Foreign affairs & defence Feed

The ‘wicked problem’ of B'ville independence

An independent Bougainville will be an impoverished mini-state lacking the economic foundation to be much more than a subsistence-based economy, although there may be wealth creation opportunities around mining and tourism

Bougainville fighters  1997
Bougainville Revolutionary Army fighters in 1997 with World War II weapons recovered from the jungle. The 10-year civil war saw the BRA repel PNG police and military forces at terrible cost before a peace treaty was agreed

CHRIS OVERLAND

ADELAIDE – Poor Richard Marles. Australia’s deputy prime minister and defence minister had merely stated his support for Papua New Guinea as it moved through the thorny issue of Bougainville independence.

The general statement of support for PNG attributed to him was pretty much all he could say.

Continue reading "The ‘wicked problem’ of B'ville independence" »


Can Pacific rugby league edge out China?

If a Pacific team was included, it would almost certainly have no one from PNG if based on merit. Yet the widespread assumption created by Albanese and Marles is that single Pacific team would be led by PNG

Pacific png v fiji
Papua New Guinea and Fiji scramble for the ball. Yet it's Samoa and Tonga who are the best Pacific Islands teams

BRIAN TOOHEY
| Pearls & Irritations

SYDNEY – Australia’s defence minister Richard Marles and prime minister Anthony Albanese would like to see two Papua New Guinea rugby league teams join the Australian club competition as a way to counter China’s growing influence.

Instead of banging on about China, why not start a new regional competition including one or two Pacific Islands teams, New Zealand and Australia? Sport will deliver much better foreign policy dividend if it is not used as a crude geopolitical instrument.

Continue reading "Can Pacific rugby league edge out China?" »


Marles' words anger Bougainville president

“The Australian government trained and armed the PNGDF to wage war on the citizens of Bougainville and it was they who supplied gunships to wreak havoc and mayhem on Bougainville” - Ishmael Toroama

Richard Marles at a press conference earlier in 2022
'Words are bullets in foreign relations.' Richard Marles at an earlier press conference in Japan in June 2022 (Shuji Kagiyama, Reuters)

 BAL KAMA
| East Asia Forum

CANBERRA - The relationship between Australia and the Autonomous Region of Bougainville is in repair mode following remarks by Australia’s deputy prime minister and defence minister Richard Marles.

Marles visited Papua New Guinea in October for negotiations over an Australia–PNG defence treaty.

Continue reading "Marles' words anger Bougainville president" »


At last an intelligent approach to China

From an Australian perspective it makes sense to be friendly terms with all countries in our region, including China. We need them and they need us

Capture
The US will base six of these long-range B-52 bombers at Tindal in the Northern Territory but Australia seeks a balanced approach in its relationships with the US and China (Ahn Young-joon,  AP)

CHRIS OVERLAND

ADELAIDE - I have a huge amount of respect for John Menadue and thus accept that his comments in ‘Xi & Albanese: Can we seize the opportunity reflect his long and deep experience in dealing with China.

I also entirely agree with his remarks on the former Liberal-National Party government, which was spectacularly inept in its dealings with China, although its criticisms of China were not always entirely without merit.

Continue reading "At last an intelligent approach to China" »


Xi & Albanese: Can we seize the opportunity?

Whilst I hold Australia rather than China most responsible for the tension, our media has played a big part in promoting hostility. It has been a shameful performance from many ‘senior’ journalists and I don’t exclude ABC journalists with their attack dog style

Capture

JOHN MENADUE
| Pearls & Irritations

SYDNEY - The meeting between president Xi Jinping and prime minister Anthony Albanese could result in an overdue improvement in relations between China and Australia.

Real improvements will take time and a lot of goodwill. (But will deputy prime minister Richard Marles be a stumbling block?)

Continue reading "Xi & Albanese: Can we seize the opportunity?" »


Australia & China reset rocky relationship

“China and Australia are both important countries in the Asia Pacific region. We should improve, maintain and develop our relationship" - President Xi Jinping

Albanese xi
Anthony Albanese and Xi Jinping

MAEVE BANNISTER
| Australian Associated Press

SYDNEY - Australia and China have taken a first step towards mending their diplomatic relationship following a “constructive” meeting between the two nation’s leaders.

Australian prime minister Anthony Albanese met Chinese president Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Bali yesterday.

