Comment & opinion Feed

Can renewables save the planet?

Scott Morrison's government keeps promoting coal (cartoon by Paul Dorin @DorinToons)


TUMBY BAY - Australia’s daft prime minister and climate change laggard says he wants to solve the problem of global warming using technology.

What he means by technology are dodgy developments such as carbon sequestration.

Until that happens he plans to open new gas fields to provide feedstock for new gas-fired power stations, which he thinks produce less pollution.

Continue reading "Can renewables save the planet?" »

Can the daggy dad do it all again?

Scott 'Beefy' Morrison attacking a dog's eye (aka maggot bag or rat's coffin)


ADELAIDE – While I fully agree with Keith Jackson's comments, The pandemic in Oz: Time for a reckoning’, I am pessimistic that the Morrison government will be ejected from office based upon the grievous failures Keith described so eloquently.

Basically, Scott Morrison can and will exploit the apathy, ignorance, credulity and fear of far too many Australians who will vote to ensure that government remains in what he will characterise as his 'safe hands'.

Continue reading "Can the daggy dad do it all again?" »

Of matters malevolent - & a fiery stunt


‘Scientific theory is a contrived foothold in the chaos of living phenomena’ - Wilhelm Reich

‘The most basic claims of religion are scientific. Religion is a scientific theory’ - Richard Dawkins

‘The scientific theory I like best is that the rings of Saturn are composed entirely of lost airline luggage’ - Mark Russell

Continue reading "Of matters malevolent - & a fiery stunt" »

The pandemic in Oz: Time for a reckoning

Inside out anger sadKEITH JACKSON

This is a revised, refined and augmented version of an earlier article in PNG Attitude. It’s far from the last word on the subject of Australia’s often wayward response to Covid, and I have no reason to think my views are particularly precious, but I need to say this, harsh as it is - KJ

NOOSA - Philip Fitzpatrick, author and provocateur, recently wrote for PNG Attitude a polemical commentary entitled, A government prepared to see its people die.

This piece drilled deeply into my own feelings about what Australia is being put through at this time of Covid.

Continue reading "The pandemic in Oz: Time for a reckoning" »

It’s not the economy, it’s the Covid


ADELAIDE - Commenting on Keith Jackson’s ‘The vandals who trashed our nation’ and other remarks on the Covid crisis, Andrew Brown wrote that “people in small business are going broke by the dozen, the number of empty shops in my local area is frightening”.

And he added, “That is real hardship for people losing everything they have and not having any hope.”

Continue reading "It’s not the economy, it’s the Covid" »

The decline of the West. What of PNG?


ADELAIDE - Throughout history, civilisations have risen and fallen regularly. There are many reasons but the process of decay often starts within.

The first clear indicator that all is not well emerges, somewhat perversely, at the very height of the civilisation’s power and influence.

The ancient Greeks coined a term for this malady: hubris.

Continue reading "The decline of the West. What of PNG?" »

‘The Age’ undermines public health

The Age editor
Editor of The Age, Gay Alcorn. Jenny Hocking writes, "The Age failed even to mention that Australia is six months behind the rest of the world in (its) way out of this pandemic"

| John Menadue’s Pearls & Irritations | Edited

MELBOURNE – Last Thursday, The Age newspaper published a provocative editorial, ‘Victoria cannot go on like this’, which many saw as undermining the Victorian government’s public health response to Covid.

Having done so in the middle of a pandemic, The Age should have expected, and indeed welcomed, a robust response.

Continue reading "‘The Age’ undermines public health" »

The vandals who trashed our nation

Morr Bere cartoonKEITH JACKSON

NOOSA – I set out to write this piece a couple of days ago, only to be confronted by Phil Fitzpatrick’s stirring polemic, ‘A government prepared to see its people die’.

This drilled deeply into my own feelings at what my country is being put through as a result of mindless political ambition. So I decided to wait a short while before launching into this.

Continue reading "The vandals who trashed our nation" »

A government prepared to see its people die

Scott Morrison - "pious Christian hypocrisies"


TUMBY BAY - After an initial desperate foray into Keynesian economics at the beginning of the Covid-19 outbreak in Australia, the federal government is under increasing pressure from big corporations to revert to business as usual.

This is despite the rapid escalation in recent weeks of the crisis created by the Delta variant.

Continue reading "A government prepared to see its people die" »

Covid puts Australia on knife edge


ADELAIDE – In ‘Covid: Ineptitude, deception and lies, Keith Jackson correctly refers to the 'weasel words' of both ‘Golden’ Gladys Berejiklian and the man he terms ‘Slovenly’ Scott Morrison.

