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Prominent newsman’s candid remarks to PM

Waide (standing) Marape (right) - "
Scott Waide (standing) addresses James Marape (far right) - "Issues that we have raised and continue to raise. Blockages that need to be addressed"

| My Land, My Country

On Friday morning, prime minister James Marape called members of the media and public relations practitioners to a breakfast meeting in Port Moresby. It was the first time the media was able to interact with the prime minister directly outside usual operations

PORT MORESBY - Prime minister, thank you for this opportunity to talk to you directly.

I want to raise a few issues that we have raised and continue to raise. I want to also points out blockages that need to be addressed.

Continue reading "Prominent newsman’s candid remarks to PM" »

And a tribute to our web creators & publishers….

The long-running Ex Kiap website is published by Peter Salmon


TUMBY BAY - Many Australians who spent time in Papua New Guinea, and who want to keep in touch with others who were there too or simply want to find out what’s going on, follow three main websites.

These are the Ex-Kiap website, the Papua New Guinea Australia Association (PNGAA) website and, of course, Keith Jackson and Friends PNG Attitude.

Continue reading "And a tribute to our web creators & publishers…." »

Want to blow it all up & get out of here? Harry did


Haven: Harry Flynn's Final Odyssey by Philip Fitzpatrick. Independently published, 457 pages, paperback ISBN-13: 978-1693100352. Available here from Amazon, US$ $15.84

TUMBY BAY - For those poor souls who spend a significant amount of their lives working in one of the caring or service professions there often comes a point when they realise that no matter how noble their intentions what they are doing is ultimately futile in the face of the vested interests arranged against them.

When that moment arrives most people tend to ditch their ethical inclinations and carry on regardless, a wage is, after all, a wage and a prime necessity in modern life. Turning a blind eye becomes an economic imperative.

Continue reading "Want to blow it all up & get out of here? Harry did" »

PNG detective story offers great insights into Australia’s neighbour

Fitz - Metau coverPHIL FITZPATRICK

The Unusual and Unexpected Case of the Rise and Rise of Inspector Hari Metau as told by his good friend Sergeant Kasari Aru, by Philip Fitzpatrick. Independently published, September 2019, 338 pages. ISBN-10: 1690061901. Available from Amazon. Paperback US$12.27. Kindle US$1. Or, especially for PNG Attitude readers, a free download here [note: the first page is blank]

TUMBY BAY - In the ancient Hiri Motu trading language of the Papuan coast the word metau means ‘difficult’.

Inspector Hari Metau isn’t so much difficult as he is stubborn and tenacious.

He is also disconcertingly honest and ethical.

When those sorts of qualities are combined in a policeman who works in a supposedly corrupt Pacific nation is it any wonder that certain people would regard him as difficult?

If you have followed some of his more notable cases, you might also be wondering how he turned out that way.

Continue reading "PNG detective story offers great insights into Australia’s neighbour" »

How Inspector Hari Metau began climbing the career ladder

Inspector Hari Metau
Inspector Hari Metau later in his career


An extract from ‘The Unusual and Unexpected Case of the Rise and Rise of Inspector Hari Metau as told by his good friend Sergeant Kasari Aru’, a novel by Philip Fitzpatrick. Available from Amazon. Paperback US$12.27. Kindle US$1. Or, especially for PNG Attitude readers, a free download here

THE NEXT time I saw Hari was in Daru, the main town and administrative centre of the Western District.

Daru had a police station with a European in charge but it was a hot place on a wet, flat and muddy island not far from the wide mouth of the Fly River and was not a posting many expatriates cherished.

As a consequence the people posted there tended not to be, shall we say, at the top of their game.

This didn’t seem to bother Hari. He was in view of his beloved sea, albeit a dirty brown one, and could indulge one of his passions, that of fishing.

I’d been there a few times before and never stopped wondering how the narrow river on which I had been born had become an island studded monster nearly 100 kilometres wide where it spilled into the Gulf of Papua.

Continue reading "How Inspector Hari Metau began climbing the career ladder" »

Indonesian journalists are 'bought, broken & soul searching'

Andreas Harsono
Andreas Harsono - Many journalists work for military or intelligence agencies and write to a specific agenda

MICHAEL ANDREW | Asia Pacific Report/Pacific Media Watch

AUCKLAND - The Indonesian media is contributing to resentment and racism toward Papuans, according to a human rights researcher and former journalist.

Andreas Harsono of Human Rights Watch Jakarta told Pacific Media Watch many Indonesian journalists either view Papuans as enemy "separatists" or deviants and their reporting tends to convey these stereotypes.

Papuan anger has erupted in widespread riots and rallies across Indonesia over the last week, after a militia attacked West Papuan students in Surabaya, pelting them with stones and calling them “monkeys”.

Harsono, who is in New Zealand promoting his latest book ‘Race, Islam and Power’, says the manner in which the media reported the attacks has created further anti-Papuan resentment which in turn sparked a backlash from the West Papuans themselves.

“The attack was reported by the media, videoed by the media, but it raised anger back home, now almost 30 cities are having rallies protesting against the use of the word ‘monkey’ for this Papuan people."

Continue reading "Indonesian journalists are 'bought, broken & soul searching'" »

Journalists unite against ‘unacceptable’ EMTV sacking

Neville Choi
Neville Choi - regarded as a good leader and a down-to-earth journalist who does his job and has been very loyal to his employers at EMTV

MICHAEL ANDREW | Asia Pacific Report/Pacific Media Watch

AUCKLAND - Journalists across Papua New Guinea have spoken out in support of EMTV news director Neville Choi after his “unacceptable” termination from a role he had held for six years.

Choi was reinstated by EMTV on Wednesday in the wake of the protests.

