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93 posts from November 2019

Pressure on South Pacific journalism

Dan McGarry
Dan McGarry - "The government refused my application to renew my work visa to silence me and warn other journalists in the country not to speak out”

| The Strategist | Australian Strategic Policy Institute

CANBERRA - Journalism has always been a tough trade in the South Pacific. Living and working in island communities exposes editors and reporters to unusual political, personal and professional pressures.

A statement warning about ‘growing threats to media freedom’ from the Melanesia Media Freedom Forum, representing journalists from Fiji, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea and West Papua, has been underlined by Vanuatu’s expulsion of a long-serving editor.

Continue reading "Pressure on South Pacific journalism" »

The eighth wife of a ‘bosboi’

John Pundari (right) with Michael Malabag
John Pundari (right) with Michael Malabag in Pundari's house at Meraimanda


WABAG - Imagine how brave it was for local women to marry complete strangers – whether other Papua New Guineans or expatriates: men who dressed differently, spoke strange languages, ate weird foods and bore different skin colours.

This was the time when the PNG highlands were opening to the outside world of explorers, gold prospectors and kiaps (patrol officers), strange men who seemed to have appeared in their midst at the blink of an eye.

Continue reading "The eighth wife of a ‘bosboi’" »

Pacific avoids debt-trap for now

Solomons prime minister Manasseh Sogavare and Chinese premier Li Keqiang (AP)
Solomons prime minister Manasseh Sogavare and Chinese premier Li Keqiang (AP)

| Nikkei Asian Review

SYDNEY - In October, the New York Times reported that China had leased the island of Tulagi, prized for its deep-water harbor, from the Solomon Islands, which lie northeast of Australia.

While the Solomon Islands government has said such a lease is illegal, it set alarm bells ringing internationally, coming less than a week after the country severed relations with Taipei and turned to Beijing.

Continue reading "Pacific avoids debt-trap for now" »

O’Neill: Izze an Ozzie izze Lizzie…..?

"Is he an Aussie, is he, is he, is he an Aussie is he, eh? Is it because he's an Aussie, Lizzie, That he makes you dizzy, Lizzie?" (From the Vaults)

| Kramer Report

PORT MORESBY - On Thursday 14 November, former prime minister Peter O'Neill released a press statement announcing he had registered criminal complaints against me.

The complaints, made on 22 May 2019 and 28 October 2019, alleged I had made false citizenship claims against him, thus offending against sections 21 and 23 of the Cybercrime Act.

Continue reading "O’Neill: Izze an Ozzie izze Lizzie…..?" »

B’ville to revive mining proposal

Raymond masono
Raymond Masono - "“Panguna is the most likely project that can bankroll Bougainville’s independence from PNG”

| Reuters | Extract

SYDNEY — Bougainville vice-president Raymond Masono said he will revive a plan to overhaul the region’s mining laws after its ongoing independence referendum, which could strip the former operator of the Panguna gold and copper project of its interests.

The proposed changes, which have been criticised by Panguna landowners, would also erase an interest in the project held by the Papua New Guinea government, potentially complicating negotiations between the two governments after the referendum.

Continue reading "B’ville to revive mining proposal" »

Transparency needed on K1b loan

Bridi rice
Bridi Rice - "We need to be more sophisticated than providing loans through Export Finance Australia"

| Australian Council for International Development

CANBERRA - The Australian Council for International Development has commented on news that the Australian government will provide a loan of $US300 million (K1 billion) to Papua New Guinea.

As the PNG government seeks to pursue further economic reform, short-term liquidity provided by Australia could provide a leg-up for long-term change. But this is far from certain.

Continue reading "Transparency needed on K1b loan" »

Bougainville’s challenges lie ahead

Mel Togolo - "it has been a long road"

| Chairman, Bougainville Copper Limited

PORT MORESBY - The beginning of the referendum on Bougainville’s political future marks both an historic and proud moment for all of us who identify as Bougainvillean or have links through marriage and other customary arrangements.

