Comment & opinion Feed

Our horrible history

WInston-ChurchillCHRIS OVERLAND

ADELAIDE - The study of history is not likely to inspire belief in the inherent virtues of humanity.

There are so many conspicuous examples of our species’ propensity for violence, venality and depravity that it sometimes takes a certain resolve to stare the facts directly in the face and recognise them for what they tell us about the human condition at a given point in time.

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Racism diminished but not dead

B&w Overland hline
Chris Overland - "Entrenched ideas about the world die very hard"

CHRIS OVERLAND

ADELAIDE - Racism originates from one of the most deep seated aspects of all human cultures, which is an almost instinctive ‘fear of the other’.

I have written previously (see my comment on this article) about this phenomenon and why it made sense in the distant past and, in relation to Papua New Guinea, the not so recent past.

Continue reading "Racism diminished but not dead" »


Why neo-liberals can’t handle a crisis

NeosPHILIP FITZPATRICK

TUMBY BAY - Many businesses all over the world have been caught out by Covid-19 through the disruption of supply lines. Goods are not coming into countries because of the closure of borders.

Australia has been particularly affected because home-grown manufacturing has declined significantly and just about everything except agricultural products come from overseas, and China in particular.

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Masters & slaves, 21st century style

Black Lives Matter protest in front of the White House in Washington DC
Black Lives Matter protest in front of the White House in Washington DC

PHILIP FITZPATRICK

TUMBY BAY - The United States of America was the largest and most successful economic nation in the world by the time World War II began.

There is compelling evidence to suggest that this success was built on the back of slavery.

During the middle of the 1800s, cotton became the world’s largest commodity. The cheapest and best cotton came from the southern United States.

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Our systems worked, so what happened?

Rubber stationSCOTT WAIDE
| My Land, My Country

LAE - We have to get this right if we are to thrive in this country.

The quality of transport infrastructure – especially roads and bridges – determines the price of food.

Apart from consumption, this single factor influences the rate of supply and demand to a large extent.

Continue reading "Our systems worked, so what happened?" »


Can we remain free?

Chinese view
China's view of neoliberalism could well end up being close to the truth - not that China offers a more persuasive ideology

CHRIS OVERLAND

ADELAIDE - The current coronavirus crisis has thrown into stark relief the inherent tension between individual freedom and social obligation.

This has perhaps been most evident in the United States, where there is now active resistance against demands that individuals sacrifice their personal liberty for the greater good in an effort to control the Covid-19 pandemic that had by yesterday killed 105,000 Americans.

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I fight, therefore I am

Mock tribal skirmish
Mock tribal skirmish

PHILIP FITZPATRICK

TUMBY BAY - One of the essential ingredients for tribal unity is an enemy. Fear of that enemy is important in keeping the tribe together and united.

A good tribal leader will spend much time explaining to the people the horrific motives of the enemy.

In traditional societies, rape, murder and cannibalism are effective fear narratives while in modern societies the memes centre round ideology and economics.

Continue reading "I fight, therefore I am" »


A solution to the Porgera impasse

Porgera mine
Porgera gold and silver mine (Barrick)

SIMON DAVIDSON

KOKOPO – The Porgera mine is a large gold and silver mining operation in Enga province, Papua New Guinea located at the head of the Porgera Valley at an altitude of about 2,500 meters. The region is noted for its high rainfall, landslides and frequent earthquakes.

The mine is operated by the Porgera Joint Venture (PJV) and began production in 1990. It is now owned by Barrick Gold Corporation of Canada and the Zijin Mining Group of China with local landowners having a small stake.

Continue reading "A solution to the Porgera impasse" »


Are we at an historic turning point?

EdgeCHRIS OVERLAND

ADELAIDE - There are moments in history when its future course is altered by a single event.

These turning points, while seemingly innocuous or unremarkable at the time, may have profound consequences.

