Aid, development & collaboration Feed

Realising the promise of the swamps

Sago
Anthony Uechtritz and Augustine Mano, managing director of the Mineral Resources Development Corporation

PETER KARL UECHTRITZ

CAIRNS - I've read the book, ‘Too Close to Ignore: Australia’s Borderland with PNG and Indonesia, by Mark Moran and Jodie Curth-Bibb, and while I agree with its general drift I can't help thinking that the authors are being a little optimistic with their possible solutions.

I worked in the neighbouring Gulf Province in 2015-16. My younger brother Anthony has worked in Gulf (upper Purari) for nine years.

Continue reading "Realising the promise of the swamps" »


A solution is available to a run-down Fly

Mouth_of_the_Fly_River
Mouth of the Fly River

STEPHEN CHARTERIS

BANGKOK - I read with interest Professor Howes' assessment of the huge disparity in the provision of services between communities in the Torres Strait Islands and the Middle and South Fly Districts in PNG.

I had the good fortune to visit and work with many communities in Middle and South Fly in 2006 and between 2009-2014 and offer these thoughts.

Continue reading "A solution is available to a run-down Fly" »


Bai yupela kam bek gen?

Mendi airport  1970s
Young men following the action at Mendi airstrip in the 1970s

PHILLIP HERMES
| The Cove

CANBERRA - Stepping out of my LandCruiser and stretching my legs after a long, bumpy drive up the Highlands Highway, I surveyed the misty town of Mendi, provincial capital of Southern Highlands Province.

It was early 2015 and I was on my first of many adventures during my two year secondment to the Papua New Guinea Defence Force (PNGDF) Engineer Battalion, accompanying my PNGDF boss to a meeting with Chinese state-owned engineering group, COVEC.

Continue reading "Bai yupela kam bek gen?" »


Dramatic development change needed for PNG

Ship
Ship waits to load logs at Turubu Bay, East Sepik (The Oakland Institute)

NEWS DESK
| Act Now!

PORT MORESBY – Papua New Guinea think tank and community advocacy group, Act Now!, has joined with Jubilee Australia and California’s Oakland Institute to publish a new report calling for an urgent change of course from PNG’s political leaders.

The report, From Extraction to Inclusion, analyses PNG’s economic and development performance since independence in 1975.

Continue reading "Dramatic development change needed for PNG" »


Australia's PNG hand-out drops slightly to K1.2b

2020-21 budget papers (Lukas Coch  AAP)LISA CORNISH
| Devex | Edited extracts

CANBERRA — The Australian federal budget was revealed last night - after a six-month delay due to Covid-19 - and aims to spend big in an effort to boost jobs and economic growth.

Australia’s aid program will be $4 billion for the 2020-21 financial year, a boost of $304.7 million.

Papua New Guinea’s funding drops slightly from K1.3 billion to K1.2 billion.

Continue reading "Australia's PNG hand-out drops slightly to K1.2b" »


We must change from extraction to inclusion

Extraction-inclusion-coverNEWS DESK
| Act Now!

PORT MORESBY - With the release of a new report today, Act Now!, Jubilee Australia, and the Oakland Institute, call for an urgent change of course from political leaders in Papua New Guinea.

The report, ‘From Extraction to Inclusion’, analyses the country’s economic and development performance since its independence in 1975.

Continue reading "We must change from extraction to inclusion" »


Confusion surrounds Covid-19 fight in PNG

Covid gear
Smartly dressed aid officials from PNG, Australia and WHO pose with a box symbolising the energy behind the campaign to fight Covid-19 in PNG. But sometimes photos don't tell the real story

KEITH JACKSON

NOOSA – Late last week Papua New Guinea cried out for international emergency medical teams to assist its operations to fight Covid-19.

PNG police commissioner and emergency controller David Manning issued the alert after the number of Covid-19 cases in PNG more than doubled last week to an official figure of 39, with the bulk of those recorded at Port Moresby general hospital and centred on the infectious diseases unit.

Continue reading "Confusion surrounds Covid-19 fight in PNG" »


Ambunti, Porgera & the need for give & take

Beautiful Ambunti  right on the Sepik River
Beautiful Ambunti right on the Sepik River

ERIC SCHERING

KALAMAZOO, USA – Along with my wife Penny, I have served with Pacific Island Ministries in East Sepik Province between 1980 and 1985 and from 2005 until the present.

Pacific Island Ministries was founded in Ambunti, the largest town on the Sepik River, in 1977.

From the get–go a priority was to listen to the locals about what kind of help they wanted.

