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111 posts from May 2019

Tahina Booth & the healing power of rugby league

Tahina Booth in full cry against the Jillaroos (Nathan Hopkins NRL)
Tahina Booth in full cry against the Jillaroos
(Nathan Hopkins NRL)


SYDNEY - For Tahina Booth, having the opportunity to play for the Cronulla Sharks in this year’s Harvey Norman Women’s Premiership has been a game-changer.

Tahina only recently returned to the game after some time away and is enjoying playing alongside some of the biggest names in women’s rugby league.

"When Ruan Sims speaks, I am just in awe. I am a low-key fan girl. I feel the same way about Corban McGregor. I love the team and I love the culture," she said.

Whilst Tahina may be in awe of her team-mates, she hasn’t had the opportunity to share her personal story with them. Undoubtedly, if the rest of the team knew that story, they would be low-key fan-girling about her, too.

Tahina grew up in Papua New Guinea and has a deep personal understanding about the levels of gender inequality that exist there.

Continue reading "Tahina Booth & the healing power of rugby league" »

‘No, I won’t sell the ABC’ - My fondest memory of Bob Hawke


NOOSA – When John Pilger wrote his book, A Secret Country, he referred to me as a “mate” of Bob Hawke.

Like much of what Pilger writes, that was wrong. I never knew Hawke well, but we had some brief encounters over the years, especially when I worked for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation the second time around, between 1985 and 1988.

In March 1986, in my role as the ABC’s Controller of Corporate Relations, I accompanied Chairman Ken Myer on a visit to Canberra for a series of meetings with senior government politicians including prime minister Hawke.

The purpose of the visit was twofold: for Ken to explain how the ABC was addressing some challenging problems, but primarily for him to respond to political concerns about how the organisation was performing under his stewardship. This is an edited extract of my diary from that time….

Tuesday 4 March, 1986 – Canberra

Bob Hawke, perfectly clothed and coiffed, seems rather distant at first, as if the early conversational niceties are an imposition. Then, without warning, Ken pulls out a compact disc player. Sitting beside him on the lounge, I’m stunned. This was something we hadn’t discussed.

Hawke could not have been more surprised had Ken drawn a revolver from his satchel.

Continue reading "‘No, I won’t sell the ABC’ - My fondest memory of Bob Hawke" »

UBS loan to PNG government may have breached 15 laws

Botten & O'Neill
Oil Search's Peter Botten and Peter O'Neill - "The deal to purchase the Oil Search shares was irregular," says the PNG Ombudsman, and the loan that enabled it was "highly inappropriate and speculative"


SYDNEY - A $1.24 billion (K2.9 billion) loan arranged by UBS Australia for the government of Papua New Guinea may have breached 15 laws, according to the watchdog in Port Moresby, which labelled the deal "highly inappropriate" and "speculative".

The 332-page report compiled by the Ombudsman Commission of PNG outlines a series of possible legal and governance breaches by prime minister Peter O'Neill and is set to refocus attention on the role of UBS in providing the loan.

The Australian Financial Review has obtained a copy of the report, completed in December last year, but only handed to the speaker of parliament earlier this month. It has not yet been tabled in parliament.

Its release will put further pressure on Mr O'Neill who is clinging to power amid growing opposition to his leadership and is preparing to face a no confidence vote when parliament returns on 28 May.

Continue reading "UBS loan to PNG government may have breached 15 laws" »

Banning Facebook for 12 months, or any ban at all, is a bad move

Ban fbSCOTT WAIDE | My Land, My Country

LAE - The reason why politicians are afraid of Facebook is because it has done more in the last 10 years to hold them to account than mainstream media outlets.

Facebook has become the most important tool that provides the verification for so called infrastructure projects that MPs claim have been completed but have not.

Facebook has been used to hold the former Health Minister Puka Temu to account for the medicine shortages in the country.

Continue reading "Banning Facebook for 12 months, or any ban at all, is a bad move" »

Freedom Voice

Hazel Duduwega
Hazel Duduwega

HAZEL DUDUWEGA | Crocodile Prize | An entry in
the Abt Associates Award for Women’s Literature

Freedom Voice was inspired by my passion for community development. Women have little or no voice in decision-making. Usually just one or two stand out, the rest stand back and watch for shame or for fear. Even in matrilineal societies, it is the men with whom the decisions rest and who are mouthpieces. Women bear the title ‘owner’; but an owner who has no voice. I salute those women who stand up in their communities - HD

For freedom of speech sake
Allow me to speak
This is a matrilineal society
A generation I inherited by birth
Treat me not like an alien
In my own land
You cannot deny
I have the right

Continue reading "Freedom Voice" »

UBS loan: Conduct of O’Neill, Marape, others ‘wrong & improper’


PORT MORESBY – The final report of the PNG Ombudsman Commission into allegations of improper borrowing of a $1.239 billion loan from the Union Bank of Switzerland to purchase nearly 150 million shares in Oil Search Limited has been provided to PNG Attitude.

In its principal findings the Commission strongly criticises the conduct of prime minister Peter O’Neill, his main rival for leadership James Marape and other prominent leaders and concludes that they be investigated under the Leadership Code of the PNG constitution.

The Ombudsman Commission states the conduct of O’Neill was wrong and improper in a number of serious respects, including that he committed the government to purchase shares without the prior approval of the National Executive Council, he failed to present the loan to parliament for debate and approval and he misled the National Executive Council.

Continue reading "UBS loan: Conduct of O’Neill, Marape, others ‘wrong & improper’" »

O'Neill renews threat that he’ll crack down on social media

Peter O'Neill
Peter O'Neill - “There is a lot of fake news destroying our people, destroying our society"

GORETHY KENNETH | PNG Post-Courier/Asia Pacific Report/Pacific Media Watch

PORT MORESBY - Prime minister Peter O’Neill has aid Cabinet will review social media platforms in Papua New Guinea when it convenes today.

