternate Government's policies will be.

It’s important to understand that we need to get into government, and that’s whereof our energy is going.

Any policy discussion at this stage is just hypothetical until the Alternate Government takes control of government.

So let’s put the horse before the cart: (1) form government; (2) announce policy.

Having said that, the Alternate Government does have a hard-working policy group led by Professor Misty Baloiloi.

Professor Baloiloi, who holds a PhD in strategic management, is chief of staff for the opposition and has over 30 years’ experience in university, public and private sectors, providing leadership in framing a number of PNG’s most important policies and plans.

Continue reading "Expert team is working on alternate government policies" »

The final reel from my Papua New Guinea film collection


NEWCASTLE – This is the last video in the series of short films I shot in  Papua New Guinea in the early 1960s when I occasionally visited the then territory as part of my work as a lecturer at the Australian School of Pacific Administration.

The footage traverses quite a bit of country as it moves from Rabuana Primary School near Rabaul and a tabloid sports event, then Wau and Bulolo in the Goldfields and what was a lonely drive down the mountain to Lae, where I visited the impressive war cemetery.

Next we move to the highlands and Goroka (mispelled Goroko in the film’s caption) and finally to Wewak and its fine marketplace.

Thank you for watching these short videos, digitally reproduced by the people at the National Archives of Australia. I hope you have enjoyed this series as much as I have enjoyed putting it together.

I particularly mention the students of mine from ASOPA and the E-Course students from Malaguna Teachers College with whom I am still in touch.

These people dedicated a major part of their lives to teaching in Papua New Guinea and I was fortunate enough to share some of their adventures,

The feedback I have received so far has been encouraging and rewarding, and I want to mention fellow ASOPA lecturer Dick Pearse was thrilled to see the Tubusereia segment in an earlier article.

Just a word of thanks to Keith Jackson for putting the films on PNG Attitude. I’m enjoying such a lot of reading there which is so interesting and well put together.

The entire series of 12 short films is now complete and you can fine all of them on YouTube at this link -

Three possible outcomes of PNG's crisis – two bad; one hopeful

Keith at 73
Keith Jackson sees three broad options for the leadership of Papua New Guinea's next government - only one is hopeful


BRISBANE – As the political crisis in Papua New Guinea moves from its deconstruction to its reconstruction phase over the next few days, it is clear that there are three broad outcomes possible for a country that has been dragged down for too long by inept and corrupt governance.

The first is that prime minister Peter O’Neill - still being reported by the world's media as having resigned on Sunday when he had merely announced that as an intention - will engineer his continuation in power.

This could either of take two forms: )'Neill retains his top job in an escapist effort rivalling the exploits of the Great Houdini (in which case Australia's PM Morrison will have to welcome him back to the fold having gone off half-cocked on Sunday); or he manages to save his government by taking a back seat and working towards a return gig by, in time, removing a puppet prime minister.

Both options will cost him, or should I say cost the long-suffering people of PNG, a great deal of money in bribing back into the fold politicians who ‘mistakenly’ joined the opposition.

The second possible outcome is that the O’Neill government falls and the opposition prevails but anoints a leader who is a liklik O’Neill – a new face but with the same old habits of corruption, nepotism and self-indulgence with perhaps a few honest souls in the ministry to create an impression of positive change.

Continue reading "Three possible outcomes of PNG's crisis – two bad; one hopeful" »

A new government must restore confidence in the law

Francis Nii (2)
Francis Nii - "Laws must be strong, respected, upheld and they must work fairly in the interests of every citizen"


KUNDIAWA - Public confidence in the police force and judiciary as independent and impartial state agencies of the state has drastically declined under the leadership of Peter O’Neill.

Meddling in appointments and in the operations of the police and hard-to-understand decisions of the courts has raised serious doubts and mistrust in the minds of the people.

Increasingly the independence and integrity of the two institutions are being questioned.

As the political numbers game in the lead-up to a possible vote of no confidence intensifies and as a mass exodus occurs of government MPs to the opposition, prime minister Peter O’Neill had no choice but to relinquish his position.

Whether he actually does this in favour of Sir Julius Chan or thinks of some other escape tactic, it will be a last minute do-or-die manoeuvre for his own survival.

That O’Neill has not resigned but stepped down “for a few days” means he could resume his position anytime.

As of yesterday, the opposition had 63 members and the government 47. There were more defections expected from those who still remained in the government but the opposition said it had shut its doors to them.

Continue reading "A new government must restore confidence in the law" »

PNG in turmoil as opposition could overturn government today

Julius Chan and Peter O'Neill
The wily Peter O'Neill (right) has anointed Sir Julius Chan as his successor. The ageing New Ireland governor says, "There's been a huge misunderstanding"

KATE LYONS | The Guardian

SYDNEY - Papua New Guinea is braced for a political reckoning after a tumultuous week that has seen prime minister Peter O’Neill announce his resignation following high-level defections from his party.