Continue reading "Ambunti, Porgera & the need for give & take" »


Experts warn of PNG health catastrophe

CVADRIAN ROLLINS
| Canberra Times | Edited

CANBERRA - At his meeting with fellow G20 leaders on Friday, Australia’s prime minister Scott Morrison called for international focus on the plight of Pacific island nations and said Australia was "reconfiguring" its development assistance to support the operation of critical health services and manage the economic impact.

According to the ABC, this includes the reallocation of $22 million of existing aid commitments toward a COVID-19 support package for the Papua New Guinea government.

Continue reading "Experts warn of PNG health catastrophe" »


Planning for resilient island communities

Kinjap - Consultant Wendy Lee at BRCC planning workshop (Peter Kinjap)
Consultant Wendy Lee and participants at the climate resilience development planning workshop (Peter Kinjap)

PETER SOLO KINJAP

PORT MORESBY - Papua New Guinea's Climate Change and Development Authority (CCDA) is implementing a K93 million Climate Investment Fund grant to secure greater climate resilience in small islands and atolls.

The project started in 2016 and will end in 2021 in Bougainville, Manus, Morobe, East New Britain and Milne Bay.

Continue reading "Planning for resilient island communities" »


How much aid ‘leaks’ into corruption?

Double-talk-and-corruption (C Gado)
The double talk of aid and corruption (C Gado)

ROLAND RAJAH & ALEXANDRE DAYANT
| DevPolicy Blog

CANBERRA - Is development aid an effective solution to lifting countries out of poverty?

Some argue that aid plays a central role in promoting economic development in the poorest countries, while others are still very sceptical.

A recent World Bank research paper has added to the debate (and garnered a lot of media attention) by drawing a strong link between World Bank aid flows to poor countries and deposits from those same countries in international financial havens like Switzerland, Singapore and the Cayman Islands.

Continue reading "How much aid ‘leaks’ into corruption?" »


Good neighbours always help each other

PNG troops prepare a mumu (ABC News)
PNG troops preparing a mumu in Omeo to mark the end of the bushfire deployment. Their presence was greatly appreciated and highly praised by Australian authorities and the local community (ABC News)

ROSS WILKINSON

MELBOURNE – What follows is a story that fills me with mixed emotions.

Many thanks to the Papua New Guinea government and its Defence Force, particularly those members who responded so quickly to support the East Gippsland community with the recent bushfire crisis.

For several years I was the risk manager for the East Gippsland Shire Council which includes the Omeo area.

Continue reading "Good neighbours always help each other" »


Neo-colonialism & the South Fly

Martyn Namarong
Martyn Namorong - "The consequence of a constitutional contradiction is that colonialism in PNG has a Melanesian face"

MARTYN NAMORONG

PORT MORESBY - Recent media reports have highlighted the problems faced by Daru in terms of its ailing infrastructure and the chronic shortages of almost everything that could make urban life liveable.

Daru is a stone’s throw away from the first world existence of Australia yet a million miles away from access to reliable safe clean drinking water, decent sanitation and healthcare.

Continue reading "Neo-colonialism & the South Fly" »


Providing the water of life

The Aruamu people drill a new well (Tim Wint)
The Aruamu people drill a new well (Tim Wint)

JOHN HALL
| Baptist Standard

PLANO, TEXAS - For years, Marsha Realya-Miles had prayed for 36 remote villages in Papua New Guinea. She lived in them and ministered among them.

She and her husband created the first written language for many of the Aruamu people. They translated the first New Testament in that language in 2005.

Soon, the first complete Bible in the Aruamu’s language will be published.

They knew people in these isolated places thirsted for the Living Water that is Jesus Christ, as well as clean drinking water that wouldn’t make the children sick and cut their own lives short.

The couple first arrived in 1986 as Pioneer Bible translators. The field was fertile spiritually, and people responded. Churches were started—and even a Bible college. The gospel took root and is flourishing.

Physical water proved more challenging. Realya-Miles tried every avenue she could find.

Local drillers couldn’t get their equipment in. Some non-profit organisations could drill the well but weren’t working in the area. Others could teach churches how to drill a well.

Then she learned about Texas Baptist Men.

“We were the only people who could do both drill wells and teach churches how to do it,” said DeeDee Wint, vice president of TBM water ministry.

“We couldn’t get it out of our minds. We felt God impressed it upon on hearts. We had to do it. We don’t decline projects just because it’s hard.”