Speaking at government house after announcing four new ministers and a mini reshuffle, O’Neill said the government would crack down on ‘fake news’ that was being spread on social media.

He was adamant that the government would review social media platforms and this would be the first task of the new communications and information technology minister Koni Iguan.

He said there was too much fake news that was sending bad signals and destroying the nation and its people and this must stop.

Continue reading "O'Neill renews threat that he’ll crack down on social media" »

Job Pomat appears key in ensuring continuity of O’Neill’s job

Job Pomat
Speaker Job Pomat wields significant influence in parliament, and is able to engage in partisan practices as proceedings are non-justiciable

SEBASTIAN LIU | The Diplomat

SINGAPORE - The latest developments in Papua New Guinea began when finance minister James Marape resigned on 11 April and quit the People’s National Congress on 29 April.

His resignation triggered mass defections from O’Neill’s ruling coalition in the following weeks, culminating in the opposition’s plans for tabling a no-confidence vote.

The vote must nominate an alternative prime minister, who will assume office if the vote is passed by a simple parliamentary majority.

On 6 May, a day before parliament was scheduled to resume sitting, the opposition coalition – who declared themselves the “alternative government” – announced Marape as their prime ministerial candidate.

Continue reading "Job Pomat appears key in ensuring continuity of O’Neill’s job" »

PNG politics: could this possibly be the dawn of a new era?

Bal Kama
Bal Kama - "Defections from O’Neill’s government suggests that, if the normal parliamentary processes are strictly followed, O’Neill may suffer defeat"

BAL KAMA | DevPolicy Blog

CANBERRA - The almost seven years stability enjoyed by Papua New Guinea’s government of prime minister Peter O’Neill is now under challenge as the country prepares for a gripping vote of no confidence in late May.

This analysis builds on these discussions to draw some general observations regarding the present political climate in PNG and possible future implications.

Up until Tuesday of last week, Peter O’Neill was the dominant political player in PNG politics. He assumed the position of prime minister in August 2011 after ousting Sir Michael Somare in a dramatic power struggle that included resisting judges of the Supreme Court.

The 2011 constitutional crisis cemented O’Neill’s place among his peers as an experienced combatant of the country’s hostile politics. Within the region and abroad, his elevation and Somare’s demise was seen as the ‘changing of the guard’ in PNG politics.

One of O’Neill’s key reforms following his ascension was the establishment of Investigative Task Force Sweep (ITFS) – an intra-governmental agency charged with combating corruption. The successes of ITFS resulted in widespread public support for O’Neill.

Continue reading "PNG politics: could this possibly be the dawn of a new era?" »

Leaders must accept that PNG must control & innovate or perish

I want my land backSIMON DAVIDSON

SONOMA - Papua New Guinea has a choice - to innovate and develop its massive natural resources to create more wealth or to forever be a rent collector.

Right now, we are a rent collector for our massive natural resources including the K65 billion PNG LNG project and the newest $US16 billion Papua LNG project.

The nation’s leaders have no intention of harnessing our resources to innovate and extract the wealth ourselves.

So decisions on our resources are dictated in the corporate boardrooms of off shore corporations, while we stand by idly watching the rapid plunder of our resources.

Continue reading "Leaders must accept that PNG must control & innovate or perish" »

'Rise up': female police inspector’s battle cry to women

Julie Palakai - Blazing a trail for change (AFP)
Julie Palakai - "Dressed in crisp police blues and wielding a large silver sword, she proudly marches judges, superior officers and other dignitaries - almost always male - up and down guard of honour lines"

NEWS DESK – France 24 / AFP

KOKOPO - In a nation where sexual violence is endemic, women are still targeted and attacked for witchcraft, and female representation in parliament is non-existent, police chief Julie Palakai is blazing a trail for change

The 43-year-old inspector, a domestic abuse survivor and 18-year veteran of the force, is one of the most senior female police officers in Papua New Guinea -- and is calling on the nation's women to take a stand against sexism with her.

"Women must strive and rise up against any discrimination, abuse and sexual harassment in the workplace," she tells AFP.

"For young girls who are still struggling: Do not give up but strive for the best to achieve your goals and to find a better and happy life. Nothing is impossible," she insists.

Human Rights Watch named Papua New Guinea "one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a woman" in a report which estimated 70% of women would be raped or assaulted in their lifetime.

Continue reading "'Rise up': female police inspector’s battle cry to women" »

Chief Minister Somare’s dramatic visit to Bougainville in 1973

Michael Somare  Angoram  1973
Michael Somare in 1973

KEITH JACKSON | Extracts from his Radio Bougainville diary


Lyall Newby, Director of the Department of Information and Extension Services (DIES), rang and, amongst other matters, complained that other Territory departments were starting to take over traditional functions of DIES and that staff from our department were transferring to these better paid positions. I suppose he needed someone to grumble to but we haven’t experienced the problem at Radio Bougainville.


There’s a rumour abroad that a Highlander was shot and killed with a bow and arrow by a Dapera villager. It is unfounded but 30 Highlanders went to Arawa Hospital and demanded to see the “body”. Arawa market was tense during the morning and police were present. There were also reports of conflict but nothing happened.

The police asked us to run a story scotching the rumour about the "death". After consulting with District Commissioner Bill Brown I decided a news report would exacerbate rather than assuage fears. So we canned the story. It will be used later if a deteriorating situation makes it necessary.

Continue reading "Chief Minister Somare’s dramatic visit to Bougainville in 1973" »

Time to recast Australia's role: millions spent, few lives changed

TONI HASSAN | The Canberra Times

CANBERRA - A new or re-elected government will give Australia a chance to better support our neighbours in Asia and the Pacific. The behaviour of the last one hasn't been good.

It has repeatedly used the aid budget as a sort of automatic teller machine to take money from development in order to get its budget in order.