A public statement released on Monday had listed the reasons for his termination, one of which was his refusal to ‘bury’ a February 2019 story about the PNG Defence Force pay strike outside the prime minister’s office.

However, EMTV deputy head of news, Scott Waide, told Pacific Media Watch the news was broadcast because it was balanced and the fallout had already been resolved internally.

“Neville did his job as head of news and a journalist. He took both sides of the story and we ran it on EMTV news,” said Waide.

Continue reading "Journalists unite against ‘unacceptable’ EMTV sacking" »

A policeman’s story: tackling symptoms but not causes in PNG


Man bilong polis: life and times with the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary 1982 to 1991 by Douglas Ranmuthugala, unpublished manuscript, 2013. 288 pages, ISBN 9780992389000

TUMBY BAY - Douglas Ranmuthugala came from Sri Lanka, where he had been a senior policeman, to work in Papua New Guinea.

When he left Papua New Guinea he joined the Australian Federal Police and worked there for 15 or more years, primarily as an intelligence analyst, before retiring.

He wrote this book for his family with no intention of publishing it:

“This volume was not written for publication. It is merely for my grandchildren to understand what their grandparents lived through.

“As someone said, the past is another country. It is however, worth the occasional visit. My wife and I hope that this volume will give the next generation a peek at what it was to live in the time before.”

Continue reading "A policeman’s story: tackling symptoms but not causes in PNG" »

A dismal account of life in a remote PNG village

A death in the rain forest coverPHIL FITZPATRICK

A death in the rainforest: how a language and a way of life came to an end in Papua New Guinea by Don Kulick, Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, 2019, ISBN: 9781616209049, hardcover, 275pp, AU$30.03 from Amazon Australia.

TUMBY BAY - What happens when the equally strange worlds of a remote Papua New Guinea village and an anthropological academic are brought together?

The anthropologist is ostensibly recording the reasons for the demise of the isolated language that the villagers once spoke.

Languages, like many things that no longer have a useful purpose, have been disappearing ever since humans occupied the planet. They are matters of regret but hardly earth-shattering. So why is the anthropologist interested?

The usual suspicion that the anthropologist’s motive is to write a book and make a lot of money is not really relevant in this case because the conventional concepts surrounding books, money and profit are not something with which these villagers are overly familiar.

Continue reading "A dismal account of life in a remote PNG village" »

'Don't politicise' planned visit of foreign journalists to W Papua

ROY RATUMAKIN | Tabloid Jubi/Pacific Media Watch | Extract

JAYAPURA - The Indonesian government plans to bring foreign journalists to Papua for 2020 National Press Day, but an independent journalists group has warned against "politicising" the visit.

Lucky Ireeuw, chair of the Jayapura City branch of the Independent Journalist Alliance (AJI), said his group strongly supported the move of the Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs, Wiranto, to bring the foreign journalists to Papua.

"This is what AJI has been fighting for. We have urged the central government to open as much access as possible to foreign journalists to come and cover Papua without any pressure from various parties.

"However, the arrival of foreign journalists should not be politicised," he told Tabloid Jubi this week.

Continue reading "'Don't politicise' planned visit of foreign journalists to W Papua" »

Colonial wars much bloodier in Australia than Papua

Black Huntress CoverPHIL FITZPATRICK

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

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

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

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

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

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

The escapees from drudgery who helped build PNG

Plantation Papua CoverPHIL FITZPATRICK

Plantation Papua: A true tale of trials and tribulations in Papua between 1962 and 1982 by Denis Longhurst, Vivid Publishing, 2017, paperback 329 pages, ISBN: 978-1-925590-17-3. Cost from the author is $28.95,

TUMBY BAY - It never fails to amuse me how many Australians who went to work in Papua New Guinea prior to independence were escapees from excruciatingly boring bank jobs.

I was one and so was Len Aisbett, who interviewed me when I applied to become a kiap.

Denis Longhurst was another. He did four years in a bank before breaking free and running away.

While I became a kiap, he became a plantation manager.

Like many of us he developed a fondness for Papua and the people who lived there.

Continue reading "The escapees from drudgery who helped build PNG" »

An extraordinary book that goes beyond the headlines

MWTE coverSUSAN FRANCIS | Good Reads

My Walk to Equality: Essays, Stories and Poetry by Papua New Guinean Women, edited by Rashmii Amoah Bell, Pukpuk Publications 2017, paperback, 278 pages. ISBN-10: 1542429242. Available from Amazon, paper US$10.53, Kindle US$0.93

MAYFIELD, NSW - First let me say this is an extraordinary book. I learnt so much.

Sometimes I was confronted, most dreadfully, by choices demanded of the individuals depicted, and at other times my heart swelled with hope.

In a collection of short stories, poetry and essays edited by Rashmii Amoah Bell, women describe and discuss their relationships, complicated gender issues and the idea of legacy in contemporary Papua New Guinea.

Reading the texts, I was profoundly moved by the significance education holds for the individual writers and the importance attached to a sense of place, faith and family.

Continue reading "An extraordinary book that goes beyond the headlines" »

A writer's journey: From secret jottings to first published book

Iso Yawi and books
Iso Yawi


God, My Country and Me by Iso Yawi, paperback, JDT Publications, May 2019. ISBN-10: 1071009486. Amazon Books, US$6.50 plus postage

LAE - I started penning short stories in small notebooks with no audience at all. It was my secret.

I was too shy to put my writing on platforms to be viewed by people, even fellow students and friends. My grammar was too bad.

My English language and literature exercise book was filled with red marks correcting my grammatical errors.

Yes, grammar was too complex for me to understand back in those high school days. However those red marks of correction motivated me.

I would say to myself, “I will write a book one day and turn things the other way around!”

After leaving school, I still wrote and also developed a reading habit. I realised that, to overcome my problem with grammar, I had to read a lot of books.