Jackson writes of how these politicians avoid saying the obvious and how they try to deflect attention from the true situation their complacency, ineptitude and incompetence has created.

Continue reading "Covid puts Australia on knife edge" »

When leaders became enemies


TUMBY BAY – It happened when we were still absorbing dire warnings in the latest report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and reeling from the latest Covid-19 outbreaks in NSW and Victoria.

That’s when the Taliban strolled into Kabul and took Afghanistan back after 20 years of occupation by the Americans and their allies, including Australia.

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Australian resilience is an oxymoron

Scott Morrison and Gladys Berejiklian - existential threats to Australia
Scott Morrison and Gladys Berejiklian - incompetent politicians who are existential threats to Australia


NOOSA – This piece starts in Papua New Guinea, the place that taught me what resilience really means.

After my arrival in the country in 1963, one of the attributes that quickly endeared me to Papua New Guineans was their tenacity; even if it tended to be a tenacity conditional on whether people were convinced that what they were asked to do was meaningful.

Continue reading "Australian resilience is an oxymoron" »

A Baiyer court case: A good kiap reflects.

Weaponry PNG modern style
A Tagali warlord presents his Mac58 and M16 at a Hela gun surrender. Technology has made clan warfare much more lethal


WARRADALE - Among the boxes of stuff in my shed, I dug up a document I had kept because I wanted to prove I had not embellished a story.

The document was a carbon copy of a Local Court case I heard at Baiyer River in the Western Highlands nearly 50 years ago, on 10 December 1971.

Continue reading "A Baiyer court case: A good kiap reflects." »

The shape of things to come

Shape-of-things-to-comeCHRIS OVERLAND

ADELAIDE - The title to this piece comes from a book written by H G Wells and published in 1933.

In his book, Wells made a number of predictions about how the world would develop in the aftermath of World War I.

Some of his predictions were correct, notably regarding the development and use of air power to influence the outcome of warfare, especially strategic bombing.

Continue reading "The shape of things to come" »

PNG people unlikely to reclaim birthright

Democracy will have to do better than this
Democracy will have to do better than this... Panicked Afghans storm an aircraft as they try to leave Kabul after its seizure by the Taliban


ADELAIDE - While I endorse Governor Gary Juffa's sentiments in ‘The world is ours, let’s act that way', I am afraid 'ordinary people' will not retake possession of their particular worlds any time soon.

In places like China, theocratic Iran and newly Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, the world will belong to armed minorities who will impose their world view upon the great majority.

Continue reading "PNG people unlikely to reclaim birthright" »

An open letter to our Pacific friends

Who would want to have these three as family? Scott Morrison, Tony Abbott and Peter Dutton share a cruel joke at the expense of Pacific islanders, their attitudes and hypocrisy on public view


TUMBY BAY - On behalf of all concerned people in Australia I would like to extend a sincere apology to the nations and people of the South Pacific.

We apologise for the misguided, inadequate, cowardly and reckless actions of our Australian federal government in failing to take seriously the dire consequences to you of climate change.

Continue reading "An open letter to our Pacific friends" »

Consultants: watch-borrowers hard at work

Chris Overland
Chris Overland - 'Consultancies not all bad news for smart public servants'


ADELAIDE - A seminal idea underpinning neo-liberal capitalism is that private enterprise is always more efficient and cost effective than a public entity.

This notion informs much of the decision making surrounding the hiring of consultants, the target of a polemic by my colleague Philip Fitzpatrick in PNG Attitude yesterday.

Continue reading "Consultants: watch-borrowers hard at work" »

The deadly damage of naïve consultants

A 1959 report on kiaps by Sir David Plumley Derham KBE CMG (1920–85), Australian jurist and university administrator, was misused to enhance police powers and weaken kiaps' more measured approach to pacification and administration in PNG


TUMBY BAY – For decades Papua New Guinea has been a happy hunting ground for the consulting industry.

Careers have been built on providing often gratuitous advice to governments in both PNG and Australia, not to mention the purchase of the odd sports car or coastal retreat.

It’s not a post-independence phenomenon as many people assume. Consultants have been active in PNG since the 1950s.

Continue reading "The deadly damage of naïve consultants" »

Can capitalism be tamed?


ADELAIDE - Bernard Corden’s splendid article, 'A Question of Balance', neatly describes the situation the Western world is now in and how we got here.

Neo-liberal capitalism is, in many respects, the reaction of the propertied classes against the sometimes unduly restrictive nostrums of democratic socialism that emerged in its full form in the aftermath of World War II.

