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94 posts from July 2019

Howard Richards: Barngarla man rediscovered his own culture

Barngarla Elders 2007
Barngarla elders in 2007 - Eileen Crombie (Antakarinja advisor), Lorraine Dare, Howard Richards, Linda Dare, Harry Dare and Eric Paige


TUMBY BAY - They’re burying Howard Richards on Thursday. Howard was a Barngarla man from the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia.

He was part of the stolen generation, taken away from his family as a child to grow up in a boy’s home in Adelaide.

I worked with Howard and the Barngarla people on their native title claim for many years. Their lawyer, Philip Teitzel, died a few years ago.

Like Howard, many of the Barngarla had been taken away from their families as children and in the process lost their connections to their culture and their land. It’s a common story in Australia.

Working with Howard and the other Barngarla men and women on the native title claim was a learning experience for us all. Together we scoured old government records, anthropological works and old newspapers to re-discover Barngarla culture.

Continue reading "Howard Richards: Barngarla man rediscovered his own culture" »

Let's try to work out who the authentic politicians are

Marape Morrison
James Marape and Scott Morrison - what image do they want us to see? And how closely does it relate to the real leader?


TUMBY BAY – Keith’s now in London and getting a first hand experience of Britain’s transition to the rule of Boris Johnson and it will be interesting to watch how Boris the new prime minister progresses.

I'm not quite sure what image of himself he is trying to project and what he hopes will capture the minds of the credulous voters of the United Kingdom.

It is also still a mystery what sort of image Papua New Guinea’s James Marape is trying to project.

On the one hand he is trying to establish himself as someone who will not tolerate being leaned on by Australia while he has also projected an image of a transparent communicator with a strong bias against corruption.

I don't think anyone since Michael Somare has managed to manufacture a persona with such wide appeal in PNG and I'm not sure Marape (unlike Bryan Kramer for instance) has the charisma to do it.

One of the most appealing aspects of Michael Somare, at least when he was younger, was that he would actually answer questions put to him. This was very refreshing and quite unusual. He was a bit like Bob Hawke in this respect.

Continue reading "Let's try to work out who the authentic politicians are" »

Australia 'tarnished' Manus; military base unwelcome: Benjamin

Manus governor Charlie Benjamin (Mike Bowers)
Manus governor Charlie Benjamin (Mike Bowers)

HELEN DAVIDSON | Guardian Australia

CANBERRA - The Australian and Papua New Guinean governments have failed the people of Manus Island, who did Australia a favour in hosting its offshore immigration centre only to be left with “bad memories” and no infrastructure, the province’s governor has said.

Charlie Benjamin, who joined PNG prime minister James Marape for an official visit to Australia last week, also opposed the forthcoming joint US-Australia military base, chiefly because of the way Australia treated Manus Island over the past six years.

“The enormity and importance of this program to Australia – stopping the boat people – was very successful,” he told Guardian Australia in an exclusive interview.

Continue reading "Australia 'tarnished' Manus; military base unwelcome: Benjamin" »

Dying Democracy

Police shootingSHIRLEY AMBANG

| An entry in the Crocodile Prize Poetry Award

Do not speak ill of the dead,
Poor leadership is where it all led,
Whilst our country lay on its mortal bed.
Afraid to speak out, because we were scared.
Brave students spoke up, got shot up,
And still no one cared.
They put their lives on the line,
To hold powerful accountable for laws undermined,
Attempting to remove, reshuffle, reassign,
Lives given in vain, life in decline.
They came with arms; we were unprepared,
War on our democracy they declared.
When it’s all said and done, in the end,
It is we the people, who despaired.

William Adrian (Bill) McGrath – kiap & bibliophile – dies at 86


PORT MORESBY - Bill McGrath, who died on Tuesday after a long illness, went to Papua New Guinea on 16 April 1953 as a 20 year old cadet patrol officer - 66 years ago.

He later transferred to the Royal PNG Constabulary as a police officer before moving to the Lands Department under the renowned Ivan Champion where he was involved with the purchase of land for the Rouna hydro-electric scheme.

He also worked with Champion at the Land Titles Commission and was a consultant and adviser on land matters throughout the Pacific islands.

After leaving the public service he returned to PNG from time to time to advise mineral and petroleum exploration companies on land matters.

Continue reading "William Adrian (Bill) McGrath – kiap & bibliophile – dies at 86" »

James Marape’s quest to finally decolonise Papua New Guinea

James Marape - ridding Papua New Guinea of corruption is one of his major goals


TUMBY BAY - In 2005, the late Ulli Beier published ‘Decolonising the Mind’, an account of his time as a lecturer at the University of Papua New Guinea between 1967 and 1971.

The book was published by Pandanus Books, established in 2001 by the Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies at the Australian National University and eventually discontinued in 2006 following budget cuts.

While it existed Pandanus was a prolific publisher of, among other things, Papua New Guinean matters for both an academic and general readership.