It has been a long road and everybody who has been involved in ensuring Bougainville is well prepared should be happy with the outcome of their efforts.

Continue reading "Bougainville’s challenges lie ahead" »

Health corruption & incompetence exposed

Juffa Pundari
Public accounts committee deputy chairman Governor Gary Juffa and  chairman Sir John Pundari enter a packed conference room to investigate the health department. How many deaths has this corrupt and incompetent department been responsible for?

| My Land, My Country | Edited

PORT MORESBY - Inside a packed conference room on the first level of B-Wing at Papua New Guinea’s parliament house, the Public Accounts Committee awaits senior members of the health department.

Already present are representatives from the logistics  and pharmaceutical companies who have been summoned to give evidence in this investigation into a health system in crisis.

Continue reading "Health corruption & incompetence exposed" »

When the white man came to Wabag

Thadius Kaka today
Thadius Kaka Menge today - almost 100, saw the onset of colonialism and mind as sharp as a tack


WABAG - Thadius Kaka Menge is one of the few surviving local leaders in Wabag who assisted the colonial administration pacify warring tribesmen and bring change and development to their communities.

The kiaps, or patrol officers, effectively used local leaders to partner with the police to establish Wabag town and built roads and bridges.

Continue reading "When the white man came to Wabag" »

O’Neill wants me fired as police minister

Kramer (back to camera) addresses senior poice officers
Bryan Kramer (back to camera) addresses a meeting of police officers

| Edited

PORT MORESBY - On 14 November 2019, former prime minister Peter O’Neill released a press statement entitled ‘Criminal complaints and admitted misuse of police power requires PM to decommission Kramer’.

Then last Friday O’Neill issued a further statement entitled ‘Kramer deliberately leaked cabinet information so must be decommissioned’.

Continue reading "O’Neill wants me fired as police minister" »

Will Bougainville reopen Panguna?

The Bougainville people are delighted to be voting in their long-promised independence referendum, but the hardest decisions still lie ahead

| The Diplomat

WASHINGTON DC - The Panguna mine on Bougainville is one of the largest copper and gold deposits in the world.

The mine was also at the centre of a decade-long civil war fought between the Bougainville Revolutionary Army and the Papua New Guinea Defence Force in the 1990s. The conflict cost as many as 15,000 lives and displaced 40,000 of the island’s 200,000 inhabitants.

Continue reading "Will Bougainville reopen Panguna?" »

Australia to loan PNG K1 billion

Marape Morrison
James Marape and Scott Morrison - Australia's billion kina loan equals about what PNG lost in its ill-fated venture into Oil Search

| Australian Financial Review | Extracts

SYDNEY - Australia will loan Papua New Guinea $442 million (K1 billion)) in direct budget assistance designed to secure essential government services and rebuff financial overtures from China.

The Morrison government agreed to the loan request from PNG prime minister James Marape, offering immediate financial support linked to his plans for longer-term economic reforms in the struggling nation.

Continue reading "Australia to loan PNG K1 billion" »

The power of persistence

David Johns and Justin Kundalin
David Johns and Justin Kundalin - brothers in arms and partners in persistence


SONOMA - He and I had many things in common and were best buddies in our secondary school days. That’s my brother, David Johns.

Doing Grade 12 in Kopen Secondary School, we both loved reading, church activities, leading students in ministry and working with peers and older folks.

We worked hard for the Grade 12 examination and, when the time came to fill the school leaver’s form, we both marked our choices as Sonoma Adventist College and Pacific Adventist University to take theology.

Continue reading "The power of persistence" »

Is greed natural? Is O'Neill real?

Phil Fitzpatrick at mic
Phil Fitzpatrick - "In PNG rural communities still operate as consensus driven entities ruled by the common good"


TUMBY BAY - In the 1987 film, Wall Street, the central character, Gordon Gekko, played by Michael Douglas, famously says: “… greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right. Greed works.”

