Aid, development & collaboration Feed

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"


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

| 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)


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)

| 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"


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"


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

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


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


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?

Image - Graham 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


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'


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:

Continue reading "The media is overstating China’s aid to the Pacific" »

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


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.

Continue reading "USAID supports PNG & Pacific region to address climate change" »

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

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.

Continue reading "Time to recast Australia's role: millions spent, few lives changed" »

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


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.

Continue reading "Freda’s life in balance as Charlie wages war on Kokoda bureaucrats" »

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.

Continue reading "No Huawei but plans firm up for Australia-PNG-China cable" »

Hypocrisy undermines Australia’s position as a corruption fighter

PNG is the most corrupt country in APEC, but the Manus contracts reflect badly on Australian governance which  appears to be hypocritical and replete with double standards


CANBERRA - Recent media revelations about the $423 million (K1 billion) contract awarded to a relatively unknown company, Paladin, to provide security and other services to refugees on Manus has attracted extensive discussion in Australia.

Most of this has centred on Paladin, the extravagant cost of the contract and rate of profit for the company (estimated at K40 million a month), and, of course, the opaque and abbreviated tendering process followed by the Department of Home Affairs.

Less has been said about what these events might say about Australia’s ongoing engagement with PNG. We argue that this case potentially serves to undermine Australia’s standing among those striving to combat corruption and improve governance in its northern neighbour.

According to the Australian Financial Review, the Australian federal government ran a ‘limited tender’ for two contracts won by Paladin.

Continue reading "Hypocrisy undermines Australia’s position as a corruption fighter" »

Amea’s story: Building a village school out of nothing

Amea Basel
Amea Basel - worked with fellow villagers to build the self-sufficient OKA school


Having wisdom and understanding is better than having silver or gold. It is good to have nice things, but there are very few things in life that can never be taken away, and education is one of them (Proverbs 16:16)

PORT MORESBY - The journey that changed my view of life started when I joined Youth With a Mission PNG (YWAM PNG) as a general volunteer on their third outreach for 2019 to the Gulf and Western Provinces of Papua New Guinea.

The journey was an eye-opener for me, a Papua New Guinean who has spent most of my life in the city and in other more developed provinces than Gulf and Western.

During the second week of outreach I was at Korovake Village in the Baimuru District when I met Amea Basel, a tremendous young Gulf Province woman.

Her story changed my life.

It got me thinking, ‘what am I doing for my country?’

Continue reading "Amea’s story: Building a village school out of nothing" »

Is the vaunted national electrification project in jeopardy?

Deal announcement (ABC)
In jeopardy because of contract 'back-dooring' - the national electrification project recently announced at APEC by a five-nation partnership


PORT MORESBY – Papua New Guinea’s multinational electrification partnership could be in jeopardy after the O’Neill government awarded contracts to companies from China without open tendering, according to Opposition Leader Patrick Pruaitch.

Pruaitch said the government’s approval of the Ramu 2 hydroelectric project has led the Americans to reconsider their involvement in the five-nation partnership which was announced at last year’s APEC summit.

“The US government and American corporations are believers in fair play and the US government reaction is not surprising,” Pruaitch said.

But, in a stinging gibe at Australia, he said the Australian government would still want the project as it “is happy to encourage third parties from Australia to enter ‘secretive sweetheart’ deals.”

Continue reading "Is the vaunted national electrification project in jeopardy?" »

Is Oz aid slackness to PNG a ploy to maintain the alliance


MELBOURNE - Over a number of years I’ve been reading contributions to PNG Attitude regarding Australian aid to Papua New Guinea and other Pacific/Indian Ocean nations. 

Each of these articles has tended to look at specific issues associated with the provision and management of aid without looking at the total picture and realising there may be a bigger unstated driver.

To understand how Australia’s aid to PNG evolved, we need to take a brief trip back in history.

In the mid-1800s a number of European nations were exploring the Pacific and Indian Oceans with a view to colonising new lands or influencing native populations.

Continue reading "Is Oz aid slackness to PNG a ploy to maintain the alliance" »

Papua New Guinea development: did we stuff it up?

Sharing a joke with children  Markham Valley  1974 (Vanessa-and-Denis)
Vanessa and Denis share a joke with children in the Markham Valley, 1974 - Australia left PNG the next year with a large stock of good will, much of which remains


CANBERRA - Port Moresby, sometime in 1977, a ‘going finish’ party at the home of a retiring senior Australian bureaucrat.