Continue reading "Can capitalism be tamed?" »

Aussie needs some Melanesian Way on China


TUMBY BAY - Papua New Guinea appears to be handling its relationship with China much better than Australia.

The Melanesian propensity to seek consensus, rather than muscling up in a confrontational manner, might have something to do with it.

So too might Papua New Guineans’ emphasis on respect rather than derision.

Continue reading "Aussie needs some Melanesian Way on China" »

Australia must focus on cooperation not China

(Xia Qing  Global Times)
China's helping hand in the race against Covid (Xia Qing - Global Times)

| Global Times

This article has been edited from a Global Times interview with Mr Zhou, who is director of the Centre for Pacific Island Countries Studies at the Guangdong University of Foreign Studies - KJ

BEIJING - Despite a troubled vaccination progress at home, Australia has still found energy to interfere in the vaccination rollout in Papua New Guinea by touting vaccine rivalry between itself and China.

PNG, which recently detected its first case of the highly contagious Delta variant, has agreed to vaccine offerings from a number of suppliers including China, Australia, New Zealand and Covax, the global initiative aimed at equitable access to vaccines.

Continue reading "Australia must focus on cooperation not China" »

The grim truth behind a baffling decision

Frewen griggs young
When Australia's politicians don't want to and public servants aren't up to, in comes the military - Lieutenant-General John ‘JJ’ Frewen, Vice-Admiral Ray Griggs, Commodore Eric Young (AAP)


ADELAIDE - I think that several causes lie behind the farcical situation described in ‘The man who was told he wasn’t Australian’.

Firstly, I think that the current federal government has repeatedly expressed its hostility to 'illegals' and this sentiment (however false) has now firmly gripped the minds of the immigration bureaucracy.

Continue reading "The grim truth behind a baffling decision" »

She’ll be right mate just doesn’t cut it

Cartoon by Alan Moir
Cartoon by Alan Moir


TUMBY BAY - It is remarkable how Australia, in less than 10 years, has become a repressed, uncaring, corrupt and stupid country.

This is despite the existence among its citizens of many caring and enlightened individuals.

But in the many others is observable a disturbing degree of compliance, indifference or capitulation.

Continue reading "She’ll be right mate just doesn’t cut it" »

In 1962, beer drinking was a rights issue


ADELAIDE – I am sure Arthur Williams (‘It was the Aussies who drove PNG to drink) is right about the poor example set by expatriates drinking to excess in colonial times.

But I do not think Papua New Guinea’s alcohol problems can be blamed entirely upon Australia.

Until 1962, Papua New Guineans were banned from drinking alcohol in a well-meaning but rather desperate - and ultimately futile - attempt to protect them from exactly the problems the article mentioned.

Continue reading "In 1962, beer drinking was a rights issue" »

System we gave PNG just doesn’t work

Westminster system spared Papua New Guinea nothing, not even the Speaker 's wig


CLEVELAND – It has taken me a long time to reach an understanding of what the problem was leading up to Papua New Guinea’s independence.

At the time, in the 1970s, the thought process was that the Westminster system works for us in Australia, this we can impose this obviously working system as a unifying force for a people and their many hundreds of cultures.

Continue reading "System we gave PNG just doesn’t work" »

Put politics last: Let’s stop reversing evolution


LAE - How do we return Papua Niugini to a culture of Melanesian cooperation and how can the common people make those in power behave responsibly?

According to the evolutionary perspective, the birthplace of democracy was the tribe. Indeed, tribalism is sometimes referred to as ‘primitive democracy’.

Continue reading "Put politics last: Let’s stop reversing evolution" »

Thoughts of then, now & cultural variance

Road building  Pindiu  Morobe District  1965 (Frank Haviland)
Road building,  Pindiu,  Morobe District,  1965 (Frank Haviland)


WARRADALE - In the late 1960s, as a young kiap based at Mt Hagen Sub-District Office, I was assigned to supervise work on a new feeder road.

It led off the Hagen-Togaba main road and heading north towards Bukapena in the Mul Council area, perhaps eight kilometres out of Hagen.

Part of the construction through a small hill had resulted in a cliff 10-15 metres high that had to be reduced to allow the road to be widened using the stock tools of the time - picks and long-handled spades.

Continue reading "Thoughts of then, now & cultural variance" »

PNG must make people the centre of power


CAIRNS - Patrick Angrai’s article, Death of a Teacher, hit me hard too. Firstly sadness, then anger.

Death in childbirth, through lack of timely referral or resources, is so horribly common in rural settings and often goes unreported.