Continue reading "A writer's journey: From secret jottings to first published book" »

Caroline Evari tells: ‘Nanu Sina’ came from deepest emotions

Nanu SinaLEIAO GEREGA | PNG Post-Courier

PORT MORESBY - Imagine reading through a collection of poems only find out that they were written throughout a decade by a young woman struggling through life.

The 85-page book of poems mostly came as an extraction from a young writer’s Grades 11 and 12 school journal and is titled ‘Nanu Sina’ (‘My Words’).

Looking back on her journey, Caroline Evari of Popondetta, who penned her poems as a way to express her emotions while a student in Port Moresby, does not feel that her journey was unique from any other young Papua New Guineans navigating through life.

Her book captures a decade journey and discusses the four main themes based on conflict, relationships, hope and family and raises questions on fear doubt, love, regret, persistence, motherhood and children.

“I wrote in the evenings during study times, early in the mornings and during quiet times,” says Caroline reflecting on the time it took to write her poems.

Continue reading "Caroline Evari tells: ‘Nanu Sina’ came from deepest emotions" »

‘Up your game’, journalism winner Ben Bohane tells Oz media

Australian photojournalist Ben Bohane  currently based in Port Vila  Vanuatu
Australian photojournalist Ben Bohane currently based in Port Vila,  Vanuatu (Johnny Blades)

NEWS DESK | Pacific Mornings | Radio Australia

Link here to listen here to Ben Bohane speaking with Tahlea Aualiitia on Pacific Mornings

MELBOURNE - Ben Bohane has been announced as the winner of the Sean Dorney Grant for Pacific Journalism.

The $10,000 grant was available to an Australian journalist wanting to do a project on a story that was under-reported in the Pacific.

Mr Bohane is an Australian photojournalist, author and TV producer who has been covering the Pacific for decades.

When accepting the grant Mr Bohane said that under-reporting in the Pacific with Australian media is a real issue.

"Honestly, our news editors are failing the Australian people by not prioritising more reporting from the Pacific," Mr Bohane said.

Continue reading "‘Up your game’, journalism winner Ben Bohane tells Oz media" »

New book guides journalists through climate change jungle

Climate-Change-book-coverDAVID ROBIE | Pacific Media Centre/Pacific Media Watch

Science Writing and Climate Change, Edited by Crispin C Maslog, David Robie and Joel Adriano, Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication, June 2019, ISBN 978-1-927184-57-8. Paperback, 130pp, NZ$20.00. Purchase online here from Auckland University of Technology Bookshop

BANGKOK - A new handbook for the existential problem of our time – climate change – has been published as a boost for journalists working in the Asia-Pacific region.

Launched at the 27th Asian Media Information and Communication (AMIC) conference at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand, this week, ‘Science Writing and Climate Change’ is a “book for our times”, says lead author Professor Crispin Maslog.

Dr Maslog, chair of the Manila-based AMIC, said at the launch that a book of this kind had been needed by journalists for a few years.

“Climate change is upon us and we need to educate people about this urgent problem now,” he said.

“What former US Vice-President Al Gore described as an ‘inconvenient truth’ years ago is now an ‘incontrovertible fact’.”

Continue reading "New book guides journalists through climate change jungle" »

More than bad manners: the problem with ignoring the PNG media

Scott Waide
Distinguished PNG journalist Scott Waide. Newton Cain asks if Australia is signalling to the PNG leadership that answering questions from the media is something you only do when it suits you

TESS NEWTON CAIN | Twitter | Edited

“Senator Marise Payne, Australia's foreign affairs minister, made a brief visit to Papua New Guinea and Bougainville late this week….

"The Australian High Commission in Port Moresby had told local journalists in no uncertain terms that there would be no opportunity to ask Payne questions about her visit.

"This was not the first time the High Commission has shown such gross discourtesy to the PNG media, who have previously been excluded from interviews, official lunches and even media conferences.”

– Keith Jackson in PNG Attitude yesterday

BRISBANE - As I’ve discussed before [see for example, here and here] this type of behaviour on the part of Australian ministers when visiting PNG and other Pacific countries is more than bad manners.

It is a worrying sign that the Australian High Commission in Port Moresby assumes it is entitled to dictate access to a sovereign nation’s media.

Continue reading "More than bad manners: the problem with ignoring the PNG media" »

Foreign minister Payne's PNG relationship - but no media please

Marise Payne - igat poret long toktok wantaim ol nius raita


NOOSA - Senator Marise Payne, Australia's foreign affairs minister, made a brief visit to Papua New Guinea and Bougainville late this week.

In Port Moresby she met with prime minister James Marape, deputy prime minister Davis Steven and a number of other ministers.

After the lightning trip, Payne issued a media release saying her visit "was an opportunity to further strengthen Australia’s relationship with our close friend and neighbour".

Of course, every time PNG is mentioned by an Australian official, there is a brag about the "relationship".

So how then does this work out in practice?

NBC radio station Tribe FM was able to tell us, reporting that the Australian High Commission in Port Moresby had told local journalists in no uncertain terms  that there would be no opportunity to ask Payne questions about her visit.

Continue reading "Foreign minister Payne's PNG relationship - but no media please" »

Getting PNG literature recognised as a nation building tool

Kumbon - James Marape  Dr Lino Tom  Peter Mision Yaki
James Marape with Dr Lino Jeremiah Tom and Peter Mision Yaki and two of my books. Photo taken at Laguna Camp just a few days before Marape was elected prime minister by an overwhelming majority


WABAG - I was privileged to present two copies of my books to James Marape a few days before he was elected the eighth prime minister of Papua New Guinea.

Enga governor Sir Peter Ipatas, Wabag MP Dr Lino Tom, education secretary Dr Ulke Kombra, two national court judges, school principals, bookshop managers and other prominent people have also received copies of the four books I have published so far.

