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94 posts from June 2019

Combating gender-based violence must be a govt priority

Dr Fiona Hukula
Dr Fiona Hukula - "Gender-based violence is a key issue which requires continued government attention"

FIONA HUKULA | National Research Institute | Edited

PORT MORESBY - In his maiden speech as prime minister, James Marape, stated that Papua New Guinea’s economy will be the key priority for his government.

Mr Marape also reiterated the need to maximise local benefits from the extraction of the country’s natural resources.

It is important to note that a strong and resilient economy will have a positive impact on men, women and children.

However, a prosperous, secure and equitable society requires continued and concerted effort in addressing fundamental problems that affects women and children. Gender-based violence is a key issue which requires continued government attention.

All forms of violence against women and children such as rape, sexual assault and violence related to sorcery accusation affects individuals, families and communities.

Violence against women affects their mental and physical health; and their mobility and productivity.

Continue reading "Combating gender-based violence must be a govt priority" »

As China looms, Australia’s military refocuses on neighbours

Chinese ship in Sydney Harbour
One of the Chinese ships in Sydney Harbour last week (Bianca De Marchi)

JAMIE TARABAY | New York Times

SYDNEY — For years, the graduating classes of Australia’s military training programs studied Dari and Pashto, the languages of distant war-torn lands, eschewing the Bahasa and the Pidgin of Asia-Pacific nations close to home.

But as Australian forces wind down their presence in Afghanistan and Iraq, where they have served alongside American troops since the early 2000s, they are renewing their focus on Australia’s island neighbours, which have become a different kind of battleground as China seeks to expand its influence in the region.

Australia has always tried to maintain military forces near home strong enough to deter any potentially hostile power from moving into the South Pacific.

But in recent decades, it has not faced such a challenge in the region, and instead has sent its troops again and again to support the United States in faraway conflicts.

Continue reading "As China looms, Australia’s military refocuses on neighbours" »

Can the Marape government reverse PNG’s ‘resource curse’

Paul Flanagan
Paul Flanagan - PNG industry was 20% worse off in 2016 than if it had continued ‘business as usual’ growth prior to the LNG project

PAUL FLANAGAN | PNG Economics | Edited

Link here to the full version of Paul Flanagan’s latest article

CANBERRA – Last year Dr Luke Fletcher and I co-authored a report comparing the projected economic benefits of the PNG LNG project with its actual outcomes.

So, more than a year later, do the controversial conclusions of ‘Double or Nothing: The Broken Economic Promises of the PNG LNG Project’ still hold true?

The broad answer is ‘yes’ – indeed the report’s conclusions have been reinforced by recent economic data.

Fortunately, PNG’s new Marape-Steven government is seeking better terms for future projects.

It is too early to tell whether the new government will make the important and politically difficult policy changes required to reverse the ‘resource curse’ approaches of the O’Neill government.

Recent PNG National Statistics Office figures confirmed that the PNG Treasury was over-estimating the health of the PNG economy in 2016.

Continue reading "Can the Marape government reverse PNG’s ‘resource curse’" »

Air Niugini eyes axed Cathay Pacific Cairns – Hong Kong route

Air_NiuginiANDREW CURRAN | Simple Flying | Edited

CAIRNS - Air Niugini is ready and willing to take over the Cairns – Hong Kong route according to a report in the Cairns Post.

Air Niugini’s managing director Alan Milne, who has been in Cairns discussing the option, said Air Niugini saw opportunities on the route and had the capacity to service it.

It’s a surprise move by the small airline from Papua New Guinea. To the dismay of many Cairns residents, Cathay Pacific is discontinuing its Cairns service in October after 25 years servicing the route.

International services into Cairns have been in decline for some years. But Air Niugini has been a Cairns stalwart, the north Queensland city long being a popular getaway spot for expats and mobile locals in Port Moresby.

Continue reading "Air Niugini eyes axed Cathay Pacific Cairns – Hong Kong route" »

Plea to Marape: New PM asked to reinstate sacked whistleblower

Brian Alois
Brian Alois - "a Papua New Guinean of integrity, a person of whom the country should be proud"


PORT MORESBY – “Dear Prime Minister,” wrote Martyn Namorong in an open letter on Monday. “Please reinstate Brian Alois or, even better, appoint him as the secretary for works so we taxpayers don't get ripped off.”

Now in case you don’t recall this matter, Alois was suspended by the Works Department last year after he blew the whistle on how the Papua New Guinea government was being cheated on inflated road contracts.

At the time, Alois was the Momase regional works manager and also president of the PNG Institute of Engineers.

Speaking as Institute president at a national planning summit, he had highlighted how the government was paying well in excess of what it should for road construction and maintenance projects.

In doing so, he mentioned a 300-metre stretch of road in the National Capital District which had cost K80 million to construct.

Continue reading "Plea to Marape: New PM asked to reinstate sacked whistleblower" »

Uphold laws, live in harmony & achieve prosperity, says Marape

JAMES MARAPE MP | Prime Ministerial Statement

James Marape
James Marape - "We want peaceful and law-abiding citizens who can contribute to nation-building"

PORT MORESBY – I am motivated by leaders who refuse to accept money to see change and good governance.