For Wint and her husband, Tim, it didn’t matter that it took three days to get from Texas to the Papua New Guinea villages. Or that it took three days to gather supplies or another day crossing World War II-era bridges to get where they needed to be. Or even the notion of sleeping in open bamboo huts with little electricity and no running water.

All that mattered was the need and God’s call to meet it.

Still, with the rainy season nearing, it seemed all the effort to drill a well in late November would be for naught. When the rains begin, transportation in or out of the villages is impossible.

After two weeks of hard work, it came down to one day. If they were successful, the first village would have clean water. If not, the entire effort would have to wait another year.

“People doubted that it could be done but they had underestimated God’s people. We were amazed at the Aruamu people’s capacity to learn, their physical strength, their faith in God and their positive attitude.

“They didn’t see obstacles. When something went wrong, they just figured out how to fix it—no complaining, no doubts,” DeeDee Wint said.

“At one point, we thought the borehole had caved in on the bit 40 feet down. If this happens, you cannot only lose the borehole; you will likely lose the bit and drill pipe. Replacements are in Utah.

“After prayer and discussion, they just went back and started drilling again, and it worked. We still don’t know exactly what happened. It was another God thing.”

The entire community participated in the effort. The hope and desire of the village was clear as they worked together for the betterment of all.

“The entire village came and watched and helped,” DeeDee Wint said. “The ladies carried water. The men worked the rig. The children dug clay out of the ground and made clay marbles to seal the borehole below the surface. When it was done, it was a community accomplishment.”

When the community dedicated the well, tears filled people’s eyes. When a child filled a five-gallon container with clean drinking water, people felt they were seeing the impossible. Several individuals remarked how God had shown himself to be “plenty big” enough to meet their needs.

A local church team, Aruamu Water Projects, has the TBM drill and can use it in other villages.

DeeDee Wint dedicates a new well (Tim Wint)
DeeDee Wint dedicates a new well (Tim Wint)

To qualify for a well, a village must raise 15% of the needed funds, form a committee to care for the well and have at least one toilet. Already, communities are working to become eligible.

Another TBM team will visit the area in June to further train and drill more wells and encourage the church.

Everywhere the church goes with its drill, lives will be changed.

“They will be healthier because they’re not drinking out of a contaminated river,” DeeDee Wint said. “With open defecation everywhere, the water is quite bad. They are sick all the time.”

Church members also will share the gospel as they drill each well. People will be healthier physically and spiritually. It is a visible reminder of how God loves his people, the Wints noted.


Freda’s trip of a lifetime

Freda Duma
Freda Duma and her mum - on their way to Texas for life-saving heart surgery

CHARLIE LYNN

SYDNEY – Friday was the end of a long journey in our quest to help a young Kokoda schoolgirl, Freda Duma, have a lifesaving heart-operation in Texas, USA.

A chance sighting of one of our Facebook posts by Dr Amyna Sultan at the Pacific International Hospital in Port Moresby, and the coincidence of having an American specialist working with her at the time, led to an agreement to perform the operation free of charge in Texas.

Continue reading "Freda’s trip of a lifetime" »


Rotarian's generous donation

4WD
Bound for Oro - the former Australian Defence Force Mercedes Benz four-wheel-drive truck

NEWS DESK
| The Standard (Warrnambool)

WARRNAMBOOL - A Warrnambool man has purchased a four-wheel-drive to help volunteers in Papua New Guinea give residents access to fresh water.

Ian Watson, a team of the Rotary Papua New Guinea Project Group, has taken part in four volunteer missions and discovered the team's biggest challenge was moving the team and its equipment.

Continue reading "Rotarian's generous donation" »


Cash crunch as debt repayment soars

James marape
James Marape and Australian high commissioner Bruce Davis - PNG's problems are bound to be Australia's problems too

JONATHAN BARRETT & CHARLOTTE GREENFIELD
| Reuters

SYDNEY & WELLINGTON - Papua New Guinea’s annual debt repayments to China are forecast to increase 25% by 2023, new budget figures show, at the same time as the Pacific nation falls to its largest ever deficit.

The resource-rich country, which is at the centre of a diplomatic tussle between China and the United States, has blamed extravagant spending by the previous administration for its souring finances, which will require the government to borrow even more to pay the bills.

Continue reading "Cash crunch as debt repayment soars" »


There are no free lunches

Phil Fitzpatrick at mic
Phil Fitzpatrick - "While Australia thought it was a good world citizen bringing PNG to nationhood, many Papua New Guineans felt it was exercising its innate sense of superiority over what it saw as a lesser people"

PHIL FITZPATRICK

TUMBY BAY - You’ve probably heard the old adage which says there is no such thing as a free lunch.