The mood was bright, a mixed crowd of men and women, expatriates of various points of origin and Papua New Guineans, mostly young.

A British aid worker I was talking with declared, “This is the last major colonial possession to go independent, and this time we are not going to stuff it up.”

The ‘we’ he referred to presumably included official aid donor countries, multilateral agencies from the UN, and the development banks — the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank — plus a host of NGOs providing technical assistance and volunteers.

Some 40 years later, with reports of incompetence and gross corruption in government, and violence on the streets of Port Moresby and other major PNG cities, it seems reasonable to ask, “did we stuff it up?”

Continue reading "Papua New Guinea development: did we stuff it up?" »

The quest to find what’s happening to PNG’s children

PNG childELIZABETH FINKEL | Cosmos | Extract

Link here to read the full version of this important article

ADELAIDE - Popular images of the people of Papua New Guinea tend to concentrate on colourful costumes, decorations and ceremonies – such as this picture showing locals at the city of Mt Hagen – but away from tourist spots the situation is very different.

Amidst yapping dogs and swaying palms, the nervous young mother sits at the sturdy table set up in the dusty yard of her village.

Local health workers Pele Melepia and Priscah Hezericlad stretch out her one-year-old baby girl and measure her length with a contraption that resembles those used to measure foot size. The baby is also weighed carefully on a set of digital plastic scales.

Next it is the mother’s turn. Cleared of the clunky devices, the table is quickly transformed into a state-of-the-art pathology lab. Atop a sterile blue paper cloth appears a small blue box, two white strips of filter paper and a small graduated glass rod.

Continue reading "The quest to find what’s happening to PNG’s children" »

Failing its own principles: G-20 drags its feet on corruption

G20msgSTAFF REPORTER | Transparency International

BERLIN - G20 leaders are meeting in Buenos Aires this weekend at the annual summit of leaders of the 19 largest economies and the EU.

The G20 has been a frequent topic for Transparency International this year as we’ve put their uneven anti-corruption efforts under a magnifying glass.

In April we published a report that found the G20 dragging its feet on implementing its own principles for combatting the shell companies that fuel corruption.

Late last week, police raided the headquarters of Deutsche Bank, Germany’s largest lender, over suspicions that employees helped clients set up shell companies in tax havens to dodge anti-money laundering rules.

Continue reading "Failing its own principles: G-20 drags its feet on corruption" »

Naive Australia should dump grand governance aid goals

Howes_StephenSTEPHEN HOWES | Australian Financial Review

CANBERRA - In a recent opinion piece, former foreign minister Alexander Downer commends the opportunities now available to Pacific islanders to work in Australia. But, when he was minister, Downer publicly opposed the introduction of a Pacific farm labour program.

Instead, the Liberals gave rich-country backpackers generous visa incentives to work on farms, meaning that today, even though there is now a Pacific seasonal farm labour program, most of Australia's fruit is picked by the young people of distant rich countries, rather than the young people of our poor neighbours.

Downer viewed the Pacific too much through an aid lens. In his Financial Review article, he defends successive Australian governments against the accusation that they haven't taken the Pacific seriously enough by referring to our large Pacific aid programs.

Continue reading "Naive Australia should dump grand governance aid goals" »

PNG rebuffs Oz & US in favour of ‘insecure’ Huawei internet deal

Despite the best efforts of Kev the Koala to turn things around, PNG has stuck with Huawei to build an important section of its internet infrastructure


NOOSA - In the wake of APEC, we have now learned that China has had an important victory with the Papua New Guinea government rejecting an approach from Australia, the United States and Japan to build an important element in the country’s internet infrastructure.

PNG’s minister for public enterprise and state investment William Duma has announced that his government will stick with Chinese company, Huawei, with which it already had an agreement signed in 2016.

This is a significant rebuff to Australia and the United States, which have tried to persuade PNG to dump the Chinese company as, in recent times, they have sought to dilute China’s influence in the Pacific region.

From PNG’s viewpoint it could be seen as a balancing move to reassure China that it is seeking to maintain a neutral stand in its relations with both the West and China, especially in the light of the deal with Australia and the US to rebuild Manus as a key military asset.

