Previous month:
June 2022
Next month:
August 2022

46 posts from July 2022

IMF warns that rising debt puts PNG at risk

"There are many countries in the region which are facing high debt numbers. And some of these are in debt distress territory. So that’s something which we have to watch out for"

Downtown Port Moresby and dockland

| CNBC | Edited

SINGAPORE - Rising debt levels driven by inflation and tightening financial conditions across Asia and in Papua New Guinea are cause for concern, according to the International Monetary Fund’s Krishna Srinivasan.

“If you look at debt for the region, if you look at Asia’s share of total debt, aggregate debt, that’s gone up quite sharply,” Srinivasan, director of the Asia and Pacific Department at the IMF, told CNBC on Wednesday.

Continue reading "IMF warns that rising debt puts PNG at risk" »

Death in the jungle & the savage aftermath

Jacob Luke’s death ought to be a good lesson that the struggle for power, and the death and destruction of this year’s national elections, is not worth it if a man can die anytime, anywhere without saying goodbye

Kurai Luke
School mates, brothers-in-law and successful Enga businessmen Paul Kurai (left) and the late Jacob Luke at Kurai’s Ribito Hotel in Wabag recently

| Edited extracts from an article in The NationalWeekender

The death of Jacob Luke

Engan icon Jacob Luke was found dead in the jungle near his new Mukeres mansion at Lakolam village in Wabag, a few kilometres up the Highlands Highway towards Porgera.

Nobody had noticed his disappearance on Wednesday 20 July until a team of Digicel PNG technicians, there to erect a new tower, found his body in the bush the next day.

Continue reading "Death in the jungle & the savage aftermath" »

Australia cannot ignore PNG election violence

For years Australia has had a mute response to these problems, especially the extent of weaponry that has spread through the country that now threatens the viability of the state. Politicians arm their supporters - Michael Main (Twitter)

Vehicles burn and ballot papers cover the ground in just one of scores of attacks on voting in PNG

| Guardian Australia

CANBERRA - Elections in Papua New Guinea are notoriously volatile and dangerous.

But this year’s elections have involved violence, intimidation, corruption as well as administrative ineptitude on what looks like an exceptional scale.

Continue reading "Australia cannot ignore PNG election violence" »

The Jacob Luke I knew – smart & humble

Mike Herman, now in his eighties, was the late Jacob Luke's teacher at Pausa in Enga Province. Mike helped Jacob - who had been expelled from school - on the path that eventually led him to business success

 Jacob Luke and Mike Herman in Boise Idaho
Mike Herman in the United States earlier this month


BOISE, USA - I would like to share with you the Jacob Luke I knew.

I met Jacob when he enrolled at Pausa High School, Wapenamanda, in Enga Province.

As many people have said, Jacob came from humble beginnings.

Continue reading "The Jacob Luke I knew – smart & humble" »

Ridding ourselves of violence & corruption

Real leadership has several defining factors, not least humility, ethical behaviour and the ability to place the welfare of the people and communities above personal ambition and benefit



TUMBY BAY - Yet again a Papua New Guinean national election has turned into a spectacle of mindless violence and corruption.

There are two weeks to go before each electorate’s writs have to be returned, the deadline having been extended from today to 12 August.

Continue reading "Ridding ourselves of violence & corruption" »

Peter Ryan, writer: Never an ugly sentence

From his hospital bed Peter’s last words were spoken to his wife, Davey. “I have to get back to my desk.” In the last day of his life all he wanted to do was work on his next Quadrant column

Tidey Ryan top
Peter Ryan amongst his books. He wrote "the finest Australian memoir of war"

| ‘Soldier, Writer, Publisher’: Obituary of Peter Ryan
| Sydney Morning Herald, 22 December 2015

SYDNEY - It was once said of Peter Ryan that he climbed many mountains in his life and that his view of things was invariably an elevated one.

His death on 13 December 2015, at 92, has removed quite a remarkable Australian – a war hero, a gifted writer and columnist, publisher, raconteur and mischief-maker.