Continue reading "Australia & China reset rocky relationship" »


Albanese mission to fix Morrison’s problems

Albanese recognises is Australia needs to embrace the reality of an aspiring China and also enter new arrangements with the USA that can better protect Australia

Capture
Illustration by Global Times

CHRIS OVERLAND

ADELAIDE – Australian prime minister Anthony Albanese has articulated a view of Australia' long term defence requirements that is based upon a pragmatic and realistic assessment of history and current facts.

Albanese does not characterise China as an enemy, nor is he advocating that Australia become a humble supplicant to the USA.

Continue reading "Albanese mission to fix Morrison’s problems" »


The bold ambitions of a foreign policy PM

“I spoke to Albanese on the day the Chinese foreign ministry criticised plans for Australia to upgrade the RAAF Tindal base to accommodate six US B-52 strategic bombers”

Albo_and_army

GREG SHERIDAN
| The Australian | Edited extracts

SYDNEY (5 November 2022) - Anthony Albanese may look and sound a mild man, and that is one of his strengths. But he has an ambition that no Australian leader has had for decades.

He wants to create a military force capable of defending Australia.

Continue reading "The bold ambitions of a foreign policy PM" »


Marles reignites B'ville suspicions of Australia

The angry reaction of Bougainville president Ishmael Toroama to what he termed Richard Marles’ “veiled threats” should be a warning to Canberra about the need to settle past grievances

Bville toroama
President Ishmael Toroama - suspicious of Australian motives

ANTHONY REGAN
| The Interpreter | Lowy Institute

CANBERRA - During a visit last month to Papua New Guinea by Australia’s deputy prime minister and defence minister Richard Marles, a newspaper report on one of his press conference answers sparked a stinging reaction from Bougainville president Ishmael Toroama.

In response to the 13 October article, ‘Aust backs PNG on B’ville’, including a comment from Marles that “our job is to support Papua New Guinea and that’s what we are going to do”, Toroama issued an “angry” statement, warning that Marles was making “veiled threats”.

Continue reading "Marles reignites B'ville suspicions of Australia" »


Drug syndicates boost activity in the Pacific

The Pacific Islands are not only becoming a destination for drugs like methamphetamine and cocaine, they are places where criminals can take advantage of weak or out-of-date laws and police largely focused on local policing and public order

Pacific sunset

ERICH PARPART
| Voice of America | Edited extracts

BANGKOK — The Pacific Islands are increasingly being used as a transit point for transnational crime, including drug trafficking and money laundering, experts say.

Criminal organisations from Asia and the Americas are exploiting limited law enforcement resources in the region.

Continue reading "Drug syndicates boost activity in the Pacific" »


How to stabilise PNG & other fragile states

Fragile states emerged as an area of concern in the 1990s in the fields of security and development. This book (free to download) considers the dimensions of fragility that can be influenced by policy action

nternally displaced persons
Children in a camp for internally displaced persons in northern Afghanistan (Eric Kanalstein, UN)

NEMATULLAH BIZHAN
| Edited extracts

PORT MORESBY - Fragile states, amongst which I number Papua New Guinea, endanger the lives of citizens and expose societies to the risk of collapse.

When this happens, famine, violent disorder and economic distress can displace millions of people, with consequent impacts on surrounding regions.

Continue reading "How to stabilise PNG & other fragile states" »


There are no more reds under the bed

"I think that it is an error to assume that because of our lamentable history of Sinophobia, this type of thinking therefore is still significant, socially or politically, in Australia"

Reds

CHRIS OVERLAND

ADELAIDE - Professor Colin Mackerras (‘Australia should rid itself of its fear of China’) rightly refers to how Australia's lamentable history of Sinophobia has, in the past at least, led to racially prejudiced and unjust policies such as the deplorable White Australia Policy.

I am old enough to remember the 'Reds under the bed' scare campaign that once influenced Australian political thinking, notably amongst conservatives.

Continue reading "There are no more reds under the bed" »


Australia should rid itself of its fear of China

It was not until 1973 and  the Whitlam Labor government that Australia formally rejected race as in any way relevant to immigration. The ‘yellow peril’ idea was discarded, but it remains active in the Australian imagination and is easy to revive

Mackerras
Chinese migrants arrive in South Australia, ready to walk to Victoria to begin mining in the 1850s gold rush. If they disembarked outside Victoria, they didn't have to pay immigration tax

COLIN MACKERRAS
| Pearls & Irritations

BRISBANE – Australia must overcome Sinophobia and rejoice in a future in the Asian region.

As a child growing up in Sydney in the 1950s, I recall my elders showing me a map of our region, with big red arrows pointing downwards from China to Australia.