A glaring example was the $55 million dollar refugee resettlement deal with very poor and dictator-led Cambodia. About $40 million came out of aid while $15 million was directed for resettlement services and support.

Signed in 2014 by Scott Morrison as immigration minister, it was an abject failure. Only four people accepted offers of resettlement from Nauru. Only a Syrian man (with his family) is left but he's now hoping to move to Canada.

Continue reading "Time to recast Australia's role: millions spent, few lives changed" »

Yumi karim lek

Karim lekLYNETTE KERENGA | Crocodile Prize
| An entry in the Cleland Award for Heritage Literature

See footnote

Aiiii yaaa wuuuu……
The chanting of my mamas’ echoes
Through the fertile Wahgi Valley
Up and down the dirty Wara Wahgi
The kundu drums beat

The singsing has started. People are still coming;
the neighbouring villages and tribes
The singsing echoes to the beat
of the famous kundu drums
The glorious tumbo and mek
swishes towards the steps of the dancers
Ol whiteman sa tok the bird of paradise headdress”,
my bubu would say

The singsing continues as one of my uncles
grabs a kundu off a girl in the singsing group
The handsome warrior from another tribe
grabs a spear off another girl in the singsing group
The hardworking girl everyone’s talking about
grabs a kundu off the chief’s son.

Slowly the singsing departs
and everyone gathers before the big haus kunai
“Ladies first,” as the westerners say
The girls make their way into the big haus kunai
Hot, yellow and orange blazing flames
from the burning wood lights up the house.

Continue reading "Yumi karim lek" »

Opposition rallies popular support in major test of strength


NOOSA – The 50 opposition members who constitute the new ‘Alternative Government’ in Papua New Guinea will flex their muscles in a mass walk on parliament house in Port Moresby on Tuesday 28 May and prior subsidiary rallies in Wabag and Lae.

The protests will also be a test of strength for the opposition, which has been boosted by a mass defection of ministers and backbench politicians from the O’Neill government and is within six MPs of establishing a majority on the floor of parliament.

Spokesman Bryan Kramer MP said yetserday that the group is asking the 800,000 people living in and around Port Moresby to stop work to join the walk to Parliament.

Continue reading "Opposition rallies popular support in major test of strength" »

O’Neill puts political survival before needs of rural people

Mekere Morauta
Sir Mekere Morauta


PORT MORESBY - The failure of District Development Authorities (DDAs) to function as intended is causing a looming development crisis in most of Papua New Guinea’s provinces.

The authorities were meant to bring development decisions and implementation down to the district level but they have done no such thing.

In fact they are impeding development because of unnecessary duplications of effort, conflicts of interest, a crippling lack of capacity and rampant political interference.

Governors and provincial governments are the big losers from prime minister Peter O’Neill’s introduction of DDAs in 2014.

After four years in operation, DDAs in most districts are not working, and development has almost totally ceased.

Continue reading "O’Neill puts political survival before needs of rural people" »

Working to address the threat of climate change in PNG

Climate - Weather  patterns are unpredictable in the highlands (T4G PNG)
Weather patterns are changing in the  PNG highlands as more rainfall impact roads and the economy (T4G PNG)


PORT MORESBY – The earth experienced very warm periods 50 to 70 million years ago and very cold periods 600,000 years ago and most people are aware that the climate is changing again.

But this time the change is not caused by extreme volcanic periods or projects from space colliding with earth. It is anthropogenic – created by us, the people who live on the planet.

The history of climate science is relatively recent. The first scientist to publish on the subject was the Swede Svante Arrhenius in 1896 who hypothesised that human-caused carbon dioxide emissions would be large enough to cause global warming.

Nearer to the present, a report published in 1979 predicted that carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would double from pre-industrial levels by about 2035. Today it is expected this will happen by about 2050. A doubling of carbon dioxide will lead to an average warming of the planet of 2°C to 3°C.

Continue reading "Working to address the threat of climate change in PNG" »

Marape ignores threats & says "this is a revolution"

James Marape
James Marape - "We we will not be subservient to individual and corporate capitalist greed"


NOOSA – James Marape, Papua New Guinea’s former finance minister and appointed leader of its 'Alternative Government', has alleged police have been instructed to investigate “convoluted charges” against him and other highlands leaders who recently defected from the O’Neill government.

And he has accused his former close friend Peter O’Neill of “working to freeze Hela and Southern Highlands accounts and vindictively look into possibilities of suspending these provincial governments”.

“May I say we don’t subscribe to threats and intimidation,” he wrote in a statement on Facebook.

“This is a revolution of mindset, we will not be subservient to individual and corporate capitalist greed anymore,” he said.

Marape said his consistent advice to O’Neill to change the law so Papua New Guinea could gain greater value from its resources had fallen on deaf years, and that led to his resignation from the governing coalition.

Continue reading "Marape ignores threats & says "this is a revolution"" »

Kiap Days: Astonishing yarns from a remarkable time

A Kiap's StoryKEITH JACKSON | Weekend Australian Review

A Kiap’s Story by Graham Taylor, Pukpuk Publications, 2014, ISBN 1502703459, 404 pages. Amazon Digital Services, hard copy $US14.19, Kindle version $US3.79. Link here to purchase

NOOSA - In late January 1985 no sooner had I rested my feet under my faux oak desk in my faux oak panelled office as the ABC’s controller of corporate relations than managing director Geoffrey Whitehead instructed me to take a plane to Canberra to meet deputy chairman, Dick Boyer who, I was told, was hell bent on writing a ‘philosophy’ for the national broadcaster.

I quickly learned to dread this enforced collaboration with the loquacious and pedantic Boyer and began to search for a willing substitute.

Graham Taylor, the ABC’s boss in South Australia, came highly recommended. “He can get on with anyone,” I was told.

The avuncular Taylor proved true to this appraisal and willingly took on the project. After much iteration the ‘philosophy’ eventually surfaced as a slender document entitled ‘The Role of a National Broadcaster in Contemporary Australia’ which immediately sank without an oil slick.

