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90 posts from May 2020

Vanilla: PNG’s little known world-class industry

Vanilla-flowerAMY TORI
| Prague Post | Edited extract

PRAGUE –Founded by Dan Edmiston in August 2017, the Native Vanilla company brings top-quality vanilla products to market that are organically farmed and sustainably sourced from rural growers in Papua New Guinea.

Edmiston found himself back in PNG after a long absence from his childhood home when he identified a need to help micro-farmers get a fair price for their vanilla beans as well as the need to produce a high-quality dry-cured vanilla bean for global markets.

Continue reading "Vanilla: PNG’s little known world-class industry" »

Telling a kiap apart from the crowd

Papuan kiap Geoff Smith
Papuan kiap, Geoff Smith


TUMBY BAY - I served as a kiap in both New Guinea and Papua. In New Guinea the kiap rig generally consisted of a khaki shirt and shorts, shiny RM Williams boots and a slouch hat.

In Papua, especially on the remoter stations, kiaps tended to get around in whatever took their fancy or whatever they deemed suitable for the climate and circumstances.

Continue reading "Telling a kiap apart from the crowd" »

Radio Days: Landfall in the Maldives


MALDIVE ISLANDS 1977 – First came the telegram from UNESCO in Paris then the letter from a Mrs Stevens concerning the vexed subject of toilet paper.

I was sitting on the verandah of our house on the Bundarra Road 20 kilometres from Armidale when I spotted the Australia Post motorbike slowly skid off the main road below and grumble up our long dusty drive.

Continue reading "Radio Days: Landfall in the Maldives" »

We mustn’t lose our literary magazines

Literary magazinesALEXANDRA DANE
| Lecturer, University of Melbourne

This article demonstrates that Papua New Guinea is not the only place where the government has a lack of interest in literature. In Australia it is also notable is the absence of the arts sector in the stimulus and help programs following the coronavirus outbreak. It seems that neo-liberalists are also Philistines – Phil Fitzpatrick

MELBOURNE - Australia’s literary journals are produced in a fragile ecosystem propped up by a patchwork of volunteer labour, generous patrons and, with any luck, a small slice of government funding.

The Sydney Review of Books, the Australian Book Review and Overland were among a group of publications who sought four-year funding from the Australia Council in 2020 but were unsuccessful.

Continue reading "We mustn’t lose our literary magazines" »

The battle for West Papua

West Papuan independence leader Victor Yeimo is in hiding (Greg Nelson ACS)
West Papuan independence leader Victor Yeimo is in hiding (Greg Nelson ACS)

| Foreign Correspondent
| Australian Broadcasting Corporation | Extracts

Link here for the full ABC story, complete with photographs

SYDNEY - In the highlands of Papua, in easternmost Indonesia, villagers are returning to the burnt-out remains of their abandoned homes.

A woman slumps on the grass, overcome with grief, as men dig a pit for the remains of those who could not escape the bloodshed.

Continue reading "The battle for West Papua" »

The demise of regional broadcasting

Justin Kili 1972
Justin Kili as a young announcer in 1972 - "Who is the Queen of Papua New Guinea?"


YUNGABURRA - “And now let’s spin another disc from the Beatle boys” – those were the words I heard from NBC announcer Cathy Garoa when I first tuned in my new radio-cassette player in early 1980.

Where I lived in Papua New Guinea, there was no FM radio, no television, no Australian newspapers and the internet was not yet a thing.

So how did Papua New Guineans obtain their information?

Continue reading "The demise of regional broadcasting" »

Ambunti, Porgera & the need for give & take

Beautiful Ambunti  right on the Sepik River
Beautiful Ambunti right on the Sepik River


KALAMAZOO, USA – Along with my wife Penny, I have served with Pacific Island Ministries in East Sepik Province between 1980 and 1985 and from 2005 until the present.

Pacific Island Ministries was founded in Ambunti, the largest town on the Sepik River, in 1977.

From the get–go a priority was to listen to the locals about what kind of help they wanted.

Continue reading "Ambunti, Porgera & the need for give & take" »

How we became trapped by capitalism

B&w Overland hlineCHRIS OVERLAND

ADELAIDE - Neo-liberal capitalism has taken over our lives by stealth.

I date its rise from the realisation that ordinary citizens could be offered easy access to credit, whereby the perceived actuarial risk involved was largely mitigated by the sheer numbers of people who used credit cards and similar facilities.