The adage alludes to the belief that nothing in life is free, including acts of kindness and charity.

Any such act always creates an obligation of reciprocity.

Papua New Guineans and other Melanesian societies are very familiar with this rule. The so-called ‘big man system’ is based on the concept.

Continue reading "There are no free lunches" »


Highlands mushrooms ready for market

Eastern Highlands mushrooms
Eastern Highlands mushrooms

SCOTT WAIDE
| My Land, My Country | Edited extracts

LAE - Usually the mushrooms we get in Papua New Guinea are expensive and the technology behind them is a mystery.

But in Goroka, a team of Chinese scientists from the Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University are teaching Eastern Highlanders how to grow their own mushrooms.

Continue reading "Highlands mushrooms ready for market" »


EU gives K310 million for rural support

European-unionNEWS DESK
| Global Coffee Report

MELBOURNE - The European Union is funding a five-year K310 million rural initiative in partnership with the government of Papua New Guinea.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation will lead the project that aims to support sustainable agriculture with emphasis on assuring that rural women and youth benefit the most.

Continue reading "EU gives K310 million for rural support" »


Geo-strategy & Bougainville’s future

Bville
Bougainville is strategically located in the south-west Pacific  and that locational advantage can be traded for aid, underpinning a viable economy

PHIL FITZPATRICK

TUMBY BAY – The discussion about the future of Bougainville seems to be coalescing around its economic viability, which seems to be the lever that will be used by Papua New Guinea in its attempt to retain the province as part of the nation.

What seems to be missing from the debate so far is the issue of identity.

Continue reading "Geo-strategy & Bougainville’s future" »


Transparency needed on K1b loan

Bridi rice
Bridi Rice - "We need to be more sophisticated than providing loans through Export Finance Australia"

BRIDI RICE
| Australian Council for International Development

CANBERRA - The Australian Council for International Development has commented on news that the Australian government will provide a loan of $US300 million (K1 billion) to Papua New Guinea.

As the PNG government seeks to pursue further economic reform, short-term liquidity provided by Australia could provide a leg-up for long-term change. But this is far from certain.

Continue reading "Transparency needed on K1b loan" »


Who gives PNG how much?

PNG donor funding
Papua New Guinea’s top donors (National Planning Department, 2020 forecasts)

BRYAN KRAMER MP
| The Kramer Report

PORT MORESBY - While discussing the 2020 budget papers, many members of Papua New Guinea’s national executive council (cabinet) were surprised to find out just how much PNG receives from our donor partners.

In 2020 PNG will receive close to K1 billion in free development funds to assist us in our development goals.

Continue reading "Who gives PNG how much?" »


Economist Charles Wapinien: Ready to contribute

Charles Wapinien
Charles Wapinien, UPNG's first Master of Economic and Public Policy graduate.

NEWS DESK
| Pacific Leadership + Governance Precinct

PORT MORESBY - After a few minutes with Charles Wapinien it becomes clear that economic research and policy formulation are fundamental to addressing complex national challenges and shaping Papua New Guinea’s future.

“Any issues, any challenges that a country, organisation or society faces are framed into policies,” Charles said enthusiastically.

Continue reading "Economist Charles Wapinien: Ready to contribute" »


Australian aid efficacy: 10 years; no change

Australian-aid_DFAT-image
Australian aid - "We are too dependent on capacity building through traditional technical assistance and training" (DFAT)

STEPHEN HOWES & SHERMAN SURANDIRAN
| Devpolicy Blog | Extracts | Full report & graphs here

CANBERRA - One of the building blocks of the Australian aid program, or most any aid program for that matter, are country strategies.

These documents explain or, in the best case determine, what aid projects are done in which country.

Continue reading "Australian aid efficacy: 10 years; no change" »


Report disputes China debt-trap claims

China expanionismELOUISE FOWLER
| Australian Financial Review

SYDNEY - The claim that China has engaged in ‘debt-trap diplomacy’ by offering loans worth hundreds of billions of dollars to strategically located Pacific island nations, leaving them vulnerable to China’s influence, has been hosed down in a new Lowy Institute report.

"The evidence to date suggests China has not been engaged in deliberate ‘debt-trap’ diplomacy in the Pacific," researchers at the foreign policy think tank concluded.

Continue reading "Report disputes China debt-trap claims" »


PNG has options to solve its budget crisis

David Kitchnoge
David Kitchnoge - "PNG does have options and we need to go into negotiations knowing what they are"

DAVID KITCHNOGE

PORT MORESBY - The fact that the International Monetary Fund admitted its failure in its assistance to Greece showed it was willing to learn from its mistakes and avoid the pitfalls in similar cases.