They are offered money, they are offered jobs but they stick to their commitment for the good of the people and country.

I appeal to Papua New Guineans, the least you can do is to respect your children, the girls and women amongst us.

You respect society by living peacefully, respecting each other despite our ethnic differences, our political differences, our religious differences.

You will realise where we are. We need greater incursion into how we harvest our natural resources.

Many of our corporate citizens will feel a little bit doubtful, will feel a little bit intimidated, a little bit insecure. But you must not feel that way.

Continue reading "Uphold laws, live in harmony & achieve prosperity, says Marape" »

My journey as a writer – Part I

Caroline Evari
Caroline Evari discusses her writing with children at the Koro International School last week


PORT MORESBY - Not knowing where my journey in writing would take me, I kept brushing away the idea of getting my long overdue collection of poems published. One reason: Fear.

Fear that people may not like my poems. Fear that I may not have the money to pay for publication. Fear of what other people would say about me.

I had a colleague who discovered my talent in writing and introduced me to the Crocodile Prize literary competition in 2013.  The journey from then gave me a whole new perception.

When I realised that people liked my writing, I became so determined to improve.

As I told in my recent interview with Betty Wakia, ‘Choose to rise above every circumstance,’ I tried networking with other writers.

It wasn’t easy because I had a demanding job, but I made every opportunity count. I wrote for websites, blogs, participated in writing prompts and created my own blog.

Continue reading "My journey as a writer – Part I" »

A sight seen no more – a kiap walks into a mountain village

Kiap walks into a mountain village (Graham Forster)ROBERT FORSTER

NORTHUMBRIA - It is late 1974, just months before independence, and a white kiap conducting a routine patrol is walking into one of Papua New Guinea’s many mountain villages.

At the same time some government advisors in the capital, Port Moresby, are saying kiaps offend people in these communities and as a result of this, and other perceived misdemeanors, should be encouraged to pack their bags and return to their foreign homes.

However in this photograph, there is little to suggest the kiap – who is about to shake hands with village leaders - is not welcome.

Continue reading "A sight seen no more – a kiap walks into a mountain village" »

The extraordinary mask festival & other Rabaul attractions

Kinjap - Rabaul National Mask Festival participantsPETER S KINJAP

PORT MORESBY - The National Mask and Warwagira Festival is an annual event in East New Britain where the local tribes gather to display their culture and traditions.

The festival starts at dawn on the beach with a Kinavai ceremony, when the mysterious and feared Dukduk and Tubuan arrive on canoes from their villages accompanied by the chanting and beating of drums.

The Kinavai ceremony is spiritually important for the local Tolai people, who reportedly migrated to East New Britain from Namatanai in New Ireland Province. The ceremony signifies their landing on the shores of East New Britain.

Impressive-looking men in red laplaps stand out from the crowd as they walk leisurely around grass huts selling refreshments, food and crafts.

Continue reading "The extraordinary mask festival & other Rabaul attractions" »

Aussie researchers discover 'parachuting frog' in PNG

Litoria pterodactyla
Litoria pterodactyla or the 'parachuting frog' (Stephen Richards)

NEWS DESK | Xinhua News Agency

BEIJING - A team of Australian researchers has discovered a new species of parachuting frog, hidden away in the remote jungles of Papua New Guinea and Indonesia.

The group of scientists from Griffith University and Queensland state museum also came across two other previously unknown frog species during their expedition around Papua New Guinea and Indonesia.

There has an incredible diversity of frogs and a lot of those species have only been described for the last 10-20 years, senior curator at Queensland Museum Paul Oliver told Xinhua.

"The more you go back, the more you get to new areas, the more you find new species."

Continue reading "Aussie researchers discover 'parachuting frog' in PNG" »

Three years on: Let’s not forget the brave students of 2016

Shot student
Friends carry a wounded student to seek medical help. It was a miracle that nobody died after police recklessly fired shots into university students protesting peacefully on campus

SCOTT WAIDE | My Land, My Country | Edited

LAE - This week marks three years since students at the University of Papua New Guinea were shot at a public gathering.

In the days leading up to the shooting they were belittled, scorned and told their opinions on good governance and corruption did not matter.

The students were campaigning for greater transparency in government, a stop to overseas borrowing and the resignation of the prime minister.

Ideas whose time has come three years later.

The students coined the hashtag #UPNG4PNG to show their patriotism and loyalty to their country and extended their campaign on social media.

They were uncertain about the outcome and many were unsure if what they were doing would be approved by their parents, families and country.

The girls dressed in black.

Continue reading "Three years on: Let’s not forget the brave students of 2016" »

Barefoot, unstylish & with leeches: Notes of a kiap on patrol

Route of Bob Hoad's epic patrol (Map by Bill Brown)


PEREGIAN BEACH - Many years ago, I walked the Kokoda Trail, starting from my station at Tapini on an election patrol for the House of Assembly (I was the returning officer, amongst other things).

I crossed the mountains and followed the northern river called the Chirima. By the end of this I was as close to Port Moresby as I was to my station, so I continued to Kokoda and walked the next four days to Port Moresby.

In those days a walk from Kokoda to Port Moresby was considered to be four to five days.