I belong to a group of emerging PNG authors, essayists, poets and social commentators who have steadily published books in the last few years due mainly to the Crocodile Prize annual literary competition.

But not many people including students ever get to read any of these published works.

The education department has made no effort to ensure schools in our country have PNG authored book are on the shelves of their libraries, which would ensure suitable titles for students to read.

In this way students will comprehend and relate more to PNG authored books than foreign books with unfamiliar cultures, ways of life and scenes.

After I presented my books to James Marape and the other leaders, I am optimistic the new government will at least see the significance of literature and the role it plays in nation building.

Continue reading "Getting PNG literature recognised as a nation building tool" »

Making donations of books to empower our children

Donating books
Jordan Dean with some of the children to whom he has donated his own and other books


PORT MORESBY - Education is the only way to save the world.

If you want to combat incurable diseases, get a medical degree. If you want to defend people’s rights, go to law school.

If you want to discover new drugs, get a PhD in pharmacology. If you want organisations to work better, get an MBA.

A good quality education helps children reach their full potential; however for thousands of children in Papua New Guinea, access to educational books is a myth.

So meet three amazing ladies who initiated book donation drives to help educate underprivileged children.

Mary Fairio is a researcher with a passion for kids and a desire to make a difference in her West Papuan community living at the Rainbow refugee camp.

Continue reading "Making donations of books to empower our children" »

On campaigning, strategy & social media in PNG politics


PORT MORESBY – During the recent Australian election campaign, the Labor Party twirled haplessly around the issue of north Queensland coal mining, convincing nobody about where it actually stood on the issue.

And it went on to lose an election it was meant to win, a win which the tropical constituency might have provided had only Labor adopted a more strategic and coherent position.

It might have had a winning election strategy if it had understood the precept that, if you take something away from people without giving them something back, you’re going to end up in deep doo-doo. As Labor did.

In Australia’s deep north, in people’s minds what being taken away was jobs and the strategic reciprocal really should have been a big, job-creating renewables project. But, like Labor, this ended up nowhere to be seen.

Continue reading "On campaigning, strategy & social media in PNG politics" »

How a language & a way of life came to an end in PNG

A Death in the RainforestKIRKUS

A Death in the Rainforest by Don Kulick, Algonquin, 2019, 288 pages. ISBN 978-1-61620-904-9. Available from Amazon, hard copy $US17.67, kindle $US9.99

REVIEW - As a young anthropologist, Don Kulick went to the tiny village of Gapun in New Guinea to document the death of the native language, Tayap.

He arrived knowing that you can’t study a language without understanding the daily lives of the people who speak it: how they talk to their children, how they argue, how they gossip, how they joke.

Over the course of 30 years, he returned again and again to document Tayap before it disappeared entirely, and he found himself inexorably drawn into their world, and implicated in their destiny.

Kulick wears his scholar’s hat casually in this deeply personal, engaging inquiry into a “tiny windless slit in the rainforest [of Papua New Guinea]…surrounded on all sides by massive trees rooted in a vast, seemingly boundless swamp.”

Continue reading "How a language & a way of life came to an end in PNG" »

A book about things after 70: Thinking about what life has meant.


Hare’s Fur by Trevor Shearston, Scribe Publications, 2019, 240 pages, ISBN 9781925713473, $A27.99 from most bookstores or as an ebook for $A13.29

TUMBY BAY - Most people with an interest in Papua New Guinea will remember Trevor Shearston from his first book, a collection of short stories called Something in the Blood.

He then wrote a string of PNG-based titles, including Sticks That Kill, White Lies, Concertinas, A Straight Young Back and Dead Birds.

The readers and writers who follow PNG Attitude might also remember Trevor from when he attended the 2014 Crocodile Prize writer’s workshop at the National Library as guest speaker.

During that event I recall someone asking him whether he was going to write any more books based in Papua New Guinea. I think the question came from Francis Nii.

Continue reading "A book about things after 70: Thinking about what life has meant." »

My words on a poetic tour de force from Caroline Evari

Caroline Evari
Caroline Evari poses with her new collection of poetry, Nanu Sina


BRISBANE - I had the good fortune to mentor Papua New Guinean writer Caroline Evari who has just published a new collection of poetry, ‘Nanu Sina: My Words’.

It is an exciting time as Caroline celebrates this success, and in the interview with Betty Wakia that follows, she reflects on how she maximised the sparse moments between the manic juggling of career, life demands and motherhood.

In these moments, Caroline created, drafted redrafted and refined her manuscript before submitting it to Port Moresby-based publisher, JDT Publications, run by Jordan Dean.

It is also a joyous time as family, friends, colleagues and fellow writers have been forthcoming in praising and admiring the book’s publication.

Amongst all this, Caroline continues to diligently attend to the significant task required of published authors - promoting and marketing her work to engage with a wide audience and, of course, sell books.

Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are accessible, low-cost and wide-reaching social-media platforms available for effective online marketing. And PNG Attitude was quick off the mark with a first review of the book which Keith Jackson described as “a collection of sublime Melanesian verse from a poet of perception.”

Continue reading "My words on a poetic tour de force from Caroline Evari" »

A collection of sublime Melanesian verse from a poet of perception

Evari - Nanu SinaKEITH JACKSON

Nanu Sina: My Words, A Collection of Poems by Caroline Evari, paperback, 84 pages. JDT Publications, 2019, $3.75. ISBN-10: 1096713942. Available from Amazon here

NOOSA – Most of the poetry in this collection by Caroline Evari is pocket-sized, most of it has a big impact and all of it continues the wonderful tradition of demonstrating that much of the best writing from Papua New Guinea comes from its poets.