Continue reading "PNG rebuffs Oz & US in favour of ‘insecure’ Huawei internet deal" »

In lavishing funds on PNG, here’s what is really needed

MARK MORAN | The Conversation 

Boy and mobile phone
A student does his homework near a solar power kit in remote PNG (Geoff Miller)

BRISBANE - If you set out by dinghy from the northern-most inhabited part of Australia you will make landfall in Papua New Guinea fairly soon.

Boigu Island, part of Queensland, is the most northerly island in the Torres Strait. With its own Australia Post outlet, it is less than 10 kilometres from the PNG coast, an area known as South Fly District, part of Western Province.

PNG, a country often overlooked by the Australian public, is enjoying the fierce competition among foreign powers for influence in the country after APEC ended in stalemate and heightened US-China tensions.

For PNG, the attention may well translate to development funds. Already the US has pledged to work with Australia to upgrade Lombrum naval base on Manus Island, in what is widely seen as a counter to rising influence from Beijing in the region.

But if foreign powers really want to make a difference to PNG, one of the poorest in the region, then funding equipment like telecommunications gear and solar power kits would be widely welcomed. One key benefit would be using mobile phones to transfer money - instead of traipsing long distances to a bank in town.

Continue reading "In lavishing funds on PNG, here’s what is really needed" »

Well targeted aid could get where the big guys don’t

Chips Mackellar Cabbage
Chips Mackellar as a young kiap, and his pet pig, Cabbage, who features in Chips' book of short stories, Sivarai


Aid from wealthier countries to poorer countries takes many forms and has many different motives, some of them philanthropic. But an area of assistance from Australia to Papua New Guinea – much overlooked and rarely complimented by officials from either country – is that provided by citizens to citizens. Many of our readers, and PNG Attitude itself, has been involved a large number of projects of this kind. Now with China engaging in what it may term ‘aid’ – but which in fact consists largely of loans repayable in some way – and Australia anxious, author and ex-kiap Chips Mackellar takes a look at the scene.

TOOWOOMBA - It is unlikely that Australia could ever match the so-called ‘aid’ which China is giving Papua New Guinea.

Massive buildings, six-lane highways and roads to nowhere are very impressive, but they are of no use to the bulk of the neglected population in regional and remote PNG.

On the other hand, we can easily compete against the Chinese with proper aid delivered to the people who need it.

Out there in remote parts of PNG there are hospitals with no medicines, schools with no books and public buildings with no maintenance.

Some of these places, for example, those along the Papuan coast, although remote from Port Moresby, are easily accessible by boat from Cairns or Townsville.

From these Australian cities could easily be supplied the vital needs of communities along the Fly River, coastal Papua and the Milne Bay islands.

Continue reading "Well targeted aid could get where the big guys don’t" »

China & APEC: Australia outmanoeuvred - so what's next

Peter O’Neill meets Chinese president Xi Jinping
Stars in their eyes - Peter O’Neill meets Chinese president Xi Jinping in Beijing


NOOSA – In early July the alarm bells would have rung to melting point for the Australian government.

This was when Chinese President Xi Jinping invited Pacific leaders to a 'pre-summit' (now being referred to as a "state visit") he will host in Port Moresby ahead of the APEC leaders summit on the weekend of 17-18 November.

Xi had gazumped APEC – and Australia, which had underwritten Papua New Guinea’s hosting of APEC and spent at least $100 million in doing so.

The invitation was revealed by PNG prime minister Peter O’Neill when he addressed the Fijian parliament in Suva on 9 July.

“The invitation from President Xi Jinping is for those Pacific countries that recognise the One-China policy,” O’Neill said. (That is, Pacific nations which have diplomatic relations with China and not Taiwan.)

O’Neill did not reveal what might be on the agenda of the summit, apart from saying “we want the Pacific to benefit from opportunities from Asia”.

Continue reading "China & APEC: Australia outmanoeuvred - so what's next" »

Simbu people plead for a long-awaited road to Karimui

Karimui dancers  Kundiawa Show 1978 (Paul Barker)
People of the remote Karimui region of Simbu - many have never seen a motor vehicle. Karimui dancers at the Kundiawa Show, 1978 (Paul Barker)


KUNDIAWA – “Can someone please get this message to the Australian High Commission or DFAT?”

This is the plaintive cry from Simbu to a country which is not up to listening to plaintive cries from anywhere but its elite.

The 400,000 Simbu people, jammed into the middle of the Papua New Guinea highlands in a province with few resources other than their intelligence and energy, have been calling for a road into the rich Karimui area and its 40,000 people for half a century.