The last two days into Kokoda were quite long. After starting at six, at about 10 I said to my porters, “Where should we stay tonight?” “In a cave,” they replied.

We were travelling light with a couple of ballot boxes and no tents. At about 2pm I asked, “Where is this cave?” They said, “We don’t know. “So how will we find it?” “Oh, someone left earlier this morning and said he would put a stick on the track with a red leaf on it.”

It sounded great, a stick on a thin track in the middle of the jungle with leaf attached.

Continue reading "Barefoot, unstylish & with leeches: Notes of a kiap on patrol" »

Making donations of books to empower our children

Donating books
Jordan Dean with some of the children to whom he has donated his own and other books


PORT MORESBY - Education is the only way to save the world.

If you want to combat incurable diseases, get a medical degree. If you want to defend people’s rights, go to law school.

If you want to discover new drugs, get a PhD in pharmacology. If you want organisations to work better, get an MBA.

A good quality education helps children reach their full potential; however for thousands of children in Papua New Guinea, access to educational books is a myth.

So meet three amazing ladies who initiated book donation drives to help educate underprivileged children.

Mary Fairio is a researcher with a passion for kids and a desire to make a difference in her West Papuan community living at the Rainbow refugee camp.

Continue reading "Making donations of books to empower our children" »

Test of a constitution & a civilisation: Take-outs from a palace coup

James Marape
Marape’s rise to power was made possible due to the need for change and the opportunity for like–minded leaders to get behind him. This peaceful  political change is a plus for the country’s democracy.


PORT MORESBY -Clearly, many factors are involved to bring about a palace coup, which is defined as a non-violent coup d'état carried out by people in positions of authority who themselves are part of the ruling regime.

James Marape’s rise to power was made possible due to the conditions amenable to political change that prevailed at the time he won office, an act he justified in highbrow terms designed to appeal to the emotions and patriotism of the public.

A threatened no confidence vote in Peter O’Neill was set to dethrone both him and his People’s National Congress. But O’Neill opted to resign as prime minister as the numbers against him grew.

For 50 days effective government was impossible. The legitimacy of the state was at stake.

Continue reading "Test of a constitution & a civilisation: Take-outs from a palace coup" »

A Kiap’s Chronicle: 25 – The Administration versus the People

Map - The mine access road
The access road to the proposed Panguna minesite was the locus of most of the resistance action by landowners in 1969. At the copper company's insistence the colonial Administration began to harden its stance on forcing the people to comply


THE CHRONICLE CONTINUES - I thought Administrator David Hay’s decision to send a ‘welfare group’ - a team of outsiders – to visit Panguna for a week or two in May 1967 was extraordinary.

He told the Canberra bureaucrats that their task was to seek “further information about the people’s views and attitudes and the possibility of improving the Administration’s image.”

What made his statement bizarre was that only six weeks earlier he had directed Patrol Officer John Dagge and me to ignore the people’s protests and escort personnel from mining company CRA across the Kawerong River.

He must have realised that operation would have besmirched the Administration’s image beyond repair.

During the following weeks the villagers vented their displeasure. On a single night the wooden pegs that had been precisely positioned by surveyors around the Moroni hillside in a week-long operation were removed and dumped at Barapina on what we termed the parade ground.

Up the road at Panguna, a stack of cement posts was smashed to pieces in an overnight raid and dumped on CRA’s doorstep.

To the south of Panguna, at Deomori, Marist Father Woeste was accused of helping CRA and told that, as his mission station was on native land, he should follow the people’s wishes or get out.

The people around Panguna were still seething in the last week of May, when Terry Daw (1), Judy (JK) Peters (2) and Lukas Waka (3) arrived in Kieta to carry out the Administrator’s task of ‘improving the Administration’s image’.

Continue reading "A Kiap’s Chronicle: 25 – The Administration versus the People" »

The Case of a Kuman Ambai

Kuman ambaiDIU NORA KOIMA | The Crocodile Prize
| Abt Associates Award for Women’s Writing

Above all other roles and personalities I may play and possess,
I am first and foremost a Kuman Ambai by blood and earth
The words I speak, the way I speak them and
How I want my words to influence others
Amount to the Kuman Ideology.
Every word and action is either an idiom, a meme,
A metaphor, and at other times, a personification
Served in every line of a short dialogue
Sarcasm and satire are served by bucket loads.
And no, it is not for the fun of it. It is just how it is.

Continue reading "The Case of a Kuman Ambai" »

Sheena’s writing journey: The hobby that became a way of life

Sheena Simololo - "When our traditions are translated to the written word, we are helping to preserve them"


Link here to Sheena Simelolo’s beautiful heritage story, The Kitoro

PORT MORESBY - Today Sheena Simelolo inspires a new generation of writers as an English literature tutor at the University of Goroka, but her own love of writing was sparked years before as a secondary student.

She was challenged by a teacher at Marianville Secondary School in Port Moresby, who had taken note of Sheena’s burgeoning literary interest and challenged her to put pen to paper.

“I started writing because of school,” Sheena said, “a defining moment was when I was in Grade 10 – my English teacher, Ms Rosa Kedarosi, made us write short fictional stories every weekend.

“She would either give us the beginning or the ending and it was up to us to complete the story.

