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23 posts from September 2023

Recent Notes 29: China in the Pacific


PNG Facts reports on the four-day visit by the Chinese naval vessel ship Qi Jiguang to Papua New Guinea. The stay, which ends today, seems aimed at reinforcing relationships with the politicians and military of PNG. “The officers and soldiers of both countries will participate in visits, exchange programs and games,” said China’s ambassador to PNG, Zeng Fanhua.

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Recent Notes 28: Signs of political change


A formidable trio of academics have collaborated to write a new book, ‘Troubles and Puzzles: The 2022 General Elections in Papua New Guinea’, which was published online just on Sunday. The ANU’s Terence Wood and UPNG’s Maholopa Laveil and Michael Kabuni are names that regular PNG Attitude readers will recognise for their astute commentaries on PNG politics.

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Tech could enrich us all, but....


TUMBY BAY - Back in the 1980s I decided to add a major in Government to my 1970s double degree in Literature. One of the subjects concerned the impact of technology on paid employment. At the time there was a wide body of literature on the subject. The consensus was that new technologies would do away with the more arduous and soul destroying aspects of work and increase workers’ leisure time.

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A Yes Vote – you know it makes sense

| Come the Revolution

TWEED HEADS - On Saturday, 27 May, 1967, Australians voted by an overwhelming majority to alter the Constitution to give the Aboriginal Peoples and Torres Strait Islanders the right to be counted in all future censuses by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. The vote was a huge victory for the ‘YES’ camp: it won 90.77% of votes cast in all six States.

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What to do if your country disappears


FUNAFUTI, TUVALU - In September 2023, Tuvalu enshrined a new definition of statehood in its constitution. A world-first, the constitution asserts the State of Tuvalu will continue to exist, even if its landmass disappears under rising sea levels. In this interview, Dr Bal Kama, who advised the constitutional committee, shares some insights on this significant development for Tuvalu and beyond. Bal specialises in Pacific legal systems with expertise in Papua New Guinea constitutional law.

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Is this really the Australia you want


NOOSA - Here in Noosa, just like the rest of Australia, we’re in the middle of referendum politics, where the vitriol has reached boiling point and exceeds even the hyper-toxicity that prevails around local government elections here in Australia’s premier seaside resort apart from Tumby Bay.

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The ABC & me: a story of respect & rebellion

Keith Boug News
In the Bougainville News, 1970, when the ABC was 38 and I was 25


I wrote this last year and, feeling it both unfinished and too personal, decided not to publish. It’s still unfinished … but life is too short, and long ago I learned not to waste content

NOOSA – The Australian Broadcasting Corporation, desperate for respect, in 2022 marked its 90th year of broadcasting.

There is nothing really special about 90 except it’s a big number. For we humans, as distinct from many of the organisations we temporarily occupy, 90 is the start of really old age but no telegram from the King. The ABC, however, after being pummelled by conservative governments for a decade, needed a celebration. It needed some better news, even if it had to provide its own.

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Recent Notes 27: Kevin Byrne dies at 74


Kevin Byrne, who died in Cairns on Thursday, was born in Lae in 1949, the scion of a family that first set foot in Papua in 1906 when his grandfather was sent to Port Moresby as Chief Collector of Customs. Kevin received his primary education on Manus and then, like many expatriate children, travelled to Brisbane and Nudgee College for secondary schooling.

I received the sad news of Kevin’s passing from his mate, Mark Mathews, who remarked that Kevin, former chief executive of the PNG Tourism Promotion Authority and Cairns mayor, was “a great leader with vision and drive; I was privileged to work with him.” As for me, I only met Kevin – a keen reader of ours - in emails and blog comments. He was a straight talker, a thinker and a bloke who would get things done.