Continue reading "How we became trapped by capitalism" »

Call for inquiry after police officer killed

Senior-Inspector-Andrew-Tovere-(The National)
Senior Inspector Andrew Tovere (The National)

| Pacific Media Watch | Edited extract

AUCKLAND - Former Papua New Guinea Defence Force commander Jerry Singirok has condemned the killing of senior police officer Andrew Tovere, allegedly by off-duty soldiers.

“As the duly appointed secretary-general of PNG Flag Officers’ League, on behalf of the former commanders PNGDF, we condemn the killing of a senior police officer,” he stated on social media.

Continue reading "Call for inquiry after police officer killed" »

Loggers accused of dudding Manusians

Logging at the Pohowa project (Ed Davey  Global Witness)
Logging at the Pohowa project (Ed Davey Global Witness)

| Guardian Australia

SYDNEY - A Malaysian company that won a permit to clear tropical rainforest on Manus Island has been accused of failing to deliver on its promises to the local community, while reaping millions of dollars in profits from the logging of valuable hardwood timber.

According to licensing documents, the company, Maxland Ltd, secured a permit to clear land in the south of Manus to plant between three and five million rubber trees as part of the Pohowa Project.

Continue reading "Loggers accused of dudding Manusians" »

Radio Days: An Australian foothold

2ARM - press clipsKEITH JACKSON

ARMIDALE 1976-77 – In May 1976, I had no sooner proffered my resignation from the National Broadcasting Commission than an advertisement appeared in The Australian newspaper for a ‘station coordinator’ of 2ARM-FM Armidale.

This was an embryonic community based radio station with a board of directors, a programming collective, $10,000 in the bank, but no staff, no programs and a six month deadline to get on air.

Continue reading "Radio Days: An Australian foothold" »

Lessons I have learned

Justin Kundalin
Justin Kundain - five lessons to share with friends


PORT MORESBY – It was the greatest moment for me. Last November I graduated with a diploma in pastoral ministry.

Having been brought up in a dysfunctional home where my parents eventually divorced, I had grown up without a moral anchor. To me the words ‘dad’ and ‘mammy’ were strange.

Continue reading "Lessons I have learned" »

Marape must negotiate on Porgera

PJV gold mine west of Porgera
The Barrick-Zijin joint venture gold and silver mine situated west of Porgera


KALAMAZOO, USA – In late April, on the advice of Papua New Guinea’s national executive council, prime minister James Marape declined the request of the Porgera Joint Venture to extend its mining lease by 20 years.

The government made it clear to the Barrick-Zijin syndicate that the PNG government would take control of the mine and it was time for the partners to come up with an exit plan.

Continue reading "Marape must negotiate on Porgera" »

Coronavirus: We must all play our part

Assistant Commissioner Anthony Wagambie
Assistant Commissioner Anthony Wagambie

| Assistant Commissioner, Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary

PORT MORESBY - We, as part of the global community are going through some of the most challenging times we have ever experienced with the Covid-19 Pandemic spreading across the world.

Our PNG government has imposed a state of emergency to stop the virus spreading.

Continue reading "Coronavirus: We must all play our part" »

PNG media: 'Crisis on multiple fronts'

Scott Waide - "“Politicians are put on a pedestal and adored, corruption is normalised and legalised"

| Pacific Media Watch | Edited extracts

AUCKLAND - Papua New Guinea’s two daily newspapers – the PNG Post-Courier and The National – which dominate the market, demonstrated “overwhelming deference” to the office of former prime minister Peter O’Neill, says a new report about the country’s media freedom.

Transparency International Papua New Guinea (TIPNG) released a preliminary statement from a research report saying it found “much wrong” with the PNG media.

Continue reading "PNG media: 'Crisis on multiple fronts'" »

Saga of the Olsobip lawnmower

Mowing the grass at Olsobip
Turning jungle into lawn at Olsobip


TUMBY BAY - When I arrived to take over the remote and tiny Olsobip Patrol Post in 1970 the place was a mess. Patrolling had obviously taken precedence over maintenance.

The government store, on its dangerously rotted stumps, leaked like a sieve. The aid post was in a similar condition and the sacsac roof on the school was slowly being carried away by cockroaches.

Continue reading "Saga of the Olsobip lawnmower" »

PNG heading for recession, say forecasts

PNG's rising debt (ANZ)
PNG's rising debt (ANZ)

| Business Advantage PNG | Edited extracts

PORT MORESBY - Economists are forecasting a recession in Papua New Guinea in 2020 as the country struggles to deal with the global crisis caused by the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus.