“I was always interested in writing short stories – I was a great reader and most of my writing was inspired by the books I read.

“I loved reading books that were based on true stories or that depicted real-life situations.”

Sheena’s writing flourished and upon completing high school she decided to study for a Bachelor of Education, Language and Literature at the University of Goroka, where her passion transformed in to a way of life.

Continue reading "Sheena’s writing journey: The hobby that became a way of life" »

Why we need to write – it’s a pathway to success


SONOMA - We need to write to develop our mind, generate new ideas and clarify our thinking.

Yet the reality is that it’s hard being a writer. Literary work is not jolly work. Literary success comes on the back of hard work and the expenditure of mental energy.

The art, craft and business of writing takes time, focus and significant effort to conjure, organise, visualize, develop characters and stories and then interpret this into the written word that readers will understand and enjoy.

To compound this problem are the myriad shiny distractions that fill our lives. In such a world, it is easy to procrastinate and forgo the ideas that are meant to stir our souls and the world.

But we write anyway, in spite of all this. So why do we need to write?

Continue reading "Why we need to write – it’s a pathway to success" »

Table Mama – the betel nut vendor

Betel nut sellerRAYCHELLE CASSEY REDI | The Crocodile Prize
| Abt Associates Award for Women’s Literature

A hardworking person,
A family backbone,
An early morning bird that wakes up
to go buy betelnut in bulk,
Set up her table and resell them,
To earn some cash to put food on the table.

She's the bread and butter for the family.
She struggles to earn a toea
but family doesn't appreciate her sweat.
She gets scolds from an angry father
who only thinks he's the boss
And punches when he’s drunk

Continue reading "Table Mama – the betel nut vendor" »

Marape appoints 3 opposition MPs to new PNG ministry

Bryan Kramer
Bryan Kramer (centre) waits for the announcement of his new portfolio this morning


BRISBANE - Prime Minister James Marape has ‘reached across the aisle’ to appoint three leading figures in Papua New Guinea's opposition to key posts in his new ministry.

And former deputy prime minister and treasurer Charles Abel has been demoted and lost his senior position to Steven Davis, the member for Esa'ala of Milne Bay Province.

The outspoken Madang MP, Bryan Kramer, has been appointed to the tricky portfolio of Police, central to addressing PNG's chronic law and order problems and a post which will demand all his skills.

A huge cheer went up when his appointment, which had been widely anticipated, was announced.  

Kerenga Kua, the Simbu MP who did not vote for Marape in the leadership ballot, has been appointed to the key economic ministry of Petroleum, and Wabag MP Dr Lino Tom receives the Fisheries and Marine Resources portfolio.

The appointments show that Marape was prepared to both to reach out to political opponents and use merit as a key selection criterion in his ministry.

Meanwhile long-serving foreign affairs minister Rimbink Pato, a strong O'Neill supporter, has been dropped from the ministry altogether and Sam Basil has been appointed in the lower reaches of the ministry as responsible for the treasury.

Continue reading "Marape appoints 3 opposition MPs to new PNG ministry" »

On campaigning, strategy & social media in PNG politics


PORT MORESBY – During the recent Australian election campaign, the Labor Party twirled haplessly around the issue of north Queensland coal mining, convincing nobody about where it actually stood on the issue.

And it went on to lose an election it was meant to win, a win which the tropical constituency might have provided had only Labor adopted a more strategic and coherent position.

It might have had a winning election strategy if it had understood the precept that, if you take something away from people without giving them something back, you’re going to end up in deep doo-doo. As Labor did.

In Australia’s deep north, in people’s minds what being taken away was jobs and the strategic reciprocal really should have been a big, job-creating renewables project. But, like Labor, this ended up nowhere to be seen.

Continue reading "On campaigning, strategy & social media in PNG politics" »

Herick’s fictional tales capture the true human spirit

Herick Aeno
Herick Aeno - "“Writing is a powerful tool that can change how people think and react towards issues and situations”


You can read here Herick Arno’s riveting short story, The Not Forgotten

PORT MORESBY - Herick Aeno is a social researcher by day, but by night he is transformed into a short story writer who uses fiction as a means to explore Papua New Guinea’s socio-cultural issues.

Originally from Eastern Highlands and still based in Goroka, Herick’s work with the PNG Institute of Medical Research takes him to remote parts of the country to conduct sexual and reproductive health studies.

His research helps the Institute provide vital information on health issues to the National Department of Health and other development partners.

On these journeys he has come across the desperation faced by people in remote areas and this has served as an inspiration for his fiction writing.

“Part of my work includes writing for publication in academic journals,” Herick said.

“I have also developed an interest in capturing experiences and issues I come across in communities throughout PNG.

Continue reading "Herick’s fictional tales capture the true human spirit" »

A Warrior Dances with Arrows

A warrior dancesPORAP GAI

Now let us go and dance with arrows,
This thing that death to us shall bring,
Says the warrior.

The warrior's look is as a thunderous rain-cloud,
         While the arrows drop as continuous sleet,
A dance of heaven, a dance of hell.

The dance that mortals dance so well,
The warrior’s victorious with unwounded body,
So well the thickness of mail protected him.