Continue reading "Peter Ryan, writer: Never an ugly sentence" »

Peter Ryan’s story of endurance & courage

Warrant Officer Ryan did not blame the Papua New Guineans for prevaricating about which side to choose when they sometimes preferred to help neither. Even when betrayed to the Japanese, Ryan understood that the same dynamic was at work

Overland - Ryan top
Peter Ryan - a young man, just 18, when he was called to war


Fear Drive My Feet by Peter Ryan, Text Publishing Company, new edition with introduction by Peter Pierce, 2015, 336 pages. ISBN: 9781925240054. Purchase from Booktopia: paperback $13.50 (ebook) $12.75

ADELAIDE - I have just finished reading Peter Ryan’s book ‘Fear drive my feet’, first published in 1959.

Ryan tells the story of his nearly two years patrolling in the mountainous country adjacent to the Markham Valley as an intelligence operative during World War II.

Continue reading "Peter Ryan’s story of endurance & courage" »

PNG’s election: Death, arson & destruction

Elections need to proper planning and management. But this election has repeated previous experience, with 50 known deaths, arson, destruction of property and 3,000 people displaced from their homes

Houses burn in Enga Province
Houses burn in Enga Province

| The Interpreter | Lowy Institute

PORT MORESBY - Violence is a mainstay of Papua New Guinea’s elections.

As I write this article, tensions are high in the capital Port Moresby. Reports of machete wielding men slashing innocent bystanders along the city’s main roads and fears of retaliation fill my social media feed.

Continue reading "PNG’s election: Death, arson & destruction" »

Rising from the ashes: a TV series reviewed

A communications response to the challenges of life in rural Papua New Guinea uses storytelling to change attitudes and behaviour.
“My daughters have no mother. My son has no mother. I have no wife”

Village - top
A scene from It Takes A Village


PORT MORESBY - ‘It takes a village’ is a five-part Papua New Guinean television drama drawing attention to the plight of pregnant women and the risks of childbirth.

Rex is an emerging rugby league star in his local village and his wife, Miriam, is expecting their third child.

Continue reading "Rising from the ashes: a TV series reviewed" »

Bite-size platform more than pulls its weight

Pearls & Irritations is particularly noteworthy for gathering together a ‘stable’ of former senior public servants who bring great weight and understanding to their observations


NOOSA - John Menadue’s began publication of his daily newsletter, Pearls & Irritations, at about the same time as Ingrid and I made Noosa our retirement destination.

Now in its tenth year, Menadue started the blog as a platform for independent policy discussion in the face of the general failure of Australia’s mainstream to cover issues with calm and authoritative analysis.

Continue reading "Bite-size platform more than pulls its weight" »

Troops out in force on streets of Port Moresby

Papua New Guinea shamed internationally as candidates’ supporters turned the streets of Port Moresby and some surrounding settlements into a battlefield. Eighteen men arrested as police investigations continue

Troops approach Port Moresby's business district as they move to restore peace in the city (PNGDF)
Troop carriers approach Port Moresby's business district as they move to restore peace in the city (PNGDF)

| Asia Pacific Report

AUCKLAND - Papua New Guinea Defence Force (PNGDF) troops have been directed to patrol the streets of Port Moresby in support of police trying to restore peace in the city.

The deployment followed rioting and machete attacks on civilians across the city triggered by unrest at the general election counting centre in Waigani.

Continue reading "Troops out in force on streets of Port Moresby" »

Election conflict stalks the streets of Moresby

Dozens of people have been killed in election-related violence and 3,000 people have been displaced by conflict. UN officials have also received many reports of sexual abuse, including abuse of children

Chaotic-election-(Post Courier)
Front page splash (PNG Post-Courier). Most people would describe the death and destruction of the 2022 election as being worse than chaotic


NOOSA – Port Moresby city manager Ravu Frank has condemned “in the strongest possible terms” a fight between supporters of election candidates that spilled out into the streets of Waigani yesterday afternoon.

Machete-wielding men rampaged from the counting centre at Sir John Guise Stadium towards the Vision City shopping centre and the luxurious Stanley Hotel, randomly slashing passers-by, some seriously.