For example, the arrival of a handful of Spanish adventurers in Mexico in 1519 was, in itself, not especially remarkable. It initially attracted no great interest in Spain or anywhere else for that matter.

Continue reading "Are we at an historic turning point?" »


If in doubt, shoot it

GunsPHILIP FITZPATRICK

TUMBY BAY - If you watch any imported American police program on commercial television you’d be forgiven for assuming that the solution to any problem is a gun.

These programs, with their officious acronyms like NCIS, SVU and CSI, feature a never ending barrage of good guys ending the nefarious deeds of bad guys in a blaze of gunfire. Every situation seems to end in gun play.

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How we became trapped by capitalism

B&w Overland hlineCHRIS OVERLAND

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

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

Continue reading "How we became trapped by capitalism" »


Marape must negotiate on Porgera

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

ERIC SCHERING

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

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

Continue reading "Marape must negotiate on Porgera" »


What next for Porgera's gold mine ?

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

ERIC SCHERING

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

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

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


More dialogue needed on Porgera

Porgera mine
Porgera gold and silver mine

PAUL BARKER
| Business Advantage PNG

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

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

Continue reading "More dialogue needed on Porgera" »


Which bully to choose?

UschinaPHILIP FITZPATRICK

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

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

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Does it really matter if PNG goes bust?

Phil Fitzpatrick at micPHILIP FITZPATRICK

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

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

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Fortress Australia – or what?

Fortress-AustraliaPHIL FITZPATRICK

TUMBY BAY - As the nations of the world seal borders to ward off the coronavirus and questions begin to be asked about the future of globalisation, the concepts of nationalism and identity are moving to the fore.

Suddenly the progressive idea of being a citizen of the world seems to diminish in favour of national identity and loyalty.

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The fallacies at the heart of neo-liberalism

NeoCHRIS OVERLAND

ADELAIDE – In the extract from his book, ‘You’ll Never Work Again – The Great Safety Charade’, Bernard Corden has given us a great example of where letting the market rip, unfettered by effective regulation, combined with blindingly obvious conflicts of interest, leads to disaster in the service of accumulating vast profits.

And, once again, "the weak suffer what they must".

Continue reading "The fallacies at the heart of neo-liberalism" »


After the crisis – more of the same?

Harvey
Australian businessman Gerry Harvey - bragging about doing well out of coronavirus panic and exulting in other people's distress

PHIL FITZPATRICK

TUMBY BAY - There is an interesting and still underlying debate going on about what will happen once the COVID-19 crisis abates.

On the one hand there is the expected conservative view that everything should return to normal.

This is promulgated by most politicians in Australia and elsewhere and seems to be the accepted view of businesses and the public at large.

Continue reading "After the crisis – more of the same?" »


Now we learn they can’t handle a crisis

CVPHIL FITZPATRICK

TUMBY BAY - One thing is becoming abundantly clear as the coronavirus epidemic rapidly escalates.

And this is that any government based on an ideology of neo-liberalism is the worst possible model to deal with a crisis of this magnitude.

This is most apparent in the USA, the home of laissez faire capitalism, where confusion reigns supreme and the virus is uncontrollably rampant.

But it is also becoming evident in Australia.

At the moment there are huge queues of people outside Centrelink offices who have lost their jobs because of the lockdown of businesses.

Continue reading "Now we learn they can’t handle a crisis" »


Coronavirus & the ignorance of privilege

Simon Jackson (2)
Simon Jackson; Will coronavirus forge a new realisation of the world as it is, or reinforce the bastions of privilege?

SIMON JACKSON

AUCKLAND - Like many people who have lived deeply in developing countries and been exposed to crises people in 'developed' nations see only on TV or at the movies, an observation by Chris Overland in PNG Attitude yesterday hit home for me.

Amongst much else worth thinking about, Chris wrote in 'Coronavirus: A warning from history', that whatever else awaits us in the aftermath of this coronavirus epidemic, “we will not be able to sit here, fat, dumb and happy, while bad things happen to other people."