Phil Fitzpatrick and I have often remarked about the music that seems to occupy the soul of Melanesian writers and the openness of character that enables emotions to be on display rather than suppressed.

Both attributes lead to fine writing and are seen in ‘Nanu Sina’ ( ‘My Words’ in the Oro language) and they resonate through the poems in this overdue collection of the author’s thoughts, opinions, reactions and observations towards life, love, relationships, family, nature and events.

Caroline Evari, 30, was born in Vanimo but is of Musa (Oro) and Waema (Milne Bay) extraction. She is married with two children and studied computer science and mathematics at the University of Papua New Guinea.

Continue reading "A collection of sublime Melanesian verse from a poet of perception" »

Banning Facebook for 12 months, or any ban at all, is a bad move

Ban fbSCOTT WAIDE | My Land, My Country

LAE - The reason why politicians are afraid of Facebook is because it has done more in the last 10 years to hold them to account than mainstream media outlets.

Facebook has become the most important tool that provides the verification for so called infrastructure projects that MPs claim have been completed but have not.

Facebook has been used to hold the former Health Minister Puka Temu to account for the medicine shortages in the country.

Continue reading "Banning Facebook for 12 months, or any ban at all, is a bad move" »

O'Neill renews threat that he’ll crack down on social media

Peter O'Neill
Peter O'Neill - “There is a lot of fake news destroying our people, destroying our society"

GORETHY KENNETH | PNG Post-Courier/Asia Pacific Report/Pacific Media Watch

PORT MORESBY - Prime minister Peter O’Neill has aid Cabinet will review social media platforms in Papua New Guinea when it convenes today.

Speaking at government house after announcing four new ministers and a mini reshuffle, O’Neill said the government would crack down on ‘fake news’ that was being spread on social media.

He was adamant that the government would review social media platforms and this would be the first task of the new communications and information technology minister Koni Iguan.

He said there was too much fake news that was sending bad signals and destroying the nation and its people and this must stop.

Continue reading "O'Neill renews threat that he’ll crack down on social media" »

Kiap Days: Astonishing yarns from a remarkable time

A Kiap's StoryKEITH JACKSON | Weekend Australian Review

A Kiap’s Story by Graham Taylor, Pukpuk Publications, 2014, ISBN 1502703459, 404 pages. Amazon Digital Services, hard copy $US14.19, Kindle version $US3.79. Link here to purchase

NOOSA - In late January 1985 no sooner had I rested my feet under my faux oak desk in my faux oak panelled office as the ABC’s controller of corporate relations than managing director Geoffrey Whitehead instructed me to take a plane to Canberra to meet deputy chairman, Dick Boyer who, I was told, was hell bent on writing a ‘philosophy’ for the national broadcaster.

I quickly learned to dread this enforced collaboration with the loquacious and pedantic Boyer and began to search for a willing substitute.

Graham Taylor, the ABC’s boss in South Australia, came highly recommended. “He can get on with anyone,” I was told.

The avuncular Taylor proved true to this appraisal and willingly took on the project. After much iteration the ‘philosophy’ eventually surfaced as a slender document entitled ‘The Role of a National Broadcaster in Contemporary Australia’ which immediately sank without an oil slick.

Continue reading "Kiap Days: Astonishing yarns from a remarkable time" »

Rheeney blasts Post-Courier over ‘trash’ coverage on PNG crisis

Alex Rheeney's tweet
Alex Rheeney's Facebook post. Rheeney is "renowned for his ethical and independent brand of journalism"

NEWSDESK | Pacific Media Watch

AUCKLAND - A former editor of the PNG Post-Courier has condemned his old newspaper for a front page article “insulting the intelligence” of Papua New Guineans as tension builds over the looming vote of no confidence in the government.

Parliament resumes today and prime minister Peter O’Neill faces the biggest challenge to his leadership since 2011.

Writing on social media, Alexander Rheeney distributed yesterday’s Post-Courier front page lead story favouring O’Neill drawn from a government press release and said today the country deserved “independent” coverage.

“Woke up to more trash published by Papua New Guinea’s oldest daily newspaper and my former employer,” said Rheeney, who is also a former chair of the PNG Media Council and currently an editor of the Samoa Observer.

“This is not a story — it quoted a PNG government press release verbatim — without incorporating critical background on Peter O’Neill’s role in 2011 in usurping the [Sir Michael] Somare government from office, an action which the PNG supreme court later declared to be illegal and ordered the Somare government’s reinstatement.

Continue reading "Rheeney blasts Post-Courier over ‘trash’ coverage on PNG crisis" »

Archival film from the early 1960s: Images of Kavieng & Rabaul


NEWCASTLE – This short video is derived from a great deal of film I shot in Papua New Guinea in the 1960s and which has now been digitised by the Australian Archives and I have edited into segments of five minutes or so.

In 1963, I took a 50 minute flight from Rabaul to spend a weekend at Kavieng which is the capital and largest town of the Papua New Guinean province of New Ireland.

It is a beautiful, peaceful and picturesque island surrounded by clear tropical waters.

There are many coconut plantations on the island and while there I visited a huge plantation and was given a dance demonstration by students of Kavieng Secondary School.

It was an unusual dance which clearly derived many of its movements from military drills, possible a remnant of the German colonisation of this part of the world until 1914.

The video ends with images of Rabaul Harbour and its volcanoes.

Events marked World Press Freedom Day in Asia-Pacific region

Professor David Robie
Professor David Robie

NEWS DESK | Asia Pacific Report/Pacific Media Watch

AUCKLAND - The head of an Auckland-based Pacific media watchdog says New Zealand “takes media freedom for granted” and could learn a lot from its Pacific neighbours.

“For the last few years we have been sitting fairly pretty in the world press freedom index where we are seventh at the moment – we have gone up one place from last year and we just take it for granted,” said Pacific Media Centre director Professor David Robie.