The 1980s was the era of the ‘yuppies’ (young, upwardly-mobile professionals) during Ronald Reagan’s conservative presidency and the reign of his British equivalent, the ‘Iron Lady’, Maggie Thatcher.

Continue reading "Is greed natural? Is O'Neill real?" »

How PNG universities lost their ethics

In 2014, after an exhaustive official inquiry, Dr Schram was allowed to return to PNG and his university. But corrupt politicians and administrators engineered phony charges against Schram in 2018, forcing him to leave PNG

| Extracts | Read the full address to the University of Verona here

VERONA - In all five developing countries where I have lived, no citizen believes the main purpose of the government of the day is serving the country's citizens.

In many developing countries, university lecturers will not speak up or be active democratic citizens, however, since they know this would mean they lose their jobs. It is therefore the students who will speak up.

Continue reading "How PNG universities lost their ethics" »

Who gives PNG how much?

PNG donor funding
Papua New Guinea’s top donors (National Planning Department, 2020 forecasts)

| The Kramer Report

PORT MORESBY - While discussing the 2020 budget papers, many members of Papua New Guinea’s national executive council (cabinet) were surprised to find out just how much PNG receives from our donor partners.

In 2020 PNG will receive close to K1 billion in free development funds to assist us in our development goals.

Continue reading "Who gives PNG how much?" »

Kuplam SDA’s drug-drunk conversion

SDA program
More than 500 people attended a program to try to rid Enga society of drug-taking and drunkenness


LAIAGAM - Kuplam Seventh Day Adventist church is in Komaip village beside the police station not far away from Laiagam station.

It’s just a right turn from the road to Porgera gold mine amongst the tribes of the Lyen, Samb, Tee and Waiten people, highly populated groups but with many illiterates and a lot of drug use and other illegal activities.

Continue reading "Kuplam SDA’s drug-drunk conversion" »

My eulogy for Murray

Murray Bladwell provided practical help for Simbu and other projects
Murray Bladwell provided practical support for projects in Simbu and many other places


The funeral of our great friend and PNG Attitude colleague Murray Bladwell is being held in Brisbane as this tribute is published. I was asked by his family to offer a brief eulogy focusing on his relationship with Simbu….

NOOSA - The death of a friend chips away at us. When we lose a friend, we lose something of ourselves. And I miss this man of kindness, substance, practicality - and really bad puns.

Murray and I met in the Papua New Guinea highlands in early December 1963, a week or so after the assassination of John F Kennedy. Murray was 22; I was 18. Both of us were fresh out of teacher training.

Continue reading "My eulogy for Murray" »

Why Bougainville is eyeing independence

| Washington Post

CANBERRA - Nearly two decades after a bloody civil war ended, Papua New Guinea’s province of Bougainville is finally getting its promised referendum on independence.

The result is expected to be a clear signal that a majority want to establish a new nation. But the way forward after votes are counted in December is far from clear.

Continue reading "Why Bougainville is eyeing independence" »

His Voice singing in the Wild West

His Voice Singers
Enga’s  Seventh Day Adventist His Voice singers, their voices echoing in the woods of Laiagam, Porgera and Mt Kare


LAIAGAM - His Voice is the singing ministry of the Seventh Day Adventist church in Enga.

The group was formed in 2019 by men and boys from Tee, Paiyan, Walian and other neighbouring tribesmen of Paip SDA church in Mamal village in the Laiagam District.

On social media, people in our country and even the world can see our own Wild West of the three Engan districts of Laiagam, Kandep and Porgera fighting wars and losing lives.

Continue reading "His Voice singing in the Wild West" »

On memorials & monuments for kiaps

Coastwatchers memorial madang
The Coastwatchers Memorial in Madang - should there be something similar for the kiaps?


TUMBY BAY - There have been rumblings among the ever diminishing ex-kiap community for several years now about the desirability of erecting a monument to the work they did in colonial Papua New Guinea, and especially to commemorate those who lost their lives in the service.