Continue reading "Election conflict stalks the streets of Moresby" »

America’s self-obsession is killing democracy

The United States still has a chance to fix itself before 2024. But when democracies start dying—as the USA already has—they usually don’t recover

The United States Capitol (Stephen Voss, Redux)

| The Atlantic

NEW YORK - In 2009, a violent mob stormed the presidential palace in Madagascar, a deeply impoverished red-earthed island off the coast of East Africa.

They had been incited to violence by opportunistic politicians and media personalities, successfully triggering a coup.

Continue reading "America’s self-obsession is killing democracy" »

The Pacific Visa quotas need to be strategic

Ten countries should be considered for quotas: PNG, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste & Vanuatu (currently very limited access to Australia); Kiribati, Tuvalu & Nauru (climate-affected atolls); Fiji, Samoa & Tonga (good access to Australia via New Zealand) 

Australian Visa

| DevPolicy Blog | Edited extracts

CANBERRA - Australian foreign minister Penny Wong was putting it mildly when she noted “a positive response” to the new Labor government’s confirmation it would introduce a new permanent residency visa category for the Pacific.

Under the Pacific Engagement Visa scheme commencing in July 2023, each year 3,000 visas will be issued annually via a lottery with country-specific quotas.

Continue reading "The Pacific Visa quotas need to be strategic" »

With Sir Jacob Luke's death, a torch went out

Jackson Kiakari's father, Pastor Thomas Bob, and Jacob Luke were ace tractor drivers and mechanics at Pausa Lutheran High School in Enga Province. As sons of the Sakalin people, they bonded and remained very close friends to the end of Jacob's life

Jacob luke
Chief Sir Jacob Lengepombet Sole Luke: A testament to the belief that a person could rise to the top from just about anywhere and remain humble

| A Personal Tribute

PORT MORESBY - Only a few rise to the very top - to the highest echelons of business and life.

And from this small group, there are fewer still who choose to remain humane, humble and simple.

Continue reading "With Sir Jacob Luke's death, a torch went out" »

Authentic bikman: Memories of Sir Jacob Luke

“Jacob had a rare quality for a famous person in PNG, he was famous for his humility and kindness, and not an infamous thief like many others.  He has left a true impression that transcends wealth”

The late Sir Jacob Luke


Luke - A Mapai truckNOOSA - “Did you ever run into Jacob Luke? It was sad news to hear of his passing,” the message said.

“I had the pleasure of meeting him on a trade mission to Tokyo. I didn’t realise how wealthy he was as he was so humble.

"I saw him a couple of weeks ago with a new jet and now this week’s sad news….”

Continue reading "Authentic bikman: Memories of Sir Jacob Luke" »

A true PNG champion bows out with gratitude

The former Kumuls captain made 14 appearances for PNG and 171 in the NRL for Brisbane Broncos and Gold Coast Titans and is admired both for his playing skill and his leadership on and off the field

Mead top

| Twitter @davidmead411

TWITTER - After weeks of thinking about it I have decided to retire from playing rugby league effective immediately.

I want to say a big thank you to the Brisbane Broncos, Gold Coast Titans, Catalan Dragons, National Rugby League and Super League Europe.

Continue reading "A true PNG champion bows out with gratitude" »

Fury, arson, chaos and death by parliament

Remember the good times, laughter and fun, the Grand Chief said. We united PNG into one nation of diversity and cultural heritage. Make me proud of what you will become

Enga elections 2022
"Rambos appeared everywhere in the province. They stoned helicopters, blocked national highways, hijacked ballot boxes, set fire to property and triggered tribal wars"



WABAG - This year’s national election has been a disaster in Enga, and for Enga. It is one of the worst since independence. Perhaps the worst.

For the first time in my life – and in the lives of many town residents, educated elites and senior citizens in this country – we did not cast our votes on that gloomy Friday 8th of July.