“Everything’s fine. Hunky-dory here.

“But around most of the world, particularly in the Pacific, World Press Freedom Day is a really important thing because there is a constant struggle going on.”

Continue reading "Events marked World Press Freedom Day in Asia-Pacific region" »

Pacific scores well in media freedom index, but reality far worse

Press freedomDAVID ROBIE | The Conversation

You can link here to a longer article by Dr Robie on press freedom

MELBOURNE - When Pacific countries reflect on the state of their media today, marking World Press Freedom Day, they know the reality is much worse than the ticks they got from a global media freedom watchdog last month.

Five of the seven Oceania nations scoped in the Asia-Pacific region scored with apparently significant improvements in the 2019 Reporters Without Borders (RSF) World Press Freedom index. Papua New Guinea rose by 15 points to 38th in the global table of 180 countries.

But media freedom advocates know the rankings can be deceptive.

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In her destiny to achieve: The long journey of Alphonse Huvi

Alphonse Huvi (r) donates her anthology to the Unity Library in Buka
Alphonse Huvi (right) donates her precious Devare High School Anthology to a staff member of the Unity Library in Buka


BRISBANE & PORT MORESBY - A recent collaborative article by Keith Jackson and  Rashmii Bell celebrated a number of Papua New Guinean women considered influential in terms of the theme of 2019 International Women’s Day, ‘Think smart, build smart, innovate for change’.

The eleven women profiled impressed an audience of more than 4,000 people and generated wide interest and hopefully admiration for the efforts of these women.

Shortly after the article appeared, I received an email from a Lae-based women’s collective enquiring about the process of compiling and publishing an anthology.

I referred the budding authors to PNG Attitude, my own extensively documented experience with ‘My Walk to Equality’ and Francis Nii’s discussion about publishing as a Papua New Guinean author.

I also encouraged them to engage with the newly-launched Crocodile Prize 2019.

After further thought, I also saw this as an opportunity to learn more about a project undertaken by one of the eleven women profiled, Alphonse Huvi, who had my genuine admiration as a literary innovator. Alphonse had just successfully published the Devare Adventist High School Anthology.

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From the archives: A weekend in Tubuseriea in the early 1960s


NEWCASTLE - On one occasion in the early 1960s, when visiting Port Moresby with student teachers from the Australian School of Pacific Administration, we heard of a feast and celebration taking place in the coastal village of Tubusereia.

The village is about 20 km by road south-east of Moresby and, on this particular weekend, my lecturer colleague Richard Pearse, some students and I we piled into a LandRover to pay a visit.

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Radio Morobe kaput: Deplorable neglect of ‘voice of the nation’

Radio Morobe (Post-Courier)
Radio Morobe - since this building was condemned and funding dried up, the station in PNG's 'industrial heartland' has not broadcast for three months (Post-Courier)

SYLVESTER GAWI | Pacific Media Watch

LAE - I grew up in the 1990s listening to NBC Radio – Radio Kundu – which was informative and always reaching out to the population of Papua New Guinea who could afford a transmitter radio.

From entertaining string band tunes, toksave segments and nationwide news coverage to the popular school broadcasts in classrooms, the National Broadcasting Corporation was the real voice of Papua New Guinea.

It contributed immensely to the nation’s independence, growth and development and stood steadfastly to promote good governance and transparency in development issues the country faces.

For more than 40 years it has been the most effective communication medium for most ordinary citizens who benefited from its nationwide coverage.

I was a young kid back then and grew up inspired to take up a job in radio broadcasting, particularly with the NBC.

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‘We’ll deal to you’ - Namah threatens PNG daily newspapers

Belden Namah told PNG's two daily newspapers, "we will regulate to ensure that you do the right thing for the people of this country"

NEWS DESK | Pacific Media Watch

AUCKLAND - An opposition party leader who believes there will soon be a change in government in Papua New Guinea has warned the country’s two foreign-owned daily newspapers that the new regime will “deal” to them.

Vanimo-Green MP Belden Namah, leader of the PNG Party, one of the two major parties in the opposition, has put the Australian-owned Post-Courier and Malaysian-owned The National newspapers on notice.

Angered by the two dailies for not running his news conference stories, he threatened to regulate the print media when a new government is installed in a likely vote of no-confidence, reports the Post-Courier.

“One thing I also want to say, especially to the print media, the Post-Courier and The National you have to report what’s coming out from the opposition as it is healthy for the country,” he said.

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Black ANZAC: decolonising war history through street art

Hego's mural of World War I Indigenous soldier Alfred Cameron Jnr on a wall in the Sydney suburb of Redfern


SYDNEY - In 2014, large-scale poster artist Hego assembled a 6.5m x 3.5m mural of Aboriginal World War I soldier, Alfred Cameron Jnr, on a wall at ‘The Block’ in Sydney’s Redfern.

Growing up, Hego hadn’t heard of the black ANZACs; Indigenous soldiers who fought abroad in the historic world wars.

Like most Australians, he never learned about these servicemen — those who fought on behalf of a country which, at the time, didn't even fully recognise them as citizens — in school, or elsewhere.

It wasn’t until he came across Cecil Fisher’s 1933 poem titled ‘Black ANZAC’, which describes the lack of recognition for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander servicemen that Hego was struck by how little Australia’s First Nation ANZACs been acknowledged in war history. From Fisher's words, Hego found inspiration for his mural.

Hego saw promise in documenting his art and its message and pitched the idea to filmmaker Tim Anastasi who was working with him on a separate street art project. This eventuated into a feature-length documentary that shines a light on the undertold story of Indigenous ANZACs.

Anastasi told NITV he didn’t foresee the success of Black ANZAC originally: “I was just documenting the process, not knowing that it would be such an amazing project at the time,” he says.