Continue reading "Australia should rid itself of its fear of China" »


Solomons partnership must be truth-based

Australia claims to be a friend and family to the Pacific, and it is true Australia has been an important aid donor for decades. But gratitude for this aid is tempered by scepticism about who it actually helps

Sogavare Albanese
Prime ministers Sogavare and Albanese - sweet talk of 'family' is no substitute for a genuine and equitable relationship

DOROTHY WICKHAM, TARCISIUS KABUTAULAKA et al*
| Pursuit | The University of Melbourne

MELBOURNE - Last week, Solomon Islands prime minister Manasseh Sogavare and Australia’s Anthony Albanese met in Canberra for the first time, less than a month after Australia offered to fund Solomon Islands’ elections to avoid delay.

Since Solomon Islands signed a security pact with China earlier this year, the country has garnered unprecedented global attention.

Continue reading "Solomons partnership must be truth-based" »


Australia & PNG develop a security treaty

Mr Marles later said Australia also wanted to help PNG address any capability gaps in its armed forces. "Aviation might be an area where we could do more," he said. "Already we supply the bulk of the maritime capability for the PNG defence force, but we feel there are opportunities for us to do more"

Marles
Australian defence minister Richard Marles, a regular visitor to PNG these days, greets prime minister James Marape

STEPHEN DZIEDZIC
| ABC foreign affairs reporter

PORT MORESBY - Australian defence minister Richard Marles has flagged that he wants to significantly expand defence cooperation across the Pacific, starting with an ambitious bid to expand military ties and sign a security treaty with Papua New Guinea.

Mr Marles is in PNG for a two-day trip and held talks with Prime Minister James Marape yesterday.

Continue reading "Australia & PNG develop a security treaty" »


Global Fragility Act & PNG: Can US succeed?

A seemingly radical approach that relies on prevention and relinquishing control may be a foreign policy game-changer

Rufina Peter MP (Andrew Kutan  AFP)
Rufina Peter MP (Andrew Kutan, AFP)

JESSICA COLLINS
| The Interpreter | Lowy Institute

SYDNEY - It was a long-awaited announcement that drew little attention in Australia.

In April, US President Joe Biden named Haiti, Libya, Mozambique, Papua New Guinea and Coastal West Africa as its partners under the Global Fragility Act of 2019.

Continue reading "Global Fragility Act & PNG: Can US succeed?" »


Madness reigns supreme in US Pacific deal

Papua New Guineans have been grossly misled and opened wide our doors for large scale criminal gangsters and terrorists to come on to our turf. The Marape government is strongly urged to terminate this hollow and ridiculous agreement

Crimea bridge bombing
Russian President Vladimir Putin has accused Ukraine of attacking the bridge to Russian-annexed Crimea, calling it an "act of terrorism". President Putin said Ukraine's intelligence forces had aimed to destroy a critically important piece of Russia's civil infrastructure (BBC)

CORNEY KOROKAN ALONE
| Twitter @CorneyKAlone

PORT MORESBY - Delusions reign supreme. It is disgusting to see naivety and short-sightedness reigning supreme in beloved Papua New Guinea.

We should and must know better. The Marape-Rosso government has been hoodwinked and misled.

Continue reading "Madness reigns supreme in US Pacific deal" »


West's anti-China rhetoric reeks of hypocrisy

Those nations, which divided China for plunder, continue to pour more and more opprobrium on it, which, by an incredible means of projection, becomes understood as an aggressive power, supposedly hellbent on upsetting the ‘international rules-based order.’ The hypocrisy is astounding

Capture

JOHN QUERIPEL
| Pearls & Irritations

NEWCASTLE - The direction from whence comes most of the anti-China rhetoric in the world today is hardly surprising. It reeks of hypocrisy.

Much of it emanates from the very nations responsible for the dividing up of China into spheres of influence in the late 19th and early 20th century.

Continue reading "West's anti-China rhetoric reeks of hypocrisy" »


Appeasers silent as Russia loses grip on war

If Putin sees his mighty army collapsing, his desperation to retain power may lead to more of the bad decision-making that has been the hallmark of the Russian conduct of the war so far. The use of tactical nuclear weapons may become his last resort

A troops
Ukraine troops advance on Kherson and other Russian-occupied areas

CHRIS OVERLAND

ADELAIDE - Since I wrote this piece (Sachs’ & the New Appeasers have it wrong, 20 July 2022), the appeasers have become silent.

The appalling atrocities committed by the Russians in Ukraine have revealed the true nature of the Russian regime.

Vladimir Putin is not a wronged and misunderstood man.

He is an old school imperialist of the worst kind.