On Sunday, O’Neill, who has been prime minister since 2011, told a news conference in Port Moresby that he would be resigning and handing over the leadership to Sir Julius Chan, himself a former prime minister, whom O’Neill described as one of the nation’s “founding fathers”.

However on Monday, in a twist typical of the opaque nature of PNG politics, Sir Julius said there had been “a huge misunderstanding” and that he was not acting prime minister, had not been appointed to a ministerial role and that “the existing prime minister has no power to nominate a new prime minister”.

“It is kind of funny,” said Sir Julius, who added that the position of prime minister was not one he was seeking.

“However, I love Papua New Guinea”, he said. “There is a desperate need right now to unite the country.”

Continue reading "PNG in turmoil as opposition could overturn government today" »

Uncertain future for Australian contracts with unsettled PNG

Marise Payne
Marise Payne says Australia would be "brave to predict" the future of its offshore refugee processing deal if PNG gets a new government


MELBOURNE - Australia would be "brave to predict" the future of its offshore processing deal with Papua New Guinea after the country's prime minister announced his resignation, according to foreign minister Marise Payne.

PNG prime minister Peter O'Neill said on Sunday he would resign after seven years at the helm as it became clear the Opposition had enough numbers to topple him in parliament this week.

It is unclear who will replace Mr O'Neill, though he wants to hand over his job to former two-time PNG prime minister Sir Julius Chan, 79.

Mr O'Neill was Australia's key partner when it came to negotiating and then maintaining arrangements to keep 550 refugees and asylum seekers on Manus Island even after the country's High Court found the detention centre was unconstitutional.

Continue reading "Uncertain future for Australian contracts with unsettled PNG" »

Political disarray in PNG rocks Oil Search shares

Oil Search
Analysts play down any threat that the PNG opposition will seek to renegotiate the LNG agreement if it took over from O'Neill government


SYDNEY/MELBOURNE - Political turmoil in Papua New Guinea threatens to delay a $13 billion plan to double the country’s gas exports, sending shares in one of the project’s partners, Oil Search Ltd, down nearly 4% on Monday.

PNG prime minister Peter O’Neill said on Sunday he would resign after weeks of high-level defections from the ruling party. Sir Julius Chan, twice a former premier, would take over as the government’s leader, O’Neill said.

Political instability is not unusual in PNG and has not held back mining and energy investments in the resource-rich country, however protests over benefits failing to reach rural areas have dogged the government and project owners.

It was not clear whether Chan could command a majority in parliament when it resumes on Tuesday.

“We will not choose him. It’s a really bad choice,” opposition lawmaker Allan Bird told Reuters in a text message.

“We want a complete break from O’Neill (and) Chan is just a proxy for O’Neill,” he said.

Continue reading "Political disarray in PNG rocks Oil Search shares" »

Leadership crisis: Australia’s tin ear on PNG as uncanny as ever

Scott Morrison with Peter O'Neill - stepping in where angels fear to tread


NOOSA – Australia’s prime minister Scott Morrison has praised Peter O’Neill even as the Papua New Guinea prime minister fights the battle of his political life against a resurgent opposition that seems set to command a majority in the country’s Haus Tambaran.

Yesterday afternoon O’Neill announced his resignation after seven years as national leader but has not yet formalised this position as is required by the PNG constitution.

Ben Packham in The Australian newspaper reports this morning that Australian officials are “closely watching the political fallout from the move”.

But Morrison gave O’Neill a protective boost yesterday by talking of his “strong friendship and relationship” with the struggling prime minister.

Continue reading "Leadership crisis: Australia’s tin ear on PNG as uncanny as ever" »

The 63 MPs who want to end the seven year reign of Peter O’Neill

Alternative Government
The 63 members of the 'Alternative Government' pose for a group photo last night. We list all their names below


PORT MORESBY – The self-declared ‘Alternative Government’ of Papua New Guinea has issued the names of 63 members of parliament who it says have joined a “new government in the making”.

The list was announced by Tari Pori MP and former finance minister James Marape at the opposition’s ‘camp’ at Port Moresby’s Laguna Hotel last night.

With 63 MPs constituting a seven seat majority in the 111-seat parliament, the opposition seems to be in a comfortable position if there is a confidence vote, as is expected when parliament resumes tomorrow.

Patrick Pruaitch remains as opposition leader, although it is unclear whether he would take over as prime minister if the confidence vote resulted in the defeat of the O’Neill government.

Continue reading "The 63 MPs who want to end the seven year reign of Peter O’Neill" »

Don Polye’s stand against O’Neill’s excess nears vindication

Don Polye
Don Polye in his Kandep electorate following his appointment as World Bank chairman. Soon after he was fired by Peter O'Neill as PNG Treasurer over the USB loan affair and his long journey to final vindication began


PORT MORESBY - It was a deadly blow that was inflicted on prime minister Peter O’Neill’s government when the United Resources Party defected to the opposition on Friday, swelling the ‘Alternate Government’s’ numbers to 62.