Continue reading "Kiap Days: Astonishing yarns from a remarkable time" »

Volunteers role in PNG’s development is often overlooked

Forster pic
The bush sawmill at Binaru near Bundi where Robert Forster and his labour line lived. When he arrived there, Forster was only days out of the UK


NORTHUMBRIA - The often dramatic work undertaken by Australia’s bush administrators in pre-independence Papua New Guinea is comprehensively recorded.

But the collective contribution to the country's development by volunteer workers, some posted by Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) in London is often overlooked

In the 1960s, freshly recruited kiaps, the best known of PNG’s pre-independence expatriate field staff, were given training in Australia followed by a further month in PNG itself before being assigned to their posts.

However, apart from a couple of brief, perhaps three day, induction courses at central venues in the United Kingdom, some VSO’s were dropped in at the deep end almost as soon as they stepped off their plane in PNG.

Take the example of 18 year old Philip Pennefather from Northern Ireland, who landed in Madang in September 1968.

Almost before he could draw breath, he set off by foot on a tough bush journey to deliver over 100 heifers to stock an embryonic Catholic SVD beef production project almost 130 kilometres away on the other side of the formidable and unbridged Ramu River.

Continue reading "Volunteers role in PNG’s development is often overlooked" »

A Kiap’s Chronicle: 24 – An unwelcome call to Canberra

Brown map BougainvilleBILL BROWN MBE

THE CHRONICLE CONTINUES – It was early 1967 and John Dagge and I knew something must be in the wind when District Commissioner Wakeford advised he was sending Ken Hanrahan, the Assistant District Commissioner of Buka Sub-District, on “a familiarisation visit to Panguna before the Karato exercise.”

Karato, Mainoki and Daratui were the three areas of mineralisation that Conzinc Rio Australia (CRA) said it needed to test before deciding whether Panguna was the best site to mine.

Mainoki was eight hours’ hard walking from Panguna and Karato was even further into the hills. The people of both villages refused to allow the CRA teams onto their land.

Ken (KJP) Hanrahan (Footnote 1), based at Hutjena on Buka Passage, was responsible for the northern end of Bougainville and had nothing to do with Karato, which was in the Buin Sub-District.

John (JE) Wakeford had been in Bougainville for only five months, after being transferred from the Sepik in November 1966 to take over from District Commissioner Mollison who was considered too old. (Wakeford was actually the older of the two but he had shaved eight years off his age before joining the Territory Administration in 1946.) (2)

Continue reading "A Kiap’s Chronicle: 24 – An unwelcome call to Canberra" »

O’Neill backers Oz & NZ view PNG instability with alarm

O'Neill talks to media (ABC)
Surrounded by a diminished and sombre group of ministers, Peter O'Neill talks to the media (ABC)

JOHN BRADDOCK | World Socialist Website

AUCKLAND - Opposition MPs in Papua New Guinea are preparing to move a no-confidence motion in an attempt to remove prime minister Peter O’Neill.

The People’s National Congress-led government is disintegrating in the wake of a series of high-profile resignations.

The 26 opposition parliamentarians or MPs have allied with two dozen MPs who quit O’Neill’s coalition in the past two weeks and are offering to accommodate other government members. A successful vote in the 111-seat parliament will require the support of 56 MPs.

Lobbying intensified over the weekend, with the opposed camps gathering at hotels on either side of Port Moresby, each announcing they had the numbers to secure a majority. Some 1,000 extra police are being deployed in the capital.

Continue reading "O’Neill backers Oz & NZ view PNG instability with alarm" »

Failure to set up wealth fund left revenue to be plundered

Mekere Morauta (2)
Sir Mek - "The riches that should have flowed into the SWF have just disappeared into thin air"


PORT MORESBY - Prime Minister Peter O’Neill’s failure to set up a Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF), leaving national revenue flows to be plundered and wasted, means any recovery plan by an incoming government will take years to implement because of a lack of money.

No money has ever flowed into the proposed SWF – in fact it has not even been constituted and does not have a board of directors despite all the trumpeting by Mr O’Neill and his accomplices. There is no SWF with any money or any assets – it is toktok tasol.

If the SWF had been set up, as proposed by me in 2011 and legislated in 2012, an incoming government would have a powerful tool to help with the rebuilding necessary after seven years of economic and financial mismanagement by Mr O’Neill.

Instead, the irresponsibility and negligence of Mr O’Neill have thwarted the purpose of the SWF - to help bring national economic growth and financial stability, to be the foundation of national savings in good times for use in bad times, and to provide for responsible expenditure on productive infrastructure.

Continue reading "Failure to set up wealth fund left revenue to be plundered" »

Komo youth drop guns & knives to pick up a rugby ball


PORT MORESBY - After six years of tribal fighting, the youth of Komo in Hela Province have taken it upon themselves to reject violence and start the first ever rugby competition.

“We started this about six weeks ago,” said Dr Michael Mai patron of the Komo Rugby Football League Association (KRL) at the official launch last month.

“This is history in the making, a dawn of a new day for this electorate.

“As we are all aware this place was once a no go zone. Komo was a ghost town with no activity except for security vehicles driving up and down the roads.”

Seeing that the youths were being drawn into tribal fighting and substance abuse, KRL chairman Morris Edwin teamed up with Dr Mai to trial 10 teams in a Christmas touch football game.

Continue reading "Komo youth drop guns & knives to pick up a rugby ball" »

The fight goes on, and puppet master turns puppet

Chan and O'Neill
Has Julius Chan taken over from Peter O'Neill as the PNG government's new puppet master?


PORT MORESBY - On Tuesday, the 59 Members left in the O'Neill Abel Government avoided facing a vote of no confidence against their prime minister Peter O'Neill for a further three weeks.