With bow let warrior win kina, with bow to battle,
With warrior’s bow come victors after hot encounter,       
         This dance warrior dances, this dance is his own.

         There where the hero speeds hither and thither,
When warrior armed with mail, seeking the heat of battle,
May the two bow-ends, starting swift asunder, scatter.

The bow brings grief and sorrow to the foeman,
Armed with the bow may he subdue all regions,
Finally warrior knows he danced the dance of death.

The photograph shows an Engan warrior killed in the battle by arrows, one of a number from the Kandep District who died as a result of election violence between 2007 and 2017. I witnessed the tragedy of young men losing their lives - PG

Marape’s pledge of hope & reassurance to the people of PNG

James Marape bilas
James Marape in the traditional bilas (finery) of the Huli people


PORT MORESBY – Papua New Guinea’s new prime minister James Marape is ready to fight crime and deep-rooted corruption in a country overburdened with billions of kina in foreign debt and poor delivery of basic services like health and education.

PNG’s eighth prime minister, Marape has been a member of parliament since 2011 and has held several important ministerial portfolios.

He did not mince his words in his maiden speech as he warned investors not to approach him, his ministers or public servants with bribes but to earn their money through honest hard work.

“Don’t offer inducements to me or any ministers or public servants,” he said.

Marape also warned public servants and politicians to earn their salary and not to ask for special favours from investors.

Continue reading "Marape’s pledge of hope & reassurance to the people of PNG" »

The undermining of sovereignty in PNG & the Pacific

Patrick Kaiku


PORT MORESBY - The Australian step-up in the Pacific Islands is premised on the argument that the sovereignty of Pacific states needs safeguarding, from Chinese strategic designs.

But how should sovereignty be conceived? In State Failure, Sovereignty and Effectiveness, Gerard Kreijen traces the historical usage of the concept, concluding that “external sovereignty or independence rests on internal sovereignty – the latter being a condition sine qua non for the former”.

Internal definitions of sovereignty matter in the Pacific Islands. They aid the process of identifying threats worth prioritising and practical measures in addressing such threats.

Pacific states are concerned with the internal aspects of sovereignty, that is, “the supreme power of the state to formulate and uphold the laws in respect of its population”.

Continue reading "The undermining of sovereignty in PNG & the Pacific" »

How a language & a way of life came to an end in PNG

A Death in the RainforestKIRKUS

A Death in the Rainforest by Don Kulick, Algonquin, 2019, 288 pages. ISBN 978-1-61620-904-9. Available from Amazon, hard copy $US17.67, kindle $US9.99

REVIEW - As a young anthropologist, Don Kulick went to the tiny village of Gapun in New Guinea to document the death of the native language, Tayap.

He arrived knowing that you can’t study a language without understanding the daily lives of the people who speak it: how they talk to their children, how they argue, how they gossip, how they joke.

Over the course of 30 years, he returned again and again to document Tayap before it disappeared entirely, and he found himself inexorably drawn into their world, and implicated in their destiny.

Kulick wears his scholar’s hat casually in this deeply personal, engaging inquiry into a “tiny windless slit in the rainforest [of Papua New Guinea]…surrounded on all sides by massive trees rooted in a vast, seemingly boundless swamp.”

Continue reading "How a language & a way of life came to an end in PNG" »

O’Neill says no one forced him out: ‘Decision was mine alone’

Peter O'Neill
Peter O'Neill - "Leaders are making false and self-serving statements trying to claim credit, when the reality is that they were themselves hungry for power"


PORT MORESBY – Ousted prime minister Peter O’Neill has said that his decision to resign was his own and in the interest of political stability.

Speaking for the first time since James Marape was selected by parliament to replace him, O’Neill said he had not resigned because of decisions made by certain other leaders.

“I chose the interests of political stability over political self-interest,” he said. “I made the decision to resign before I left for parliament on Wednesday morning and signed my letter of resignation.”

O’Neill spoke out after two former prime ministers yesterday claimed to have played a major part in his ouster.

Sir Julius Chan, earlier touted as his replacement, said his People’s Progress Part had played a pivotal role in getting O’Neill to resign.

Continue reading "O’Neill says no one forced him out: ‘Decision was mine alone’" »

As Marape settles into office, Bougainville looms large

John Momis
John Momis - many issues for James Marape about the independence referendum


BUKA - Despite the changes in leadership in Papua New Guinea’s national government there are still important aspects of the Bougainville peace process where urgent action and direction is needed, says Bougainville president John Momis.

Dr Momis said new prime minister James Marape has now assumed these responsibilities and must jointly implement the Bougainville Peace Agreement together with the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG).

He said his first concern relates to the promised funding from the PNG government to the Bougainville Referendum Commission, funds which are necessary for the commission to effectively prepare for and carry out the referendum scheduled for 15 October.

“I ask that the new Marape government take action to ensure that the additional K20 million promised to the commission by the national government is paid as soon as is practicable,” Momis said.

The second matter concerns regulations for the conduct of the referendum.

“The draft regulation relating to the enrolment of voters were prepared some weeks ago but have yet to be approved by the PNG cabinet and sent to the governor-general for approval,” Momis said.

Continue reading "As Marape settles into office, Bougainville looms large" »

Will Peter O’Neill’s defeat result in his political demise?