URP leader and state enterprises minister William Duma brought with him 11 MPs to the opposition’s Laguna camp –including higher education minister Pila Niningi and police minister Jelta Wong.

Many of the ministers who had defected to the opposition took out full-page newspaper advertisements to give different reasons why they left O’Neill’s People’s National Congress-led government.

Duma’s main reason was the controversial K3 billion loan with the Swiss bank UBS, taken in 2014.

“I have never come out publicly, but I can say that I was one of those that opposed the UBS deal,” Duma said.

“My colleagues, Don Polye and Kerenga Kua, we were terminated for speaking out. We were not terminated for incompetence.

“I forgave our prime minister and I served him. But I have come to a point where I cannot serve this prime minister anymore.”

Continue reading "Don Polye’s stand against O’Neill’s excess nears vindication" »

How to make a bit of money as a book author in PNG

Jordan Dean
Jordan Dean provides some good practical advice on how to publish your book in Papua New Guinea


PORT MORESBY - Self-publishing is a blessing for Papua New Guinean writers. But, while CreateSpace and Amazon Kindle have eased our publishing woes, there are some downsides.

Many PNG authors lack the business acumen and haven’t sold a single copy of their books on Amazon.

Writing tends to be a solitary endeavour, but marketing (selling) and communicating with potential readers, is a social process.

It requires you to put your book out there for the world to see - and hopefully buy.

After selling over 500 copies of my five books (including donating copies to book drives and libraries around the country), I am far from been a New York Times best seller, so I am not claiming to be a publishing expert.

But there are some insights I’ve learnt over the years. I’ll share a few of them here.

Continue reading "How to make a bit of money as a book author in PNG" »

Bougainville’s many festivals present a delight for visitors

Mona - Bougainville men
Bougainville men display a model of the traditional mona vessel used for warfare, exploration and fishing


PORT MORESBY - Festivals and events are part of the indigenous lifestyle in Papua New Guinea. Everywhere you go there is always a celebration close by and many of them have turned into tourist attractions for the country.

The Mona canoe race event in Bougainville is one event that is hosted annually with other activities. In 2014 Bougainville set dates for Bougainville festivals including this one that started in August the same year.

The Mona Festival (sometimes referred to as the Canoe Festival) is held annually in Buka to celebrate the seafaring tradition of Bougainvilleans.

The ‘mona’ is a large sea going canoe which was used for trade or to conduct lightning raids on other communities and islands in the Solomon Sea.

Continue reading "Bougainville’s many festivals present a delight for visitors" »

Kramer claims that opposition is now able to form a government. O'Neill, Abel, Chan & other leaders left out in cold by defections

O'Neill steps aside
Has Julius Chan (centre) received the gift of the prime ministership  from Peter O'Neill (right) or is he the recipient of a hospital pass?


NOOSA - With more government coalition members joining the self-styled 'Alternative Government', giving it the majority of members in parliament, Papua New Guinea prime minister Peter O'Neill this afternoon said he had handed the weakened chalice of national leadership to ageing former leader Sir Julius Chan.

At a media conference in Port Moresby, O'Neill said recent changes in party allegiances had signalled a "need for change".

But it was not immediately apparent whether his stepping down was a political ruse or a genuine attempt to see if Chan could form a new government.

There was a view in PNG this afternoon that Chan's attempted elevation was a move to bring disaffected MPs back to the government camp but that O'Neill would continue to exercise power from the deputy's position.

Continue reading "Kramer claims that opposition is now able to form a government. O'Neill, Abel, Chan & other leaders left out in cold by defections" »

Dear prime minister O’Neill, we’ll stop you selling our country

Gary Juffa - "We are not going to let you and these minions of yours sell our children’s birthrights."

GARY JUFFA MP | Governor of Oro Province

POPONDETTA - Dear prime minister, you sold all our todays and were about to sell our children’s tomorrows too.

You were in the most enviable and powerful position to do what is right and just by the people of Papua New Guinea – my people.

But instead you and a few chosen vultures and pirates and similar characters who you call “friends” chose to exploit our people and destroy our people’s future. All for profit and all for greed.

You and these despicable and greedy selfish raiders and plunderers will not package pieces of our homeland and sell it to benefit yourselves only.

Every Papua New Guinean is a shareholder of Papua New Guinea. They all have a say. And they won’t stand for it.

They are rising up to fight. That’s what we do when our homes and children are threatened by war. Your war. A war to take all that is ours and sell it to your friends and cronies.

Continue reading "Dear prime minister O’Neill, we’ll stop you selling our country" »

The O’Neill legacy: speaks of the nation, but all about himself

Watna Mori
Watna Mori - 'The O’Neill method of eliminating threats is to shower the news cycle with alternative facts or to disregard the rule of law and conventions of a Westminster system'

WATNA MORI | The Interpreter | Lowy Institute

PORT MORESBY - The past two weeks have been an anxious wait and see in Papua New Guinea politics, and will continue to be so until such time as a vote of no confidence takes place, if at all.