Continue reading "Fury, arson, chaos and death by parliament" »

Sachs’ & the New Appeasers have it wrong

Sachs appears to be one of the New Appeasers whose starting premise is that Putin is a rational actor, not an unrepentant neo-imperialist whose territorial aspirations cannot be satisfied through negotiation or by conceding land for peace

Putin and Macron
Vladimir Putin and Emmanuel Macron - the table perhaps symbolic of the distance between Putin's goals of empire and the New Appeasers desire for peaceful resolution


ADELAIDE - In his recent speech, ‘The world imperilled at the end of US leadership, Jeffrey Sachs has advanced several propositions that are highly contestable.

Professor Sachs evidently believes that the underlying cause of the Russia-Ukraine War was the constant expansion of NATO – a military alliance of 28 European, Canada and the USA, which strongly supports NATO’s expansion.

Continue reading "Sachs’ & the New Appeasers have it wrong" »

The US is sick: Time to think for ourselves

Australia should be encouraging Pacific Islands nations to join it in forming a regional bloc that thinks for itself, makes its own rules and sees to its own future

This World War I propaganda poster has new meaning as the US faces threats at home and abroad


TUMBY BAY - Jeffrey Sachs speaks a lot of sense but, as he says, no one wants to listen to him.

There are a lot of people like Sachs who people go out of their way to ignore. Among them are climate scientists and epidemiologists.

Continue reading "The US is sick: Time to think for ourselves" »

Smiles in Suva: but the map ahead is unclear

The Pacific Islands Forum was happy to welcome rookie prime minister Anthony Albanese, but his attempt to brag about Australia’s ‘influence’ in the Pacific was seen as unwanted political game-playing

Forum - Albanese (William West)
Anthony Albanese goes for the selfie money shot but the rookie Australian prime minister has a bit to learn about the practice of diplomacy

| DevPolicy Blog

BRISBANE - Last week’s meeting of leaders of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) was keenly anticipated and came at a critical juncture for the region.

It was the first in-person meeting since Tuvalu in 2019. Since then, a lot has happened.

Continue reading "Smiles in Suva: but the map ahead is unclear" »

Pundari condemns Enga election violence

Sir John Pundari says known election candidates are responsible for the unprovoked criminal violence in Kompiam Ambum which has resulted in deaths and the destruction of vital government properties worth millions of kina

Burning infrastructure in Kompiam (Teddy Piagari)
Burning buildings in Kompiam, Enga Province (Teddy Piagari)

| Papua New Guinea Today

ENGA - We cannot blame the Electoral Commission and security personnel for criminal activities carried out by candidates or supporters.

We need to come out clear and condemn these acts in the strongest possible terms.

My district has lost government properties worth hundreds of millions of kina and I am shattered for my people and the public servants who have fled to seek refuge.

Continue reading "Pundari condemns Enga election violence" »

A world imperilled at the end of US leadership

Jeffrey Sachs highlights the damaging US mindset that the world should revolve around it, which is undermining the need for regional cooperation to get on top of the huge problems facing the planet

| Drawn from John Menadue’s Pearls and Irritations and other sources

NOOSA - In this speech made by Jeffrey Sachs ahead of late June’s NATO Summit in Madrid, he offers a view of a world in a great mess and which needs to renew diplomacy, negotiation, cooperation and collaboration to solve the immense problems humanity is facing.

Sachs, a professor of sustainable development and professor of health policy at Columbia University in USA, has served as an adviser to three United Nations secretaries-general and is an economist who advised on economic reforms in Russia and several Eastern European nations in the 1990s.

Continue reading "A world imperilled at the end of US leadership" »

Open Letter calls for doctors free speech

An Open Letter, focused on freedom of speech for doctors, has been sent to all Australian health ministers after being signed by 18 scientists and doctors and 1,400 citizens. The letter seeks an independent audit of the practices of the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Authority

Covid pic
The ultimate responsibility for botching Australia's response to Covid rests with this body - the so-called national cabinet that is failing to stem a rapidly escalating death toll 

NOOSA – Earlier this month in The silencing of Covid truth teller, Dr Berger, I wrote of a doctor who has been forced to submit to an unAustralian Communist style re-education program and was publicly humiliated by a government body.

The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra is their preferred abbreviation) is the body that registers doctors in Australia. It also runs one of the clumsiest and user unfriendly websites in the nation.