The key is always that, whatever solution Papua New Guinea adopts to get our economy going again, would be a negotiated outcome with multilateral financial institutions like IMF.

Continue reading "PNG has options to solve its budget crisis" »


Call for more aid as PNG faces corruption crisis

Ben Packham
Ben Packham - journalist with The Australian newspaper and plenty of PNG experience

BEN PACKHAM
| The Australian

CANBERRA - A review of Australia’s annual $578m aid program in Papua New Guinea has warned law and order is deteriorating, corruption remains rife, and “weak” governance continues to hamper basic service ­delivery beyond the capital, Port Moresby.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade review found the performance of Australia’s biggest country aid program was falling short of expectations and “restorative action” was necessary.

Continue reading "Call for more aid as PNG faces corruption crisis" »


High level journey to Okapa’s back page

Senator Reynolds makes a sick girl smile (Alexander Nara)
Senator Reynolds makes a sick girl smile (Alexander Nara)

ALEXANDER NARA

PORT MORESBY - The geographical coordinates 6° 32' 0" South and 145° 37' 0" East were deemed to be somewhere in the centre of Papua New Guinea’s sovereign landmark.

An internet search revealed these satellite coordinates referred to 2,110 square kilometers of rugged mountains and narrow valleys covered with dense tropical jungle.

Continue reading "High level journey to Okapa’s back page" »


PNG delegate makes plea to UN on climate

Vinzealhar Ainjo Kwangin Nen
Vinzealhar Nen speaks at the United Nations in New York (UN Photo by Laura Jarriel)

NEWS DESK
| UN News

NEW YORK - A young advocate from Papua New Guinea has painted a vivid picture of the dangers facing small island developing states as the world warms and the seas rise.

Vinzealhar Ainjo Kwangin Nen was speaking to delegates at a major United Nations summit in New York on Friday looking at the progress and pitfalls of small island states facing climate change.

Continue reading "PNG delegate makes plea to UN on climate" »


PNG cash flow crippled says Treasurer

Ian Ling-Stuckey
Ian Ling-Stuckey - "Poor national budgets have distorted development planning and service delivery"

KEITH JACKSON

PORT MORESBY – Papua New Guinea’s treasurer, Ian Ling-Stuckey, has said the O’Neill government’s mismanagement of the economy has crippled the nation’s cash flows.

“There is some bad news coming but this government has already commenced work on solutions,” Mr Ling-Stuckey said in a media release.

Continue reading "PNG cash flow crippled says Treasurer" »


Out of freedom, a project of empowerment

Shila Yukuli Paia
Shila Yukuli Paia - "Paying high school fees for a naïve, immature teenage girl was a big financial risk for the clan"

SHILA YUKULI PAIA

ADELAIDE - Over coffee with a friend recently, a comment made me rethink everything Papua New Guinea.

My friend said to me that, if anyone wanted to see, feel or experience freedom, they only had to go to PNG.

I was surprised by the statement until I thought of the situation faced by our Melanesian country-people at the West Papua border, the Rohingyas in Myanmar and indigenous Australians.

Continue reading "Out of freedom, a project of empowerment" »


Time to crack down on MPs stealing public funds

Dsip
Hand-outs to politicians for development purposes are being abused and need to be abolished say Cathoic bishop - and many other people

ERIC SCHERING

MICHIGAN, USA - The District Services Improvement Program (DSIP) and Provincial Services Improvement Program (PSIP) are both valued highly by members of parliament in Papua New Guinea because they allow MPs considerable discretion in how the money is used.

For the last several years I’ve been paying particular attention to this DSIP and PSIP spending.

While DSIP and PSIP have great potential for development at the same time both programs can suck MPs into corruption.

Continue reading "Time to crack down on MPs stealing public funds" »


In Papua New Guinea, reality will dim any nationalist dreams

Marape Morrison
James Marape and Scott Morrison - Australia will respond to PNG's calls but will not make the kind of sweeping overhauls to the relationship that Marape has called for

ASSESSMENTS WRITER | Stratfor Worldview | Edited

AUSTIN, USA - Papua New Guinea's new prime minister, James Marape, is touting a more nationalist push on resources for his energy- and mineral-rich country and hinting at a rebalance in great power relations, vexing both foreign companies and regional heavyweight Australia.

Since taking office in late May, Marape has launched a formal review into a multibillion dollar liquefied natural gas (LNG) project, threatened to seek Chinese help in refinancing the country's K27 billion debt and mulled an overhaul of the country's natural resource laws to increase PNG’s share of revenue.