It was a call renewed earlier this year when the European Union committed K340 million for the rehabilitation of cocoa in the cocoa pod borer-devastated province of East Sepik.

Unlike most of Simbu, Karimui is a generally flat region at an altitude of 800-1,500 meters with a climate of moderate to high humidity.

Crops like cocoa, coffee, betel nut, coconuts and others normally associated with coastal areas grow there prolifically. But there is no road linking it to anywhere.

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Could the APEC summit be a PNG white elephant?

International Convention Centre
Interior of the new International Convention Centre in Port Moresby, built by a Chinese contractor with Beijing money

BHAVAN JAIPRAGAS | South China Morning Post

HONG KONG - With weeks to go before the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit – this year in Papua New Guinea - the Pacific nation is putting the final touches on its preparations to host the likes of Chinese president Xi Jinping and United States vice-president Mike Pence.

World leaders had contended that holding the summit on 18 November in Port Moresby with the help of extensive grants would enable one of Asia’s least developed nations to bask in the international limelight as it seeks foreign direct investment.

It is the first time the former Australian colony has hosted the event – and with Xi attending and expected to host a meeting on the sidelines with leaders of Beijing-friendly Pacific nations, all eyes have been on whether prime minister Peter O’Neill’s government would be able to pull off the event without a hitch.

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Pacific agricultural visa controversy reignites as Australia dithers

Australia's seasonal worker program, highly valued in PNG & the Pacific, under threat as politicians dither


Read here the complete story of the background to this imbroglio

CANBERRA - After a period of relative quiet, reporting on the agricultural visa proposal has picked up again.

Nationals leader and deputy prime minister Michael McCormack was asked about it on Sky last weekend. On 8 October, Matt Coughlan of AAP reported McCormack as saying, “We’ll be addressing that as a government. We’ll be coming up with a plan to solve the problem and we’ll be doing that very soon”.

That sounded positive for the ag visa, as was the title of Coughlan’s article ‘Foreign farm worker scheme edging closer’ but in fact the article continued in a more negative vein:

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Serious questions as PNG malaria infections increase ninefold

MosquitoSTEPHEN HOWES | Australian National University | Edited

CANBERRA - A recent report from the Papua New Guinea Institute of Medical Research shows almost a ninefold increase in the number of cases of malaria in PNG between 2014 and 2017.

The key result of the report is that there has been “an increase in the size of the total population infected with malaria parasites from 50,309 in 2014 to 432,000 in 2017”.

According to the April report, the national prevalence of malaria is now 7.1%. This is up from 5.1% in 2010-11 and a remarkably low 1% in 2014-15.

In many ways, the 7% prevalence underestimates the severity of the problem. The national figure is 10% for children under five. Malaria prevalence among all ages is as high as 16% in Madang, 10.8% in Milne Bay, 8.8% in East Sepik and 8.7% in New Ireland.

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The strong case for Australia to help PNG eliminate TB

Community health worker Pauline Kove  (Mick Tsikas  AAP)
Community health worker Pauline Kove dispenses medicine at a tuberculosis clinic in Port Moresby

MIKE STEKETEE | Inside Story

MELBOURNE - The UN General Assembly spent a day last week discussing strategies for ridding the world of tuberculosis by 2030.

It was the first ever ‘high-level meeting’ on the subject at the UN, designed to attract not just diplomats and foreign ministers but also heads of government, about 25 of whom attended. In other words, the UN deemed it a high priority.

What does this have to do with Australia, a country that largely eradicated the disease several generations ago? Judging by our attendance, not too much.

Foreign minister Marise Payne was there, and issued a statement reaffirming Australia’s “commitment to end the tuberculosis epidemic,” but she said nothing about the 2030 deadline or the specific measures in the meeting’s declaration.

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Let’s see if we can get some gear to Joe the designer in Fiji

Anthology Cover 2012PHIL FITZPATRICK

TUMBY BAY - Those readers who followed the Crocodile Prize for Literature in its first five years will remember the eye-catching covers of the annual anthologies.

They were all designed by Joe Bilbu, a Papuan designer based in Fiji.

Joe won a competition to design the 2012 cover and we were so impressed that we got him to design the subsequent covers.

Like most things related to the Crocodile Prize the covers were produced on a shoestring budget. Joe was happy to go along with that because he believed that Papua New Guinea literature was important.