The ratings agency Standard & Poor’s has also downgraded the country’s debt.

Continue reading "PNG heading for recession, say forecasts" »

Radio Days: Fights between whitemen

Graduates assembled
I graduated from the University of PNG on 1 August 1975, six weeks before independence day


“The NBC in the first decade of its existence was a model developing world broadcaster. It was one of the first PNG bodies to be totally localised and it had an outstanding record of performance in a remarkable number of communications fields” - Editorial, The National, 2 November 2004

PORT MORESBY 1975-76 – Even for us who were in Papua New Guinea at the time, it’s easy to forget that – while we knew independence was on the way – the precise date was announced just three months before the momentous day.

For many expatriate public servants, including the seconded ABC managers in the National Broadcasting Commission, the date was irrelevant. They had already received letters thanking them for their services and a one-way ticket home.

Continue reading "Radio Days: Fights between whitemen" »

Radio Days: Building a corporation

NBC 5 year plan
Abstract from the cover of the NBC's first five-year plan. The primary task of the new commission was to blend two radio services into one and build a network worthy of a newly independent nation


PORT MORESBY 1973-74 – As I returned to Port Moresby in October 1973 after six months developing an educational radio operation in Java, life in Papua New Guinea was in upheaval.

The rush towards independence was well and truly on and the impacts were tangible as many expatriate public servants readied themselves for imminent redundancy.

Continue reading "Radio Days: Building a corporation" »

Fit and healthy

TPNG Police Warrant Card
Phil Fitzpatrick - then. And now? Wouldn't be dead for quids


TUMBY BAY - Patrolling in the spiky top end of the old Western District in the late 1960s, particularly in the Star Mountains, made me so fit that I had to be chained up under the office for several days whenever I returned from the bush.

I was so fit I was dangerous.

Being young and fit and full of fizz is now an indistinct and fading memory shrouded in the mists of overindulgence in habits I should have known better than to even contemplate.

Continue reading "Fit and healthy" »

Preaching to the converted


Displaced: A Rural Life by John Kinsella, Transit Lounge, Melbourne, 2020. 329 pages, ISBN: 9781925760477. About AU$30 in most bookshops and online sites

TUMBY BAY - I’ve just finished reading a memoir by one of Australia’s acclaimed writers and poets, John Kinsella. I bought it on the strength of the reviews that I read.

Blue Wolf Reviews calls his work “magnificent, raw; the words coming together in form and shape to evoke the essence of the moment in time he is creating”.

The Australian says that “Kinsella can see into the heart of the country, and the evidence of these taut, complex stories is that what he sees there is both ferocious and unresolved”.

Continue reading "Preaching to the converted" »

A role unlike any other

Somare Kemish 2019
Sir Michael Somare and Ian Kemish in 2019

| The Interpreter | Lowy Institute

SYDNEY - Jon Philp, who commenced as Australian High Commissioner to Papua New Guinea early this month, is the 16th to serve as Australia’s lead diplomatic representative in Port Moresby.

I know from experience that the role is unlike any other in the Australian foreign service.

Continue reading "A role unlike any other" »

The plane that flies on a pole

P2-ANQ was originally given by General Dwight Eisenhower for the personal use of General 'Monty' Montgomery in 1945

| | Spotted by Rob Parer | Edited

PORT MORESBY - This DC3, P2-ANQ, with the name of ‘Larry Blackman’, is mounted on display outside the Air Niugini head office at Jackson’s international airport in Port Moresby.

It is there as a monument to all the airmen who gave their lives flying in Papua New Guinea.

Continue reading "The plane that flies on a pole" »

A matter of the heart

Dr Elizabeth Alok (left) in the operating theatre
Dr Elizabeth Alok (left) in the operating theatre

| Business Advantage PNG

PORT MORESBY – “I grew up in a household in which I was told girls can do anything that boys can do and if you have the ambition, you can achieve your goals,” says Dr Elizabeth Alok, Papua New Guinea’s first female trainee cardio-thoracic surgeon.

Alok will be one of only two practising CT cardio-thoracic in PNG when she completes her training this year.

Continue reading "A matter of the heart" »

Transparency to examine bias in PNG press

| Transparency International PNG

PORT MORESBY - Mainstream newspapers have been criticised by citizens as being biased for some time now, with the intensity of feelings increasing in the lead up to the 2017 national elections and the 2018 APEC leaders’ summit.