But despite his ambitious intentions, the eager new leader will find it difficult to take any of these efforts too far, because there's only so much the small resource- and aid-dependent Pacific country can push the envelope without jeopardizing its political stability and primary income streams.

Continue reading "In Papua New Guinea, reality will dim any nationalist dreams" »


Wild Cat: A fraud uncovered & in dire need of investigation

Eric Schering
Eric Schering - time for something to be done about a K30 millon fraud

ERIC SCHERING

WEWAK - By April 2019 prime minister Peter O’Neill was clueless about the depth of opposition to his leadership of Papua New Guinea.

He genuinely believed he would win a vote of no confidence hands down.

In the 3 May 2019 issue of The National newspaper, the title of one of the leading articles had O’Neill saying, “I’m Safe”.

The article quoted him saying that the opposition had “no hope of being successful with a vote of no confidence.” One month later he was out of office and sitting on the back bench.

O’Neill had badly miscalculated the level of support within his own party as well as the backing of his broader coalition.

One of the earliest MP’s to abandon O’Neill was Governor Philip Undialu. In the 28 April 2019 issue of PNG Attitude, Undialu says, “Since the first shipment of gas [LNG] in 2014, over K70 billion has been earned but O’Neill is not telling the country where the money was parked.” K70 billion!

Continue reading "Wild Cat: A fraud uncovered & in dire need of investigation" »


PNG asks Australia for $1.5 billion for roads & anti-corruption

Wera Mori
Wera Mori, PNG's commerce & industry minister

SUE LANNIN | Australian Broadcasting Corporation | Extract

SYDNEY - Papua New Guinea's government says it wants $1.5 billion from Australia to help finance its 2019 budget, including funding to help fight corruption and to pay for roads in remote areas.

PNG's commerce and industry minister Wera Mori has told PM that the request for direct budget support from Australia was "quite significant".

"The new government has realised that we are in a situation which we need to basically come out of," he said.

"This will go basically towards helping us to cushion the current situation we are in so we can meet complete funding of the 2019 budget to deliver services to the people."

Mr Mori is part of a delegation of senior PNG ministers in Australia to attend a PNG investment conference in Sydney.

Continue reading "PNG asks Australia for $1.5 billion for roads & anti-corruption" »


Australia's aid infrastructure fixation won’t be a boon for the Pacific

Terence Wood
Terence Wood

TERENCE WOOD | East Asia Forum

CANBERRA - The need for infrastructure in poorer parts of the Pacific is obvious. Outside of urban areas, once-paved roads are now muddy tracks. On some islands, planes land on grass runways that are frequently closed by rain. In some places, small boats take hours to move cargo from ships moored off coasts deprived of wharves.

Australia has always devoted aid to the Pacific’s infrastructure needs. In 2013, a recent low point, Australia still spent US$70 million on infrastructure in the region. Other OECD donors haven’t neglected infrastructure either. OECD donor countries, alongside multilateral institutions like the World Bank, spent US$327 million in the Pacific in 2013.

The infrastructure focus of Australian aid to the Pacific is set to ramp up in coming years. This will come through grants — how Australia typically gives aid in the region — and, increasingly, through the provision of loans.

Infrastructure is needed in the less affluent Pacific countries. But Australia’s newfound fixation on infrastructure spending is not guaranteed to be beneficial. There are two reasons why: recipient context and donor motivations.

Continue reading "Australia's aid infrastructure fixation won’t be a boon for the Pacific" »


In the chasm of change: do its agents often feel alone?

Stranded
Image - Graham Forster

ROBERT FORSTER

NORTHUMBRIA - This photograph was taken deep in Papua New Guinea’s interior in 1974 – and it is a metaphor.

I was a bush administrator, a kiap, and I was on patrol.

The image underlines how young I was, and conveys something of my apprehension about the drop below.

But its underlying message is that I was alone, bridging two philosophical fixed points, and so in a cultural no-man’s land.

These contrasting pivots were the chasm that lay between two realities.

The global economic, political, and administrative ideals that my work required me to encourage isolated village people to adopt.

Continue reading "In the chasm of change: do its agents often feel alone?" »


Security focus is needed in Australia’s relationship with PNG

Aust-Trade-with-PNGJARRYD DE HAAN | Future Directions International

PERTH - On the second day of his recent visit to Australia, Papua New Guinea prime minister James Marape and Australian prime minister Scott Morrison both agreed to begin negotiations to develop a comprehensive strategic and economic partnership.