They achieved this by moving a motion to remove the governor of Southern Highlands, William Powi, and the governor for Hela, Philip Undialu, from the parliamentary committee charged with screening notices of motions of no confidence.

The member for Mul-Baiyer, Koi Trappe, and member for Henganofi, Robert Atiyafa, were appointed and both are members of People’s National Congress and considered loyal to O'Neill.

Why? So they could prevent the notice of motion submitted by the alternative government ever being accepted and tabled in parliament.

A second motion moved was to defer parliament by three weeks to 28 May.

Why? Newly appointed minister for government business, Gumine MP Nick Kuman, announced that it was because of the mass resignation from cabinet and the government needed time to appoint new ministers.

Continue reading "The fight goes on, and puppet master turns puppet" »

Smart tactics mean Peter O’Neill lives to fight another day

Scott Morrison and Peter O'Neill
Scott Morrison and Peter O'Neill

MICHAEL BACHELARD | Sydney Morning Herald

SYDNEY - Clever manoeuvring by Papua New Guinea prime minister Peter O'Neill has delayed a no-confidence motion against him until the end of May at least, but the issues creating political pressure in Australia's near neighbour are not likely to be so easily dismissed.

O'Neill mustered a majority of 59 votes to 50 to win a series of votes on Tuesday, delaying a parliamentary sitting until 28 May and forestalling an attempt by his opponents to bring him down.

The rebel MPs filed the motion after parliament closed late on Tuesday, but changes O'Neill also made to parliamentary committees mean the motion might have trouble getting on the notice paper later this month.

Continue reading "Smart tactics mean Peter O’Neill lives to fight another day" »

Three medicos say hello to PNG's newest beautiful citizen

Dr Kevin Pondikou (right) and final year medical students Tommy and Frank, holding the precious baby boy


RUMGINAE - Last week Thursday, after doing the ward round, I was informed there was a woman with antepartum haemorrhage (APH or bleeding during pregnancy).

It had been a long ward round but I had the help of medical students from the medical faculty at Taurama in Port Moresby who were here doing their rural block attachment.

The MBBS (Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery) program is a five year course following which they graduate as doctors.

I was especially excited because we have never had medical students from Papua New Guinea here in Rughaz.

We’ve had medical students from Australia, America and New Zealand but this is the first time we've our own.

As part of their training in remote and rural health, I used the opportunity to teach them how to do ultrasound scans on pregnant women to ascertain the foetal biometrics (including working out the age of the foetus according to the foetal head and femur length).

While doing the scan after the ward round, we found out that the cause of the bleeding was placenta praevea (where the placenta comes before the baby and can lead to excessive blood loss resulting in death of the mother and unborn child).

Continue reading "Three medicos say hello to PNG's newest beautiful citizen" »

‘Isn't that typical?’ The curse of stereotyping in society


TUMBY BAY - Did you know that the most violent and aggressive people in Papua New Guinea come from Goilala?

Or that all the prostitutes and burglars come from Kerema?

How about the highlands being responsible for all the conmen and wife beaters?

On a more positive note you probably know that the smartest people in Papua New Guinea come from Manus.

Or that the most beautiful women come from Tufi.

Stereotyping on the basis of a person’s origins was a popular mythology in pre-independent Papua New Guinea and it still is amongst some people today.

It’s also a worldwide pre-occupation and has been so for however long humans have been on the planet.

If you are black in the United States of America you are much more likely to be convicted of a crime simply because of your colour. The same injustice occurs in Australia with Aboriginal people.

Continue reading "‘Isn't that typical?’ The curse of stereotyping in society" »

A Thing Called Freedom

FreedomEMILY KENDI | Crocodile Prize | An entry in the
Abt Associates Award for Women’s Literature

A thing called freedom.
Oh, what a thing of beauty,
To win and to prize more highly than fame or wealth -

A thing called freedom.
Oh, what a thing of beauty,
The forces of destiny in all generosity look upon you –

A thing called favour.
Oh, what a thing of beauty,
To take up my pen and slay my fears with a single stroke -

Continue reading "A Thing Called Freedom" »

Freda’s life in balance as Charlie wages war on Kokoda bureaucrats

Charlie Lynn
Charlie Lynn - battling to save the life of a Kokoda schoolgirl


NOOSA – The board of the Kokoda Track Authority (KTA) faces a challenge from ex-Major Charlie Lynn today over its decision to support third parties with funding designated for track infrastructure.

The KTA is holding a forum in Port Moresby amidst another controversy over what critics say has been a failure to support reforms to improve the welfare of guides, carriers and communities along the Kokoda Trail.

Mr Lynn, whose company Adventure Kokoda has self-regulated reforms and is leading a push to have other trek companies do the same, has asked that the issue of third party funding be placed on the agenda of today’s meeting.

He has also demanded that the matter take precedence due to the urgency and potential illegality of KTA’s plan to fund a scholarship program proposed by NGO the Kokoda Track Foundation.

Mr Lynn said KTA should reverse its decision to donate money to an Australian NGO and instead use the funds to save the life of a 14 year old Kokoda schoolgirl.

Continue reading "Freda’s life in balance as Charlie wages war on Kokoda bureaucrats" »

Peter O’Neill: Son of a grotesque political system

Peter-oneillEDITOR | The Tokaut Blog | PNGi

PORT MORESBY - Peter O’Neill faces arguably the biggest challenge to his prime ministership since 2011, as opposition numbers swell and a vote of no confidence looms.

Whatever the outcome, it is easy to get swept up in the political rhetoric now proclaiming PM O’Neill is an aberration who has led the nation’s political system astray.

And, so the argument goes, the opposition has risen up to restore order.

Former prime minister, Sir Mekere Morauta recently remarked:

Continue reading "Peter O’Neill: Son of a grotesque political system" »

Digicel’s overdue tower debts impoverish & anger landowners

Digicel tower  Barikas  Madang Province (Amanda Watson)
Digicel tower at Barikas,  Madang Province (Amanda Watson)


PORT MORESBY – This is my seventh month of complaining about the failure of the Digicel PNG Ltd telecommunications company to pay the rent money it owes to the landowners of its digital tower locations.