Continue reading "Open Letter calls for doctors free speech" »

Marape v O'Neill: Post-election battle looms

James Marape and Peter O’Neill seem likely to retain their seats but Allan Bird, the respected governor of East Sepik Province, is seen by many people as good prime ministerial material

O'Neill casts his vote in 2017
Peter O'Neill casts his vote at the 2017 election. Re-elected prime minister, he was toppled by James Marape in 2019. Now a bitter battle looms for the leadership

| Pearls & Irritations | Edited extracts

CANBERRA - Voting is proceeding apace in Papua New Guinea’s tenth election for the national parliament. A record of around 3,500 candidates are contesting the parliament’s 118 seats.

In the last parliament (2017-22) there was no female MP and despite campaigns to encourage women to contest this election, only 142 of the candidates are women, compared to 167 in 2017.

Continue reading "Marape v O'Neill: Post-election battle looms" »

Pacific uni strife continues as funds dry up

"University of South Pacific is only one of two regional universities in the world, and arguably one of the few tangible outcomes of Pacific regional integration” - Professor Albert Schram

USP dale pana
Solomon Islands student Dale Pala wants regional governments to sort out the USP mess  - 'When they come here students say we are one people, one ocean’


NOOSA – It’s been a while since this blog touched upon happenings at the University of the South Pacific in Fiji.

The deportation of vice-chancellor Professor Sal Ahluwalia and his wife Sandra Price in February last year, and the subsequent withdrawal of Fiji’s funding from the regional university, have kept the issue alive.

Continue reading "Pacific uni strife continues as funds dry up" »

We're back in the Pacific big time, says the US

“We will embark on a new chapter in our partnership, a chapter with increased American presence, where we commit to work with you in the short and long term to take on the most pressing issues that you face"

US vice-president Kamala Harris addresses Pacific Forum leaders (Sam Sachdeva  Newsroom RNZ)
US vice-president Kamala Harris addresses Pacific Forum leaders yesterday (Sam Sachdeva,  Newsroom RNZ)

| Radio New Zealand Pacific | Edited

AUCKLAND - United States vice-president Kamala Harris has assured Pacific Islands Forum leaders who are meeting in Suva that the US will “significantly deepen” its engagement in the region.

Harris virtually joined the regional leaders to announce half a dozen new commitments including establishing embassies in Kiribati and Tonga, tripling funding for economic development and ocean resilience and the appointing the first-ever US envoy to the Forum.

Continue reading "We're back in the Pacific big time, says the US" »

War being transformed by the power of words

All of this may seem a world away from Papua New Guinea but it provides some useful context for China’s efforts to extend its influence. People in the Pacific need to understand that nothing the Chinese do is just a gesture of goodwill or good neighbourliness

Overland tank


ADELAIDE – It’s important that we understand what the hell is going on in much of the world right now.

My recent comments about China in the Pacific, ‘Chinese now a real threat in the Gulf of Papua’, were informed by my reading of Major General Mick Ryan’s book, ‘War Transformed: The Future of Twenty-First-Century Great Power Competition and Conflict.

Continue reading "War being transformed by the power of words" »

Junior Raka: In the footsteps of the great

Martin Beni died last November while officiating at boxing championships in Port Moresby. It's been left to middleweight Junior Kauko Raka to carry forward Beni’s vision. He feels the old champion’s spirit at his back whenever he fights

Junior headshot top
Junior Raka - a world class boxer walking in the footsteps of the great Martin Beni


NOOSA – The best Papua New Guinean boxer to emerge since Martin Beni 50 years ago departs PNG at the end of this month for bouts in the Philippines and Vietnam.

Beni had decided to return from retirement in 2018 to train lightweight boxer Junior Kauko Raka from the Bali-Vitu Islands in West New Britain Province.