The proposals range from a physical structure at a selected location to something like a scholarship for Papua New Guinean students named to mark the kiaps’ contribution to the development of their nation.

Continue reading "On memorials & monuments for kiaps" »

TIPNG observers for referendum polling

TIPNG observer team
Observers will provide a critical role in ensuring whether the Bougainville independence referendum will be transparent.

| PNG News

PORT MORESBY - Transparency International PNG will be among the organisations sending a team of observers to monitor voting during the Bougainville referendum that begins next week.

The team of eleven, made possible with funding from the European Union, will be divided into a group of six in Buka and a group of five in Arawa.

Deputy director of policy and advocacy, Yuambari Haihuie, says TIPNG will monitor the conduct of referendum polling by officials as well as the freedom of voters to cast their votes without fear or intimidation.

Continue reading "TIPNG observers for referendum polling" »

Don Dunstan’s role in PNG independence

Whitlam Dunstan
Gough Whitlam and Don Dunstan in Canberra in 1973 during Whitlam’s prime ministership (National Archives of Australia)


TUMBY BAY - The argument goes that it was Australian opposition leader and later prime minister, Gough Whitlam, who led the charge for early self-government and independence in Papua New Guinea.

This is a naïve and simplistic view cherished by many observers in both Australia and Papua New Guinea. But the real story was decidedly more complex.

Continue reading "Don Dunstan’s role in PNG independence" »

Push the power of the pen

Power to the pen
"True development comes not when more money comes into the treasury but when the mindset changes"


SONOMA – The words of writers live longer than the ploys of many politicians. Writers influence every successive generation. Their legacy lasts long.

I believe in the power of writing and it is a power that has no peer.

The world is changing and Papua New Guinea is changing in terms of buildings and roads and education and international relationships and development.

Continue reading "Push the power of the pen" »

The mystery of low birth weight

Even if small babies survive, they can suffer severe health problems throughout life and have a shorter life expectancy

| Burnet Institute

MELBOURNE - Shockingly, one in seven babies in Papua New Guinea is born with a low birth weight.

Babies born too small are often too weak to fight infection and as a result are very likely to die.

Even if they survive, they can suffer severe health problems throughout their life, and have a shorter life expectancy.

Continue reading "The mystery of low birth weight" »

BRA’s Kauona looks at Bougainville’s future

Sam Kauona
Sam Kauona,  former Bougainville Revolutionary Army general now a leading independence figure (Ben Bohane)

| Sydney Morning Herald | Extract | Read full article here

BOUGAINVILLE - China is also showing considerable interest in Bougainville, offering K3.4 billion worth of infrastructure and seeking Bougainville’s mineral wealth in ‘collateral’ as part of the deal.

Also revealed is the scale of a Chinese master plan for Bougainville as it heads towards a referendum on independence from Papua New Guinea.

Continue reading "BRA’s Kauona looks at Bougainville’s future" »

Vanuatu doubles down on McGarry

Dan McGarry - "“It’s just plain cruel to make innocent children suffer merely because we printed an uncomfortable truth”


NOOSA - The government of Vanuatu, having previously blocked Vanuatu Daily Post senior journalist Dan McGarry from working in the country, has now doubled down on that decision by preventing him from returning home to Port Vila.

Mr McGarry had, of all things, been attending a media freedom conference in Brisbane when the Vanuatu government denied his right to return to Vanuatu to be with his family.

Continue reading "Vanuatu doubles down on McGarry" »

Jamie Maxton-Graham: A tribute

Jamie Maxton Graham
Jamie Maxton-Graham in Mexico in 2008 - he persuaded Daniel Kumbon to adopt a healthy lifestyle


WABAG – When we met for the first time far from home, the late Jamie Maxton Graham encouraged me to give up Coca-Cola.

It was in Mexico City in August 2008, and it’s not often you come across a national minister who talks on a personal level about health and other important life issues.