Its demise cut off a valuable tool for furthering an understanding of the Papua New Guinean and Australian relationship.

Continue reading "James Marape’s quest to finally decolonise Papua New Guinea" »

The amazing story of PNG’s first professor of surgery

A Surgical LifeKEITH JACKSON with Rob Parer, Robert Brown and other sources

Now in Remission: A Surgical Life, by Ken Clezy, Wakefield Press, 472 pages, December 2012. ISBN-13: 978-1459643420. Paperback $36.99; Kindle Edition $8.43. Available from Amazon USA

LONDON - Ken Clezy AM OBE is a surgeon whose vocation has taken him many places, not all of them safe.

When three colleagues were shot dead at a Yemen mission hospital he escaped only because he had gone home for breakfast.

In Port Moresby, where he was the first professor of surgery at the University of Papua New Guinea, doctors and nurses still say, “Mr Clezy did it this way”.

He performed brain and spinal tumour surgery in PNG for many years and was a pioneer of non-operative management of the ruptured spleen in adults.

But his particular expertise was in the reconstructive surgery of deformities caused by leprosy.

Continue reading "The amazing story of PNG’s first professor of surgery" »

Cultured Fashion

Cultured fashion
Cultured Fashion, by Therese Pidik


| An entry in the Crocodile Prize Poetry Awards

Grass skirt swayed away every fibre of its strand,
Paved way to miniskirt, latest fashion of today.

Tree barks woven no longer survive this time,
Fashion is packaged with hottest brand in town.

What use a comfort fit of tanget leaves and bark,
Now adornments of the past, only history can relate.

Each of these the traditional attires,
Of grandparents and forefathers.

Gave them recognition of their status in society,
For those generations, this culture had died with them.

We only know them now from the evidence
of history, either told or written.

Today is very different, and I blame one thing for that.
It was change chased them away, with the fashion of today.

I can embrace this change, but remember and appreciate,
That, they too, had their splendid fashion in their era.

Australia & climate change: ‘I won’t be silenced’ says Marape

James Marape - "If we disintegrate up here, it affects Australia too”

HELEN DAVIDSON | Guardian Australia | Extract

SYDNEY - Australia has a responsibility to protect the Pacific region from the impacts of climate change, PNG’s newly appointed prime minister has said.

James Marape told the Guardian that Australia had “a moral responsibility … to the upkeep of the planet”, particularly given the extreme effect it was having on smaller Pacific nations.

“I don’t intend to speak from Canberra’s perspective, they have their own policy mindset, but as human beings I know they will respond to the moral obligation that is prevalent amidst us, that we are environmentally sensitive to the needs of others.”

He said the voices of smaller island nations must be listened to.

“As big countries in the Pacific – Papua New Guinea, Australia, New Zealand – we have a sense of responsibility to the smaller island countries, because displacement of these smaller communities will first and foremost be our neighbourhood responsibility,” Marape said.

Continue reading "Australia & climate change: ‘I won’t be silenced’ says Marape" »

Tips on writing poetry

Ward Barry (2)
Ward Barry - one of PNG's most prolific and well read poets


SONOMA - Upon the request of a dear friend, I have come up with some tips on writing poetry.

Notice I said “tips on writing poetry”, not “tips on writing good poetry”. Whether a poem is good or not depends on the individual.

We write and rewrite, then write and rewrite again, and repeat the whole process until we feel good about it. But that doesn’t make the poem any better.

So here are my tips on writing poetry. Take what works for you and pass on the rest.

  1. Read

There are no shortcuts to writing poetry. If you want to write poetry, you must first read poetry.

There are many poets and many incredible works. Read and learn from William Shakespeare, Katherine Philips and Robert Frost who continue to awe audiences around the world.

Also read Papua New Guinean poets and see how they utilise the local context in their content.

Continue reading "Tips on writing poetry" »

Air Niugini looks at ‘gross negligence’ as cause of Chuuk crash

Air Niugini is considering the Brazilian Embraer jet as a possible replacement for some of its current fleet


LONDON, UK - Air Niugini is bringing in ‘human-factors’ experts to examine safety issues relating to the crash of a 737 aircraft in Chuuk lagoon, Micronesia, last October, killing one passenger and seriously injuring 6 others.

The airline’s managing director Alan Milne, a former Qantas executive, has told Reuters news agency that the pilots involved were not currently flying but remain employed at least until an investigation is complete.

"Was it a criminal act? No,” Mr Milne said. “Was it an intentional act? No.

“Was there gross negligence? That is what we've got to answer.

“That is the bit we are doing at the moment."

Continue reading "Air Niugini looks at ‘gross negligence’ as cause of Chuuk crash" »

Governments we deserve, but not governments we need

Scott Morrison and James Marape
Scott Morrison and James Marape - beanie clad and doing the populist footie thing


ADELAIDE – Strangely, while politicians as a class are seriously on the nose across the democratic world, individual politicians appear to remain popular within their own electorates, even if they clearly are not people of the highest moral or ethical character.