You do not do deals with such a man and expect them to be honoured.

At present, the Ukrainians continue to advance in the Donbas and near Kherson.

They appear to have mastered manoeuvre warfare, something the Russian army seems incapable of replicating.

Strategic and tactical ineptitude by the Russians, combined with severe logistical and personnel problems, renders the Russian army highly vulnerable to a fast-moving enemy force.

As of today, Ukrainian troops had retaken more territory in regions illegally annexed by Russia, and continue to advance near the southern city of Kherson.

They were also moving towards Russian-held Luhansk in the east.

"There are new liberated settlements in several regions," said president Volodymyr Zelensky.

While it is too early to be sure, there are clear signs the Russian army is crumbling in the face of the better led, better armed and better motivated Ukrainians.

The implications of this are profound, both for Ukraine and Russia as well as for the rest of the world.

If Putin sees his mighty army collapsing, his desperation to retain power may lead to even more of the very bad decision making that has been the hallmark of the Russian conduct of this war so far.

A reisner
Colonel Markus Reisner has emerged as one of the most credible experts analysing the Russia Ukraine War

The use of tactical nuclear weapons may become his last resort.

Consequently, whether we have fired a bullet or not, we are all invested in the outcome of this appalling conflict.

For readers interested in military matters who want an objective and dispassionate assessment of events in Ukraine, I recommend the commentaries posted on YouTube by Colonel Markus Reisner PhD, commander of the Austrian Army's principal staff training college and its elite Vienna Guards Regiment.


Opportunism reigns: US-Pacific Declaration

As has become customary in the Blinkenesque argot, one takes the management waffle with the occasional candid remark. China, the obvious target in this deeper regional engagement by the US, is not mentioned once.

China us pacific
GSOMIA (General Security of Military Information Agreement) is a military intelligence sharing agreement between Japan and South Korea (Map by ABC)

BINOY KAMPMARK
| Pearls & Irritations

MELBOURNE - If ever there was a blatant statement of realpolitik masquerading as friendliness, the latest US-Pacific Island declaration must count as one of them.

The Biden administration has been busy of late wooing Pacific Island states in an effort to discourage increasingly sharp tilt towards China.

Continue reading "Opportunism reigns: US-Pacific Declaration" »


Australia wants 'closest possible relationship'

"Our traditional partners have always been Australia when it comes to trade, economics, security and we will continue to do so to make sure we have a safe region” - Justin Tkatchenko

Senator Penny Wong
Senator Penny Wong says Papua New Guinea and Australia "must have the"closest possible relationship. Our futures are tied together"

KIRSTY NEEDHAM
| Reuters

SYDNEY - Australia wants the closest possible relationship with Papua New Guinea, said foreign minister Penny Wong, on her first official visit to the country amid competition with China for influence.

PNG had previously turned down a Chinese offer to redevelop a naval base and Canberra is funding Telstra's acquisition of PNG's biggest mobile provider, Digicel, to counter growing Chinese influence in the Pacific Islands.

Continue reading "Australia wants 'closest possible relationship'" »


PNG’s colonial construct is under threat

Papua New Guinea is entirely a colonial construct and, as recent elections demonstrated, tribalism still trumps democracy in many places and in many ways

Taking a break in a village
Taking a break in a village. Life under colonialism was predictable and progressive. And colonisers and colonised generally got on well. But the colonial governance construct is now showing its age

CHRIS OVERLAND

ADELAIDE - The desire of Bougainvilleans for independence is not going to dissipate based on some deal concocted by Port Moresby to give the island autonomous status within Papua New Guinea.

Surely this message has been delivered in clear and unequivocal terms?

Continue reading "PNG’s colonial construct is under threat" »


The nightmare of war that is with us forever

A critical precondition for peace is that people must desire it fiercely enough to argue, fight and even die for it. This is what we all may be doing soon enough if China uses force to conquer Taiwan and the United States intervenes

Image - Spiros Karkavela (Art of Future Warfare)
Art by Spiros Karkavela (Art of Future Warfare)

CHRIS OVERLAND

ADELAIDE - One of the unfathomable mysteries of human nature is the instinct to pursue violence and war.

History is, in many respects, just one long and dismal story of seemingly endless warfare.

Continue reading "The nightmare of war that is with us forever" »


And remember - it's not always about China

Veterans in Pacific media must be in a strange position. To see a space so often ignored suddenly taken over by a cacophony of clueless commentators

Ardern suva
Jacinda Ardern talks to journalists in Suva - the Murdoch press perceived
the New Zealand prime minister as confrontational, and called her 'hostile'

PRIANKA SRINIVASAN
| Twitter @iamprianka

MELBOURNE - Being part of Pacific media is amazing. So many talented, supportive journalists, doing great work for the love of a region so often under-resourced by world press

But I've noticed this love can sometimes spoil into an awful territorialism. And I want to talk about it.