Some Digicel employees feel sorry for us and have said the people in charge of payments will ignore us and never try to help.

The clauses of the agreement we made with Digicel are clear. No such thing should happen to any of us landowners. But because landowners are simple people and can easily be tricked, they continue to ignore us and cheat us.

Only a few landowners who have help from their families and clansmen are now seeking legal advice while the one hope of the rest of us is to continue to complain at the Digicel office. But we cannot break through by complaining and therefore are losing hope.

So what we think best is to use the media to expose what is going on. Not all the people in the Digicel office are bad. Perhaps some good people there will see this and try to find out what is going on.

When everyone in Digicel knows about the problems we face, perhaps they can talk for us. When that happens, we feel our problem can be solved and the corruption and cheating will be stopped.

Continue reading "Digicel’s overdue tower debts impoverish & anger landowners" »

Karkar Island bilum festival strives to maintain cultural values

Students parade with bilums
Karkar Island students parade with bilums


PORT MORESBY - With all the hype of tourism as a sleeping giant for Papua New Guinea economic prosperity, the community-based cultural festivals throughout the country remain a major asset.

In a recent statement, tourism, arts and culture minister Emil Tammur said a policy submission to the parliament is pending for the national government to fund major cultural events, shows and festivals throughout the country.

“Maintaining and promoting cultural events and festivals is not only important for tourism but also for our identify as a unique and culturally-diverse national in the world,” Mr Tammur said.

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Rheeney blasts Post-Courier over ‘trash’ coverage on PNG crisis

Alex Rheeney's tweet
Alex Rheeney's Facebook post. Rheeney is "renowned for his ethical and independent brand of journalism"

NEWSDESK | Pacific Media Watch

AUCKLAND - A former editor of the PNG Post-Courier has condemned his old newspaper for a front page article “insulting the intelligence” of Papua New Guineans as tension builds over the looming vote of no confidence in the government.

Parliament resumes today and prime minister Peter O’Neill faces the biggest challenge to his leadership since 2011.

Writing on social media, Alexander Rheeney distributed yesterday’s Post-Courier front page lead story favouring O’Neill drawn from a government press release and said today the country deserved “independent” coverage.

“Woke up to more trash published by Papua New Guinea’s oldest daily newspaper and my former employer,” said Rheeney, who is also a former chair of the PNG Media Council and currently an editor of the Samoa Observer.

“This is not a story — it quoted a PNG government press release verbatim — without incorporating critical background on Peter O’Neill’s role in 2011 in usurping the [Sir Michael] Somare government from office, an action which the PNG supreme court later declared to be illegal and ordered the Somare government’s reinstatement.

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James Marape is nominated as PNG's alternative PM

The Tari-Pori MP is expected to go up against prime minister Peter O'Neill as the latter faces a vote of no confidence in parliament.

A former close ally of the prime minister, Mr Marape's resignation as finance minister last month sparked a series of resignations from the ruling People's National Congress party which has resulted in the most serious challenge to Mr O'Neill's leadership since 2012.

The MPs who left the PNC, plus several defectors from other coalition parties, have merged with the opposition as it plans to table a motion of no confidence against the prime minister today.

Continue reading "James Marape is nominated as PNG's alternative PM" »

Further doubt on value & viability of Elk-Antelope gasfield

Interoil elk antelopeSIR MEKERE MORAUTA MP

PORT MORESBY - The secrecy and haste surrounding prime minister Peter O’Neill’s approval of the gas agreement for the Papua LNG project may be hiding a multi-billion kina problem for Papua New Guinea – the value and viability of the Elk-Antelope gasfield that underpins the project.

A report available in the Department of Petroleum suggests that the field has five major problems.

The gas may not be anywhere near as extensive as first thought, nor as easily extractable. There is a high water content. The gas is of low quality, requiring expensive treatment. And the geology of the field is suspect.

See PNG Attitude's earlier story ‘Is the new Papua LNG project all that it appears?’

Continue reading "Further doubt on value & viability of Elk-Antelope gasfield" »

KTA echo chamber – deaf ears, silos, checklists written in steam

Rashmii colour illus
Rashmii Amoah Bell - Can anyone effectively stand up for the Kokoda guides and carriers?


BRISBANE – How to best articulate the past eight months of futile dialogue with Kokoda Trail management and subsequent non-results for welfare reform for carriers and guides of the trek tourism industry?

It’s a question I much contemplate my unanswered pleas and the patrician-like silence of the key recipients of Papua New Guinea’s multi-million kina number one tourism activity.

The counsel to ‘write often’ and ‘write from the heart’ motivate my efforts to reinforce the repeated requests of the young Papua New Guinean men of the Trail – guides and carriers (porters) - who are asking the industry to enforce, with strict regulation, lighter-weight 18 kg packs, uniforms, safe sleeping gear, better safety measures and increased wages.

My observation and first-hand experience have been characterised by the uncomfortable reality that this is an industry that is controlled commercially by Australians and functioning relentlessly irrespective of Papua New Guinean decision-making and conflict-resolution. The time-rich, and I would argue more appropriate, Melanesian Way having been cast aside.

Continue reading "KTA echo chamber – deaf ears, silos, checklists written in steam" »

Writers’ motives remain; but disruption is wreaking havoc

Phil 2015
Phil Fitzpatrick - "Gone is the romantic idea that being a writer is somehow glamorous"


TUMBY BAY - Writers write for all sorts of reasons, some obvious and some obscure. And what they write about is often dictated by the avenues open to them to engage with their readers.

One of these two things, motivation and avenues of opportunity, has undergone considerable change over the last 30 years or so.

I don’t think it’s motivation. What inspired writers before is probably what drives them along today.