The former Australian deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce immediately springs to mind as an example of this.

Papua New Guinea has all too many examples of ethically-compromised politicians who remain very popular in their electorates. It must be the beer and lamb flaps effect at work.

More pragmatically, I put this phenomenon down to the fact that politicians, in their day to day work, spend a lot of time helping ordinary people navigate the labyrinthine byways of the government bureaucracy, thus building a reservoir of goodwill that they can draw upon when elections come around.

Continue reading "Governments we deserve, but not governments we need" »

Kramer investigated for cyber-bullying. But is Mr Kalaut serious?

Sylvester Kalaut - looks like overzealous assistant police commissioner is on wrong side of the law


PORT MORESBY – About a week ago, The National newspaper published an article under the headline, ‘Kramer Investigated on Allegations of Cyber-Bullying’.

The article, authored by Clifford Faiparik, reported that assistant police commissioner Sylvester Kalaut had confirmed that I, as police minister, was being investigated on allegations of cyber-bullying.

The allegations related to a Madang-based National news reporter who filed a complaint against me in June 2018 in relation to an article I had published on social media.

The article was critical of her biased reporting and having been paid K3,000 from district development grants by the former Member for Madang.

It appears Mr Kalaut has found himself on the wrong side of this issue. Perhaps he should have first taken the time to investigate what the law defines as cyber-bullying.

Continue reading "Kramer investigated for cyber-bullying. But is Mr Kalaut serious?" »

Did police mobile squad’s decline contribute to Hela killings?

The police mobile squad's effectiveness is argued to have been compromised by LNG camp security duties


RICHMOND, TAS - Prior to the commencement of the Papua New Guinea liquefied natural gas (PNG LNG) project, the Police Mobile Squad was an extremely feared entity in the Southern Highlands and later Hela Province.

Their Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary’s mobile squad had a modus operandi that at times was brutal – including rape, destruction of crops and livestock and burning of houses.

However, they did stop the fighting and brought most of the criminals to heel.

The very threat of their deployment made clans think twice about fighting and payback. Not only would compensation have to be paid between warring clans, but the mobile squad’s collateral damage usually had to be compensated for as well by the fight ‘owners’.

Early in the construction phase of PNG LNG there was a fight going on adjacent to one of the camps and some of the combatants jumped the perimeter fence when they saw a couple of people from another clan working in the camp.

Continue reading "Did police mobile squad’s decline contribute to Hela killings?" »

Kula Voyage


| An entry in the Crocodile Prize Poetry Award

The conch shell breathes a haunting whisper
While my lizard skinned drum resonates deeper
The lone figure awaits on the hill top
Mr Sun still shines before he'll eventually drop
A starry night welcomes the end of the day
My feet embrace the feeling of the earthy clay
Gradually the jungle emits the jungle symphony
This natural choral orchestra pleading to see

I await the glimpse of a sail from afar
Eagerly anticipating through this door that's ajar
How majestic it glides it's dancing in the breeze
This Kula voyage cruiser everyone at ease
Expertly swaying on the wave that it rides
Soothing my heart my anxiety subsides

The village is a whirlpool of stratospheric celebration
The younger sailors having been baptized
now coming home for graduation
A feast of a massive proportion
Arise stories of adventure and mishap
with jaw-dropping concentration

Continue reading "Kula Voyage" »

A Childhood Dream: Experiences of a vice chancellor in PNG

Albert Schram at home before leaving for PNG
Albert Schram at home  in the snow of Verona, Italy, before leaving for PNG


Dr Schram is publishing his biography, of which this is the first part, as a series of articles on his blog, ‘Life is A Journey of Learning

VERONA, ITALY - As Vice Chancellor of the Papua New Guinea University of Technology (PNGUoT also sometimes called UNITECH), it was an extraordinary privilege for me to serve two terms, a total of more than six years, and this is my story.

The title of these blog posts is somewhat ironic, because as a child nobody can ever imagine becoming a vice chancellor or university president in Papua New Guinea. It cannot be anybody’s childhood dream, although it could have been mine.

While still very young, in fact I noticed how universities, such as those where my parents worked, were so badly managed. Therefore, over 10 years ago I made it my mission in life to improve this sad state of affairs, by providing transformational leadership and effective management.

The reconstruction of the story of my experiences in PNG is based on my 250 plus blog posts published earlier, and other publicly accessible materials, which readers can consult if they are interested in details.

While writing down these experiences today, I am preparing a book proposal about the future of higher education in developing countries, which is not exclusively based on my PNG experience, but also on my broader readings plus working and living in Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Turks and Caicos Islands in the Caribbean.

Continue reading "A Childhood Dream: Experiences of a vice chancellor in PNG" »

People, stay alert. The world has given us hopeless leadership

Phil 2015
Phil Fitzpatrick - "The old adage, don’t vote for them, it just encourages them, strikes a chord with many people"


TUMBY BAY - Politicians all over the world are on the nose. In some places they rank in popularity below street thieves and lazy public servants.