Continue reading "And remember - it's not always about China" »


Can the Pacific Forum learn from ASEAN?

Questions remain about whether the Pacific Islands Forum can adapt mechanisms from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to manage the heightened attention that comes with big power competition

A beach pinterest

ANNA POWLES & JOANNE WALLIS
| East Asia Forum | Edited

CANBERRA - In the recently agreed 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent, and before that the 2018 Boe Declaration on Regional Security, the Pacific Islands Forum is seeking to both define the challenges facing the region and to identify solutions.

Southeast Asia has long been the object of great power rivalry, but ASEAN has, despite criticism, acted as a fulcrum around which big power jostling is stabilised.

Continue reading "Can the Pacific Forum learn from ASEAN?" »


Bougainville: James Marape's biggest issue

Bougainville’s dire need for foreign aid could render it vulnerable to China’s influence as it struggles to become the world’s newest democracy — and it could also become the target of Beijing’s strategic aims

Bougainville-scene

BRIAN HARDING & CAMILLA POHLE-ANDERSON
| United States Institute of Peace | Edited extracts

Link here to the complete articleThe Next Five Years Are Crucial for Bougainville’s Independence Bid

WASHINGTON DC - Now that Papua New Guinea prime minister James Marape has been re-elected, the stage is set for him to settle what he has called the biggest issue facing the country.

This is the future political status of Bougainville, an autonomous region seeking independence by 2027.

Continue reading "Bougainville: James Marape's biggest issue" »


Troubled PNG poll should be wake-up call

Responsibility for the election lies with PNG but Australia’s support was clearly inadequate. A renewed Australian commitment to the Pacific demands more in helping to deliver safe and credible elections in the region

PNG lead image

MIHAI SORA
| The Interpreter | Lowy Institute

SYDNEY - It has been a difficult election period for Papua New Guinea.

Outbreaks of violence in the nation’s capital Port Moresby and other parts of the country have disrupted voting and counting, leading to the PNG Governor General granting a two-week extension to 12 August for the return of writs. This has been pared back to 5 August.

Continue reading "Troubled PNG poll should be wake-up call" »


Is the debt bomb beginning to explode?

This is the context within which the problems confronting Papua New Guinea must be understood. It seems destined to be presented with a series of very unpleasant debt refinancing decisions over the next several years

Bomb

CHRIS OVERLAND

ADELAIDE - It is difficult to comprehend that only now is the International Monetary Fund belatedly issuing warnings about debt in South East Asia, the Pacific and elsewhere.

The proverbial writing has been on the wall for literally years that the world's mountainous debt was, in reality, a 'debt bomb' waiting to go off.

Continue reading "Is the debt bomb beginning to explode?" »


Australia cannot ignore PNG election violence

For years Australia has had a mute response to these problems, especially the extent of weaponry that has spread through the country that now threatens the viability of the state. Politicians arm their supporters - Michael Main (Twitter)

Arson
Vehicles burn and ballot papers cover the ground in just one of scores of attacks on voting in PNG

MIRANDA FORSYTH & GORDON PEAKE
| Guardian Australia

CANBERRA - Elections in Papua New Guinea are notoriously volatile and dangerous.

But this year’s elections have involved violence, intimidation, corruption as well as administrative ineptitude on what looks like an exceptional scale.

Continue reading "Australia cannot ignore PNG election violence" »


America’s self-obsession is killing democracy

The United States still has a chance to fix itself before 2024. But when democracies start dying—as the USA already has—they usually don’t recover

Capitol
The United States Capitol (Stephen Voss, Redux)

BRIAN KLAAS
| The Atlantic

NEW YORK - In 2009, a violent mob stormed the presidential palace in Madagascar, a deeply impoverished red-earthed island off the coast of East Africa.

They had been incited to violence by opportunistic politicians and media personalities, successfully triggering a coup.

Continue reading "America’s self-obsession is killing democracy" »


The Pacific Visa quotas need to be strategic

Ten countries should be considered for quotas: PNG, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste & Vanuatu (currently very limited access to Australia); Kiribati, Tuvalu & Nauru (climate-affected atolls); Fiji, Samoa & Tonga (good access to Australia via New Zealand) 

Australian Visa

STEPHEN HOWES
| DevPolicy Blog | Edited extracts

CANBERRA - Australian foreign minister Penny Wong was putting it mildly when she noted “a positive response” to the new Labor government’s confirmation it would introduce a new permanent residency visa category for the Pacific.