On 6 May, prior to the PNG parliament’s last sitting, prime minister Peter O’Neill released a statement that his government was “mandated by the people of Papua New Guinea at the 2017 elections” and that those who were pushing for this vote of no confidence were “self-interested” and threatening the stability of the country.

This was not without irony. O’Neill came into power in 2011 by means found unconstitutional by the PNG supreme court.

He effectively ignored the court decision, leading to PNG having two declared prime ministers for a period of seven months ­– one declared by parliament and the other by the judiciary.

Initially, the ousted prime minister, Sir Michael Somare, fought the matter in court, however, he went quiet ahead of the 2012 national elections.

At the 2012 ballot, O’Neill emerged as the elected PM. His People’s National Congress (PNC) party went from 10 members in parliament to 27. Somare’s National Alliance party then surprisingly formed a coalition with O’Neill.

Continue reading "The O’Neill legacy: speaks of the nation, but all about himself" »

Analysis of economic statistics reveals a shocking truth

Paul Flanagan
Paul Flanagan - "My analysis of PNG’s statistics over recent years led me to conclude they are increasingly used to tell a convenient story for the government"

PAUL FLANAGAN | PNG Economics | Edited extracts

CANBERRA - Papua New Guinea’s economic statistics are corrupted – some credible figures slip through but others are manipulated to protect the government.

And, despite attempts to justify significant variations, explanations are riddled with major errors and omissions.

Statistics are usually boring. Lots and lots of numbers and details. The recent release by Papua New Guinea’s National Statistics Office (NSO) of the national accounts from 2006 to 2016 could easily be seen as a boring document.

At one level they represent some credible pushback against the corruption of PNG’s statistics, but the details reveal the possibility of ongoing political interference.

The new statistics also have a very worrying bottom line – living standards in PNG have gone backwards by over 10% over the last five years – over K500 for every single person in PNG on average.

The statistics confirm a GDP recession in PNG in 2008 (there was probably another in 2018) – so PNG cannot claim to have continuous growth over the last 16 years as senior politicians continue to claim.

Continue reading "Analysis of economic statistics reveals a shocking truth" »

O’Neill poised for ousting as Duma’s URP defects to opposition

William Duma is welcomed into the opposition,  probably signalling the end of Peter O'Neill's rule (EMTV News)

NEWS DESK | Pacific Media Centre | EMTV

AUCKLAND - The biggest coalition partner in prime minister Peter O’Neill’s coalition government has defected to the opposition in the most dramatic shift in numbers in Papua New Guinea’s power struggle.

United Resources Party (URP leader and state enterprises minister William Duma arrived at the Opposition’s Laguna camp early yesterday afternoon following days of intense negotiations behind the scenes.

Duma brought with him 11 MPs to the opposition. They included higher education minister Pila Niningi and police minister Jelta Wong.

Duma immediately held a news conference in which he expressed his reasons for leaving the government. Chief among them was the controversial loan with the Swiss bank UBS.

Continue reading "O’Neill poised for ousting as Duma’s URP defects to opposition" »

O’Neill’s Australian citizenship saga: who isn’t telling truth?


KUNDIAWA - The political games continue in Australia’s closest neighbour, Papua New Guinea, as a parliamentary vote of no confidence in prime minister Peter O’Neill gets closer.

There are many tactical twists and turns, with one of the hottest issues at the moment being an allegation questioning whether O’Neill is an Australian citizen, which would have barred his election to parliament.

A week ago the member for Madang, Bryan Kramer, raised the eyebrows of many Facebook users when he posted an article alleging that O’Neill was an Australian citizen.

Continue reading "O’Neill’s Australian citizenship saga: who isn’t telling truth?" »

Australia has voted – what does this mean for the Pacific?

Tess Newton Cain (2)
Tess Newton Cain - new Australian government should have something new to say to the Pacific on climate change

TESS NEWTON CAIN | Vanuatu Daily Post

BRISBANE - Not content with watching Vanuatu’s elections and those of our Pacific island neighbours, I also kept a fairly close eye on the Australian federal elections that took place last weekend.

Given that Pacific policy was one area where there were some key differences between the two major parties, there was good reason to take an interest in what transpired.

So now that we know that the Morrison government has been returned, what do leaders and commentators in the region and the Australian diaspora think this result means for the Pacific?

What are they hoping to see from the Morrison government when it comes to sustaining the ‘Pacific step up’?

Climate change is essentially where these conversations start and end. On Facebook, Fiji’s prime minister Bainimarama was quite effusive in his congratulations referring to Scott Morrison as his ‘friend’.

Continue reading "Australia has voted – what does this mean for the Pacific?" »

Australian aid & the Pacific in the Coalition’s third term

Stephen Howes - positive change is possible

STEPHEN HOWES | Devpolicy News | Australian National University

CANBERRA - Aid hardly rated a mention during the 2019 Australian election campaign. Shadow foreign minister Penny Wong talked about it, and Labor promised more aid. The Liberals eventually put out a foreign policy statement, which defends their record on aid but promises nothing new.