In a press conference following the meeting, Morrison announced $250 million worth of investment into electricity and $79 million worth of commitments in health programs.

The announcement that both leaders would negotiate deeper strategic and economic ties will be a welcome move for bilateral relations.

Continue reading "Security focus is needed in Australia’s relationship with PNG" »


Ad hoc aid: A great way to waste money & encourage corruption

Phil Fitzpatrick at mic
Phil Fitzpatrick

PHIL FITZPATRICK

TUMBY BAY - More often than not Australian aid to Papua New Guinea and the Pacific seems to lack direction. In specific cases it can actually appear to be random, opportunistic, ad hoc and decidedly vague.

What on earth, for instance, does providing aid money for ‘good governance’ mean? This has been an Australian favourite for years but the evidence seems to be that it has been a complete flop.

Where did the ‘good governance’ aid money go? Did it end up in the pockets of the politicians and boomerang consultants? One could be forgiven for thinking that is the case.

Over the years various attempts to target aid has met strong opposition from recipients, who maintain that they have the right to decide where the money should go.

This assumes the recipients have plans that prioritise where aid money should be spent.

Continue reading "Ad hoc aid: A great way to waste money & encourage corruption" »


Japan, US & Australia K3.4 billion loan for LNG project

Aus_USA_JapHISAO KODACHI | Nikkei Asian Review writer

TOKYO -- Japan, the US and Australia have picked a liquefied natural gas project in Papua New Guinea as their first case for joint financing in the Indo-Pacific region, planning to lend over K3.4 billion, Nikkei has learned.

Three government-backed lenders -- Japan Bank for International Cooperation, the US Overseas Private Investment Corp and Australia's Export Finance and Insurance Corp -- issued a statement yesterday regarding their joint infrastructure efforts.

The three countries agreed in November to join hands in financing infrastructure projects in the Indo-Pacific to offer an alternative to China's Belt and Road initiative. The LNG project in Papua New Guinea marks the first project in this three-way cooperation.

Continue reading "Japan, US & Australia K3.4 billion loan for LNG project" »


Taking Back PNG: Is Australian aid obsolete in a China world?

Boniface Kaiyo
Boniface Kaiyo - 'James Marape faces key challenges including the failure of Australia’s aid assistance to PNG'

BONIFACE KAIYO

PORT MORESBY - Papua New Guinea is in a region at a crossroads. One road takes it towards open markets, inclusive growth and a dynamic economy. The other takes it backwards towards protectionism, exclusion and regional economic slowdown.

Sandwiched in between is foreign aid. In the more than four decades since independence, aid and international development have had a decisive role to play in creating a platform for the country’s e future.

Now, the challenges facing Australia’s aid to PNG have emerged more starkly in light of China’s increasing presence and competition with the US in the region.

Since recently assuming office as PNG’s eighth prime minister, James Marape has made no bones of what he intends to do.

He’s said he will “tweak” the country’s resource laws, a change which seems set to affect the interests of international actors including foreign direct investors. This is in the context of PNG’s resource owners, who have been left waiting for a promised kina windfall which has remained far out of reach.

One view of Marape’s statement is that he is placing PNG’s Chinese connection more highly than his predecessor Peter O’Neill. But Marape must be careful to promote PNG’s national interest. This seems to be a clear gamble.

Continue reading "Taking Back PNG: Is Australian aid obsolete in a China world?" »


The media is overstating China’s aid to the Pacific

China's Pacific aid (Lowy Institute)
China's total Pacific aid (Lowy Institute)

TERENCE WOOD | Devpolicy Blog

CANBERRA - The Guardian newspaper is far from the worst offender in reporting on Chinese aid.

(That award goes to the Sunshine Coast Daily, which helpfully told readers last year that “China almost has Australia surrounded”).

The Guardian is, however, guilty of repeatedly making misleading statements about how much aid China gives to the Pacific.

Others are also doing this, but The Guardian’s reporting combines all the main errors in a few short sentences. As a result, it’s a great teaching tool.

In 2018, The Guardian published an article claiming:

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USAID supports PNG & Pacific region to address climate change

Billy Bau, Ruben Robin & Peter Kinjap
Billy Bau, Ruben Robin & Peter Kinjap work on project to sustain forests using blockchain

PETER S KINJAP

Images by Stella Wainetti

PORT MORESBY – A key pathway to combat climate involves building capacity and training locals to be climate change ready and resilient.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has taken the lead to provide the required training for people in Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu so they can better address climate change issues.