Under the Pacific Engagement Visa scheme commencing in July 2023, each year 3,000 visas will be issued annually via a lottery with country-specific quotas.

Continue reading "The Pacific Visa quotas need to be strategic" »


Sachs’ & the New Appeasers have it wrong

Sachs appears to be one of the New Appeasers whose starting premise is that Putin is a rational actor, not an unrepentant neo-imperialist whose territorial aspirations cannot be satisfied through negotiation or by conceding land for peace

Putin and Macron
Vladimir Putin and Emmanuel Macron - the table perhaps symbolic of the distance between Putin's goals of empire and the New Appeasers desire for peaceful resolution

CHRIS OVERLAND

ADELAIDE - In his recent speech, ‘The world imperilled at the end of US leadership, Jeffrey Sachs has advanced several propositions that are highly contestable.

Professor Sachs evidently believes that the underlying cause of the Russia-Ukraine War was the constant expansion of NATO – a military alliance of 28 European, Canada and the USA, which strongly supports NATO’s expansion.

Continue reading "Sachs’ & the New Appeasers have it wrong" »


The US is sick: Time to think for ourselves

Australia should be encouraging Pacific Islands nations to join it in forming a regional bloc that thinks for itself, makes its own rules and sees to its own future

Wake-up-america
This World War I propaganda poster has new meaning as the US faces threats at home and abroad

PHILIP FITZPATRICK

TUMBY BAY - Jeffrey Sachs speaks a lot of sense but, as he says, no one wants to listen to him.

There are a lot of people like Sachs who people go out of their way to ignore. Among them are climate scientists and epidemiologists.

Continue reading "The US is sick: Time to think for ourselves" »


Smiles in Suva: but the map ahead is unclear

The Pacific Islands Forum was happy to welcome rookie prime minister Anthony Albanese, but his attempt to brag about Australia’s ‘influence’ in the Pacific was seen as unwanted political game-playing

Forum - Albanese (William West)
Anthony Albanese goes for the selfie money shot but the rookie Australian prime minister has a bit to learn about the practice of diplomacy

TESS NEWTON CAIN & STEFAN ARMBRUSTER
| DevPolicy Blog

BRISBANE - Last week’s meeting of leaders of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) was keenly anticipated and came at a critical juncture for the region.

It was the first in-person meeting since Tuvalu in 2019. Since then, a lot has happened.

Continue reading "Smiles in Suva: but the map ahead is unclear" »


A world imperilled at the end of US leadership

Jeffrey Sachs highlights the damaging US mindset that the world should revolve around it, which is undermining the need for regional cooperation to get on top of the huge problems facing the planet

KEITH JACKSON
| Drawn from John Menadue’s Pearls and Irritations and other sources

NOOSA - In this speech made by Jeffrey Sachs ahead of late June’s NATO Summit in Madrid, he offers a view of a world in a great mess and which needs to renew diplomacy, negotiation, cooperation and collaboration to solve the immense problems humanity is facing.

Sachs, a professor of sustainable development and professor of health policy at Columbia University in USA, has served as an adviser to three United Nations secretaries-general and is an economist who advised on economic reforms in Russia and several Eastern European nations in the 1990s.

Continue reading "A world imperilled at the end of US leadership" »


We're back in the Pacific big time, says the US

“We will embark on a new chapter in our partnership, a chapter with increased American presence, where we commit to work with you in the short and long term to take on the most pressing issues that you face"

US vice-president Kamala Harris addresses Pacific Forum leaders (Sam Sachdeva  Newsroom RNZ)
US vice-president Kamala Harris addresses Pacific Forum leaders yesterday (Sam Sachdeva,  Newsroom RNZ)

NEWS DESK
| Radio New Zealand Pacific | Edited

AUCKLAND - United States vice-president Kamala Harris has assured Pacific Islands Forum leaders who are meeting in Suva that the US will “significantly deepen” its engagement in the region.

Harris virtually joined the regional leaders to announce half a dozen new commitments including establishing embassies in Kiribati and Tonga, tripling funding for economic development and ocean resilience and the appointing the first-ever US envoy to the Forum.