If you ask the unwashed reading public why writers write, the answer they might offer is to make money.

The more discerning reader might also add that disseminating ideas and opinions and influencing people are also legitimate motives for many writers.

If you ask writers why they write, they would also add they write simply because it’s something they like doing.

But while the reasons for writing may not have changed much in those 30 years, the avenues writers use have changed a lot.

Continue reading "Writers’ motives remain; but disruption is wreaking havoc" »

Outcome of challenge to O’Neill’s leadership too close to call

Peter O'Neill
Peter O'Neill's opponents say it's "time to stop the current leadership for the good of the nation"


NOOSA – At the weekend, even as Papua New Guinea’s deputy prime minister Charles Abel said the government’s support “remains solid”, a disparate alliance of opposition forces had achieved a narrow lead in the race to gain support to oust prime minister Peter O’Neill.

Journalist Johnny  Blades of Radio New Zealand reported opposition MPs as “quietly confident” that they had the momentum to remove O’Neill as his government “reels from a series of resignations”.

Blades said the opposition Laguna Hotel camp was offering an “open door” for any more government MPs who wished to join their bid to remove the prime minister.

And as more politicians joined the self-declared ‘Alternative Government’, they brought with them a litany of complaints about the capability of the O’Neill administration

Continue reading "Outcome of challenge to O’Neill’s leadership too close to call" »

Porgera, brutality & the theft of PNG's resources

Porgera gold mine
Porgera gold mine - removal of gold has left the Porgerans very poor and very angry


NEW DELHI - Few people outside Papua New Guinea know about Porgera.

Those who do know about it know that it is one of the centres of international gold mining, with a major company with an innocuous name – Porgera Joint Venture– sucking out the enormous deposits of gold from its mountainous landscape.

The Porgera mine is one of the world’s top 10 producers of gold, which makes it remarkably rich – although the people who live near the mine have not shared in the spoils. The proven gold reserves of the Porgera mine are worth more than US$10 billion at today’s gold prices.

This is only one of PNG’s mines. There are hundreds more that run from one end of the country to another. The population of PNG is only eight million, which – given such wealth – would suggest that its people lived enriched lives. But this is not the case.

Continue reading "Porgera, brutality & the theft of PNG's resources" »

John Neitz, respected senior educator in colonial PNG, dies at 84

John Neitz in PNG
John Neitz spent 16 years as an educator in PNG, rising to the rank of superintendent

KEITH JACKSON | From Jason Nitz

SOUTHPORT, QLD - John Desmond Neitz was born on 22 June 1934 at Torwood in Brisbane and spent his childhood in the Currumbin valley on dairy farms operated on a ‘share’ basis by his parents.

He was educated at The Beeches State School, Currumbin State School, Southport State High School and Brisbane State High School.

After high school, John entered the teachers’ training college at Kelvin Grove in Brisbane and, in 1954-55, undertook a physical education diploma course at Queensland University.

He was posted to Kragra, near Chinchilla in Queensland, and in 1957 to Palm Island off the Queensland coast near Townsville. Here he befriended triple certificate nurse Dell Jackson, but she moved to Melbourne and John decided to pursue his career in Papua New Guinea.

But Dell was not to disappear and, on 16 December 1961, John was to marry her at St James Anglican Cathedral, Townsville.

In the 16 years between 1958 and 1974, John was first a teacher and then an administrator in the PNG Education Department.

He taught at Yangoru, Pagwi and Brandi Junior High School in the Sepik District, Malabunga Junior High near Rabaul and Milfordhaven Primary School in Lae. This was followed by various postings as an inspector of schools, district education officer and later to the high rank  of superintendent.

Continue reading "John Neitz, respected senior educator in colonial PNG, dies at 84" »

The main issues behind the decline in quality of PNG education


VICTORIA POINT, QLD - Phil Fitzpatrick asked in  PNG Attitude recently, ‘Education is the key: does anyone know what happened to it?

The prime minister of Papua New Guinea recently attributed the decline in the quality of education to curriculum changes instituted 10 years ago. This was an important factor, but only one of many.

I have a number of thoughts on the causes of decline, perceived or real.

The plan

Following the government’s commitment to the United Nation’s ‘Education for All’ push in the late 1980s and early 1990s there was disenchantment within the Department of Education over the large numbers of pupils whose educational opportunities were terminated at the end of Grades 6, 8 or 10.

Continue reading "The main issues behind the decline in quality of PNG education" »

O’Neill misled Abel in desperate attempt to cling to power

Abel and Critten
Charles Abel (right) with an extremely ill governor John Critten -  a sad attempt to show PNG's governing party still had the numbers

BRYAN KRAMER MP | The Kramer Report

PORT MORESBY – Is it game over for Peter O'Neill? The short answer is yes.

Yesterday morning 24 members of the opposition joined the Laguna ‘camp’ of defectors from the governing People’s National Congress (PNC).

O'Neill, aware of the decision the night before, had misled his deputy Charles Abel that he would step down and Abel would replace him.

As early as 6 am yesterday, Abel, excited and dumb enough to believe O'Neill, called members of the opposition begging them not to join the Laguna camp.

He also called members in the Laguna camp begging them to return to PNC ranks.

What Abel didn't realise was that O'Neill also made the same commitment that he would stand down in their favour to James Marape, Richard Maru and Sam Basil.

Continue reading "O’Neill misled Abel in desperate attempt to cling to power" »

Government of the Good; or same old crooks with a new face

Puka Temu
Sir Puka Temu (left) at the media conference where he Mirisim and Tomuries quit - "We have made the bold decision to leave because of our principles"


NOOSA – Yesterday morning Papua New Guinea’s opposition (which had rebadged itself  as the ‘Alternative Government’) left ‘camp’ at Port Moresby’s Sanctuary Hotel and arrived at the Laguna Hotel to be greeted by former finance minister James Marape and his supporters.