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Recent Notes 26: On patrol in 1970s PNG

TAPINI PATROL No 9 1974-75

Village leaders line up to welcome a patrol. The headman salutes the kiap,
who is also a commissioned police officer


Robert Forster

On 4 December 1974 a routine administrative patrol left the Tapini Sub-District Office to update census records across the Pilitu area of Papua New Guinea’s mountainous Goilala region. Tapini Patrol No 9 1974-75 was to move through unusually difficult mountain country to contact 1,334 people who were extraordinarily isolated.

In pre-independence Papua New Guinea, bush patrols were fundamental to the Administration (colonial government). Thousands were conducted over the many decades before 1975 and many continued for several years after. Across PNG they were a constant expression of the presence of government.

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Psychopaths dooming us to catastrophe


TUMBY BAY - Many of the disasters that are currently pummelling the world with increasing intensity, from floods to heatwaves, are directly attributable to climate change.

Unexpected consequences from these events, like the deaths of thousands of emperor penguin chicks by drowning in Antarctica and starving polar bears in the Arctic Circle, are catching the world by surprise.

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I brave open sea to visit New Hanover

| Academia Nomad

KAVIENG - The first time I took a banana boat ride out to open sea - from Kavieng to New Hanover - was the scariest day of my life. There were six of us including the skipper with only one lifejacket on board.

The other passengers were from coastal provinces so naturally I assumed the lifejacket was intended for me as the only Highlander (and non-swimmer) on board.

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Who's really to blame for PNG mess

Academia Nomad

PORT MORESBY – In June, the Constitutional Law Reform Commission completed a nationwide consultation gauging views on whether the prime minister should be elected directly by the people as in a presidential system. The directive to do this came from the national government.

Why the need to change the current system? Because the government thinks that the unicameral parliamentary system is “not working”? The obvious question therefore: ‘Is the current parliamentary system not working for PNG because it’s a bad system, or because PNG is not using the parliamentary system as it is supposed to be used?’

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Recent Notes 25: Racism drives Oz referendum


There are some splendid essays and articles being generated in the debate on Australia’s impending referendum on providing our Indigenous population with the ability to make recommendations to parliament and government – a goal known as The Voice. But in all the fine words from senior politicians, business leaders, trade unionists and other members of the national elite, there’s a major omission.

These pillars of society are able to take a shot at propagandist-in-chief Peter Dutton and his ignorant supporters without much mentioning the underpinning cultural force which is going to smother even the Voice’s minimal contribution to the place of Indigenous people in Australian society.

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Recent Notes 24: NZ ready to turn right


The New Zealand Aotearoa national election will be held on 14 October and the Labour Party, minus its charismatic former leader Jacinda Ardern, is in big trouble. In recent polls it has fallen 10 points behind the conservative Nationals, 27%-37%.

With the Greens included, the progressive vote is only 39%. With two right wing parties added to the Nationals, the conservative vote is a daunting 53%. The Te Pāti Māori Party, with only 3% of the vote, is seen as a probable kingmaker. But with 56% of Aotearoans saying that New Zealand is “going in the wrong direction”, the future of Labour leader Chris Hipkins looks bleak.

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Recent Notes 23: Support for Oz aid falls


Every year the Development Policy Centre commissions a survey question asking a representative sample of Australians whether they think their government gives too much aid, too little, or about the right amount. Terence Wood analysed the 2023 results and found that, after several years of growing support for aid, in 2023 support for aid fell.

Yet, as Terence also notes, “it still doesn’t mean most Australians want aid cut. In 2023, a clear majority of Australians still think their government gives too little aid or about the right amount – only just over a third thinks it gives too much.” Still, as Terence concludes, it is worrying news for aid advocates.

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48 years on we need to do a lot better


It's the 48th  anniversary of Papua New Guinea’s independence on Saturday and Eddie’s Kikibakik, a folk tale in the Binandere language of Oro Province, discusses the problems besieging the nation and how they might be best addressed - KJ

PORT MORESBY - We sit down in the forever blacked-out Port Moresby night and hear our neighbours playing the famous Saugas song, Sindaun Bagarap, which echoes around on this windy night. And we hear the buai (betel nut) buyers complaining about hikes in prices. And we think about Papua New Guinea turning 48 in a few days’ time.