Peter o'neill downcastBUSA JEREMIAH WENOGO

PORT MORESBY – Over recent days much discussion in Papua New Guinea has centered around the dethronement of Peter O'Neill by James Marape as the country's prime minister.

This outcome was celebrated with much fanfare by many Papua New Guineans, including the opposition, with the latter stating this was one of their top priorities when they came together after the re-election of O'Neill in 2017.

Nevertheless the mood of excitement and relief quickly changed when it was reported Marape supposedly ‘teamed up’ with O'Neill.

Most people are now of the view that it will be ‘business as usual’ with O’Neill predicted to still maintain a significant influence in the new government.

Continue reading "Will Peter O’Neill’s defeat result in his political demise?" »

A book about things after 70: Thinking about what life has meant.


Hare’s Fur by Trevor Shearston, Scribe Publications, 2019, 240 pages, ISBN 9781925713473, $A27.99 from most bookstores or as an ebook for $A13.29

TUMBY BAY - Most people with an interest in Papua New Guinea will remember Trevor Shearston from his first book, a collection of short stories called Something in the Blood.

He then wrote a string of PNG-based titles, including Sticks That Kill, White Lies, Concertinas, A Straight Young Back and Dead Birds.

The readers and writers who follow PNG Attitude might also remember Trevor from when he attended the 2014 Crocodile Prize writer’s workshop at the National Library as guest speaker.

During that event I recall someone asking him whether he was going to write any more books based in Papua New Guinea. I think the question came from Francis Nii.

Continue reading "A book about things after 70: Thinking about what life has meant." »

Marape’s explicit & wide-ranging commitment to PNG

On his way to work yesterday, Marape stopped his car at Hohola, walked to a disabled man, gently raising him to his feet and hugging him. The man, Thomas Pori Helo, was said to be a ‘diehard’ supporter. Even more now. This was not an unusual act of compassion by Marape


PORT MORESBY - Following James Marape’s election as prime minister, on Sunday he issued a declaration on Facebook that soon had the foreign media (and social media) agitating over just one phrase.

“Work with me,” he wrote, “to make PNG the Richest Black Christian Nation on earth.”

True, they were rather provocative words, and they were repeated in his statement, but there was more – much more – that Marape had to say.

And in that more was plenty for the rest of us, and indeed for the world beyond Papua New Guinea, to chew on.

But before I move to that, let me pause for a moment and be a bit grateful that PNG now has a prime minister willing to commit his thoughts, values and aspirations to social media.

Marape promises to continue to “communicate with the nation using this medium.”

I guess it’s inevitable he will attract the usual low life trolling, mocking, attacking and denigrating, but let’s hope he does manage to find the time and patience to communicate in this way.

It will make a big difference to both the governors and the governed to know what the prime minister has on his mind.

So what were the most significant ideas and issues Marape decided to open with?

First of all, he said he is up for change. There is no indication in the statement that he sees his role as anything other than a disconnect from the O’Neill era.

And in handing down a number of explicit commitments, he offered the PNG people a checklist by which he and his administration – now being formed - can be judged in the coming weeks and months.

Continue reading "Marape’s explicit & wide-ranging commitment to PNG" »

What do we mean by owning our economy?

Martyn Namorong - "As I reflect on our leaders' messages, I look through the frame of Melanesian egalitarianism not western nationalism"


PORT MORESBY – Late last week Papua New Guinea heard great fiery statements from prime minister James Marape and Oro governor Gary Juffa about Taking Back PNG and owning our economy.

Both gentlemen seemed to signal the nation’s shift towards ‘resource nationalism’ — or at least that’s how western media has interpreted their Tok Pisin which was spoken in plain English.

Both parliamentarians reflected a public sentiment regarding economic independence that has lingered for decades amongst many Papua New Guineans.

As a left leaning writer and communicator, I found myself awkwardly worrying about how their words might affect foreign direct investment.

I mean, why should I worry about those foreign capitalists that have a history of exploiting my country?

But I also felt challenged as a Papua New Guinean writer to help my two compatriots communicate their message.

My perception of what was said is a call to Take Back PNG through our Papua New Guinean ways ( the fifth of our national goals) in order to achieve the third national goal and directive principle which calls for both political and economic independence.

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Don't believe the spin, our small businesses can do it

Corney Korokan Alone
Corney Alone - "Are our sons and daughters not fit to sit in the same lecture rooms of foreign direct investors' children to learn the fundamentals of business?”


PORT MORESBY – In an early statement, newly elected prime minister James Marape has pointedly emphasised a new policy orientation for small to medium sized enterprises (SME) whereby government contracts worth K10 million will be reserved for PNG-owned companies.

The discussion that follows is a contribution towards shaping that policy debate.

It is a fact that there are government subsidies and protectionism in all economies of the world.

The United States government grants subsidies and tax exemptions to most of their conglomerates in nearly every industry. This is done deliberately through the federal budget.

Australia is no exception, especially in its agri-industry sector. It has a Foreign Investment Review Board that plays the gatekeeping role, filtering what investment to allow and what to decline and operating in lock-step with Australia’s meticulous immigration and foreign visa policies.