The most popular politician in Australia is New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern.

We don’t know who the most popular politician in Papua New Guinea is because nobody conducts surveys.

Right now it might be prime minister James Marape, who is still in his honeymoon period. But it could be Bryan Kramer because of his unflinching habit of doing the right thing and also communicating directly with people on social media.

In places like Australia people tend to select their favourite politician depending on their own right or left wing biases. In PNG it is more likely they would be selected along tribal and clan lines.

It would be interesting to turn the whole question on its head and ask people who is the most unpopular politician. I suspect that would attract a much more enthusiastic response.

But it’s in so-called Western countries that the biggest problems are seen – the US, UK, Australia, Italy, Greece and elsewhere.

Continue reading "People, stay alert. The world has given us hopeless leadership" »

Security focus is needed in Australia’s relationship with PNG

Aust-Trade-with-PNGJARRYD DE HAAN | Future Directions International

PERTH - On the second day of his recent visit to Australia, Papua New Guinea prime minister James Marape and Australian prime minister Scott Morrison both agreed to begin negotiations to develop a comprehensive strategic and economic partnership.

In a press conference following the meeting, Morrison announced $250 million worth of investment into electricity and $79 million worth of commitments in health programs.

The announcement that both leaders would negotiate deeper strategic and economic ties will be a welcome move for bilateral relations.

Continue reading "Security focus is needed in Australia’s relationship with PNG" »

Australia to create new Pacific military unit to fend off China

Toropo and Campbell
Defence force chiefs - PNG's Major General Gilbert Toropo and Australia's Lieutenant General Angus Campbell


SYDNEY - Australia will create a new military unit dedicated to training and assisting Pacific allies, as Canberra accelerates plans to undercut Chinese influence in the region.

Australia, which long enjoyed virtually unchecked influence in the Pacific, and its Western allies worry that the region has edged closer to China in recent years as Beijing increases aid to the sparsely populated region and its resource-rich oceans.

Australia has channelled ever larger amounts of aid to the region in a bid to counter China's growing presence but defence minister Linda Reynolds said Canberra would also broaden its courtship of the Pacific to include stronger military ties.

"The Pacific Support Force will employ a mobile training team approach to strengthen capacity, resilience and interoperability throughout the region in areas such as security operations, humanitarian assistance, disaster relief and peacekeeping," Reynolds said in a statement.

Continue reading "Australia to create new Pacific military unit to fend off China" »

Enga - where, without history, people are not people

A gourd used to store tree oil
An Enga gourd used to store tree oil


WABAG - Enga is the only province where a rich cultural history is taught in all schools to help students draw knowledge and wisdom from past traditions and apply them in their lives.

In 2017, American ambassador to Papua New Guinea, Catherine Ebert-Gray, launched two important text books now used in a pilot project across Grade 6-12 in the province.

One of the books, ‘Enga Culture & Community, Wisdom from the Past’, is an ethnography that provides an overview of Enga culture including stories, songs, poems, kongali (words of wisdom), nemongo (magic formulae), drawings and early photographs.

The second book, ‘Teachers Guild for the Enga Cultural Education Pilot Program’, provides recommendations, questions and activities to help teachers integrate material into the curriculum for Grade 6–12 subjects.

The two books are the result of 30 years hard work, research and study on Enga culture by Professor Polly Wiessner, Akii Tumu and Nitze Pupu.

The pilot project is the first major attempt in PNG to teach the rich and fascinating oral traditions that have been passed down from elders to youths over so many generations.

Continue reading "Enga - where, without history, people are not people" »

Torres Strait dance group to feature at Enga Cultural Show

Packet of traditional salt and stone axe heads
Package of traditional salt alongside stone axe heads


WABAG – ‘Experience Enga’s Ancestral Salt Pond’ is the theme for this year’s 39th Enga Cultural Show, that looks bound to be one of the best organised extravaganzas ever.

A cultural group from the Foi tribe of Lake Kutubu will participate in the show, re-enacting the ancient oil for salt trade between the people of Enga and Southern Highlands.

And this experience will be flavoured by the participation of an Australian indigenous Torres Strait islander dance group.

The Lake Kutubu oil extracted from the kara’o tree – called digasa oil -  will be exchanged for traditional salt at Enga’s Mulisos Yokonda salt ponds - the exact location and original source of salt manufacture and trade with people from many parts of the highlands.

Another attraction will be the Tasting Enga Food tourism event which will involve a dinner where local dishes will be served for the first time to VIPs, tourists and other interested people.

Continue reading "Torres Strait dance group to feature at Enga Cultural Show" »

Return to the regiment: Lt Les Peterkin & the Governor-General

Lt Les Peterkin and Lt Col Paul SimadasLES PETERKIN

Les Peterkin, 85, lectured at the Australian School of Pacific Administration in the 1960s, teaching a generation of young education officers bound for Papua New Guinea in the finer and more brutal arts of physical education. I particularly recall his fiendish rope course, at which I failed. Les is also a noted ceramic artist and his Super 8 movies of PNG in the 1960s recently featured in PNG Attitude  - KJ

NEWCASTLE – Last Saturday I attended the 119th Regimental Dinner of the Sydney University Regiment hosted at Saint John’s College.