It was a climactic moment, as the combined group numbered a claimed 57 parliamentarians, exceeding the critical number of 56 required to command a majority in PNG’s Haus Tambaran.

This is likely to be tested in a vote of no confidence originally set down for Wednesday 15 May but which may be brought on earlier, as parliament is scheduled to resume on Tuesday.

And as for who will be the Alternative Government's contender for prime minister, well, according to camp follower former Manus MP Ron Knight (@pontuna2run) writing on Twitter, that will be determined by secret ballot, and "the door is still open".

It became clear yesterday that prime minister Peter O’Neill was in serious trouble holding on to his job. The key moment was when health minister Sir Puka Temu told a press conference that he, defence minister Solan Mirisim and forests minister Douglas Tomuries had decided to quit O’Neill’s People’s National Congress (PNC).

Continue reading "Government of the Good; or same old crooks with a new face" »

A billion reasons: The future of the Sustainable Development Fund

PON SMMSHANE MCLEOD | The Interpreter | Lowy Institute

SYDNEY - In the three years Sir Mekere Morauta was prime minister of Papua New Guinea, from 1999 to 2002, he pursued an ambitious reform agenda.

Some parts of that legacy have fared well, like the privatisation of the country’s state bank. Others, like political party reform, have fallen over in the face of legal and political challenges.

A court ruling in Singapore on 5 April means one of Sir Mekere’s more intriguing legacy items has survived the latest attempt on its existence.

The court rejected legal action brought by the PNG government to try to wrest control of the Singapore-based PNG Sustainable Development Program.

Continue reading "A billion reasons: The future of the Sustainable Development Fund" »

Archival film from the early 1960s: Images of Kavieng & Rabaul


NEWCASTLE – This short video is derived from a great deal of film I shot in Papua New Guinea in the 1960s and which has now been digitised by the Australian Archives and I have edited into segments of five minutes or so.

In 1963, I took a 50 minute flight from Rabaul to spend a weekend at Kavieng which is the capital and largest town of the Papua New Guinean province of New Ireland.

It is a beautiful, peaceful and picturesque island surrounded by clear tropical waters.

There are many coconut plantations on the island and while there I visited a huge plantation and was given a dance demonstration by students of Kavieng Secondary School.

It was an unusual dance which clearly derived many of its movements from military drills, possible a remnant of the German colonisation of this part of the world until 1914.

The video ends with images of Rabaul Harbour and its volcanoes.

Engan people caught between a rock & a hard place


PORT MORESBY - Tomorrow the members of parliament in the Alternative Government camp at the Laguna Hotel will commence the process of electing a candidate that will be named as the alternative prime minister.

One of the more notable candidates is Engan governor Sir Peter Ipatas (main picture).

He didn't put up his hand but was asked by sizable number of members in camp.

To-date prime minister Peter O'Neill has approved major infrastructure in Enga Province to keep Ipatas from being considered as a prime ministerial nominee – a K400 million provincial hospital and a promise to renew the mining licence of billion kina Porgera gold mine.

The hospital project is being funded by a K400 million loan provided by the Chinese Exim Bank and a Chinese contractor handpicked by O'Neill.

Continue reading "Engan people caught between a rock & a hard place" »

In camp with the opposition: My small shot for the country I love

Martyn Namorong
Martyn Namorong - "This is my small shot for the people I've met and the country I love"


PORT MORESBY - On Thursday at 9 am, I got a call to go into camp at the Sanctuary Hotel with Papua New Guinea’s alternate government.

It’s been an eye-opener and a great learning experience about the machinations of PNG politics.

It’s an experience I will always treasure.

Beyond the politics, for our members of parliament is the hard work of running a country.

I have been privileged to have been invited into the opposition engine room to help set the agenda and work plan for a new government to save PNG and rescue our great nation from corruption and debt.

I hope my little contribution to public policy leads to the improvement of lives of ordinary Papua New Guineans.

Continue reading "In camp with the opposition: My small shot for the country I love" »

The Kokoda shame: A continuing tale of a Trail of Woe

Rashmii and Tracie
Rashmii  Amoah Bell and Tracie Watson, general manager of Adventure Kokoda, which imposes standards Rashmii believes all trek companies should observe


BRISBANE, DECEMBER 2018 - His question came as I expected it would and as it echoed through the earpiece, I felt a movement of the boulders of anxiety wedged in my chest.

Shifting from one heel to the other, leaning back against the kitchen countertop to steady myself, I proceeded with the conversation.

DE was calling from somewhere along the road that snakes it way up to Sogeri. His calls were irregular but always brief and purposeful.

Seconds passed as my mind quickly arranged a response of uninspiring words. Words unworthy of the travel DE had undertaken from his village and his effort in borrowing a mobile phone from his cousin.

Unlike several of his Adventure Kokoda counterparts whom I ‘friended’ online, my trek carrier’s resistance to social media meant that I received a phone call. The boulders settled uneasily in the pit of my stomach.

Sensing my unease, DE’s kind nature moved him to banter. With Christmas approaching, he humoured me with instruction to not get carried away with indulgences and I playfully interrogated him about the shenanigans of his recent birthday in November.

Continue reading "The Kokoda shame: A continuing tale of a Trail of Woe" »

Events marked World Press Freedom Day in Asia-Pacific region

Professor David Robie
Professor David Robie

NEWS DESK | Asia Pacific Report/Pacific Media Watch

AUCKLAND - The head of an Auckland-based Pacific media watchdog says New Zealand “takes media freedom for granted” and could learn a lot from its Pacific neighbours.

“For the last few years we have been sitting fairly pretty in the world press freedom index where we are seventh at the moment – we have gone up one place from last year and we just take it for granted,” said Pacific Media Centre director Professor David Robie.

“Everything’s fine. Hunky-dory here.

“But around most of the world, particularly in the Pacific, World Press Freedom Day is a really important thing because there is a constant struggle going on.”

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