Continue reading "Coronavirus & the ignorance of privilege" »


Bad governance & lots of tok gris

Phil Fitzpatrick at mic
Phil Fitzpatrick - "Fake government applying Band-Aids and painting over them with  spin and empty rhetoric"

PHIL FITZPATRICK

TUMBY BAY - When mounting evidence suggests that a government is corrupt and they fail to adequately address the evidence, what can be done about it?

The short answer, of course, is not to vote for them. But if they are electorally secure and their term of government has some time to run, well, other options are severely limited.

Continue reading "Bad governance & lots of tok gris" »


Getting it right in energy deals

Pnyang-lng
P'nyang gas field - Is PNG squeezing energy companies too hard when it should be fixing a leaking pipe?

IAN RITCHIE

PORT MORESBY - "A fair deal is not merely squeezing a large slice of ice cream out of our development partners and then losing most of it through a horribly broken and hopelessly leaking pipe," wrote David Kitchnoge in PNG Attitude yesterday.

A clear and pragmatic observation.

Continue reading "Getting it right in energy deals" »


So PNG, what is a fair deal?

Exxon
"Our criticism of Exxon Mobil and other development partners in the resources sector is as much a criticism of ourselves"

DAVID KITCHNOGE

PORT MORESBY - The politics of bigman, the economy of wastage and a public service that has become 'private service for a tip' all combined to deliver prime minister James Marape's ground breaking announcement last Sunday rejecting the P'nyang gas deal.

Mr Marape’s speech rejecting the P'nyang gas deal had been written over the years. It was a speech really aimed at an audience close to home. And if we didn't get it, we have a problem. The irony is that I'm not even sure the PM himself gets it.

Continue reading "So PNG, what is a fair deal?" »


Decline & Fall, Mk II

DystopiaCHRIS OVERLAND

ADELAIDE - My article, We the People, described how ruling elites, with rare exceptions, fail utterly to recognise or understand the paradigm shifts that lead to their demise.

Even if the elites do see the emerging danger, they invariably think that the usual mechanisms of suppression - subversion, persuasion, coercion and violence - will work in their favour.

Continue reading "Decline & Fall, Mk II" »


The view from down here

Philip Kai Morre
Philip Kai Morre - "Culture is meant for change and we are in a global village adapting to new ways of doing things"

PHILIP KAI MORRE

KUNDIAWA - As a son of a Stone Age man, and having experienced the beauty of cultural heritage, I tried to hold back in my naturalistic fallacy of retaining good cultural values, norms and a belief system in the traditional mode. But conditions did not, and do not, allow.

So I go with the current cultural, economic, political and ideological changes and embrace modern science and technology.

Continue reading "The view from down here" »


PNG must change its spending systems

Allan Bird
Governor Allan Bird - "Right now the only real check and balance is the individual"

ALLAN BIRD
| Governor, East Sepik Province

WEWAK - Our country is overrun with corruption because we do not have effective checks on power.

There is a complete lack of checks and balances in the system. In fact I would say that there aren’t any checks and balances at all.

We negotiate for an opportunity to spend money. Everyone spends public money, from the prime minister all the way to the local level government presidents, ward members and public servants.

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The enigma of James Marape

Aunt
An elderly aunt in Indiana (not Phil Fitzpatrick's)

PHIL FITZPATRICK

TUMBY BAY - I’ve got an elderly aunt in Indiana, USA, who thinks Donald Trump is wonderful. She was a volunteer in his 2016 election campaign and is thinking about doing it again this year.

My aunt thinks Barack Obama was the worst president that America ever had and that the Democrats are socialists who will destroy America.

Continue reading "The enigma of James Marape" »


Young Tess’s Pacific predictions 2020

Tess Newton Cain (2)
Tess Newton Cain

TESS NEWTON CAIN
| Devpolicy Blog

BRISBANE - As we enter not only a new year but a new decade, there is much to anticipate in the Pacific islands region.