As Arthur Williams has said, how can this happen in such a resource rich country?

Continue reading "PNG must make people the centre of power" »

Bougainville was not meant to be easy

Malcolm Fraser, prime minister of Australia, 1975-83, popularised the maxim, 'Life wasn't meant to be easy'. The issue of Bougainville independence is a vexing one for all PNG politicians


ADELAIDE – Martyn Namarong is quite correct in his commentary, Bougainville highlights need for a new PNG’, both in his analysis of the Bougainville dilemma and his discussion of the implications for Papua New Guinea.

Denying Bougainville independence would be a catastrophe for PNG; while granting it independence will inevitably open up fissures in the wider PNG polity.

Continue reading "Bougainville was not meant to be easy" »

Bougainville highlights need for a new PNG

Martyn Namorong -
Martyn Namorong - "PNG needs a new Constitution that recognises the different tribal nations and empowers them with their full rights to self-determination within a political union"

| PNG Signal

PORT MORESBY - Will Papua New Guinea break up if Bougainville is granted full independence?

For some PNG leaders the threat of balkanization has shaped their attitudes towards Bougainville leaving the union of 850 tribes.

One of them is prime minister James Marape, who recently pleaded with Bougainville's leaders to take into consideration PNG’s fate when deliberating on the matter.

Continue reading "Bougainville highlights need for a new PNG" »

We need a New Jerusalem

Jerusalem - West PapuaYAMIN KOGOYA
| Kurumbi Wone | Edited extracts

CANBERRA – When I came to Australia 20 years ago, I was gifted a book, From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya, written by an American academic, Ruth A Tucker.

I had been told that my fellow West Papuans and I were the people ones to receive the good news of Jesus. This book narrated how that happened.

Continue reading "We need a New Jerusalem" »

Sinking DFAT cedes influence to ASPI

Bruce Haigh
Bruce Haigh - "DFAT has overseen the biggest Australian foreign policy disaster in 70 years" 

| Pearls & Irritations | Edited extracts

MELBOURNE - Despite the line spun by Frances Adamson AC, recently retired head of Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), the department appears to be in the process of being scuttled by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI).

Speaking as a guest on ABC Insiders, Australia’s foreign minister Marise Payne gave an unenlightening tour of the foreign policy issues facing Australia, from ‘all the way with the USA’ to ‘it is all China’s fault’.

Continue reading "Sinking DFAT cedes influence to ASPI" »

Government unfit for purpose; Army required

“The Australian National Flag should not, therefore, be displayed with the Union Jack down on any occasion except as a signal of distress” (


ADELAIDE - I think the tone of John Menadue's recent piece in PNG Attitude, ‘General Alarm: Militarism is Australia’s New Norm’, is slightly overwrought.

But I do think he has a point, at least as it relates to the government's dismal performance in relation to the vaccine roll-out.

As the Delta variant of Covid-19 spreads in Sydney, we may be about to reap the reward for the Australian federal government's apparent inability to organise an effective national quarantine and vaccination program.

Continue reading "Government unfit for purpose; Army required" »

White privilege era over; but it’s dying hard

Use white privilege to fight racism (Boston Globe)CHRIS OVERLAND

ADELAIDE - I am sorry that my comments on the pre-independence speculation that Papua New Guinea might become a state of Australia has been interpreted as reflecting a white supremacist outlook, or one of white privilege.

Although I freely admit to being both white and privileged, I certainly don't assume that this confers upon me some special intelligence, wisdom or insight.

Continue reading "White privilege era over; but it’s dying hard" »

A government with a truly wicked dilemma

Tharnicaa Murugappan
Will Tharnicaa be bundled onto a plane and ejected from the country of her birth?


ADELAIDE - The Biloela family have now become icons for both the left and right of Australian politics.

For those on the right they represent some sort of existential threat from hordes of people of colour who want to flee to Australia to escape from repressive regimes in their countries of origin.

Continue reading "A government with a truly wicked dilemma" »

Biloela 4: immorality, cruelty, racism, scams


NOOSA - The Australian government has been in real disarray recently as it struggles with the case of asylum seekers Priya and Nades Murugappan and their two Australian-born daughters, Kopika and Tharnicaa, whose plight again became a matter of great public concern.

The latest drama involving this family occurred when four-year old Tharnicaa became seriously ill and, accompanied by her mother, was flown to Perth after pneumonia turned into sepsis and there were fears she might otherwise die.

Continue reading "Biloela 4: immorality, cruelty, racism, scams" »

We need rationality in our leaders


ADELAIDE - Religion, by its very nature, requires that the faithful accept supernatural explanations for events in the material world in which we all live.