As a self-employed graphic artist and designer he is now thinking about branching out and producing his own designs on tee-shirts, mugs and other paraphernalia.

To this end he has been saving his pennies to buy a heat transfer machine.

The machine isn’t particularly expensive (about AU$350) but the freight to Fiji is a problem, not so much because of cost but because the companies that sell the machines won’t ship them to Fiji.

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DFAT health sector report pulls punches on a critical situation

Health Minister Puka Temu
Health Minister Dr Puka Temu administers oral polio vaccine - when the dreadful disease returned recently after 18 years, he tried to play down its impact


NOOSA – Australia’s foreign affairs department (DFAT) has just released a report evaluating the contribution that international donors have made to Papua New Guinea’s health system.

The report by Ian Anderson and Renee Martin was presented to DFAT last December, well before the recent outbreak of polio confirmed a shocking reality that many of us suspected - that health services in PNG are going downhill fast and have now reached a danger point.

The report, which you can read in full here, assesses the efforts of six multilateral development partners - the Asian Development Bank; the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria; the World Bank and three United Nations agencies, UNFPA, UNICEF and WHO – over a six year period.

Anderson and Martin have done what many consultants do when reporting upon big and powerful organisations – intimating problems while pulling punches about some of the most inimical reasons and about where real responsibility lies.

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Tkatchenko extols China role as PNG air link about to launch

Justin Tkatchenko
Tkatchenko - collaborating with China on how the PNG relationship can move to the next level

LEVI J PARSONS & ZHANG NING | Xinhua | Extract

PORT MORESBY -- Papua New Guinea's business relationship with China is moving ahead in "leaps and bounds", according to Justin Tkatchenko, PNG’s minister responsible for APEC.

"Over the last six or seven years, the China-PNG relationship has grown extraordinarily," he told Xinhua.

"We've already got most of the biggest Chinese companies here already, investing huge amounts of money, time and effort looking at opportunities for new projects and new investment.

"The relationship that we have together is a perfect working relationship when everybody's working for one aim and one goal and that is to have mutual benefits all round, not just for China, not just for PNG, but for the region," he said.

With PNG gearing up to host the APEC leaders' meeting in November, a massive Chinese-led infrastructure boom already underway and direct flights from Shanghai set to take off before the end of the year, Tkatchenko believes China will have a "big role" to play in the long term growth of PNG.

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Cut, cut, cut - Bishop’s aid legacy lacked follow-through & rigour

Julie Bishop
Julie Bishop - former Australian foreign minister cut development aid five years in a row

STEPHEN HOWES | DevPolicy Blog

CANBERRA - True to form, assessments of Julie Bishop’s five-year stint as foreign minister, which ended at the weekend, have said little about her role at the head of Australia’s four billion dollar aid program.

Yet, for a small country like Australia, lacking in superpower status, the aid program is probably the main instrument by which a foreign minister can exercise influence.

To say that Bishop will not go down in history as good for aid is an understatement. She presided over the largest and the most number of aid cuts by any foreign minister.

As shadow foreign minister, she supported the bipartisan target of getting aid to 0.5% of national income. As foreign minister, having abandoned that commitment, she started with at least the promise of protecting the aid budget against inflation.

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Village on broken mountain - PNG quake plight continues

A landslide from the February earthquake
One of the countless large landslides from the February 2018 earthquake disaster in PNG's Highlands - the trauma continues (Koroi Hawkins)

JOHNNY BLADES | Radio  New Zealand

LAKE KUTUBU - "We have no home, our village is devastated, therefore I have to move my people to other location."

The words of the village leader from a remote earthquake-affected village in Papua New Guinea's Highlands region had an unmistakable desperation.

Richard Don's Yalanda village in Nipa-Kutubu district of Southern Highlands province was largely ruined in February's magnitude 7.5 quake in the region.

We met him at the Moro airfield near Lake Kutubu. My colleague Koroi Hawkins and I had cadged a couple of seats on a helicopter used by the team leading PNG's earthquake relief effort.

The chopper was flying around the quake-affected region, offering us startling views of collapsed mountainsides and deformed valleys. The quake and its significant aftershocks had caused many major landslides and landslips.

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Countering China: A condescending Australia cuts no ice

Patrick Kaiku -  PNG & the Pacific recognise Australia's good points but won't cop challenges to their sovereignty


PORT MORESBY - China’s presence in Papua New Guinea and the Pacific Islands is an unsettling prospect for traditional powers like Australia.