Continue reading "Junior Raka: In the footsteps of the great" »

The silencing of Covid truth teller, Dr Berger

David Berger has been forced to submit to a Communist style re-education program and humiliation where he has to explain how he has behaved discourteously, unprofessionally and offended the community. If he does not comply, this skilled, ethical and courageous doctor will face deregistration because he told the truth

Dr David Berger - Covid truth teller who the Australian authorities are trying to silence as they seek to cover up accountability for over 10,000 deaths and hundreds of thousands of seriously ill victims


NOOSA - There has been an outpouring of support for Australian doctor David Berger, whose social media activity has been censored and registration as a doctor threatened because he tells the truth about the incompetence of the Australian government’s handling of Covid.

Dr Berger has been an acute reporter, knowledgeable analyst and severe critic of how Australian governments have failed the public in their handling of Covid.

Continue reading "The silencing of Covid truth teller, Dr Berger" »

Chinese now a real threat in the Gulf of Papua

Lying, obfuscation and diversion are all part of well-established Chinese strategy to confuse or misdirect putative enemies and gullible others as to its real intentions. What Chinese diplomats are saying about the development at Ihu clearly fits this category

Speaking before 3,000 representatives to the National People’s Congress in Beijing in March 2021, president Xi Jinping proclaimed his country had been the first to tame Covid, the result of “self-confidence in our path, self-confidence in our theories, self-confidence in our system, self-confidence in our culture”


ADELAIDE - I worked as a kiap in the Gulf Province (or District as it then was) for two years from mid-1969 to mid-1971.

It was a very impoverished region then as it is now.

For this reason, any major development project is likely to be welcomed by the local people.

Continue reading "Chinese now a real threat in the Gulf of Papua" »

China's moves take shape in Torres Strait

All the indications are that there is much more push and shove to come before we know whether China will have a tangible presence on the Torres Strait – and whose military and navy will occupy two proposed bases at Ihu

Ihu Zeng Aeo dig first soil
Ihu Special Economic Zone groundbreaking ceremony by cheerful Chinese ambassador Zeng Fanhua and PNG foreign minister Soroi Eoe. The project is of vast importance to the impoverished Gulf Province but poses strategic problems for Australia as China seeks to consolidate its interests in the Torres Strait region


NOOSA - Reports in the Australian media that China is readying to build a military base at Ihu Papua New Guinea’s Gulf Province have been dismissed as “baseless and hype” by the Chinese embassy in Port Moresby.

China has reacted with anger to media reports that the developing Ihu Special Economic Zone at Kikori in Gulf Province will be a platform for a Chinese military base.

Continue reading "China's moves take shape in Torres Strait" »

PNG's ill-prepared election has a shaky start

The election varies in many ways, including levels of cheating and violence, but one of the most basic forms of variation is the number of candidates standing

Protesters gather in Wabag town as the start of voting is delayed. Poor election organisation has led to protests, some violent, throughout PNG 

| Sights & Sounds, Smells & Surrounds | The Blog of Patrick (Big Pat) Levo
| Additional edited comments from Terence Wood | DevPolicy Blog

WABAG – Democracy came under threat at Rakamanda village outside Wabag town yesterday when four ballot boxes containing voting papers were destroyed by supporters of a candidate.

Supporters of various candidates attacked a vehicle transporting 15 ballot boxes to Wapenamanda Airport to be airlifted to Maramuni government station.

Continue reading "PNG's ill-prepared election has a shaky start" »

Election: “Highest level of incompetency!”

The elections in Papua New Guinea have barely begun and they’re already in big trouble. But when that trouble reaches into the national capital itself, the venerable PNG Post-Courier newspaper goes ballistic

Tari officials check two ballot boxes arriving in Tari from Komo-Hulia District (Miriam Zarriga  PNG Post-Courier)
Tari officials check two ballot boxes arriving in Tari from Komo-Hulia District (Miriam Zarriga,  PNG Post-Courier)

| PNG Post-Courier

PORT MORESBY - The headline of this editorial, ‘Disgrace!’, we believe, expresses what every eligible voter, business house and candidate in the nation’s capital feels towards the Electoral Commission of PNG.

To make a decision like this, the deferral of polling, at the very last minute on the day when this important event is to take place is absurd.