But will it just be business as usual? Aid is a policy domain with enormous ministerial discretion. As Ben Day has argued, it is one area where a foreign minister can actually make a difference.

And the Coalition will be under pressure.

Their unconvincing climate change policy will be a constant target for Pacific criticism. PNG’s ongoing economic woes, corruption scandals, and health crisis will put pressure on the government to get a better return from our biggest aid program.

Continue reading "Australian aid & the Pacific in the Coalition’s third term" »

Some notes from the journal of a glass half full guy

Back selling buai
Selling buai at Pipigari Street in 2012


PORT MORESBY - I sold betel nut for three years from 2010 to 2012 after dropping out of school.

Everything I've learnt was at the buai market. As a buai seller one has time to contemplate life. One also has money to buy phone credits and learn stuff on the internet.

I don't have a diploma or degree but that hasn't stopped me from travelling to Asia, South America, Africa and the Pacific Islands.

One of the most negative mindset our young people have is that they blame the government or their parents or their ‘lack’ of education for being in the hole.I knew I was a victim of the modern capitalist economy but I chose not to continue to be a victim by not blaming others and working towards improving my lot in life.

Yes they may be right but how does blaming others pull you out of the hole you are in.

Continue reading "Some notes from the journal of a glass half full guy" »

Peter O’Neill is cheating on our public servants’ wages

Mekere Morauta
Mekere Morauta - Papua New Guinea's public servants are owed hundreds of millions of kina


PORT MORESBY – The prime minister continues to cheat public servants out of their pay and entitlements.

Peter O’Neill has still not paid the workers the wage rises they were awarded in 2017 or the full superannuation amount owing to all those who retired between January 1 2016 and December 31 2017.

Instead Mr O’Neill uses workers’ money to build roads to nowhere and self-glorifying hotels and convention centres in Port Moresby.

Public servants are owed hundreds of millions of kina, but you can bet that Mr O’Neill and his cronies are being paid every toea that they claim is owed to them. Under Mr O’Neill, there is one rule for the rich and powerful and another rule for workers.”

Continue reading "Peter O’Neill is cheating on our public servants’ wages" »

Parochialism & greed produced the ills that bedevil PNG

Phil Fitzpatrick


TUMBY BAY - If veteran Labor stalwart Joel Fitzgibbon is to be believed, one of the reasons his party lost last weekend’s federal election is because it didn’t take into account the needs of regional areas in Australia, particularly in Queensland.

Once again there are lessons for Papua New Guinea in this outcome. But on the reverse side, Papua New Guinea provides lessons for Australia too.

Politicians in PNG certainly concentrate their attention on their own electorates but in a random and uncoordinated way.

Beyond that they have an obsession with Port Moresby, spending huge amounts of money on projects there which are often white elephant.

This gets much worse when they compete with each other to become part of the ruling elite. This results in many regional areas missing out.

If you throw into this equation the ruling elite’s obsequiousness to the big multinational resource companies, the scales become heavily tipped against the rural and regional areas.

Continue reading "Parochialism & greed produced the ills that bedevil PNG" »

As our friends & comrades die, a bit of our lives vanishes

Chris Overland
Chris Overland


ADELAIDE – In May 1969, exactly 50 years ago, I first arrived in Port Moresby, having turned 18 a bare six weeks previously.

To the best of my knowledge, with one exception who soon decamped south back to Australia, every other recruit to the service that year was several years older than me.

So I think that I am possibly the youngest former expatriate kiap still living and I turned 68 this year.

While I was stationed in Oro Province from early 1972 to mid-1974, I cannot recall meeting Doug Robbins, who has just died, although I certainly knew his mate Drew Pingo quite well.

Also, I had the privilege of doing patrol work both around Tufi and, on one occasion, at Safia, so I know a bit about the sort of country Doug wrote about in PNG Attitude.

His death, at what I think these days would be regarded as a comparatively young age, is a cause of sadness to me, first and foremost because of the impact it will have upon his family. To them I offer my sincere condolences.

Continue reading "As our friends & comrades die, a bit of our lives vanishes" »

A home in the clouds: Working to save the tree kangaroo

Critically endangered tree kangaroo (Jonathan Byers  TKCP)
Critically endangered  - Papua New Guinea's tree kangaroo (Jonathan Byers,  TKCP)

TREVOR HOLBROOK, JIM THOMAS & ANDREA EGAN | UNDP Ecosystems & Biodiversity | Edited extracts

WASHINGTON, USA - Sought after for subsistence-based hunting, as part of rural communities’ diets for centuries, the critically endangered tree kangaroos have been hunted almost to extinction, but now local communities and conservation groups are fighting together to save them.

Tree kangaroos are found only in the rainforests of Australia, West Papua, and Papua New Guinea. Looking like a cross between a kangaroo and a lemur, they have adapted to life in the trees, with shorter hind legs and stronger forelimbs for climbing.

Despite weighing up to 16kg, tree kangaroos are remarkably elusive, and often invisible high in the forest canopy.