The question I ask my small brother, Braigi, is how have we progressed so far in the last 48 years as a nation?

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Cellphone, notebook & a bottle of facial

Dr Hazel Kutkue
Dr Hazel Kutkue

| Sipikriva Girl

LAE - What are three objects you couldn't live without? I’m a doctor, and a blogger. I've moved towns three times, looking for greener pastures in work.

And each time I move, I have to decide what to bring with me, as moving heavy stuff in Papua New Guinea is quite costly. Very costly.

I try to prioritise what I would bring along for my move, but it doesn't always fall into my categories of most useful or not.

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Good morning, I'm back in the driver's seat....

Keith Jackson - bemused, bewildered but never beaten


NOOSA - After a week when I seemed to be the only person in the world who could not access PNG Attitude, between Typepad (the US company that's supplies this platform) and I a solution has been found. Our hope now is that it sticks.

When I first informed Typepad of the problem last week, this is how the technical team described what had happened:

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Typepad snafu locks me out



NOOSA -The Typepad platform has carried the burden of PNG Attitude for over 17 years.

A day ago, apparently seeking to strengthen its security in this era of internet slur, scam and theft, Typepad managed to place a block on my access to the site.

This means I cannot compose or edit PNG Attitude. But somehow I somehow engineered a cumbersome workaround, enabling me to write this explanation.

Don’t ask me how I did it.

I hope to be back with more Recent Notes before too long.

Meanwhile, you can still make comments (but I can’t edit them, so keep ‘em clean) and rummage around the thousands of pieces of writing on the site.


Recent Notes 22: One of aviation's greatest


Notes   The extensive damage caused to the Airco DH.9 during a forced landing at Moulmein  Burma in April 1920  (Australian War Memorial  p00281-012
The undercarriage was ripped off Ray Parer's Airco DH9 during a forced landing at Moulmein,  Burma, in April 1920. The two pilots flew from England to Australia in this single-engine, open cockpit aircraft (Australian War Memorial,  p00281-012

Members of the iconic Parer family are seeking to induct the intrepid ‘Battling’ Ray Parer (1894-1967) and his flying partner John McIntosh (1892-1921) in the Australian Aviation Hall of Fame. When you read about their exploits in making the first England to Australia flight in a single-engined aircraft, you wonder why their names aren’t there already.

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Recent Notes 21: My new pacemaker friend

Keith with pacemaker
Shoulda been dead!  Keith and scar, behind which is the pacemaker device that allows two chambers of the heart to connect to each other electrically

A week ago I was pretty much packed and ready to go on a short holiday with Ingrid, who had been working too hard in her  voluntary positions as Vice-President and Secretary of the Tewantin-Noosa Country Women’s Association and in the demanding role of Secretary of the Noosa Chamber of Commerce. Ingrid had earned a break and naturally I always prefer to be with her wherever she may roam.

Last Wednesday morning, a week before flying to Barcelona, I awoke as stunned as a mullet after a final sleep segment of 4½ hours. This duration was so unusual I immediately reached for my blood pressure monitor which showed I was cruising along at 130/60 with a heart rate a comfortable 68 beats a minute. Nothing wrong there. That the ME/CFS was giving me a bit of stick was not unusual and my cognition was good. So, despite the underlying discomfort, I was feeling buoyant. Some mornings the ME leaves me literally bewildered and speechless.

However, as the day progressed, I did begin to feel quite ill. The ME was still a 3, which I designate as moderate but at a level where I need to scale back activity to avoid the dreaded ‘crash’.  In the early afternoon the sick feeling worsened. My heart was palpitating and I was rather dizzy. It was only mid-afternoon - when I began to puff hard walking up stairs that normally don’t test me - that I realised something was not just amiss but badly amiss.

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