Let me explain. Four years ago, when I rejoined the Ceramic Collectors Society in Sydney, of which I had been president in the late 1970s, I met Paul Simadas, who has just finished his term as president.

Lt Colonel Paul Simadas is a professional soldier and was commanding officer of the Sydney University Regiment from 2000 to 2002.

Continue reading "Return to the regiment: Lt Les Peterkin & the Governor-General" »

Is Marape crabwalking away from anti-corruption legislation?

Editorial cartoon  The New Times  Rwanda
Editorial cartoon, The New Times, Rwanda


AARHUS, DENMARK – Once again we have a Papua New Guinea government that feels it needs to have another look at much-required legislation that PNG governments have been having a ‘hard look at’ for years.

And after each hard look they have made a bunch of promises and never have those promises been fulfilled.

Now the freshly-minted James Marape government is set to have a hard look at two desperately needed pieces of legislation that could be introduced tomorrow if the prime minister had the will.

I refer of course to whistleblower protection and anti-corruption laws.

Continue reading "Is Marape crabwalking away from anti-corruption legislation?" »

Royal PNG Constabulary, Bryan Kramer & the future of PNG

Joanne Clarkson and Francis Tokura
Along with minister Bryan Kramer, the new face of the RPNGC, assistant commissioner Joanne Clarkson and commissioner Francis Tokura


TUMBY BAY - The recent horrific events in Hela Province have brought the role of the police force in Papua New Guinea into sharp focus.

Prime minister James Marape is currently in Australia and has apparently discussed the issue with prime minister Scott Morrison.

We can only hope that Morrison, if he responds positively, will take considered advice on the matter and not charge off on some ill-advised scheme involving direct Australian intervention.

Probably the worst thing that Morrison can do is dither and fund some sort of too hard basket investigative consultancy, although I understand this has already been canvassed.

The situation in Hela and the way the police respond is essentially up to the Papua New Guinean government. What it needs from Australia right now is solid practical support in terms of funding and resources.

Papua New Guinea is well-aware that its police force is in a very sorry state and needs to be both considerably expanded and resourced.

James Marape may have various plans to change Papua New Guinea for the better but the most crucial change maker in his government is police minister Bryan Kramer.

Continue reading "Royal PNG Constabulary, Bryan Kramer & the future of PNG" »

Fears of a new era of tribal violence in Papua New Guinea

KaridaJO CHANDLER | Guardian Australia | Extract

Link here to Jo Chandler’s full story in Guardian Australia

SYDNEY - The pictures that came out of a remote highlands village in Papua New Guinea two weeks ago were not, at first glance, particularly graphic: bulging cocoons of blue mosquito nets hanging from wooden poles propped along a roadside.

But the story they told was gruesome.

The nets, said the health worker in Karida village who supplied them, held the remains of 10 women, six children and two unborn babies, all hacked to death with machetes⁠ sometime before dawn on 8 July.

The health worker told the Guardian they had not been able to work out which body parts belonged to which person.

Continue reading "Fears of a new era of tribal violence in Papua New Guinea" »

Ad hoc aid: A great way to waste money & encourage corruption

Phil Fitzpatrick at mic
Phil Fitzpatrick


TUMBY BAY - More often than not Australian aid to Papua New Guinea and the Pacific seems to lack direction. In specific cases it can actually appear to be random, opportunistic, ad hoc and decidedly vague.

What on earth, for instance, does providing aid money for ‘good governance’ mean? This has been an Australian favourite for years but the evidence seems to be that it has been a complete flop.

Where did the ‘good governance’ aid money go? Did it end up in the pockets of the politicians and boomerang consultants? One could be forgiven for thinking that is the case.

Over the years various attempts to target aid has met strong opposition from recipients, who maintain that they have the right to decide where the money should go.

This assumes the recipients have plans that prioritise where aid money should be spent.

Continue reading "Ad hoc aid: A great way to waste money & encourage corruption" »

Don’t join the race to the bottom: Call out racial stereotyping


MORRISET - Does race exist, and if so what is it? The answers are many and vary over time and geography.

The only thing we can claim with certainty is that we are all members of the human race. We are all one species, as opposed to say horses or dogs.

Unfortunately the term race is used in such a loose and ideological way as to have become meaningless. There no white or black race, just as there is no American or Australian race.

Sure there are different ethnic backgrounds and ancestry which can be measured according to genetics and sociology.

But such explain diversity and culture, not superiority or degrees of 'civilisation'. These are value judgements.

Continue reading "Don’t join the race to the bottom: Call out racial stereotyping" »

Tambu Meri in Kieta Way


| An entry in the Crocodile Prize Poetry Award

You might wonder why your mother in-law never sits next to you,
That's 'tambu meri' in Kieta Way.

