Comment & opinion Feed

Beyond first contact & gun-bearing Baptists

Bible gunCHRIS OVERLAND

ADELAIDE - It is pleasing to see that a new book by Daniel Kumbon, Victory Song of Pingeta’s Daughter, will soon be available.

It will join recent works by Sil Bolkin, Mathias Kin and the late Francis Nii as another step in preserving the history of Papua New Guinea, in this case of the Enga people in particular.

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A state of perpetual crisis

Perpetual crisis (The Guardian)PHILIP FITZPATRICK

TUMBY BAY - The world has always been in a state of perpetual crisis. We seem to seamlessly roll on from one crisis straight into another one.

We actually thrive on crises.

If there wasn’t a worldwide crisis at any given time, we would wonder what was happening. That we didn’t have a crisis would become a crisis in its own right.

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2020 signals major change for PNG & the world

NeobombCHRIS OVERLAND

ADELAIDE - Unfortunately the tides of history do not always move in a linear or predictable fashion. Take the Russian Revolution for example.

The first major convulsion within Tsarist Russia occurred in 1905. A combination of suppression and political concessions enable the old regime to remain in place but it was an ominous warning for the Tsarists that the status quo would not and could not last much longer.

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How’s PNG’s new foreign policy going?

FlagHENRY HERITAGE
| Pacific Fellow | Young Australians in International Affairs | Edited

SYDNEY - After securing the confidence of parliament in May 2019, Papua New Guinea’s prime minister James Marape promptly announced a shift in the country’s foreign policy.

Marape declared that PNG would divert from its traditionally non-confrontational approach to international affairs and would assume a bold focus on forming new partnerships with regional neighbours and challenging historical dependencies.

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Innovation can make suckers of us all

Twitter
In the USA much presidential policy is dispensed using Twitter feed. Trump has 86 million followers (PNG Attitude has 7,000)

PHILIP FITZPATRICK

TUMBY BAY - No matter how good an innovation is there will always be people who subvert it and spoil it for everyone else.

This axiom applies from something as simple as people taking undue advantage of a public welfare measure by ripping it off with false claims to the greater complexity of major frauds perpetuated by large corporations taking advantage of loopholes in tax laws.

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Just another convulsion in western civilisation

EndCHRIS OVERLAND

ADELAIDE - Those of us who went to Papua New Guinea, especially in the 30 years after World War II, were motivated by many things.

For me and many others who became kiaps or didimen or tisa or mastamak,* it was a sense of adventure combined with curiosity about what was then, and remains today, a culture quite unlike our own.

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OK Pete, where did the money come from?

PonCHRIS OVERLAND

ADELAIDE - I don’t know former prime minister Peter O'Neill's parliamentary salary but I'd guess it was not high enough to allow him or his wife to save the millions of kina required to even place a deposit on a house at Point Piper.

For the benefit of Papua New Guineans unfamiliar with Australia's absurdly over-priced property market, Point Piper is amongst the most exclusive and expensive addresses in Australia.

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The shock of the new

Hughes
Robert Hughes

CHRIS OVERLAND

ADELAIDE - Robert Hughes (1938-2012) was a famed Australian art critic and historian.

Perhaps his two greatest contributions to history were a book (and related television series) in 1991 on the history of art in the late 19th and 20th centuries (from which the title of this article is taken) and a history of Australia’s convict system, ‘The Fatal Shore’ (1987).

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PNG missing out on gold 'explosion'

Namah
Belden Namah - "The Marape government has totally failed the people at a time when they need their government the most"

BELDEN NAMAH MP
| Leader of the PNG Opposition

PORT MORESBY - The price of gold has taken off around the world as the Covid-19 pandemic pushes investors to turn away from currencies to buy gold but PNG is missing out because of the continued closure of Porgera gold mine.

The government of prime minister James Marape is fully responsible for this loss of revenue because of its decision to refuse an extension of the special mining lease to Canadian miner Barrick and the protracted court proceedings that have resulted.

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Ethnicism - group survival; root of racism

Ethnicity
Ethnic diversity strengthens and enriches societies but can also be a source of conflict

ROBERT FORSTER

NORTHUMBRIA, UK – The continued aggressive suppression of black skinned former slaves in the United States has triggered fierce global outrage.

The wave of anger sparked by the murder of George Floyd implied that racism is directed exclusively against black skinned people and that the only perpetrators are white.

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Covid-19 exposes gross failures

Phil
Phil Fitzpatrick: "The K70 million the World Bank gave PNG months ago to prepare for the pandemic has mysteriously disappeared"

PHILIP FITZPATRICK

TUMBY BAY - Covid-19 is having a remarkable impact all over the world as it exposes the ideological and structural shortcomings of government and corporate entities.

In the USA and Britain, the bumbling incompetence of their leaders is shown in the disastrous statistics related to rates of infection and deaths from the virus.

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There’s no escape from our changing world

ChangeROBERT FORSTER

NORTHUMBRIA, UK - It does no good to pretend that late 19th and early 20th century Papua New Guinea with its stone based technology and scattered and perpetually warring tribes could have lain forever undisturbed by the relentless impetus of the world.

Any discussion of Australia’s presence in PNG should not begin with whether it had any right to be there, but with what might have happened if a potentially harsher Japanese or Indonesian administration had taken over the country before it became independent.

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Black lives & stupid white supremacists

ProblackPHILIP FITZPATRICK

TUMBY BAY - As an old white man who has worked with and enjoyed long standing friendships with people of colour I’ve been following the development of the Black Lives Matter phenomenon for a while now and wondering what has brought it to what appears to be a crucial point in history.

It cannot be avoided acknowledging that the issue of race is incredibly complicated. Or at least appears to be so.

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New mining act poses economic threat

HlineSTANLEY PUNDIYE

PORT MORESBY – A month ago, on Wednesday 17 June, the Papua New Guinea parliament passed a mining amendment bill suppressing the participation of landowners in the development of PNG mineral resources projects and promoting the participation of the State.

The bill provides a legal basis for the government and foreign investors to take their cut of the pie but the position of landowners’ equity is not very clear.

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Philistines have entered the gate

Morrison
Australian prime minister Scott Morrison came naturally to philistinism. It was easier than dealing with real world complexity and reason

PHILIP FITZPATRICK

TUMBY BAY - A philistine is a person of narrow mind, populist morality, materialistic views and lack of interest in art and literature.

The term was coined by the 19th Century British poet, Matthew Arnold, adapting the word from the term ‘philister’ used by German university students to describe people who were unenlightened, uncultured and anti-intellectual.

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Colourful field for Bougainville presidency

Joseph Nobetau (2)
Joseph Nobetau - a large, mixed and colourful field of candidates are offering themselves for election as president of Bougainville -

JOSEPH NOBETAU

BUKA - With 25 candidates set to contest the upcoming election for president of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, the opportunity for renewed leadership in the fledgling autonomous region is greater than ever before.

Coming off the internationally applauded independence referendum at the end of last year, Bougainville is now at a crossroads.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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".

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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.

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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.

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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."

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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" »