Being an independent film, funding was a challenging part of the journey. Both, Anastasi and Hego tirelessly and successfully crowdfunded $10,000, rewarding each supporter with social media shout-outs to private film screenings.

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The how & why of the Dorney grant for Pacific journalism

Tess Newton Cain (2)
Tess Newton Cain - "Now, more than for some time, the attention of the Australian media and policy community is focused on what is happening in the Pacific islands"


BRISBANE - Last year, when I interviewed Sean Dorney for the Pacific Conversations series, I asked him what the elements were that contributed to whether or not Pacific issues got adequate coverage in the Australian mainstream media.

He told me that there were two deciding factors: the journalists and editors had to care, and there has to be some money. Covering the Pacific is expensive and budgets are tight.

I’ve been working for a long time on getting the Australian media to care about the Pacific, and I think that will be a work in progress for some time to come.

There have been some small wins and some notable losses on that front. But I hadn’t really thought about the money side of things.

At least not until late last year when I managed to pin Sean down and suggest that I should speak to the Walkley Foundation about setting up something that would promote the value of Pacific journalism by the Australian media and that it should be established in his name.

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My new book asks if PNG’s founders screwed up its future

Inspector Hari Metau 2
Inspector Hari Metau - Phil Fitzpatrick's splendid creation triggers a reflection on whether PNG's founders could have done more to protect the new nation from its present excesses


TUMBY BAY - What if Papua New Guinea’s forefathers had seen what was coming; could they have avoided what has happened to their nation?

I’m currently working on two novels. One is about a massacre of Aboriginal people in Australia in the 1860s; the other a kind of prequel to the Inspector Metau trilogy.

I’m using Inspector Hari Metau’s good mate and mentor, Sergeant Kasari, as the narrator of the prequel. In the book, he describes the story of how he became a policeman and met up with Hari.

The prequel begins in the mid-1960s and moves through to the present. It is addressed to a couple of young journalists who have come to Sergeant Kasari’s house in Kwikila to interview him for a newspaper article.

I’m having a lot of fun writing the novel and creating a whole new history for a bunch of characters who never actually existed; although to me they are just as real as anyone else.

The other interesting aspect of my writing is being able to reflect on those earlier times in Papua New Guinea when everyone was full of optimism for the future.

The experience of optimism is something the politicians and elites of Papua New Guinea have stolen from their fellow citizens. In its place they have created foreboding and a pervasive mood of depression.

I’m trying to maintain the humour of my earlier Metau novels but now and again I get serious because I think the material deserves it.

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Australian media (but not NZ) is missing in action on Bougainville

Momis O'Neill
As John Momis and Peter O'Neill unsetadily edge Bougainville towards its referendum on independence, the ABC goes missing - but not Radio New Zealand

ANNMAREE O’KEEFFE | The Interpreter | Lowy Institute

SYDNEY – Bougainville, the autonomous region of Papua New Guinea which suffered a brutal 10-year civil conflict in the 1990s, was due to have a referendum in June to decide if it would separate from PNG.

But because funding and arrangements for the plebiscite were well behind schedule, the voting date has now been postponed to October.

Does this matter beyond PNG? One would think so.

This referendum is a celebrated element of the 2001 peace agreement that finally brought the bloodshed to a close and could result in Bougainville becoming another independent but under-developed, economically struggling small island state in the Pacific, with a population of 350,000 people.

If it achieves independence, this small archipelago just over 1,000 kilometres from Cairns will have as its legacy a still festering internal debate about the future of its fabulous mining wealth that was at the heart of the conflict that claimed around 20,000 lives.

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Don’t be fooled by PM’s apology – Fiji media freedom is dire

Dr Gavin Ellis
Dr Gavin Ellis is former editor-in-chief of the New Zealand Herald. His career in journalism has spanned than 40 years

STAFF REPORTER | RNZ/Asia Pacific Report/Pacific Media Watch

AUCKLAND - Media commentator Gavin Ellis, former editor of the New Zealand Herald, has condemned the state of media freedom in Fiji in the wake of the arrests and detention of three journalists from New Zealand.

He talked to Kathryn Ryan in his weekly RNZ media commentary about the apology of Fiji Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama over the police wrongfully detaining the journalists this week, claiming it rang hollow when it came from the man responsible for the dire state of media freedom in Fiji.

Ellis said New Zealand should take a “jaundiced view” of media freedom in that country and cited many instances of abuses of a free press since Bainimarama came to power in a military coup in 2006.

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Sean Dorney lends his name to Pacific journalism award

Sean Dorney (Vanessa Gordon)
Sean Dorney (Vanessa Gordon)

SYDNEY - Veteran reporter Sean Dorney has given his name to a $10,000 journalism grant, to be awarded annually by Australia’s Walkley Foundation starting this year.

The Sean Dorney Grant for Pacific Journalism will support a major work of Australian journalism about an underreported issue or development in the region.

Walkley Foundation chief executive Louisa Graham announced the grant on Friday in the presence of Sean Dorney.

“Having recognised Sean’s outstanding contribution to journalism, we were very aware of his decades of inimitable work in the Pacific,” Ms Graham said.

“We’re delighted to be collaborating with Sean on this grant. It’s a practical and powerful way to empower a journalist and a media outlet to report on the Pacific, and to continue Sean’s impact and legacy in the industry he loves.”

Sean Dorney has had a 40-year career as an ABC journalist in Papua New Guinea and throughout the Pacific islands.

He retired from the ABC four years ago and is facing the challenge of living with motor neurone disease.

“It is essential that Australians know what is going on to our immediate north and east,” Mr Dorney said.

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From back then: Historic PNG film footage uncovered


NEWCASTLE - I have had all my old New Guinea films, shot in the early 1960s, expertly digitised by the Australian Film and Sound archives.

