ADELAIDE – I am sure Arthur Williams (‘It was the Aussies who drove PNG to drink’) is right about the poor example set by expatriates drinking to excess in colonial times.
But I do not think Papua New Guinea’s alcohol problems can be blamed entirely upon Australia.
Until 1962, Papua New Guineans were banned from drinking alcohol in a well-meaning but rather desperate - and ultimately futile - attempt to protect them from exactly the problems the article mentioned.
Continue reading "In 1962, beer drinking was a rights issue" »
Indonesian military police assault a disabled Papuan man using a Derek Chauvin-like chokehold. In a rare instance of upholding justice they have been detained pending the results of an investigation.
CANBERRA - Shocking video footage showing brutal and inhumane treatment of a deaf and dumb Papuan man has emerged from the Jalan Raya Mandala, near Merauke in Indonesian Papua.
The video linked to here shows an altercation between Steven, aged 18, and a food stall owner.
Two security men from the Air Force Military Police (Polisi Militer Angkatan Udara, POMAU) intervene one grabs Steven and pulls him from the restaurant.
Continue reading "Papuans demand justice, not cheap apologies" »
The Ialibu-Kagua road built by 12 CE Works in the 1970s was finally sealed in 2019
| Harim Tok Tok
MADANG - By the time the Royal Australian Engineers (RAE) unit left Mendi in 1999, most parts of the former Southern Highlands Province (Hela was created from its western region in 2012) were connected by basic roads while the more outlying areas had airstrips.
Members of the Australian Army’s engineering corps had been deployed to Mendi in 1970 to run the Provincial Works Division.
Continue reading "Builders: The story of Mendi’s Royal Engineers" »
David Frodin, 2018 (Tony Barrett). David died unexpectedly in London on 12 August 2019, unaware that bladder cancer had taken hold and metastasised
EDITED BY KEITH JACKSON
These are edited extracts of a comprehensive obituary by Dr Rodrigo Cámara-Leret & Dr Barry Conn in Blumea, the Journal of plant taxonomy and plant geography, no 65. 2020. Link here to read the full obituary - KJ
LEIDEN, NETHERLANDS – When Dr David Gamman Frodin died in London in 2019 at the age of 79, the scientific community lost a brilliant individual and a giant of Papua New Guinean botany.
David was born in Chicago, USA, in 1940 and his love for botany began in Vermont where he spent endless summer hours walking in the woods.
Continue reading "Remembering David Frodin: A giant of PNG botany" »
Lady Hannah and Sir Bob Dadae. Sir Bob might be well-advised to stick to the praising, predictabilities and platitudes that are stock-in-trade for vice regal figures around the world
ADELAIDE – Sir Bob Dadae (Dadae fears PNG disintegration may be ‘inevitable’) is pointing to what, elsewhere in PNG Attitude, I have described as a “truly wicked” policy problem.
The wickedness arises because there is not an obvious solution to pro-autonomy tendencies which can appease both determined separatists and those people equally determined to maintain Papua New Guinea’s current constitutional arrangements.
Continue reading "Some friendly advice to Sir Bob Dadae" »
| Ples Singsing
Hey, Style Mangi!
You come in your flashy car
On my dusty, bumpy road,
You tok, VOTE ME!
I build sealed roads,
But all I see after election,
You drive the Japanese 5 door,
While I lek faia the red karanas.
Continue reading "Hey, Style Mangi!" »
Authors Francis Nii and Francis Kumbon at the Brisbane Writers Festival in 2016
| Ples Singsing
MADANG - ‘A Manifesto for Literature in Papua New Guinea’ was part of a petition drawn up by PNG writers to present to prime minister James Marape a couple of years ago.
The manifesto stated: “There are no major publishers in Papua New Guinea interested in publishing our work. If we want to publish our books, we have to pay for it ourselves.
Continue reading "Unrequited dream: PNG books in PNG hands" »
Arthur Williams - "The American Bishop of Kavieng asked me to ring the Convent and invite two of the Sisters to join us to play Rummy"
CARDIFF - Phil Fitzpatrick often writes about subjects that capture what many of us ex-New Guinea types think about now we have more time on our hands having left behind the daily commute to work.
His ‘Power, Hedonism & the Best Years of Our Lives’ was one such essay.
During the latter part of my 30 years in Papua New Guinea, I often felt that the life of expats who were off duty influenced the local people.