Continue reading "Election: “Highest level of incompetency!”" »

Long-serving taxman John Lohberger dies

John Lohberger OBE wrote many of Papua New Guinea's taxation laws in his 18 years serving as taxation commissioner in the Internal Revenue Commission



NOOSA – Papua New Guinea’s former long-serving taxation commissioner, and spare time rally car enthusiast, John Lohberger, died in February aged 84 after a short illness.

John Wolfgang Lohberger OBE (1937-2022) spent his youth in Hobart before beginning his career with the Australian Tax Office in Victoria, where he became the youngest person to be appointed as a full taxation assessor.

Continue reading "Long-serving taxman John Lohberger dies" »

Much of history a far from perfect venture

History is the product of the often imperfect actions of imperfect people, some more so than others. Genuine evil is present too

A Genghis Kan statue in Mongolia
Genghis Khan - the ruthless and feared 13th century Mongol warrior-ruler was feared because of his ruthlessness and passion for  massacre, rapine, destruction and revenge. Genghis Khan statue in Mongolia (G Adventures Inc)


ADELAIDE - I am sure that the Australian takeover of German New Guinea during and in the years following World War I was a far from perfect venture.

But, a reader of The Awkward Takeover of German New Guinea is invited to infer that the German regime was some sort of model of how to apply colonial rule in an orderly, methodical and humane way.

Continue reading "Much of history a far from perfect venture" »

Patronising the ‘Pacific family’ we never had

“The 'family' construct is inappropriate in a context where Australia should be seeking to forge mature, meaningful and equivalent relationships with Pacific Island nations. The whole theme is patronising, inane and quite weird” – Keith Jackson

Morrison pacific

| Pearls & Irritations

MELBOURNE - When will this nonsense on familial connection between Australia and the Pacific end?

In 2018, Australia’s then Pentecostal prime minister, Scott Morrison, drew upon a term that his predecessors had not.

Continue reading "Patronising the ‘Pacific family’ we never had" »

300 election observers look out for breaches

“The provision of timely, accurate and accessible information during the polling period will be critical to ensuring a democratically credible election” - Transparency International PNG chair, Peter Aitsi



NOOSA - Transparency International in Papua New Guinea (TIPNG) has deployed 300 volunteers throughout the country to observe and report on the conduct of the national elections which began yesterday.

The organisation said the delivery of the election had already faced multiple administrative, legal and logistical challenges.

Continue reading "300 election observers look out for breaches" »

Dr Sheldon Weeks, UPNG educator, dies at 90

Weeks was well settled as an educator when in 1974 he was appointed research professor and director of the educational research unit at the University of Papua New Guinea. And in PNG he was to marry for a third time

Sheldon Weeks
Dr Sheldon Griswald Weeks (1931-2022) - educator, traveller, writer and Quaker


NOOSA - Sheldon Griswold Weeks who spent 17 years as a university professor and educator in Papua New Guinea has died in Vermont, USA, aged 90.

Weeks was born on 18 November 1931 in New York, graduating from Brooklyn Friends High School in 1949 where he had been active in art, writing and sports as well as academic pursuits.

Continue reading "Dr Sheldon Weeks, UPNG educator, dies at 90" »

The awkward takeover of German New Guinea

"Perhaps there was a lack of faith in Indigenous authority, a deficit arising from their own Australian attitudes towards native people both at home and in their territories"

The Australian fleet headed by the flagship  HMAS Australia  enters Simpson Harbour Rabaul  12 September 1914 (AWM)
The Australian fleet, headed by the flagship HMAS Australia,  enters Simpson Harbour, Rabaul,  12 September 1914 (AWM)

| Tok Piksa | Edited extracts from an article

BIELEFELD, GERMANY - At the time of the Australian takeover, the capital of German New Guinea, Rabaul, was described by AL Epstein in his book Matupit as "not so much a town as a tropical garden, dotted about with government offices, business premises, and bungalows.

“The avenues were carefully laid out and planted with Poinciana and Casuarina trees, the latter creating the feeling, as one visitor many years later was to describe it, of looking down the nave of a cathedral half a mile long."