I am now editing them, adding captions and putting them, about five or six minutes at a time, on my Facebook page.

Here are two shorter clips of several films taken in Papua New Guinea from 1961 to 1963. Part of my job at the Australian School of Pacific Administration in Sydney was to take students to PNG for practice teaching experience.

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Want to publish? You can but here’s the truth behind the scenes

Francis Nii
Francis Nii - talented writer, wise publisher and a patriot strongly committed to Papua New Guinea and its literature


KUNDIAWA – I feel that it is important for me to share my experience of book publishing with authors and would-be authors to give them insights into book publication so they can make informed decisions to find the best and cheapest online or other publisher of their choice.

My first publication was my maiden novel ‘Paradise in Peril’ in 2005 with CBS Publishers and Distributors of New Delhi, the same publisher that produced books by Sir Paulias Matane and other Papua New Guinean writers.

I wrote the story on scrap paper and later Lutheran Pastor Daryl Boyd assisted me type it on a rugged old typewriter. When I felt the story was complete, I sent a hard copy by airmail to Governor General Sir Paulias Matane at Government House for his assessment and comment. There was no internet service in Kundiawa at the time.

Some weeks later, I received a letter from CBS in India through the post office. The letter said CBS had received my manuscript and was happy with the narrative and was ready to publish it. Thanks to Sir Paulias.

For a literary work of a first-timer to be accepted for publication by a renowned foreign publisher was quite a feat. I was very happy.

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Bite size rules. But tome size gives you the smarts

Barack Obama
Barack Obama - "books gave me the ability to slow down and get perspective"


PORT MORESBY - In the age of Facebook, tens of millions of people favour the habit of reading bite size information rather than to plough through dense tomes.

To read tomes requires time, intense concentration and mental agility. Literature that is dense and lofty taxes the mind, stretches mental barriers and breaks mental molds.

Such readers become deep readers and deep thinkers because reading shapes mental contours and fuels original and imaginative thinking.

But today’s generation prefers the less taxing and easier route of bite size information.

In one Facebook survey, the greatest engagements (likes, comments and shares) came from short posts, while longer information was ignored. In another survey, photos received thousands of likes and longer articles were snubbed.

These scenarios reflect a dangerous habit in today’s readers. The titans of social media have created algorithms that promote bite size and the masses devour these without regard to the impact such content has on their mental landscape.

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David Attenborough's long association with Papua New Guinea

Journeys-to-the-other-side-of-the-world coverPHIL FITZPATRICK

Journeys to the Other Side of the World: Further Adventures of a Young Naturalist by David Attenborough, Two Roads (Hodder & Stoughton), ISBN: 978-1-47366-665-8, 414 pages, about $20-30 from most booksellers

TUMBY BAY - I think everyone with access to a television set has heard of David Attenborough, the British naturalist, broadcaster, writer and film maker.

Attenborough is 92 years old and still working. He is a passionate advocate for action on climate change and recently warned it is an existential crisis for humanity that could, if not remedied, lead to our extinction as a species.

I first saw him at a live presentation for school children in the late 1950s at the old Regent Theatre in Adelaide.

He had just published his book ‘Zoo Quest for a Dragon including the Quest for the Paradise Birds’ and it was the beginning of my fascination with the natural world and Papua New Guinea in particular.

I’ve still got my copy of that book but was interested to note that much of the PNG section has been recently republished in a compilation called ‘Journeys to the Other Side of the World’.

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The 30-year struggle of journalism education at USP

Wansolwara student journalists
Wansolwara student journalists on publication day at the University of the South Pacific

SHAILENDRA SINGH | Pacific Media Centre | University of the South Pacific | Edited

SUVA - The University of the South Pacific’s recent 50th anniversary also marked 30 years of existence for its regional journalism program.

In an eventful journey, the program has weathered military coups, overcome financial hardships and shrugged off academic snobbery.

Funded by the Commonwealth, the program started in Suva in 1988 with a handful of students. Since then it has produced more than 200 graduates serving the Pacific and beyond in various media and communication roles.

USP journalism graduates have won awards, started their own media companies and taken over positions once reserved for expatriates in regional organisations.

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‘In Like Flynn’ - movie of Errol Flynn in PNG just doesn’t do it


TUMBY BAY - I’ve just watched a terrible film that purports to represent the early adult life in Papua New Guinea of famous Tasmanian actor, Errol Flynn.

Flynn went to PNG at age 18, seeking his fortune as a planter and gold miner. He spent five years on and off in the country before embarking on an acting career.

In 1929, using the proceeds of his Papua New Guinean gold mining, he bought a yacht in Sydney called Sirocco and, after getting her seaworthy, sailed it back to PNG accompanied by three friends.

In his own words Sirocco was “forty feet at the water line, cutter rigged, she was never intended to sail outside the smooth waters of the harbour”. She was over 50 years old when Flynn bought her.

The voyage took seven months and ended in tragedy when Sirocco was wrecked on a reef off Port Moresby and one of the men drowned.

When he was a famous actor and rich, Flynn had another yacht built and called it Sirocco. Clearly he had a great regard for the little cutter.

Flynn was a talented writer and the voyage on the original Sirocco is detailed in his 1937 book ‘Beam Ends’.

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Cyber warfare & all the news that’s not fit to print

(Stanford University)CHRIS OVERLAND

ADELAIDE - In 1897, the New York Times adopted as its motto, ‘All the news that’s fit to print’.

These seven words rapidly became adopted as the de facto motto of US journalism as a whole. The inference was that good journalism meant only reporting that which was true, verifiable and in the public interest.

While this motto was and remains much admired, the days when the print media dominated the distribution of news have long since passed into history.

Now, we live in an era where what passes as the news is distributed through a multitude of media and an even larger number of outlets.

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