Elections and domestic politics

A number of countries in the region will have elections during 2020: Kiribati, Niue, Palau and Vanuatu.

The lingering discontent in Kiribati surrounding last year’s switch in diplomatic relations from Taiwan to China may have an adverse impact on the incumbent government.

Continue reading "Young Tess’s Pacific predictions 2020" »


Christianity is a good fit for PNG

Mass at a church in Papua New Guinea (Michal Knitl  Shutterstock.com)
Mass at a church in PNG (Michal Knitl,  Shutterstock.com)

PHIL FITZPATRICK

TUMBY BAY - One of the distinguishing features of human beings is our ability to create myths and stories.

These narratives entertain but also perform a much more important role in setting ethical and behavioural standards.

Some of the greatest mythical inventions appear as religious texts, like the Bible and the Koran, but there are also secular myths that serve the same purpose.

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Alas, everything’s a deal these days

Phil Fitzpatrick at mic
Phil Fitzpatrick - "These days the strategic value of the small Pacific island nations is just as much a commodity as oil, gas and metals"

PHIL FITZPATRICK

TUMBY BAY - Ever since neo-liberalism gained ground in the 1990s governments have persistently used economics to define their policies.

Neo-liberalism is used to refer to market-oriented policies such as eliminating price controls, deregulating capital markets, lowering trade barriers and reducing state influence in the economy, especially through privatisation and austerity.

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Bougainville: Powder keg awaiting a match?

Bville2
"A truth commission might provide an easing valve for past hurts, short of that Bougainville remains a powder keg, awaiting to be lit"

BINOY KAMPMARK
| Eurasia Review

ALBANY, USA - It would be an understatement to claim that Bougainville, that blighted piece of autonomous territory in Papua New Guinea, had been through a lot. 

Companies have preyed upon its environment with extractive hunger.  Wars and civil strife have beset its infrastructure and economy.

Continue reading "Bougainville: Powder keg awaiting a match?" »


Is greed natural? Is O'Neill real?

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

PHIL FITZPATRICK

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

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

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I don’t listen to opinion traders

Opinion
"Those poor dumb bastards haven’t the faintest idea about what life is all about, so why should I listen to them?"

PHIL FITZPATRICK

TUMBY BAY - Over the years I’ve learned that the opinions of certain people are best left ignored.

These include the opinions of shock-jocks, celebrities, reality and lifestyle television hosts and most politicians. They all carry biases that are subjective, value-ridden and sometimes positively dangerous.

Just lately I’ve started to include people from the so-called professions, including doctors and medical specialists, and people in certain trades, like motor mechanics. Many of these people now seem driven solely by a profit motive.

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Vanuatu gets nasty on journalism

Dan_McGarry
Dan McGarry -  After 16 years in Vanuatu, the highly respected Pacific islands journalist was harangued by the prime minister for “negative reporting” then had his work permit revoked

KEITH JACKSON

NOOSA – If a government is ever involved in something, anything, and it looks like a stitch-up, then you’re right to assume it is indeed a stitch-up.

And here at PNG Attitude we assume that the Vanuatu government is guilty of trying to remove Daily Post newspaper director Dan McGarry from his job and from the country on a pretext.

Why? Because the government knows his journalism is  telling the truth.

Continue reading "Vanuatu gets nasty on journalism" »


Brutal reaction to handout of luxury cars to MPs

Marape
Oops, prime minister, you just blew up your credibility in one crazy decision. Or will Mr Ngangan take this one himself on behalf of the team?

KEITH JACKSON

NOOSA – Last Thursday, when James Marape despatched his bureaucrat Ken Ngangan to advise the public through the Post Courier newspaper that all 111 members of parliament will get vehicles from the APEC fleet “for their electoral duties”, he must have anticipated there would be a strong reaction.

