PARI - There’s one word that best describes the United States-Papua New Guinea Defence Cooperation Agreement signed in Port Moresby on 22 May by our defence minister Win Bakri Daki and US secretary of state Anthony Blinken.
And that word is ‘shameful’.
It came into being at APEC Haus amidst the rare sight of nationwide protests urging prime minister James Marape not to sign the security pact.
NOOSA - Despite its rich and extensive natural resource base, which should make the task of national development, Papua New Guinea has been steadily dragged down over the last 30 years by a toxic blend of volatile politics and entrenched corruption.
A complex political situation intensified by corruption, cronyism and fluctuating strategic alliances have significantly hindered economic progress and contributed to societal challenges.
Warime Guti - "Let us work together to create a sustainable future that values the protection of our natural resources and respects the rights and well-being of its people"
LAE - The Papua New Guinea Environmental Alliance (PNGEA), a representative of civil society organisations, is deeply concerned about the national government’s push to establish special economic zones throughout the country.
We’re concerned about the impact of the Special Economic Zone Authority Act of 2019, legislated to identify environmentally important areas and consider the well-being of communities within and near planned zones.
SYDNEY – Having been recruited into the Administration of Papua and New Guinea in 1952, I soon found myself as a student at the Australian School of Pacific Administration (ASOPA) in Sydney.
The six-week ‘short course’ for cadet patrol officers (pikinini kiaps) was an integral part of Australia’s post-war determination to bring modern and robust governance to the then two separate territories.
'The Strength of the Clan' (Microsoft Bing image creator from instruction by KJ)
CAIRNS - I have not read Gordon Peake’s book, Unsung Land, Aspiring Nation, but find his observations as reported by Professor Stephen Howes in his article, Confessions of an Adviser, most instructive.
Peake’s comments about Bougainville resonate loud and clear. In my view, they could just as validly be applied to any province in Papua New Guinea or the Solomon Islands.
If that is a fair call, and I would argue that it is, what does it tell us about the stated aim of Australia’s new aid program?
Unsung Land, Aspiring Nation: Journeys in Bougainville by Gordon Peake, ANU Press, December 2022, 158 pages. ISBN 9781760465438. Unsung Land, Aspiring Nation is not for sale but link here for a free download
CANBERRA - Gordon Peake’s marvellous new book Unsung Land, Aspiring Nation is based on the four years he spent in Bougainville as an Australian aid-funded adviser, from 2016 to 2019. It is both entertaining and insightful.
Peake is a brilliant writer. He writes movingly about Arawa, Bougainville’s once booming, now decaying mining town.
Ministers who participated in yesterday's 29th Australia-Papua New Guinea ministerial forum
FAR NORTH QUEENSLAND - The 29th Australia-Papua New Guinea ministerial forum in Canberra yesterday, co-chaired by Justin Tkatchenko and Senator Penny Wong, featured a stellar line-up of ministers from both countries.
The official communique, which you can read here, details the outcomes of the five key issues discussed at the forum it which 16 Papua New Guinean and 12 Australian ministers took part.
ADB Director for PNG & Pacific David Hill and PNG Treasurer Ian Ling-Stuckey ('ADB in the Pacific' Facebook)
NEWS DESK | PNG Business News
PORT MORESBY - The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Papua New Guinea government have signed loan and grant agreements of more than $66 million (K90 million) to help improve PNG’s technical and vocational education and training (TVET) program.
The agreements, part of the Improved Technical and Vocational Education and Training for Employment Project approved on 29 November, were signed by PNG Treasurer Ian Ling-Stuckey and ADB Country Director for Papua New Guinea David Hill.
“Audacious women leaders from across the Oceanic Pacific have simply had enough [and] a re-imagined positioning of women in the Oceanic space. When this happens, women can begin to confidently resist being ‘confined physically and psychologically’ by demanding supportive, equitable and decolonised relationships” - ‘Ofakilevuka Guttenbeil-Likiliki, Enough is enough: audaciously decolonising the development and humanitarian nexus, Mitchell Oration 2022
CAIRNS – ‘Ofakilevaku (‘Ofa) Guttenbeil-Likiliki is Director of the Women & Children Crisis Centre in Tonga and a filmmaker and women’s rights activist.
In a recent speech she addressed a serious and not uncommon issue: the high-handed attitudes of those who believe they know better than people with lived experience.
KANNI WIGNARAJA & DIRK WAGENER | United Nations Development Programme
PORT MORESBY - Papua New Guinea’s natural beauty is undeniable. Home to lush tropical rainforests, magnificent mountains and pristine islands and seas, PNG is one of the world’s 17 megadiverse countries, accounting for about five percent of global biodiversity.
A little-known fact is that the country’s rainforest is the third largest in the world.
PNG also lies at the heart of the Coral Triangle – a region that is home to 76% of all known coral species.
SYDNEY - Earlier this year, the Papua New Guinea Association of Australia began exploring ways to increase its active involvement with PNG for the benefit of PNG and its people.