You might wonder why your mother in-law never calls your name,
That's 'tambu meri' in Kieta Way.

You might wonder why your mother in-law never talks to you face to face,
That's 'tambu meri' in Kieta Way

You might wonder why your mother in-law never shakes hands with you,
That's 'tambu meri' in Kieta way.

You might wonder why I have to say this,
Save lo Kieta wei bifo yu tingting lo maritim meri Kieta.

['Understand Kieta culture before you marry a Kieta woman']

Irritated PNG calls for end of offshore processing on Manus

James Marape
James Marape - unhappy with Australia's delays in removing refugees from Manus (EMTV)

DAVID CROWE | Sydney Morning Herald | Extract

CANBERRA – Australia’s prime minister Scott Morrison is facing new calls to remove all refugees from Manus Island as political leaders from Papua New Guinea call for the "full closure" of the asylum seeker process on the island.

PNG prime minister James Marape said he had "expressed clearly" to home affairs minister Peter Dutton the need for a schedule and timetable to shut the "entire asylum processes" by resettling hundreds of refugees.

James Marape says he wants a timetable in place to resettle refugees on Manus Island but has denied any asylum seekers are in detention.

"As PNG has always stood in to assist Australia in times of need, as it has done for us also, we will ensure that we have a mutually workable timetable and closure program that is healthy for all of us – but more importantly, healthy for those people who have been part of us in Manus and PNG," Mr Marape said.

Continue reading "Irritated PNG calls for end of offshore processing on Manus" »

'Leave China out of it, that's our business', Marape tells Morrison

Marape and Morrison
James Marape and Scott Morrison - PNG's relationships with China "nothing to do with Australia"

ROD McGUIRK | Associated Press

CANBERRA — Papua New Guinea's prime minister said today his country's relationship with China is not open to discussion during his current visit to Australia.

Prime Minister James Marape is making his first visit to Australia since he became leader of its nearest neighbour and former colony in May.

His visit comes as Australia attempts to counter China's growing influence in the South Pacific by teaming with the United States and Japan to finance infrastructure in Pacific island states that the Chinese have aggressively wooed with loans and aid.

Marape said before his meeting with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Monday that China's relationship with his nation was none of Australia's business.

"We'll discuss PNG-Australia relations with Australia and we'll leave the PNG and China relationship with our discussions with our counterparts in China," Marape told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Continue reading "'Leave China out of it, that's our business', Marape tells Morrison" »

Corrupted real estate industry needs to be regulated

Lae rentalSCOTT WAIDE | My Land, My Country

LAE –Real estate companies don’t want to reduce their prices.  It’s an ugly fact of life in Papua New Guinea.

If you ask real estate companies if there should be regulations, they will tell you something to the effect that it is a ‘self-regulating’ industry and that government should not interfere with that ‘self regulation.’

As long as there is demand, real estate companies have no problem keeping the prices high.

The prices are out of reach for ordinary Papua New Guineans and still expensive for others who may be sharing rental costs with their partners or other family members.

In housing, you need economies  of scale.  That is where the National Housing Corporation comes in.

Continue reading "Corrupted real estate industry needs to be regulated" »

‘Too low! Too low!’ Pilot error blamed for Air Niugini jet ditching

Weno Island air crash
Air Niugini Boeing 737-800  sinks in the lagoon at Weno Island (AFP - Zach Niezgodski)


PORT MORESBY – An official crash investigation has found that pilot error led to an aircraft ditching, forcing passengers and crew to swim for their lives at Weno Island in Micronesia last year.

One man died and nine other passengers were injured when the Air Niugini Boeing 737-800 attempted to land, but ended up skimming into a lagoon before sinking.

A Papua New Guinea Accident Investigation Commission report into the 28 September crash found the pilot and co-pilot ignored numerous automated warnings while approaching the runway.

It said the pair missed ‘pull up’ warning lights and continued the landing attempt at Chuuk International Airport, even after bad weather made them lose sight of the runway.

"Both pilots were fixated on cues associated with control inputs for the landing approach, and subsequently were not situationally aware," chief commissioner Hubert Namani said.

Continue reading "‘Too low! Too low!’ Pilot error blamed for Air Niugini jet ditching" »

Brink of despair


| An entry in the Crocodile Prize Poetry Award

Sitting quietly at the cove
The cool sea breeze blowing in her hair
Staring at once a treasure trove
Heading towards the brink of despair

Woman, mothers and grandmothers lamenting
Many moons since they last heard of resettlement
Now fifteen years and counting
Still talks continue of government investment

So much political jargon
Talked of good bargains
Now the laughingstock of MSM!

Continue reading "Brink of despair" »

The appeal of the regions & the richness of being poor

Phil Fitz
Phil Fitzpatrick - "Generation after generation have stayed in the towns until it has become impossible to escape"


TUMBY BAY - It’s estimated that about 80% of the people in Papua New Guinea are subsistence farmers.