After all, the purchase of the vehicles a year ago had triggered a story that travelled around the world a few times before hitting the ground as yet another example of the greed and excess of the O’Neill government – which Marape and his brothers deposed in May bringing hope to the nation.

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For his credibility, Marape needs to gaol O’Neill

O'Neill and Marape in happier times
O'Neill and Marape in happier times - Phil Fitzpatrick writes that now Marape needs to act against O'Neill to preserve the credibility of his own leadership

PHIL FITZPATRICK

TUMBY BAY - When politicians make a commitment to the public, whether at an election or in the course of governing, they are essentially laying their credibility on the line.

Even if the commitment is something they know will be hard to deliver, it still reflects on their credibility if they fail.

And, if this happens, a shrewd politician will admit to the failure and ask the public to understand that they tried.

Continue reading "For his credibility, Marape needs to gaol O’Neill" »


Secular or religious, ethics remain key

ClarkePHIL FITZPATRICK

TUMBY BAY - Social evolution, just like biological evolution, doesn’t proceed in straight lines, there are stops and starts, divergences, reversals, regressions, regional differences and sometimes dead ends.

Just as we are not on a path of natural evolutionary improvement neither are we on a natural path of constant social improvement.

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No meek, no rich: The gospel according to Phil

Gospel
“Blessed are those with dirt under their fingernails and no bank account, for they shall inherit the earth” (Phil 1:1)

PHIL FITZPATRICK

TUMBY BAY - Among its multitudinous and often conflicting predictions, adages, sayings and slogans the bible includes the curious assertion that “blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5).

In typical chauvinistic fashion it defines meekness as a solely human attribute, preferably confined to the male gender. In the ‘good book’, women and girls, as well as dogs and cats, don’t get a guernsey when it comes to leadership.

Continue reading "No meek, no rich: The gospel according to Phil" »


The opportunist who came & now must go

Shila Yukuli Paia
Shila Paia - "Is O’Neill above the law? None of us is above the law. We call on him to be prosecuted and to comply with legal proceedings"

SHILA YUKULI PAIA

ADELAIDE - I am a proud Papua New Guinean who will always stand very tall and speak boldly, loudly and clearly knowing that PNG is one of the best democracies.

In this context I have some observations to make on the saga of the attempted arrest of former prime minister Peter Charles Paire O'Neill, another critical moment in the history of PNG’s political development.

Continue reading "The opportunist who came & now must go" »


Tribal conflicts burden wild west Enga

Porap Gai
Porap Gai - "If the judiciary punished the guilty more honestly then there would be less or no violence"

PORAP GAI

LAIAGAM - The Papua New Guinea government needs to establish firmer law and order.

I am not a politician, I am a pastor. I have the pastoral responsibility for the innocent lives so often lost.

Lack of discipline is of concern due to the wantok system. There must be better rule of law in place to allow everyone to live in security.

Continue reading "Tribal conflicts burden wild west Enga" »


Sharing culture with foreign friends

Kumbon - PNG flag in NYC
“Nothing makes me happier than to lift up the glorious flag of a thousand tribes here in the heart of New York City"

DANIEL KUMBON

WABAG - My mind was blown away to see the young man display the Papua New Guinea flag on Times Square in New York City during recent independence day celebrations.

The choice words he used to express his genuine love for this country truly touched my heart. And he was a foreign national.

Continue reading "Sharing culture with foreign friends" »


MPs should not condemn Marape’s dream

Alphonse Mek
Alphonse Mek - "Marape is our country’s prayer answered – the leader who emerged after eight years of dejection"

ALPHONSE MEK

ENGA - Since James Marape, this son of a Seventh Day Adventist pastor, became prime minister of this blessed nation, there have been many criticisms, denunciations as well as condemnation on the subject of his theme to make it “the richest black Christian nation in the world.”

The theme is not new, because God has already blessed this nation more than the rest of the Pacific island nations as well as at a global level.

Continue reading "MPs should not condemn Marape’s dream" »