The policies may have a different names and acronyms to deceive public perception, but when you flip the pages you’ll find the DNA of protectionism plastered all over the place.

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The ascent of Marape – I was sort of there; sort of looking on

As seen from my hotel room - the flat stretch of bitumen foreshore  middle right contains about 150 vehicles purchased for APEC and never used


PORT MORESBY - From the window of my room in the Grand Papua, I have a magnificent westward view up Fairfax Harbour, with the remnants of the Macdhui still visible, but barely, in the middle distance.

Closer to my vantage point is a large flat expanse of freight concourse abutting a wharf.

The concourse is laden with vehicles – perhaps 100 buses and 50 people movers – neatly parked.

These are just some of the conveyances imported for the APEC summit last year. A few kilometers inland, in the less salt corrosive atmosphere near Bomana gaol, are the infamous 40 Maseratis.

It is these expensive, unused, unemployed and now derelict vehicles which an oaf of a minister claimed to have ‘pre-sold’ in a futile and false attempt to escape public mockery and anger.

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Bare Feet In Heels

Betty Chapau
Betty Chapau - "I always believed that one good thing that came out of colonialism was education. Eventually education will break down the cage"

BETTY S CHAPAU | The Crocodile Prize
Abt Associates Award for Women’s Writing

The Southern Cross had advised the coming of the Trade Winds and the beautiful island women rose majestically from the platform of their outrigger canoes, lifting conch shells to mouths and blowing in unison. They were announcing the coming of the Trade Winds.

The Solomon and Bismarck Seas carried the melody of their voices toward the mainland. Guarding the coastline stood the women, swaying in vibrant-coloured grass-skirts.

They raised their hands to welcome this familiar voice and greeted it with smiles of gratitude. They strengthened the message of their island sisters with the beating of kundus resounding into the mountains.

Emerging from the mountaintop, radiant like the birds of paradise, stood the women of the mountains. They danced, sang and embraced this beautiful message of unity.

From islands to highlands stretched this unity of diverse beauty. Colourful bodies glowed with shades of red, black and gold. Despite the multiplicity of their languages, there was a common sense of pride that threaded through their tongues. These are us, the resilient women of Papua New Guinea.

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Religious pretensions no basis for good government

Sr Ellen White
Sister Ellen White - Seventh Day Adventist church founder and remembered as a prophet and oyster eater


MORRISET, NSW - So now there are three Seventh Day Adventists in important positions in Papua New Guinea.

There’s new prime minister James Marape, chief justice Gibbs Salika and the parliamentary speaker Job Pomat.

Well I won't criticise them for their religious beliefs. Oh hell, I'll have a go anyway. And I feel somewhat qualified to pass judgement.

My great-grandfather was the first ordained SDA pastor in the Pacific and Australia. And both my grandad and dad were SDA pastors. That’s three generations before I arrived.

Great-grandfather received a testimony from Sister Ellen White, founder of the church and widely regarded amongst adherents as a prophet from God.

My grandmother had afternoon tea with Sr White at Sunnyside in Avondale in the late 1890s. The house still stands this day and is near where I live.

So I grew up in the SDA, and believe me it is no less open to charges of hypocrisy and procrastination than any other church.

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See who I met at Grand Papua Hotel - & some thoughts I had

Daniel and Keith
Daniel and Keith with copy of Survivor and traditional Enga caps


PORT MORESBY – We had quite a lunch at the Grand Papua on Friday.

By ‘we’ I mean Keith Jackson AM, who wrote the Foreword to my latest book ‘Survivor’, his lovely wife Cr Ingrid Jackson, a councillor in the shire of Noosa on Australia’s Sunshine Coast, and their son Ben, a communications specialist working with the Australian aid program in Papua New Guinea.

After we finished, the Jackson family met Hon Wera Mori, commerce minister and member for Chuave in Simbu, where Keith had come as an 18-year old to teach - and has remained a friend of PNG ever since.

Wera and Keith exchanged contact details and spoke for many minutes.

(As it happened Wera had been a student at a school at which Keith’s close friend Murray Bladwell had been principal and Keith was able to put them in touch after 50 years.)

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What the hell's going on? And what could possibly go wrong?

B&w Overland
Chris Overland - "Claims by politicians that they 'manage' the economy are risible. They might as well say that they manage history"


ADELAIDE - As an historian I am engaged in an endless struggle to try to understand why the world got to be the way it is and then to venture some tentative opinions as to what this might mean for the future.

History lends its students a more or less infinite capacity for the wisdom of hindsight but is not necessarily a great guide to the future.

In fact, the evidence is that those who predict the future in anything like definitive terms are almost always wrong. If historians were professional punters, I would expect almost all of them to be permanently skint.

Economists do not like to be compared to historians. They regard their discipline as a science because they use lots of mathematical equations and graphs, together with many complex words to explain their prognostications.

As a discipline, economics is right up there with history: pretty good at explaining the past and almost invariably wrong about the future.

For example, so far as I can determine, no mainstream economist has ever successfully predicted a massive economic catastrophe like the Great Depression or the Global Financial Crisis.

In every case they are, along with everyone else, completely and utterly blindsided by a proverbial Black Swan event.