Continue reading "It was the Aussies who drove PNG to drink" »
| ZDNet | Edited extracts
SYDNEY - Australia is funding the potential purchase of a Pacific telco for only one reason, to ensure China Mobile doesn't get to it first.
It now appears Australia wants a crack at showing the world how to keep companies out of Chinese ownership.
Continue reading "Oz sweats to keep Pacific telcos from China" »
ADELAIDE - In 1979, my first job in the public health system was as a senior administrative officer in South Australia’s public and environmental health service.
In those days public health was seen as a backwater in the overall health system.
Continue reading "Public health & Covid: The old is suddenly new again" »
Reza Barati was just 23 when bashed to death by Australian guards at a refugee camp on Manus
NOOSA – The parents of Iranian asylum seeker Reza Berati, who died in February 2014 after being brutally beaten at an Australian-run detention centre, have begun legal action over his death.
Berati was 23 when killed by guards in a violent riot at the Manus Island camp that injured 77 other asylum seekers.
Continue reading "Berati family sues Oz govt over Manus murder" »
Sir Bob Dadae
NOOSA - Papua New Guinea’s governor-general Sir Bob Dadae says the country’s disintegration is ‘inevitable’ if Bougainville continues to press for secession and other provinces seek autonomy.
Dadae called on the Marape government not to entertain requests from provinces to break away and seek independence.
Continue reading "Dadae fears PNG disintegration may be ‘inevitable’" »
Postcard printed in 1913 to pre-order of the Pf2, Mk1 and never-produced Mk20 stamps. Only known copy in existence
MORRISET – It is an historical oddity more like an absurdist Monty Python sketch than reality, but it is true.
In 1913, Germany, Britain and Holland, all colonial powers sharing New Guinea, began planning a joint expedition to the giant island.
Continue reading "Great NG airship expedition that never happened" »
Influential Bougainville politician, Theonila Matbob - Prominent in advocating that Rio Tinto should accept responsibility for cleaning up Panguna's devastating legacy
NOOSA – After several months of discussions Rio Tinto and 156 Bougainville community members, represented by the Human Rights Law Centre, last week reached an agreement to assess legacy impacts of the former Panguna copper and gold mine on Bougainville.
The mine was operated by Bougainville Copper Ltd (BCL), then majority owned by Rio Tinto, from 1972 until 1989 when operations were suspended following guerrilla against the mine and a subsequent civil war.
Continue reading "Rio ready to deal with unfinished business" »
| Adventure Kokoda
SYDNEY - A 1,400% increase in the number of Australians trekking Kokoda after the opening of the Isurava Memorial in 2002 would normally be hailed an outstanding result for Papua New Guinean tourism and our shared wartime heritage.
But for Canberra based envirocrats, lurking within the corridors of the Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and Arts (DEWHA), it had all the hallmarks of an environmental Armageddon.
Continue reading "The Kokoda Trail & the enemy within" »
Marie Reay wrote the the first, book on women’s lives in the PNG Highlands. It was not discovered for 50 years (Noel Butlin)
Wives and Wanderers in a New Guinea Highlands Society by Marie Olive Reay. Francesca Merlan (ed). ANU Press 2014. 268 pages. ISBN 97819250212155 (paperback). Link here for free download
Marie Reay (1922-2004) was an Australian anthropologist, best known for work in the New Guinea Highlands. The manuscript for Wives and Wanderers was discovered in 2011, seven years after her death and 50 years after she had made her last amendments to it. Editor Francesca Merlan did a fine job in bringing it to publication and providing a valuable and stimulating Introduction. Some edited extracts follow - KJ
CANBERRA - Wives and Wanderers presents vivid, ethnographically based narrative of the lives of women of the Wahgi Valley in the Central Highlands of Papua New Guinea.
Marie Reay explores the experiences of courting, attraction, love, marriage, and the combination of male dominance and barely restrained female resentment and rebelliousness.
Continue reading "The book that went missing for 50 years" »
Power, privilege and office - Phil Fitzpatrick, like other kiaps, was a sworn commissioned officer in the field constabulary branch of the Royal Papua and New Guinea Constabulary
TUMBY BAY - When living in the moment it is hard to be analytical. It’s only in retrospect that people start thinking about what they did and what they experienced.