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DWU cultural festival promotes students’ ethnic heritage

DWU - Welda woman from Western Highlands
A Welda student from the Western Highlands


PORT MORESBY - Divine Word University community in Madang is always pleased to host its DWU Cultural Festival every year in the third week of August.

It’s a lively event with traditional songs and dances as students from all 22 provinces in PNG, Solomon Islands and Fiji take centre stage showcasing their cultures in what is something closer to a Pacific festival.

The people of Madang and visiting tourists and the growing expatriate community of Chinese, Filipinos and Europeans usually take the chance to see a sampling of the diverse cultures and traditions of Papua New Guinea and the Pacific.

Many students had their parents, guardians and extended relatives on campus to assist them with the preparations and performances as well.

The inclusion of mostly highlands parents was a testament to the level of pride and support they have for their student sons, daughters, nephews and cousins.

The highlands students usually appear more spectacular when their elders put the finishing touches on the face painting and traditional attire.

The annual festival is set by the university administration for the students to acknowledge their indigenous roots in traditional song, dance, costumes and folklore.

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When a society feels threatened

Australian voters
Phil Fitzpatrick - "Trying to convince wary Australian voters to accept progressive change at this time proved disastrous for the Labor Party"


TUMBY BAY - When a society feels threatened it tends to withdraw into itself and usually does one of two things.

The first is to fall back into an innate sense of conservatism and the second is to bury its head in the sand and consign its fate to the gods.

In the past, when war has been imminent, we have seen nations withdraw into themselves and follow leaders who are by nature nationalistic and conservative.

When the war has passed and if they have proved victorious that same nation will then become much more progressive as a result of its optimism. This is essentially what happened in the 1960s in the west.

At the moment the world is facing turbulent times. The old economic paradigms are proving ineffective and climate change is posing a serious existential threat.

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‘Nuba Towa’: Death & compensation on Fergusson Island


PORT MORESBY - When the conch shell was blown to announce my grandfather’s death in 2015, everyone in Lyaupolo village stopped what they were doing and returned to the village to mourn.

All day and night, friends, relatives and church members from other villages arrived on foot and by canoe and dinghy to mourn for my grandfather.

Some of them expressed their grief by chopping down several betel nut, coconut and breadfruit trees that grandfather had planted.

One of my uncles wrote down the names of all the mourners. In the past, before formal education, when my ancestors had no knowledge about pen or paper, they would memorise every mourner for the nuba towa (‘sitting in the cold’), it being a customary obligation to compensate everyone who leaves the comfort of their homes to mourn for a deceased family member.

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Doug Robbins dies - ex kiap & contributor to PNG Attitude

Doug Robbins
Doug Robbins - wherever he was, in Papua New Guinea, in his home town of Springwood or in PNG Attitude, a great contributor


NOOSA – I have been deeply saddened to learn of the death of Doug Robbins, a former patrol officer and, in recent years, a prolific contributor to PNG Attitude.

Doug died in Springwood in south-east Queensland on 8 May, his last article for the blog being published just last month.

Much of Doug’s writing was about the Northern (Oro) Province and the experiences of he and his wife Annette there in the 1970s.

What I did not fully appreciate was how Doug and Annette  had remained committed to that part of Papua New Guinea right up until his death.

Doug wrote on his Linked In page, “Since 2009 I have worked in a volunteer capacity with Gangai Kokona together with his associates in Port Moresby and his extremely efficient teams in the villages.

"Specifically this involves pursuing Gangai's passion for eco-enterprise for the people of PNG. I know Gangai's family and people from over 40 years ago.”

And Gangai has written: “Doug shares my passion for the protection of nature and all its providence, however his wealth of experience in outback eco-tourism surpasses anyone I have met.

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How Susan graduated after a 34 year fight to get a degree

Susan Wangjil and her father on campus
Newly graduated Susan Wangjil with her father on the campus of the University of Papua New Guinea


PORT MORESBY - It was a great relief when Susan Wangjil finally graduated with a science degree after 34 years of continuous education.

Susan is from Alkena village in the Tambul District of the Western Highlands Province and she graduated as a Bachelor of Science, majoring in biology, from the University of Papua New Guinea on 26 April.

She had started Grade 1 at Alkena Lutheran Community school back in 1986, and in 1995 completed Grade 10 at Tambul High School. But she did not receive an offer to progress to the next level of education.

Susan had no choice but to return to her family where she stayed for a year and said to herself that completing Grade 10 should not be the end of her education.

So, in 1997, she decided to enrol at the Mount Hagen College of Distance Education to improve her Grade 10 marks. The following year, she was accepted into Nazarene School of Nursing at Kudjip in Jiwaka Province.

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My words on a poetic tour de force from Caroline Evari

Caroline Evari
Caroline Evari poses with her new collection of poetry, Nanu Sina


BRISBANE - I had the good fortune to mentor Papua New Guinean writer Caroline Evari who has just published a new collection of poetry, ‘Nanu Sina: My Words’.