Several potential activities were examined but in the end, it was decided to establish a fund to provide secondary school scholarships to selected PNG students.
It was decided to focus on the West Sepik Province, one of the least wealthy provinces where secondary students are disadvantaged due to high unemployment and the inability of parents to pay school fees.
Beauty of Enga Culture: Untold Stories by Tony Sulupin, Edited by Daniel Kumbon & Barry Taverner, Independently Published, 2022, 206 pages. ISBN: 9798364376510. It is available from Amazon in the USA for US$13.78
LAGAIP – After I completed my schooling in 2007, a new chapter in my life began when New Britain Palm Oil Limited in Kimbe hired me as a plantation supervisor.
I completed my industrial training with the company and enjoyed the work immensely but a nagging thought kept disturbing me.
I wanted to do something personally that would yield benefits for my marginalised people in the central Highlands. So I resigned from NBPOL and returned home.
The Pacific Islands are not only becoming a destination for drugs like methamphetamine and cocaine, they are places where criminals can take advantage of weak or out-of-date laws and police largely focused on local policing and public order
Fragile states emerged as an area of concern in the 1990s in the fields of security and development. This book (free to download) considers the dimensions of fragility that can be influenced by policy action
Children in a camp for internally displaced persons in northern Afghanistan (Eric Kanalstein, UN)
NEMATULLAH BIZHAN | Edited extracts
PORT MORESBY - Fragile states, amongst which I number Papua New Guinea, endanger the lives of citizens and expose societies to the risk of collapse.
When this happens, famine, violent disorder and economic distress can displace millions of people, with consequent impacts on surrounding regions.
The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) is actively supporting Papua New Guinea to lower its greenhouse gas emissions and embrace a transformation to a green and sustainable economy. It is part of ushering in a new era to reshape our future
Students from la Salle Technical High School, Hohola (Clive Hawigen, UNDP)
DIRK WAGENER | UNDP Resident Representative, Papua New Guinea
PORT MORESBY - Is the imminent climate catastrophe driving humanity to extinction?
How do we effectively reduce global greenhouse emissions and counter the cost-of-living crisis that is triggering hardship and poverty for billions? Humanity seems paralysed – why?
The House of Hope provides emotional, physical and material assistance to restore the dignity of survivors of violence and to promote their recovery and empowerment
House rules and artwork done by survivors of sorcery accusation related violence at the House of Hope. It is part of the rehabilitation process and therapy for survivors (Gerard Ng, UNDP Papua New Guinea)
NEWS DESK | United Nations Development Program PNG
PORT MORESBY - Since the beginning of this year, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), through its partner Catholic Diocese of Mendi, has reached over 1,000 people through 17 awareness programs on sorcery accusation related violence (SARV).
Responding to the grave human rights violations resulting from SARV in Southern Highlands Province, the Catholic Diocese of Mendi actively advocates against the practice and provides post-violence victim recovery support through a safe house – the House of Hope.
"Our traditional partners have always been Australia when it comes to trade, economics, security and we will continue to do so to make sure we have a safe region” - Justin Tkatchenko
Senator Penny Wong says Papua New Guinea and Australia "must have the"closest possible relationship. Our futures are tied together"
KIRSTY NEEDHAM | Reuters
SYDNEY - Australia wants the closest possible relationship with Papua New Guinea, said foreign minister Penny Wong, on her first official visit to the country amid competition with China for influence.
PNG had previously turned down a Chinese offer to redevelop a naval base and Canberra is funding Telstra's acquisition of PNG's biggest mobile provider, Digicel, to counter growing Chinese influence in the Pacific Islands.
Responsibility for the election lies with PNG but Australia’s support was clearly inadequate. A renewed Australian commitment to the Pacific demands more in helping to deliver safe and credible elections in the region
SYDNEY - It has been a difficult election period for Papua New Guinea.
Outbreaks of violence in the nation’s capital Port Moresby and other parts of the country have disrupted voting and counting, leading to the PNG Governor General granting a two-week extension to 12 August for the return of writs. This has been pared back to 5 August.
As tribal conflicts unfold across the Highlands, safe access to health care is under threat. In conflict-affected parts of the country, clinics are in ruins and staff flee for their lives. These ongoing attacks are leaving many thousands without adequate access to health care
Rowena Kasunu, a missionary from the Kambia tribe in Southern Highlands Province, stands outside Katiloma village’s health-care clinic, which was attacked during a tribal fight and remains closed. The health post used to service four tribes in the area
ANDREW KOBYLINSKI | International Committee of the Red Cross
CANBERRA - 'Fighting in Papua New Guinea? Really?' This is the usual response I get when I tell people about the work the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) undertakes in PNG alongside the PNG Red Cross.
While only four kilometres in the Torres Strait separate Australia and PNG, an understanding of the struggles faced by our next-door neighbour is distant for most Australians.