For Australians in the pre-independence bubble that was Papua New Guinea in the 1950s, 60s and 70s, the exotic lifestyle was fascinating and all-enveloping, particularly for those in Port Moresby and some of the bigger towns.
Continue reading "Power, hedonism & the best years of our lives" »
Adventures to be had. Exploring the high hills in the 1950s. Kiap Harry West OAM on patrol
ADELAIDE - I enjoyed Henry Sims’ recollection (‘Blunting a few, grilli & gumi races’) of the 'glory days' in Port Moresby.
Of course, life in Moresby was quite different from life on an outstation. The social whirl was rather restricted when the entire European population could be counted on one hand.
Continue reading "A privileged life with adventures to be had" »
Gagl Primary School in 1966 - playground, three classrooms, Wahgi Valley and Kubor Range
| From the Archive
NOOSA - My school teaching career lasted three years, entirely conducted in Papua New Guinea between the ages of 18 and 21.
It began late in 1963 with a memorable month-long fragment at Mandi in the Sepik, where at lunch a schoolboy would shinny up a tree with a machete, quickly extracting a choice coconut and then expertly slicing a penny-shaped drinking hole.
Continue reading "When the green eagle flew" »
Village Birth Attendants Ruth Natia and Mandy Namis - "If they say it’s budgeted for women, it doesn’t reach us. It gets lost somewhere in transition"
| My Land, My Country
LAE – I was working at Ngasuapum village along the Lae Nadzab highway in the Huon Gulf electorate that I came across the two hardworking women.
An old woman with grey hair was talking with another woman in her late fifties. Both caught my attention so, after my interviews were done, I called them and asked if I could ask them their stories.
Continue reading "PNG’s birthers: unrecognised & unresourced" »
| Australian Book Review
The late Clive James (1938-2019), born and raised in Sydney, wrote this review of The Best Australian Essays 2002 (edited by Peter Craven and published by Black Inc) for the May 2003 issue of Australian Book Review (ABR). James was a distinguished critic, poet, author, television performer and journalist. He moved to England in 1961 and remained, but with many visits back home. Among his countless publications are nine poetry collections, four novels, a translation of Dante’s Divine Comedy, five volumes of memoirs (most famously Unreliable Memoirs), and many collections of literary and television criticism. He wrote for ABR 20 times between 2001 and 2015. This review is an exemplar of superb essay writing - KJ
CAMBRIDGE, UK - After only four annual volumes, The Best Australian Essays has reached the point where the law of increasing expectations begins to kick in. By now the series has done so much that we want it to do everything.
Continue reading "A prosateur writes on best prosateurs" »
The Moresby Hotel, 1964
| From the Archive
MARCH 1968 – Life for us in Papua New Guinea began in a multiplex Single Officers Quarters in Gavamani Road, Boroko.
We had just arrived from a cold Tasmania and on our first night my young wife, like me, spread-eagled herself naked on the bed under the ceiling fan, too hot to be modest.
Continue reading "Blunting a few, grilli & gumi races" »
The New Great Game
ADELAIDE – So there is a contest between Australia and China (through surrogates Telstra and China Mobile) to buy the ailing Digicel Pacific’s mobile phone networks in Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Tonga, Nauru, Samoa and Vanuatu.
This is just another event in what seems likely to be a long and grinding war of economic attrition between the emergent authoritarian Chinese super power and its mostly democratic competitors.
Continue reading "Australia & PNG: Pawns in ‘The Great Game’" »
SYDNEY - I run a media, training and consultancy company called IndigenousX. It is 100% Indigenous owned and staffed.
We work on local, regional, national, and international projects; we run training workshops on anti-racism, digital strategies, and media training.
Continue reading "Identity & parlance: This is who we are" »
Haus Tambaran, Palambei, Middle Sepik. Duncan Gavin argues that PNG’s Parliament House should not be called a Haus Tambaran
| Aunamelo Independent Blog
MADANG – Papua New Guinea’s parliament house is one of the world’s most fascinating examples of public architecture.
The building incorporates various structural features found in PNG but the design that dominates is the architectural style of Maprik in East Sepik Province.
Continue reading "N’gego – Melanesia’s house of governance" »
Tailings waste flowing into Konawiru-Jaba River delta on the Bougainville west coast
| SBS News
BRISBANE - Multinational mining giant Rio Tinto has agreed to fund an independent assessment of the human rights and environmental impacts of its former Panguna copper and gold mine in Papua New Guinea’s autonomous region of Bougainville.