Continue reading "The awkward takeover of German New Guinea" »

Corruption: Hey PNG, hear Marie Yovanovitch

"Who’s going to be the first to say, 'Oh, I’m going to give up that slot that I got through this little consideration'. People want an end to corruption. Getting there is hard and changing that whole philosophy is a lot harder. It’s the work of generations"

Corruption - Marie Yovanovitch  former United States ambassador to Ukraine (Erin Schaff  New York Times)
Marie Yovanovitch former United States ambassador to Ukraine prepares to address Congress (Erin Schaff New York Times)


NOOSA – The New York Times provides a first rate briefing each day on the Russia-Ukraine War.

The other morning Marie Yovanovitch, who served as US ambassador to Ukraine from 2016 to 2019, spoke to Times journalist, Yana Dlugy.

Continue reading "Corruption: Hey PNG, hear Marie Yovanovitch" »

A brief message about the editor's infirmity

Covid confirmedCovid trend
NOOSA - As Covid spreads its tentacles to embrace half the Australian population and 50 people die each day, Keith joins the plague-riddled crowd with a series of amazing tweets including this one that has accumulated 13,000 impressions so far: "I dedicate my maiden bout of Covid to the diabolical duo of Queensland premier Palaszczuk & Chief Health Officer Gerrard. Now I get to find out how it blends with my ME/CFS. Ah, what a time to be alive, however temporarily."

This blog will have an even more intermittent quality over coming days. But Keith will fire the odd shot on Twitter (which we also run in the right hand column). Like these three, written  before Keith knew he was ill: "This truculent silence by the authorities is like something we have never seen. It's a form of denial; a group neurosis. The stunned silence rendered by a Covid crisis which should turn into shocked action but in this case has spawned a protracted cowardly muteness."

Or this: "The PNG government has given up on Covid. This is not understood by Australians yet, but so has their government given up. Many more people will die or succumb to chronic illness unless this insane denialism changes. Vaccinations were never enough."

And a demand for scalps: "Queensland Chief Health Officer should be fired & Premier Palaszczuk should step down. They have not only failed in their duty to keep the community safe, their policies have enabled the continuing unchecked spread of  Covid leading to 1,200 deaths and uncountable lifelong chronic illnesses so far in Queensland alone."

The complex challenges of leadership in PNG

“Every man has his good side,” Marape says of O'Neill. “But as time progressed, power got into his head, and his heart shifted away from the main goalpost"

Oneill marape
Marape says of O'Neill: "Some of us reached the tolerance rate where we can’t be part of that sort of regime where you make a call and you expect everyone else to follow"

| The Saturday Paper

MELBOURNE - As Papua New Guinea’s prime minister James Marape was working the tables at a hotel gathering of his Pangu Party in Goroka, a heavily drunk man was making a nuisance of himself.

Burly police bodyguards moved in for a rough eviction. But then Marape saw the man, walked closer, embraced him, and got him to sit quietly in a corner. The prime minister had recognised an old high school classmate.

Continue reading "The complex challenges of leadership in PNG" »

God’s last stopping place. But what of Nutu?

“But when they came they hid you in the Book / And said you weren’t from around this place / We searched 'til we had nowhere else to look…”

A young Mengen woman, Matanakaka, bringing food back from the garden to the village (Françoise Panoff)


ORO - I wrote this sonnet as I thought about some of the ideas arising from my interviews and other observations while conducting fieldwork amongst the Mengen (or Maenge) people of Jacquinot Bay in East New Britain.

The concept of God was a principle theme of most of my interlocutors. Nutu is one of the central characters in Maenge mythology.

Continue reading "God’s last stopping place. But what of Nutu?" »

Gift Pacific patrol boats have major defects

Austal’s vessels have a chequered history, including bad cracking and delays due to the use of poor quality aluminium


| Schwartz Media

MELBOURNE - Major design flaws have been identified among a fleet of Australian patrol boats given to Pacific nations.

The flaws include cracks in the exhaust that allow carbon monoxide to enter a compartment, cracking in the coupling linking the engine and gearbox, and poor ventilation in sick bays.

Continue reading "Gift Pacific patrol boats have major defects" »