Continue reading "We're back in the Pacific big time, says the US" »


War being transformed by the power of words

All of this may seem a world away from Papua New Guinea but it provides some useful context for China’s efforts to extend its influence. People in the Pacific need to understand that nothing the Chinese do is just a gesture of goodwill or good neighbourliness

Overland tank

CHRIS OVERLAND

ADELAIDE – It’s important that we understand what the hell is going on in much of the world right now.

My recent comments about China in the Pacific, ‘Chinese now a real threat in the Gulf of Papua’, were informed by my reading of Major General Mick Ryan’s book, ‘War Transformed: The Future of Twenty-First-Century Great Power Competition and Conflict.

Continue reading "War being transformed by the power of words" »


Chinese now a real threat in the Gulf of Papua

Lying, obfuscation and diversion are all part of well-established Chinese strategy to confuse or misdirect putative enemies and gullible others as to its real intentions. What Chinese diplomats are saying about the development at Ihu clearly fits this category

Capture
Speaking before 3,000 representatives to the National People’s Congress in Beijing in March 2021, president Xi Jinping proclaimed his country had been the first to tame Covid, the result of “self-confidence in our path, self-confidence in our theories, self-confidence in our system, self-confidence in our culture”

CHRIS OVERLAND

ADELAIDE - I worked as a kiap in the Gulf Province (or District as it then was) for two years from mid-1969 to mid-1971.

It was a very impoverished region then as it is now.

For this reason, any major development project is likely to be welcomed by the local people.

Continue reading "Chinese now a real threat in the Gulf of Papua" »


China's moves take shape in Torres Strait

All the indications are that there is much more push and shove to come before we know whether China will have a tangible presence on the Torres Strait – and whose military and navy will occupy two proposed bases at Ihu

Ihu Zeng Aeo dig first soil
Ihu Special Economic Zone groundbreaking ceremony by cheerful Chinese ambassador Zeng Fanhua and PNG foreign minister Soroi Eoe. The project is of vast importance to the impoverished Gulf Province but poses strategic problems for Australia as China seeks to consolidate its interests in the Torres Strait region

KEITH JACKSON

NOOSA - Reports in the Australian media that China is readying to build a military base at Ihu Papua New Guinea’s Gulf Province have been dismissed as “baseless and hype” by the Chinese embassy in Port Moresby.

China has reacted with anger to media reports that the developing Ihu Special Economic Zone at Kikori in Gulf Province will be a platform for a Chinese military base.

Continue reading "China's moves take shape in Torres Strait" »


Patronising the ‘Pacific family’ we never had

“The 'family' construct is inappropriate in a context where Australia should be seeking to forge mature, meaningful and equivalent relationships with Pacific Island nations. The whole theme is patronising, inane and quite weird” – Keith Jackson

Morrison pacific

BINOY KAMPMARK
| Pearls & Irritations

MELBOURNE - When will this nonsense on familial connection between Australia and the Pacific end?

In 2018, Australia’s then Pentecostal prime minister, Scott Morrison, drew upon a term that his predecessors had not.

Continue reading "Patronising the ‘Pacific family’ we never had" »


Gift Pacific patrol boats have major defects

Austal’s vessels have a chequered history, including bad cracking and delays due to the use of poor quality aluminium

Austal-delivers-15t-guardian-class-patrol-boat

MAX OPRAY
| Schwartz Media

MELBOURNE - Major design flaws have been identified among a fleet of Australian patrol boats given to Pacific nations.

The flaws include cracks in the exhaust that allow carbon monoxide to enter a compartment, cracking in the coupling linking the engine and gearbox, and poor ventilation in sick bays.

Continue reading "Gift Pacific patrol boats have major defects" »


Capped partner visas: Another Dutton rort

It's likely the government, particularly under Peter Dutton, acted illegally in limiting the number of partner visa places to an extraordinary degree

Adelaide_airport_arrived_stamp

ABUL RIVZI
| Pearls & Irritations

CANBERRA - In 2018, I wrote about one of opposition leader Peter Dutton’s lesser known scandals – his action to egregiously limit the number of partner visas.

In 1989 and in 1996-97, parliament voted to ensure partner visa applications (more specifically spouse visa applications) were managed on a demand driven basis.

Continue reading "Capped partner visas: Another Dutton rort" »


Pacific Forum to keep US & China on the outer

The ABC has been told that dialogue partners meetings will not be held during the Forum, effectively locking out politicians and officials from countries outside the region

Pacific-Islands-Forum

STEPHEN DZIEDZIC
ABC News | Edited extracts

Link here for Stephen Dziedcic’s complete article

CANBERRA - The Pacific's peak diplomatic body looks set to exclude the United States, China and several other major countries from a crucial leaders meeting in Fiji next month.