A subsistence farmer is by definition someone who only produces enough to satisfy their basic or primary needs.

It is unclear who actually made the above estimate and what definition of subsistence they used.

As economic anthropologists have shown there is no such thing as a true subsistence economy because in every type of economic system there is nearly always surplus production.

In PNG’s old days this surplus was used in ritual or prestige consumption, communal use or for exchange.

In modern PNG the surplus has become part of what is known as the informal economy, much of it in the hands of women.

Continue reading "The appeal of the regions & the richness of being poor" »

There is still a place called home

Enga-traditional-houseRAYMOND KOMIS GIRANA

| An entry in the Crocodile Prize Poetry Award

You have your home, I have my home
Rise up o ye daughters of this land
Our place dates centuries before Rome
The truth unveiled in the mythical garden

You saw the night exiled from dawn
And your mind enlightened from doom
A promise you knew came from your town
with offers to create for you a heavenly room

And just in time in front of our noses
materializes a threat to human freedom
A promise from the proclaimed bosses
A said wisdom from the netizens' kingdom

Continue reading "There is still a place called home" »

Marape tells Oil Search PNG wants ‘greater participation’

Oil SearchNEWS DESK | Reuters | Edited extracts

MELBOURNE - Papua New Guinea’s new prime minister James Marape has used Oil Search Ltd’s 90th birthday to press the country’s biggest company and its oil major partners to pay more tax.

His comments come as Oil Search and partners Exxon Mobil Corp and Total SA face delays on a $13 billion plan to double liquefied natural gas exports from Papua New Guinea and the new Marape government seeks to win more revenue from resource projects.

Oil Search has long prided itself on the work it does in PNG communities, including funding health care and literacy programs, but Marape said that was not the company’s job.

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How PNG avoided Australia’s devastating ‘frontier wars’

Waterlook Creek massacre
New South Wales mounted police engage Indigenous Australians during the Waterloo Creek Massacre of 1838


ADELAIDE - In late 1982, I completed the last semester of my studies for a university degree, in which I had majored in history and politics.

When the official transcript of my academic record turned up, I was surprised to discover that I had, entirely by accident, also majored in a subject called Australian Studies.

So, in theory at least, I was a certified ‘expert’ in Australian history, not to mention having completed my bachelor's degree with an unusual triple major.

Reading Phil Fitzpatrick's article, Colonial wars much bloodier in Australia than Papua’, it occurred to me that at no time during my studies did the topic of Australia's frontier wars ever come up, except obliquely when race relations during the colonial era were discussed.

Continue reading "How PNG avoided Australia’s devastating ‘frontier wars’" »



| An entry in the Crocodile Prize Award for Poetry

Wear it with pride, wherever you go.
Over your shoulder, over your head,
across your chest, around your neck
carry it with pride.

Mother to daughter, old to young,
passed on by hand, learnt by heart,
the talent within brought to life.

Hand woven, skilfully crafted, eye catching
Locally made, found nowhere else.

Made of strings, made of wool,
made of bark, made of leaves.
Twisted with fur, covered with feathers,
decorated with shells.

Continue reading "Bilum" »

Indonesia seeks closer South Pacific engagement, sort of

BatikJARRYD DE HAAN | Indian Ocean Research Program

PERTH - Indonesia, in collaboration with New Zealand and Australia, recently hosted the 2019 Pacific Exposition in Auckland.

The event was aimed at boosting Indonesia’s engagement with the South Pacific region in trade, investment and diplomacy. It was attended by delegations from 19 Pacific countries and territories.

On the opening day of the event, Indonesian foreign minister Retno Marsudi said her country will seek to establish diplomatic relations with Niue and the Cook Islands and pursue trade deals with Fiji and Papua New Guinea.

Following the expo, Indonesia’s potential for new exports to the South Pacific reached approximately US$70 million.

While that figure is relatively small, among the smaller Pacific countries it could be seen as a significant step towards opening Indonesian trade with the region.

Indonesian exports to Pacific countries, other than Australia and New Zealand, have grown marginally from US$261 million in 2013, to US$299 million in 2018.

The vast majority of those exports were to PNG, which received approximately 71% of Indonesian exports to the region.

Continue reading "Indonesia seeks closer South Pacific engagement, sort of" »

Do we require a museum of political stupidity

PNG National Museum and Art Gallery
PNG National Museum and Art Gallery


TUMBY BAY - Ali Kasokason has suggested that one of the Maseratis bought for the APEC summit and now rusting away in a field somewhere should be put in the PNG National Museum to remind future generations of how “stupid we were to vote in stupid politicians who made stupid decisions for this nation!”

Oka Kutahas suggested that the 300 years old King James V Bible should be put on display next to it to remind future generations of how hypocritical “those thieves” really were.

The museum presumably still has custody of another wacky political outrage involving the chain-sawed carvings from the lintel of Parliament House. The court ordered their replacement but I’m not sure that has happened yet.