Ten countries should be considered for quotas: PNG, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste & Vanuatu (currently very limited access to Australia); Kiribati, Tuvalu & Nauru (climate-affected atolls); Fiji, Samoa & Tonga (good access to Australia via New Zealand)
STEPHEN HOWES | DevPolicy Blog | Edited extracts
CANBERRA - Australian foreign minister Penny Wong was putting it mildly when she noted “a positive response” to the new Labor government’s confirmation it would introduce a new permanent residency visa category for the Pacific.
Under the Pacific Engagement Visa scheme commencing in July 2023, each year 3,000 visas will be issued annually via a lottery with country-specific quotas.
Jeffrey Sachs highlights the damaging US mindset that the world should revolve around it, which is undermining the need for regional cooperation to get on top of the huge problems facing the planet
KEITH JACKSON | Drawn from John Menadue’s Pearls and Irritations and other sources
NOOSA - In this speech made by Jeffrey Sachs ahead of late June’s NATO Summit in Madrid, he offers a view of a world in a great mess and which needs to renew diplomacy, negotiation, cooperation and collaboration to solve the immense problems humanity is facing.
Sachs, a professor of sustainable development and professor of health policy at Columbia University in USA, has served as an adviser to three United Nations secretaries-general and is an economist who advised on economic reforms in Russia and several Eastern European nations in the 1990s.
“We will embark on a new chapter in our partnership, a chapter with increased American presence, where we commit to work with you in the short and long term to take on the most pressing issues that you face"
US vice-president Kamala Harris addresses Pacific Forum leaders yesterday (Sam Sachdeva, Newsroom RNZ)
NEWS DESK | Radio New Zealand Pacific | Edited
AUCKLAND - United States vice-president Kamala Harris has assured Pacific Islands Forum leaders who are meeting in Suva that the US will “significantly deepen” its engagement in the region.
Harris virtually joined the regional leaders to announce half a dozen new commitments including establishing embassies in Kiribati and Tonga, tripling funding for economic development and ocean resilience and the appointing the first-ever US envoy to the Forum.
All the indications are that there is much more push and shove to come before we know whether China will have a tangible presence on the Torres Strait – and whose military and navy will occupy two proposed bases at Ihu
Ihu Special Economic Zone groundbreaking ceremony by cheerful Chinese ambassador Zeng Fanhua and PNG foreign minister Soroi Eoe. The project is of vast importance to the impoverished Gulf Province but poses strategic problems for Australia as China seeks to consolidate its interests in the Torres Strait region
NOOSA - Reports in the Australian media that China is readying to build a military base at Ihu Papua New Guinea’s Gulf Province have been dismissed as “baseless and hype” by the Chinese embassy in Port Moresby.
China has reacted with anger to media reports that the developing Ihu Special Economic Zone at Kikori in Gulf Province will be a platform for a Chinese military base.
“The 'family' construct is inappropriate in a context where Australia should be seeking to forge mature, meaningful and equivalent relationships with Pacific Island nations. The whole theme is patronising, inane and quite weird” – Keith Jackson
AUCKLAND - More than 10 years after it started, big changes are being called for in Papua New Guinea's tuition fee-free education system, introduced by the O'Neill government in 2011.
The National Research Institute (NRI) in PNG has conducted an assessment in East Sepik and Morobe provinces and found that, while fee-free education improved access for many students, the quality of education was undermined.
“This is who we are, this is what we are. We are on the Jesus trail. We are Jesus’ followers, and we need you to stay with us because this is all new to us. So stay here and keep living with us” - People of Yifki
Yifki airstrip - "We hiked everywhere and finally located the perfect valley in the Yifki area"
The Hewa tribe of somewhere between 3,000 and 6,000 people lives in little hamlets scattered over 100 km of rugged terrain in the Papua New Guinea Highlands. In 2000 the New Tribes Mission’s Jonathan Kopf, with his wife and family, began to live and work among these people. This is their story. Photos by Annelie Adsmyr
MT HAGEN -– When we arrived in Fiyawena village, the people were eager to have us there and excited to hear the message of the light.
“We’re in the darkness of the jungle, and we know you have the story of the light,” they said. “We want to hear that story.”
If Australia’s aid program had been better administered and less affected by political influence, PNG would now be reaping the benefits
Australian diplomat Will Robinson hands a box of medical equipment to then health boss, the late Dr Paison Dakulala
TUMBY BAY - A cardinal mistake Australia made, and continues to make, in relation to Papua New Guinea is its extremely generous and sustained provision of about half a billion dollars a year in aid money.
Australia’s promise of ongoing funding aid to PNG was originally used as an inducement to accelerate its progress to independence.
Whereas Bishop seemed to be genuinely enthusiastic about aid, Payne hardly ever spoke about it, and it was impossible to work out what she thought about the subject
Julie Bishop and Senator Marise Payne (DFAT)
STEPHEN HOWES | DevPolicy Blog
CANBERRA – When it comes to Australian aid, the Coalition government’s just ended nine-year reign can be divided into two periods.
From September 2013, when it came to power; to August 2018, when Julie Bishop resigned as foreign minister after the Liberal Party turned against prime minister Malcolm Turnbull and replaced him with Scott Morrison.