The question that has been asked by the public is; to what extent is there a bias in the media on governance issues, and more importantly, will it matter in the next major national event, e.g., the current Covid-19 emergency or the 2022 general elections?

Continue reading "Transparency to examine bias in PNG press" »

What next for Porgera's gold mine ?

Penny and Eric Schering
Penny and  Eric Schering and friends. The Scherings split their time working with Pacific Island Ministries in PNG and the USA


KALAMAZOO, USA - Last week was a biggie for the Porgera Joint Venture (PJV) in Papua New Guinea’s Enga Province, one of the largest gold mines in the world.

A stir has been brewing about whether prime minister James Marape is justified in refusing PJV’s request for a 20 year lease extension.

Continue reading "What next for Porgera's gold mine ?" »

PNG’s Covid-19 economic response

| DevPolicy Blog

CANBERRA - The key problem facing Papua New Guinea in formulating a response to Covid-19 has been well explained by the country’s Treasurer.

PNG’s government went into 2020 planning the biggest deficit it has ever run, some K4.6 billion in net borrowing. Now, with Covid-19, it faces a revenue hole estimated at K2 billion.

Continue reading "PNG’s Covid-19 economic response" »

The soldiers that never were

Newspaper advertisement for kiaps  circa 1966
Newspaper advertisement for kiaps, 1966


TUMBY BAY - How often have you heard the admonition to always read the fine print before signing anything?

And how often have you had some sneaky little paragraph in the fine print pointed out that you never read excusing a manufacturer or insurer from honouring what you thought should have been an obligation on their part?

Continue reading "The soldiers that never were" »

More dialogue needed on Porgera

Porgera mine
Porgera gold and silver mine

| Business Advantage PNG

PORT MORESBY - There will be repercussions from the Papua New Guinea government’s decision not to renew the special mining lease on the Porgera gold mine.

The Porgera valley is a very complex place, with communities long vying for control. Anyone treading in it should do so lightly, with thorough consultation and knowledge of that situation and avoiding disruption.

Continue reading "More dialogue needed on Porgera" »

Which bully to choose?


TUMBY BAY - When the governor general of Australia, Sir John Kerr, dismissed the Whitlam government in 1975 the conspiracy theorists had a field day.

Chief among the theories was that the USA’s Central Intelligence Agency, alarmed at Whitlam’s bold new social programs and loosening of its treaty ties, was the real culprit rather than opposition leader Malcolm Fraser

Continue reading "Which bully to choose?" »

Northumbrian kiap get tick from uni

Robert Forster
Robert Forster tucks into some brain food as a young kiap


NORTHUMBRIA - Divine Word University in Madang has secured exclusive distribution rights within Papua New Guinea for my book ‘The Northumbrian Kiap’ which examines bush administration in the turbulent period immediately before independence.

DWU has a reputation for innovation and I’m very pleased with this collaboration.

Continue reading "Northumbrian kiap get tick from uni" »

Does it really matter if PNG goes bust?

Phil Fitzpatrick at micPHILIP FITZPATRICK

TUMBY BAY - “Papua New Guinea’s brew of debt-laden government, poor health services and social fragmentation means it is uniquely placed to suffer at the hands of coronavirus.” So says ABC journalist Melissa Clark.

What she is referring to is the possibility of PNG becoming a failed state because of the coronavirus.

Continue reading "Does it really matter if PNG goes bust?" »

First Words: Those maiden comments


NOOSA - After receiving about 150 comments a year in its first three years, PNG Attitude now receives something like 4,000 a year. Maybe more. Too many to count.

It’s hard to recall, as Phil Fitzpatrick writes in his wonderful history of the blog and the Crocodile Prize,  ‘Fighting for a Voice’ (Pukpuk Publications, 2016), that time when “the Comments facility on the blog was rarely used”.

Continue reading "First Words: Those maiden comments" »

'We were behind the eight ball'

Jelta Wong
Papua New Guinea's health minister, Jelta Wong

| Guardian Australia

KOKOPO - When Jelta Wong was appointed as Papua New Guinea’s health minister in November, he knew he had his work cut out for him.

The Pacific nation just north of Australia is dealing with outbreaks of malaria, dengue fever, drug-resistant tuberculosis and had a recent outbreak of polio. Its health system is notoriously fractured and underfunded.

Continue reading "'We were behind the eight ball'" »