It is an exciting time as Caroline celebrates this success, and in the interview with Betty Wakia that follows, she reflects on how she maximised the sparse moments between the manic juggling of career, life demands and motherhood.

In these moments, Caroline created, drafted redrafted and refined her manuscript before submitting it to Port Moresby-based publisher, JDT Publications, run by Jordan Dean.

It is also a joyous time as family, friends, colleagues and fellow writers have been forthcoming in praising and admiring the book’s publication.

Amongst all this, Caroline continues to diligently attend to the significant task required of published authors - promoting and marketing her work to engage with a wide audience and, of course, sell books.

Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are accessible, low-cost and wide-reaching social-media platforms available for effective online marketing. And PNG Attitude was quick off the mark with a first review of the book which Keith Jackson described as “a collection of sublime Melanesian verse from a poet of perception.”

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Caroline Evari: ‘Choose to rise above every circumstance….’

Caroline Evari
Caroline Evari
Betty Wakia (2)
Betty Wakia


BETTY WAKIA: Why did you decide to call your recently published collection of poems, ‘Nanu Sina’?

CAROLINE EVARI: ‘Nanu Sina’ simply means ‘my words’. I chose this title because, as you read through the book, you will notice most of the poems are basically my own thoughts related to my personal experiences and observations.

BETTY: Can you tell us what sort of poems are in this book?

CAROLINE: The book is divided into four parts - Conflicts, Relationships, Hope and Family. In each, you will find poems that resonate with the theme. For example, under Conflict, you find poems that talk about war, doubt and fear and under Relationships there are poems about love and friendship.

BETTY: How did your environment and upbringing colour you’re writing?

CAROLINE: Both have had a huge impact on my writing. Growing up, I never openly shared my challenges with the people around me. Because most of the poems have been extracted from my Grades 11 and 12 school journals, they are basically my way of expressing my fear, disappointments, hopes and dreams for an envisioned future. My journal was a place for me to confide in, so I wrote and wrote without stopping because I found writing a way of relieving stress.

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History tells how civilisations can fall suddenly & catastrophically

Collapse-of-civilizationCHRIS OVERLAND

ADELAIDE - I think that the article, ‘UBS loan to PNG government may have breached 15 laws’ attracted no comment from PNG Attitude readers, speaks volumes for the state of mind of ordinary Papua New Guineans.

They are now so used to hearing about the skulduggery, corruption and malfeasance of their political leaders that they no longer react to evidence of even the most egregious bad faith, self-interest or outright criminality.

I have recently read Nigel Tranter's lively book, ‘The Story of Scotland’, in which he relates in a non-academic and accessible way the centuries of chicanery, deviousness, vengeance seeking, theft and murder that are a feature of that country's historic heritage.

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The long saga of the Karimui road. Can Kama change the game?

Challenging terrain of Karimui
The challenging terrain of Karimui - many attempts but the vital link road remains incomplete


KUNDIAWA - While Papua New Guinea is focusing on the imminent vote of no confidence in prime minister Peter O’Neill, in the the Simbu Province’s remote Salt Nomane region, the struggle to connect the Karimui area to the outside world is a never ending venture.

The strive to connect Karimui by road has spanned more than three decades and cost many millions of kina with no success.

But wok mas go het yet courtesy of a local MP. The big question now is whether Geoffrey Kama and his idea of a changed route from Gumine-Karimui to Kilau-Karimui can be a game changer?

Karimui is one of the three local level government administrative areas of Salt Nomane Karimui District and is situated at the extreme southern tip of Simbu Province bordering with Gulf, Eastern Highlands and Southern Highlands. The other two local governments are Salt and Nomane.

Karimui has a population of about 17,000 people who are represented by 27 ward councillors.

Unlike most parts of mountainous Simbu, Karimui is mostly flat with altitudes ranging from 800 – 1,500 meters above sea level.

Because of the unusual geography and climate, crops like cocoa, betel nut and coconuts normally found in coastal areas grow in Karimui as well as coffee, peanuts and rice. For this reason, Sir Michael Somare during one of his visits to Simbu described Karimui as the coast in the highlands.

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The implications of Rugby’s persecution of Israel Folau

Israel Folau
Israel Folau "has not sought to persecute; all he has done is issue a heartfelt, albeit misdirected, warning"


TUMBY BAY - The appalling decision by the politically correct pedants at Rugby Australia to terminate Israel Folau’s contract for the apparently heinous offence of posting a comment on his religious beliefs has set a very dangerous precedent.

I’m not particularly inclined to get excited about grown men chasing a leather ball around a paddock nor am I inclined to believe in supreme beings but I am inclined to believe that people like Israel Folau have a perfect right to say what they believe without fear of persecution.

What he said is what he believes. He was born in New South Wales of Tongan parents. As a Pacific Islander his profound religious beliefs come as no surprise.

That he felt the need to warn people who are different to him of the imputed biblical consequences of those differences, irrelevant as that may be, is also not particularly unusual.