Papua New Guinea is littered with the products of political stupidity. Buildings half finished, roads leading to nowhere and unfinished bridges spanning rivers.

Continue reading "Do we require a museum of political stupidity" »

Sarah: not just an inspiration, more a life teacher


| An entry in the 2019 Crocodile Prize Award for Essays

"I know what your weakness is mum!" my nine year old daughter, Renagi, told me the other day.

"Oh, and what is that?" I asked her.

"It's Sarah!" she replied.

I smiled to myself and gave her a really big hug.

"Yes darling, you're right. It's just one of those days."

We all have good days, bad days, overwhelming days, too tired days, I'm awesome days, and I can't go on days. And every day, you still show up.

Continue reading "Sarah: not just an inspiration, more a life teacher" »

Feminine Bureaucrat


| An entry in the 2019 Crocodile Prize Award for Poetry

White-collar, blue-collar or pink-collar,
Makes no difference when it comes to dollar,

However, it does make a difference,
Mainly when it’s feminine preference,

In a masculine rule norm society,
Where male like to maintain his dignity,

Thankfully it’s not the same anymore,
We are moving forward to the future

Continue reading "Feminine Bureaucrat" »

Housing Corporation: Ending decades of shameless corruption

NHC HQSCOTT WAIDE | My Land, My Country

LAE - Finally, there is government acknowledgment of the corruption and disarray in the National Housing Corporation.

Since taking office, housing minister Justin Tkatchenko has exposed what the organisation looks like from the inside. Its physical state is an absolute mess and a national embarrassment of the highest order.

The suggestion box should have been named ‘buai spet box’ and the NHC office should have been renamed ‘ofis blo kekemanmeri.’

The NHC has absolutely nothing to be proud of.

Continue reading "Housing Corporation: Ending decades of shameless corruption" »

Colonial wars much bloodier in Australia than Papua

Black Huntress CoverPHIL FITZPATRICK

Black Huntress: Seven Spears by Philip Fitzpatrick, independently published, July 2019, 311 pages. ISBN-10: 1079837043. Available from Amazon US for US$7.64 plus postage and on Kindle for US$1.00. It will probably be a few weeks before Amazon Australia makes it available

TUMBY BAY - In the late 1800s in Australia, miners and squatters (people who occupied large tracts of Crown land in order to graze livestock) were agitating for the opening up of Papua for exploitation.

In 1883 Queensland made an abortive attempt to annex Papua arguing there was a threat from the Germans who were occupying New Guinea.

Australian was then still a colony of Britain. The Queensland initiative forced Britain’s hand and they annexed Papua, calling it British New Guinea.

In 1906 a newly independent Australia ( that happened in 1901) took over from the British and changed the name to Papua.

Continue reading "Colonial wars much bloodier in Australia than Papua" »

Death of Decency (Part I)


| An entry in the 2019 Crocodile Prize Award for Poetry

Today we watch with sadness as they create this mess
Today we watch them spit out respect
Like they spit betel nut on the dirty cement
Today they throw lies in our faces
As we watch races laugh in our faces

Today we hear cries of our mothers
Our sisters
Our fathers
Our brothers
Our ancestors must have turned in their graves

Continue reading "Death of Decency (Part I)" »

Don Hogg – old school journo cut his teeth in PNG

Don Hogg
Don Hogg in the late 1980s - journalist, SP bookie and wine aficionado


MELBOURNE - Many PNG Attitude readers will share my grief at the passing of Don Hogg after a lengthy and courageous battle with cancer – and other afflictions.

Born in New Zealand of Maori heritage, Don served his journalistic apprenticeship with various newspapers in that country before arriving in Port Moresby in the early 1960s where, for the next decade, he represented various Australian journals – some of note, including The Australian, and others, like the unlamented Truth, of lesser regard.

These were the days when the Australian press treated Papua New Guinea as a serious place for its journalists, and they were well represented in Port Moresby and beyond.

In between filing stories (and many of his pieces were just that – as he admitted to me just recently), the ever-dapper Don fronted the bars of the Top and Bottom pubs and various Moresby clubs, ran his SP bookie operation from a shed next door to his Badili home or went fishing – often in the company of his good mate and Bully Beef Club member, Oala Oala Rarua.

Continue reading "Don Hogg – old school journo cut his teeth in PNG" »

The awesome armaments of the Highlands raskols


BRISBANE - Oilmin Field Services provides various services to the petroleum industry in Papua New Guinea mainly with the seismic exploration programs.

The purpose of seismic exploration is to identify drilling targets for various oil companies. In the past, I was one of a number of ex-kiaps employed by Oilmin.

Ex-kiaps are usually employed in the capacity of logistics managers, camp managers, labour managers and in community relations.

In general the routine for personnel commencing a tour is to fly into the Oilmin Field Services base in Mt Hagen, overnight there and then fly out to the field the next day.

Continue reading "The awesome armaments of the Highlands raskols" »