Continue reading "Jamie Maxton-Graham: A tribute" »

RIP Murray Bladwell: Man of Simbu

The Brisbane Gang
The Brisbane Gang - Murray Bladwell at left with hands on Francis Nii's shoulders. These writers and their supporters ensured the PNG writers' appearance at the Brisbane Writers Festival was a roaring success


The funeral of Murray Bladwell, our dear colleague and a great friend of Papua New Guinea, will be held this coming Friday at 11am at Centenary Memorial Gardens, 353 Wacol Station Road, Sumner in Brisbane

KUNDIAWA - Death is part of the life cycle mankind must go through, but the passing of both a friend and a good person is an especially painful loss.

When I read Keith Jackson’s obituary about the passing of Murray Bladwell, shared by Robert Parer on his Facebook page, my heart stopped beating for some seconds.

Continue reading "RIP Murray Bladwell: Man of Simbu" »

Alarming questions on referendum eve

John Momis
In times past president John Momis would never have disrespected the very constitutional laws that he himself wrote


PORT MORESBY - The sidelining of Bougainville chief secretary Joseph Nobetau, for what can only be deemed political reasons, should be seen as an alarming concern on the eve of the independence referendum.

At a time when the world is watching and waiting to see just how Bougainville and the rest of Papua New Guinea will respond to the referendum vote, it is unfortunate that what they will see is a provincial government intent on self-interest and power over the rule of law.

Continue reading "Alarming questions on referendum eve" »

Goodbye, Great Australian Novel

Chris Overland
Chris Overland - "My work was routinely returned covered in corrections until, after an arduous apprenticeship, I achieved true mastery of the language of bureaucracy"


ADELAIDE –Phil Fitzpatrick’s useful words from a wordsmith made me realise that, in some respects at least, we have both trodden the same etymological path.

This makes perfect sense given that we are both former South Australian public servants.

Like Phil, my induction into the dark arts of public service writing was swift and brutal.

Continue reading "Goodbye, Great Australian Novel" »

My long awaited meeting with Sean Dorney

Pauline and Sean Dorney in Brisbane
Pauline and Sean Dorney in Brisbane: "You can’t separate one from the other" (Scott Waide)

| My Land, My Country

LAE - A year ago, I remarked to my small news team how good it would be if the universe gave me one opportunity to sit down and have a chat with the great Sean Dorney, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s longest serving PNG correspondent.

I grew up watching Sean on ABC television. My parents talked about him when he was deported.

Continue reading "My long awaited meeting with Sean Dorney" »

Is Gordons a turning point for PNG markets?

Gordons exterior
Port Moresby's new Gordons Market - symbol of progress or another chance to sink into chaos and anarchy?


PORT MORESBY - The much talked about refurbished Gordons Market was officially opened on the 31 October at a cost of K30 million, most of the funds coming from the New Zealand Government and the National Capital Development Commission.

The market is said to be the biggest fresh produce market in the Pacific and will cater for up to 1,500 vendors.

Continue reading "Is Gordons a turning point for PNG markets?" »

Public information for public trust

In PNG there is no reliable system to provide official information to the public and this can result in turmoil, caused by citizens reacting to fake news

| Transparency International

BERLIN – ‘ORGAN HARVESTERS APPREHENDED.’ This horrifying headline reached citizens of Papua New Guinea as a viral WhatsApp alert one morning in 2019.

The alert pointed to social media posts and reported that police had detained several kidnappers.

It said the kidnappers had been abducting and murdering women and children in the capital city of Port Moresby in order to harvest and sell their organs.

Continue reading "Public information for public trust" »

Some useful words from a wordsmith


TUMBY BAY - Writing skills, like most things, develop over time. While the technicalities can be taught the actual skill derives from aptitude, practice, reading and personal experience.

After a lifetime spent writing I find the process fairly easy, mostly painless and decidedly pleasurable.