According to US Ambassador to PNG, Catherine Ebert-Gray, well over $80 million has been invested in Pacific environmental and climate change projects over the last few years.

The USAID climate ready project has been in PNG for nine years, with $11 million in small grants being disbursed.

The project was established so PNG and island nations could access the growing amount of international funds available specifically for Pacific countries to address the effects of climate change.

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Australian aid & the Pacific in the Coalition’s third term

Howes
Stephen Howes - positive change is possible

STEPHEN HOWES | Devpolicy News | Australian National University

CANBERRA - Aid hardly rated a mention during the 2019 Australian election campaign. Shadow foreign minister Penny Wong talked about it, and Labor promised more aid. The Liberals eventually put out a foreign policy statement, which defends their record on aid but promises nothing new.

But will it just be business as usual? Aid is a policy domain with enormous ministerial discretion. As Ben Day has argued, it is one area where a foreign minister can actually make a difference.

And the Coalition will be under pressure.

Their unconvincing climate change policy will be a constant target for Pacific criticism. PNG’s ongoing economic woes, corruption scandals, and health crisis will put pressure on the government to get a better return from our biggest aid program.

Continue reading "Australian aid & the Pacific in the Coalition’s third term" »


Kenmore Catholics’ trash buys a new boat for Milne Bay priest

Fr Mark Franklin
Fr Mark Franklin - his Kenmore parish is cleaning up the environment while assisting the Catholic church in Milne Bay

NICK HOLT | Catholic Leader

BRISBANE - Kenmore parish has furthered its commitment to Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’: On Care for our Common Home by turning recyclables into foreign aid donations.

The parish has collected more than 4,000 recyclable containers like bottles, cans and cardboard, which earn 10 cents per unit under the Queensland government initiative Containers for Cash.

The funds collected by the parish were used to buy a boat for a Papua New Guinean bishop.

“We had a parishioner come to us last year about helping buy a small boat for Fr Sam Phasz, a priest of the Province of Milne Bay in the Diocese of Alotau-Sideia,” said parish priest Fr Mark Franklin.

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Time to recast Australia's role: millions spent, few lives changed

TONI HASSAN | The Canberra Times

CANBERRA - A new or re-elected government will give Australia a chance to better support our neighbours in Asia and the Pacific. The behaviour of the last one hasn't been good.

It has repeatedly used the aid budget as a sort of automatic teller machine to take money from development in order to get its budget in order.

A glaring example was the $55 million dollar refugee resettlement deal with very poor and dictator-led Cambodia. About $40 million came out of aid while $15 million was directed for resettlement services and support.

Signed in 2014 by Scott Morrison as immigration minister, it was an abject failure. Only four people accepted offers of resettlement from Nauru. Only a Syrian man (with his family) is left but he's now hoping to move to Canada.

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Freda’s life in balance as Charlie wages war on Kokoda bureaucrats

Charlie Lynn
Charlie Lynn - battling to save the life of a Kokoda schoolgirl

KEITH JACKSON

NOOSA – The board of the Kokoda Track Authority (KTA) faces a challenge from ex-Major Charlie Lynn today over its decision to support third parties with funding designated for track infrastructure.

The KTA is holding a forum in Port Moresby amidst another controversy over what critics say has been a failure to support reforms to improve the welfare of guides, carriers and communities along the Kokoda Trail.

Mr Lynn, whose company Adventure Kokoda has self-regulated reforms and is leading a push to have other trek companies do the same, has asked that the issue of third party funding be placed on the agenda of today’s meeting.

He has also demanded that the matter take precedence due to the urgency and potential illegality of KTA’s plan to fund a scholarship program proposed by NGO the Kokoda Track Foundation.

Mr Lynn said KTA should reverse its decision to donate money to an Australian NGO and instead use the funds to save the life of a 14 year old Kokoda schoolgirl.

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No Huawei but plans firm up for Australia-PNG-China cable

Submarine cable
Schematic: Submarine internet cable

STAFF EDITOR | Taipei Times

SYDNEY - US submarine cable company SubCom will lay an internet link from Australia to Hong Kong through Papua New Guinea, deepening its involvement in a region where China’s Huawei Technologies has sought to expand.

The route will be the most direct internet link yet between Australia and China.

It includes a connection to Madang in PNG and possible branches to Port Moresby and Honiara in the Solomon Islands — connections that Huawei had agreed to make before Australia blocked its project last year on security grounds.

The SubCom cable will likely stifle any commercial case for future Huawei cables in the region, said Jonathan Pryke of the Sydney-based think tank, the Lowy Institute.

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