China’s manoeuvre is viewed as a potential threat predicated on its activities elsewhere – in the South China Sea where it has militarised disputed coral atolls and in the Indian Ocean where it has used debt diplomacy to its strategic advantage.

So how should Australia – the predominant Western power in the Pacific - respond?

Well first it needs a genuinely inclusive campaign specifically targeting the Pacific audience. A renewed focus should engage with Pacific citizens. Because let’s be clear, Pacific islanders are equally anxious about the increasing presence of China in their countries.

The diplomatic challenge for Australia is to harness a critical mass of informed people in the Pacific to manage potentially disruptive effects of China’s activities.

Australia and New Zealand have an advantage in responding to the threat. Both countries have a long association with the Pacific, beginning with their roles as colonial powers and their facilitation of self-government processes.

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Bring back a revitalised Radio Australia – with Tok Pisin

A young Jill Bosro listening to Auntie Caroline Tiriman in a Tok Pisin broadcast on Radio Australia in the 1980s. Elizabeth Cox says "Radio Australia’s shortwave programs made the listener feel part of the nation, region and the world, and not forgotten, isolated and neglected, as they now often feel"

Submissions to the Australian Review of Broadcasting Services to Asia-Pacific have now closed. Development worker ELIZABETH COX provided the review panel with this grassroots perspective and has shared it with Pacific Media Watch and PNG Attitude

AUCKLAND - I am a citizen of Australia who has spent 40 years living in Papua New Guinea, working mainly in rural areas.

I was based in Angoram District of the East Sepik Province for 20 years and I have, for all of these decades, collaborated with rural teachers, village leaders, including women, youth leaders and community-based village health volunteers.

After my 20 years in Angoram, I spent a further 20 years in Wewak where I continued to work for rural development across all districts and in partnership with other provinces.

I have trained hundreds of community-based development workers over the years and admired their conviction to service their people through thick and thin, often working in difficult, dangerous and seriously under-resourced circumstances.

Together these thousands of people have brought health care, education, community peace and harmony, hope and optimism, to hundreds of rural villages and organisations.

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What now, Australia? You’re being truly outgunned by China


KUNDIAWA - The recent surge of Chinese influence in the western Pacific and especially in Australia’s former colony Papua New Guinea should not be a surprise.

China has been in the region long enough to capitalise on weaknesses in the Papua New Guinea-Australia relationship.

Instead of Australia getting anxious and wringing its hands, Canberra should be asking where it has gone wrong as PNG’s big brother and start working on fixing the relationship.

The official Chinese presence in PNG goes back to 1976 when the People’s Republic of China established diplomatic ties soon after PNG gained independence in 1975.

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A plea from PNG Attitude to people committed to our neighbours

How you can help restore the ABC’s broadcasting services to PNG & the Pacific

A group of eminent Australian journalists associated with Papua New Guinea and the Pacific have come together to persuade the Australian government to rebuild the ABC’s once great broadcasting services to the region. They include well-known names such as Sean Dorney, Jemima Garrett, Max Uechtritz, Tess Newton-Cain, Sue Ahearn, Peter Marks and Jioji Ravulo. They have the full support of me personally and PNG Attitude with its 5,000 followers.

The Australian government is at present conducting a review of Australian broadcasting in the region. It is taking submissions until Friday 3 August (read about it here). This is a great opportunity to change Australian policy on this important issue. I strongly urge you to make a submission. And, if you need a helping hand, you’ve got three expert journalists to provide it: Sean Dorney (, Jemima Garrett ( and Sue Ahearn (

I ask you to act now, wherever you live. Your voice deserves - and needs - to be heard

China-PNG friendship never been better, Chinese executive boasts

China in PNG
China Railway International Group in discussions with PNG officials as its starts a public relations offensive in the country


PORT MORESBY – A Chinese executive of a major construction company says “the relationship between Chinese enterprises and the local people has never been stronger.”

And Wu Dongzheng, general manager of China Railway International Group in the South Pacific, told Xinhua Chinese news agency that the company's impact in “the picturesque, palm-tree laden paradise” goes far beyond the bricks and mortar.

With more than 2,500 local staff, the group has “made it a priority to improve living standards of the employees and their families”.

"I've seen too much poverty, too many jobless young men and too many families without medical care," Wu said.

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