That doesn’t mean that what I write is particularly good, it just means that it comes a lot easier than it did when I was young.

Continue reading "Some useful words from a wordsmith" »

Healing in the jungle

All in a day's work (Aurélie Rawinski)
All in a day's work (Aurélie Rawinski)

| Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders

KEREMA - We spend two days a week at Malalaua in the Gulf region.

Local buses are sporadic and each boat trip costs more than our patients can afford.

Transport support is, therefore, part of the package of services that we offer to ensure quality care for patients throughout their tuberculosis (TB) treatment, which lasts at least six months.

Continue reading "Healing in the jungle" »

O’Neill: Chief justice’s shock intervention


NOOSA – The Papua New Guinea chief justice, Sir Gibbs Salika, has made an extraordinary intervention in politics by lodging a complaint against police minister Bryan Kramer alleging he has spread “a false or misleading report”.

And Salika’s letter of complaint was quickly leaked to Facebook.

Continue reading "O’Neill: Chief justice’s shock intervention" »

After 50 years, a forgotten friend

John Gordon Kirby  Melbourne 2019
John Gordon-Kirby, Melbourne 2019 - a reuniting with Daniel Kumbon after nearly 50 years


PORT MORESBY - How am I supposed to react when suddenly finding a friend after losing contact for many years?

When John Gordon-Kirby recently commented on an article I had published in PNG Attitude back in 2016, my impulse was to contact him immediately.

It was strange. His comment was about people I mentioned in the article but said nothing about me.

Continue reading "After 50 years, a forgotten friend" »

The legendary PIM & me


A Short History of the Pacific Islands Monthly Magazine by Bob Lawrence, Chatswood Press, 2019, 69 pages, ISNI: 0000000067657158, AU$25 plus postage from the author

TUMBY BAY - I published my first article in the Pacific Islands Monthly in June 1970. That’s a clip from it right alongside.

It was a report about the mineral exploration then being carried out by the Kennecott Corporation in the Star Mountains that led to the establishment of Ok Tedi.

Continue reading "The legendary PIM & me" »

Paul Oates: A kiap’s progress

Paul Oates as a young kiap - "Paul’s easy-going relationships with the people he’s working among shines through," Phil writes


Small Steps Along the Way by Paul Oates, independently published, 2019, 241 pages, ISBN: 9781707077939, available from, $AU22.03, including postage or AU$2.91 as an eBook, from Amazon in the USA or download without cost from the strapline at the top of this page. Many thanks to Paul Oates for making it freely available to our readers

TUMBY BAY - We’ve been talking about the potency of literature on PNG Attitude for many years now and how it contributes to the creation story of communities and nations alike.

Further to that has been the notion that literature actually forms a society’s view of itself and reflects upon how it develops in the future.

Continue reading "Paul Oates: A kiap’s progress" »

Paul Oates: A look in the mirror

Former chalkie Dick Arnold with Paul Oates in 2009, about the time Paul first met Keith Jackson


GOLD COAST - I initially started writing about my Papua New Guinea experiences to contribute to those others of my line who also shared their experiences on websites like Ex-Kiap and, after Keith Jackson discovered my story about a PNG Christmas, I appeared regularly on PNG Attitude.

What started to become a catharsis over my long put aside experiences, then blossomed as I became a grandfather and wanted to relate what life was like when I was young.

The PNG experiences are virtually just one large chapter in my life’s story which is still a work in progress.

Continue reading "Paul Oates: A look in the mirror" »

Bougainville’s referendum. Uncertain journey

Bougainville and PNG flags (ANU)BAL KAMA

CANBERRA - From Saturday 23 November, the Autonomous Region of Bougainville will conduct a referendum on whether it will remain within Papua New Guinea with greater autonomy or establish an independent state.

The referendum is part of the Bougainville Peace Agreement between the government of PNG and the leaders of Bougainville that was signed in August 2001.

Continue reading "Bougainville’s referendum. Uncertain journey" »