The move has been analysed as helping to shelter the Pacific Islands from intensifying geostrategic competition in the region.

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China accuses US of garrisoning the Pacific

General Austin says the US is prepared to step up to be a leader and a guarantor of a free and open Indo-Pacific. "Big powers carry big responsibilities," he says

CNN - US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin  Shangri-La Dialogue summit  Singapore  June 11 (CNN)
US defence secretary Lloyd Austin addresses the Shangri-La Dialogue summit in  Singapore on Saturday  (CNN)

BRAD LENDON & OREN LIEBERMANN
| CNN | Edited extracts

SINGAPORE – On Saturday, United States defence secretary Lloyd Austin called out China and vowed the US would stand by partners after a series of coercive, aggressive and dangerous actions that he said threatened stability in Asia.

"Indo-Pacific countries shouldn't face political intimidation, economic coercion or harassment by maritime militias," Austin said in a keynote speech to the Shangri-La Dialogue, Asia's premier defence conference.

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Solomons: a better understanding is needed

Most Pacific Island nations, including Papua New Guinea and Fiji, have not voiced opposition to the China-Solomons agreement and understand its context

Nanau - China
National flags of Solomon Islands and China flutter in Tiananmen Square, Beijing (Reuters)

GORDON NANAU
| East Asia Forum

SUVA - A draft security agreement between Solomon Islands and China was leaked on social media on 24 March 2022, sparking anxious reactions locally and internationally.

On 19 April, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin announced the agreement had been signed, and this was confirmed by Solomon Islands foreign affairs minister Jeremiah Manele.

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Pacific labour mobility: staggering upward

While the final few years of Coalition rule saw rapid growth in Pacific labour mobility, they were also years in which policy coherence began to suffer, if not fall apart

A PALM worker (World Bank)
The Pacific Australia Labour Mobility scheme has staggered forward but now promises the prospect of both temporary and permanent migration to Australia

 

STEPHEN HOWES
| DevPolicy Blog | Edited

CANBERRA - The Coalition government led by John Howard was disastrous for Pacific labour mobility.

By contrast, the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison government was very good for it, though at the end the limits and contradictions of its approach were apparent.

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Time is up for right wing cheerleader ASPI

From the outset ASPI was a highly politicised right wing think tank. It’s now reached its use-by date & should put down the megaphone

Aspi graphic

BRUCE HAIGH
| Pearls & Irritations

ORANGE, NSW - The Australian Strategic Policy Institute, ASPI, was conceived as a body to provide the government with the advice it wanted to hear.

It was commissioned by prime minister John Howard in August 2001 to undertake ‘policy-relevant research and analysis to better inform government decisions and public understanding of strategic and defence issues'.

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PNG & the Pacific score a minister for action

'I think the key thing is to build a relationship based on mutual respect. It can't be a transactional relationship where our interest waxes and wanes. A deeply respectful relationship is key'

Albo conroy
Pat Conroy MP, wife Keara and their children and prime minister Anthony Albanese after the new Australian ministry was sworn in last month 

KEITH JACKSON

NOOSA – Richard Marles is now Australia’s deputy prime minister and defence minister.

When I met him about 10 years ago, he was the Labor government’s parliamentary secretary for Pacific Islands affairs and I was unimpressed.

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The Coalition & aid: a story of two halves

Whereas Bishop seemed to be genuinely enthusiastic about aid, Payne hardly ever spoke about it, and it was impossible to work out what she thought about the subject

Bishop-and-Payne (DFAT)
Julie Bishop and Senator Marise Payne (DFAT)

STEPHEN HOWES
| DevPolicy Blog

CANBERRA – When it comes to Australian aid, the Coalition government’s just ended nine-year reign can be divided into two periods.

From September 2013, when it came to power; to August 2018, when Julie Bishop resigned as foreign minister after the Liberal Party turned against prime minister Malcolm Turnbull and replaced him with Scott Morrison.

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China gatekeepers threaten Pacific media

Following the Chinese foreign minister's media-unfriendly 10-day tour, frustrated Pacific journalists hope that in future "there will be a more concerted effort to defend media freedom against creeping authoritarianism"

Pacific cartoon

DAVID ROBIE
| Pacific Media Watch | Edited

AUCKLAND - Timor-Leste, the youngest independent nation has the most fledgling media in the Asia-Pacific region.

But the country’s president has just offered a big lesson to its Pacific Island neighbours in tackling Chinese media gatekeepers and the creeping authoritarianism that is threatening journalism in the region.

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