Consequently, religion frequently is irrational, anti-intellectual and anti-scientific.

In its more extreme forms it offers sociological and political ideas - like those of the Pentecostal movement - that are disguised as religious insights, hence the notion that becoming wealthy is a sign of God's favour.

Continue reading "We need rationality in our leaders" »

The PNG disease: Capitalism doesn’t care


CARDIFF, UK – I would suggest that the disgraceful eviction of 2,000 people from the ATS settlement is merely the symptom of a Papua New Guinea 'disease'.

Namely, that over the last 100 years, hundreds of businesses have fastened onto the money-making teat that a capital city, in this case Port Moresby, always engenders.

Continue reading "The PNG disease: Capitalism doesn’t care" »

No casino - we have enough problems

| My Land, My Country

PokiesIt is an absolutely disgusting move by the National Gaming and Control Board - Papua New Guinea’s gaming regulator - to sign off papers giving the OK for a new casino to be built in Port Moresby. It is even more disgusting that the Board sees fit to announce itself as a partner in the gambling business

LAE - Here’s are some questions for the National Gaming and Control Board.

How will the Board – the regulator – regulate itself as a partner and the investor in the event that there are offences committed against the law?

Continue reading "No casino - we have enough problems" »

Taking the ‘service’ out of Public Service


ADELAIDE - I happened to be looking through the Classifieds in the Adelaide Advertiser on Monday (not something I usually do, I was checking for a Death Notice).

And there, on the way to the Death Notices, I saw an advertisement, a Request for Tender in fact, from the Commonwealth Department of Finance.

Continue reading "Taking the ‘service’ out of Public Service" »

19th century capitalism just moved offshore

(Photo - Jonny White)
Capitalism isn't working (Photo - Jonny White)


ADELAIDE - Bernard Corden is right (Wages of fear – Contracting out the danger’). Neo-liberal capitalism has very adept at outsourcing hard, dirty or dangerous work to the developing world.

Outsourced to places where the political elites are largely unconcerned about the welfare of their workforce, preferring to focus on the acquisition of wealth for themselves.

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DFAT – elite became a feather duster

Bruce Haigh
Bruce Haigh - 'The best and brightest who challenge policy or who seek to put forward policy in the face of domestic political imperatives are sidelined and rendered voiceless and powerless'

| John Menadue’s Pearls & Irritations

MELBOURNE - There was a time in the sixties through to the 1980s when DFAT, the Department of Foreign Affairs (Trade was subsumed in 1987), was a powerful department within the Australian federal bureaucracy.

Its branches mirrored every major department in Canberra and when it felt necessary it would intervene in policies being developed by other departments, and often enough DFAT prevailed.

Continue reading "DFAT – elite became a feather duster" »

Wages of fear – contracting out the danger

Pipe_installation_2BERNARD CORDEN
| Edited extracts

‘No one is free, even the birds are chained to the sky’ - Bob Dylan

BRISBANE - Wages of Fear is a critically acclaimed classic suspense movie starring Yves Montand and based on a French novel, Le Salaire de la Peur, by George Arnaud, written almost seven decades ago.

The narrative remains eerily familiar across Australia and Papua New Guinea, especially if you have ever driven through the Kassam or Daulo passes on the Okuk Highway amidst a convoy of dilapidated trucks.

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Maybe all we can do is apologise


TUMBY BAY - Do we older folk need to apologise to our children and grandchildren for the sorry state of the world we are bequeathing to them?

I guess the answer to that question depends on how culpable we feel and how complicit we think we have been in bringing the world to the edge of the catastrophe so many scientists believe it faces.

Continue reading "Maybe all we can do is apologise" »

Christian constitution: what a bad idea


ADELAIDE - The long and appalling history of religious influence on politics is so well documented that it is startling that prime minister James Marape should even contemplate writing a particular religion, in this case Christianity, into Papua New Guinea’s constitution.

A key axiom of any modern state should be a clear separation between church and state.

Continue reading "Christian constitution: what a bad idea" »

More than one way to defeat corruption

David Kitchnoge - "Hold our leaders accountable by all means, but don’t unfairly bash the good guys"

| My Land, My Country

PORT MORESBY - I am concerned about increasingly loud, twisted, short-sighted and naive views held by many people about the fight against corruption and bad practice. Some of these views may even be deliberate distractions.

It seems people think the only way to fight the scourge is to jail those who are adjudged as corrupt.

Continue reading "More than one way to defeat corruption" »