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A collection of sublime Melanesian verse from a poet of perception

Evari - Nanu SinaKEITH JACKSON

Nanu Sina: My Words, A Collection of Poems by Caroline Evari, paperback, 84 pages. JDT Publications, 2019, $3.75. ISBN-10: 1096713942. Available from Amazon here

NOOSA – Most of the poetry in this collection by Caroline Evari is pocket-sized, most of it has a big impact and all of it continues the wonderful tradition of demonstrating that much of the best writing from Papua New Guinea comes from its poets.

Phil Fitzpatrick and I have often remarked about the music that seems to occupy the soul of Melanesian writers and the openness of character that enables emotions to be on display rather than suppressed.

Both attributes lead to fine writing and are seen in ‘Nanu Sina’ ( ‘My Words’ in the Oro language) and they resonate through the poems in this overdue collection of the author’s thoughts, opinions, reactions and observations towards life, love, relationships, family, nature and events.

Caroline Evari, 30, was born in Vanimo but is of Musa (Oro) and Waema (Milne Bay) extraction. She is married with two children and studied computer science and mathematics at the University of Papua New Guinea.

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Kenmore Catholics’ trash buys a new boat for Milne Bay priest

Fr Mark Franklin
Fr Mark Franklin - his Kenmore parish is cleaning up the environment while assisting the Catholic church in Milne Bay

NICK HOLT | Catholic Leader

BRISBANE - Kenmore parish has furthered its commitment to Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’: On Care for our Common Home by turning recyclables into foreign aid donations.

The parish has collected more than 4,000 recyclable containers like bottles, cans and cardboard, which earn 10 cents per unit under the Queensland government initiative Containers for Cash.

The funds collected by the parish were used to buy a boat for a Papua New Guinean bishop.

“We had a parishioner come to us last year about helping buy a small boat for Fr Sam Phasz, a priest of the Province of Milne Bay in the Diocese of Alotau-Sideia,” said parish priest Fr Mark Franklin.

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Digital transformation - the role of mobile technology in PNG


PORT MORESBY – Papua New Guinea has more than eight million people, over 800 spoken languages and one of the lowest population densities in the world.

There is real potential for mobile technology to be transformational in helping the country to achieve upper middle-income status by 2050, a key part of PNG’s strategic Vision 2050.

Underpinned by collaboration between government, the mobile industry, the private sector, civil society organisations and development agencies, mobile technology can play a role to address major challenges the country faces.

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Crocodile-prize_website-logoTHE 2019 CROCODILE PRIZE.   EACH AWARD WINNER RECEIVES K5,000

The first two categories in the 2019 Crocodile Prize national literary contest have been announced, and there are more to come
Link here before you enter the Abt Associates Award for Women’s Literature
Link here before you enter the Cleland Award for Heritage Literature
And link here to find your Entry Form


How prime minister Bob Hawke became a PNG chief

Somare and Hawke
Grand Chief Michael Somare and Chief Bob Hawke in 2009 - became good friends establishing PNG's trade union movement and fighting for better public service wages


NOOSA – In 1966 I was transferred from my remote bush school in the highlands to Port Moresby to edit the school magazines.

At this time the headquarters of government in Papua New Guinea was an untidy collection of wartime army huts in the harbourside suburb of Konedobu.

In one of these was located the Education Department’s publications unit, of which I was a member, and right next door was the colonial Administration’s industrial relations office.

This office was one of Bob Hawke's bases during his PNG union days.

At the time he was the man responsible for wage arbitration in the Australian Council of Trade Unions.

It was an influential role and a stepping stone to the leadership of the ACTU, Australia’s peak union body, of which he was to become president in 1969 and from where he achieved high public profile and, eventually, the prime ministership.

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O’Neill’s K1.1 billion vanity project for Kumul Petroleum


Kumul Petroleum boss Wapu Sonk has also been cited by the PNG Ombudsman for investigation under the leadership code over the UBS loan affair

PORT MORESBY - Secret Kumul Petroleum documents reveal that prime minister Peter O’Neill has approved company plans for a headquarters building worth almost K1.1 billion to be built in Port Moresby.

This is a scandalous waste of money that should be going to consolidated revenue to help pay for essential services such as health and education.

Mr O’Neill, as sole trustee for the Kumul Group, ought to be ashamed of himself for approving this while the nation is crumbling around him.

At this time of economic and financial crisis, the last thing Papua New Guinea needs is more wasteful expenditure on Port Moresby monuments to the prime minister. Mr O’Neill should immediately cancel his plans and allocate the money to consolidated revenue.

As sole shareholder of the Kumul Group, he alone is responsible for everything that happens to the company, including the use of its revenue.

Why do we allow this man to be in charge of K2.3 billion in revenue? The Treasurer should be sole shareholder and trustee and Mr O’Neill should hand the positions over immediately.

And who will build this People’s National Congress (PNC) palace? I have my suspicions – a well-known local construction company or an overseas venture spring readily to mind.

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