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Eric Tapakau – skilful communicator who loved Bougainville

Eric Tapakau
Eric Tapakau was deeply committed to the betterment of Bougainville and its people 

DENIKA SEETO | Communications Manager, Bougainville Copper Ltd

BUKA - Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) lost both a dear friend and esteemed colleague with the untimely passing of Eric Tapakau on 19 May after a brief illness.

Eric, 44, was a highly regarded member of our Bougainville team having joined the company in September 2017 as media and communications adviser.

As a testament to his capabilities and leadership, he was quickly promoted to a senior project officer position just four months later.

One of Eric’s great qualities was his natural affinity with people and his ability to effectively engage with those at all levels of the community. He was deeply committed to the betterment of Bougainville and its people and had earned widespread respect.

Those who knew him best, including former work colleagues and school friends, recall how people loved being in Eric’s company. He was warm and welcoming and, also possessed a quick wit and wicked sense of humour.

ET, as he was affectionately known, was able to lighten the mood of any room no matter the situation and it was often hard to keep a straight face when he was around. 

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Can you vote in the Bougainville referendum? John Momis tells

Dr John MomisGRAND CHIEF JOHN MOMIS | Office of the President
| Autonomous Region of Bougainville

BUKA - I am aware of discussions around who is eligible to vote in the referendum.

Let me start with reminding all that the Bougainville Referendum Commission was set up by the Autonomous Bougainville Government and the National Government to administer the referendum in an impartial and inclusive manner.

They must implement the law as it stands, and I support their efforts to do so.

The rules for who can register and vote at the referendum date back to the Bougainville Peace Agreement, which states – in section 315 - that “eligibility to vote in the referendum will be the same as for national elections in Bougainville plus non-resident Bougainvilleans.”

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My message to prime minister James Marape

Scott Waide
Scott Waide - "Do what is right by the people.  Listen to their voices through social media. Be brave enough to listen to the criticisms and find the threads of truth in them"

SCOTT WAIDE | My Land, My Country

LAE - As the new prime minister, you have your work cut out for you.

You have to try to get a lot of it done within two years before the 2022 elections.

That’s a big job.

Do what is right by the people.  Listen to their voices through social media. Not all of it is fake news. 

Take counsel from those who disagree with you, publicly and privately, in the interest of your eight million people.  Be brave enough to listen to the criticisms and find the threads of truth in them.

Be truthful about the state of Papua New Guinea’s health system.  The people of Papua New Guinea deserve a Government that tells the truth. There is a severe shortage of medicine.

Puka Temu did a bad job and he did not admit to it as health minister.  Many of our aid posts are closed and our hospitals don’t have medicine.  Yet the media is accused of ‘being political’ when we highlight these ‘open secrets.’

Be truthful about tuition fee free education.  It’s not working for us. Our schools don’t get the money on time.  If we have to pay for school fees, tell that to the people straight as it is.  Papua New Guineans are resilient and hard working.  They do not deserve to be lied to.

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Achieved: The significant objective of removing O’Neill


KUNDIAWA - The political tussle in Papua New Guinea has at last reached its climax with the son of Tari Pori James Mara prevailing as the country’s new prime minister.

From yesterday, the new prime minister has been busy deciding his new ministry and his action priorities for getting government business going.

Although the game has been long and tough, and full of many twists and turns with some tactics deemed unethical, the ultimate goal has been achieved - the removal of prime minister Peter O’Neill.

The 24 members of the opposition team under the leadership of Patrick Pruaitch had embarked on a mission to fight the corruption eating into the fabric of the society.

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Marape questions PNG’s resource exploitation deals

James Marape being sworn in as new prime minister on Thursday (AFP/Vanessa Kerton)

NEWS DESK | AFP | Extract

PORT MORESBY - Former Papua New Guinea finance minister James Marape, elected as prime minister on Thursday, has immediately issued a nationalistic address that puts foreign resource companies on notice.

Marape threatened foreign logging companies and vowed to tweak resource laws that underpin a recently inked $13 billion gas deal with Total and ExxonMobil.

Hours after being elected, Marape told parliamentarians he does "not intend to chase away our investors" but insisted "our resource laws are outdated," a clear reference to the huge LNG project.

"Who says one conglomerate from outside will come and tell me I can change the law for my country?" he asked.

"I have every right to tweak and turn resource laws for my country," he said. "We will look into maximising gain from what God has given this country from all natural resources."

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Dikana ‘Ten Gun’ Boge – great team man who never let you down

Dikana Boge
Dikana Boge - a great team man always firing on all barrels


BRISBANE - One of my most treasured possessions is a photo of the 1976 Kumuls and there, sitting next to me in the row at the front, is Dikana ‘Ten Gun’ Boge.

Dikana was five-eight and I was halfback, and we had also played in those positions for the Papua New Guinea Southern Zone representative rugby league team when we won the inter-zone championship that year. Although I say it myself, I think we were a great combination.

Dikana was fierce, fearless but almost always smiling.

When we last met in Hanuabada almost 14 months ago, it was an emotional reunion.

The ABC’s Foreign Correspondent program had decided that I should do one last TV program on Papua New Guinea and while we were in Port Moresby, Dadi Toka Junior arranged for us to catch up.

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