Rio Tinto abandoned the mine in 1989 during a brutal civil conflict on Bougainville and now no longer holds a stake after controversially divesting its shareholding to the PNG and Bougainville governments in 2016, rejecting corporate responsibility for environmental damage.
Continue reading "Rio agrees to review of Panguna impacts" »
Fiame Naomi Mataafa (UN Women, Ellie van Baaren)
| ANU Reporter
CANBERRA - In April, Fiame Naomi Mata’afa caused the political equivalent of an earthquake for Samoa.
The long-serving and immensely popular politician had taken on a political powerhouse in the country’s national election – and won.
Continue reading "A crack in the Pacific's glass ceiling" »
Digicel Pacific's billionaire owner Denis O'Brien knows he's selling an asset of massive strategic importance
NOOSA – As China Mobile lines up to swoop on Digicel’s mobile phone networks in the south-west Pacific, Australian security agencies are pushing hard to stop it.
The last thing they and their allies want in the fiercely-contested region is a Chinese telco giant taking over strategically important infrastructure in Papua New Guinea and the Pacific islands.
Continue reading "Australia seeks to best China in Digicel deal" »
PNG prime minister James Marape receives 15 ventilators donated by the Chinese government
JULIA HOLLINGSWORTH & BEN WESTCOTT
CNN Digital Worldwide | Edited extracts
Link here for the complete analysis
HONG KONG - China and Australia have found another battleground for their deepening diplomatic standoff: the Pacific islands' pandemic response.
Canberra has hit back at Beijing's claims it is derailing the rollout of Chinese vaccines in Papua New Guinea, the most-populous Pacific nation.
Continue reading "Covid is now a China-Australia power play" »
Menya River (Brian Chapaitis)
PORT MORESBY - This article breaks down some of the myths used to justify the privatisation of customary land.
It makes clear that efforts to privatise land are not about development but about profits for corporations, financial institutions and already wealthy people.
Continue reading "Don't privatise our customary land" »
Cartoonist Mark David depicts treasurer Frydenberg and prime minister Morrison's flawed efforts in managing the pandemic and the economy
ADELAIDE – Keith Jackson has rightly written (‘Lethargic Australia drops ball on Covid’) that the Morrison government has failed dismally to do its job in relation to both quarantine and vaccination relating to Australia’s Covid pandemic.
The direct result of this failure is that the State premiers have had to do all the heavy lifting to contain the virus.
Continue reading "Neo-liberal dogma seen in Oz Covid failures" »
Loi Bakani - "The Bank of PNG disassociates itself from the statement made by FASU”
NOOSA – Transparency International PNG (TIPNG) has strongly supported PNG’s financial regulator after Central Bank governor dissociated his bank from action it had taken to investigate possible money laundering.
TIPNG chair Peter Aitsi called on the government and the private sector to respect the independence of the Financial Analysis and Supervision Unit (FASU).
Continue reading "Transparency defends besieged regulator" »
Then Treasurer Don Polye refused to approve the deal and was sacked by prime minister Peter O’Neill. Polye is one of the few people to emerge with honour from the scandal
| Australian Financial Review | Extracts
SYDNEY - For the past four months, a royal commission into an eight-year-old deal most Australians have never heard of, in a country that rarely rates a mention, has been quietly chipping away.
Forced online by Covid-19, the inquiry into a $1.3 billion (K3.4 billion) loan extended by the Sydney office of UBS to the government of Papua New Guinea has heard from prime ministers, chief executives, a cabinet minister and top bureaucrats.
Continue reading "UBS's K210 million ‘excess’ on loan: expert" »
"We need to start thinking like the communities think. They do not perceive a conflict between their input and the delivery of essential services"
“People build their nation and transform their society by being active creators, observers and participants inside it” - Michael Dom, 'Put politics last: Let’s stop reversing evolution', 17 July 2021
CAIRNS – That is a statement to agree with.
If we look at most cities and towns in Papua New Guinea, I believe we see ample evidence of participation within the boundaries of a particular vision of nation building.
Continue reading "How to avoid leaving behind PNG’s 85%" »
The orchestra performing for parliamentarians at Vanimo in 2019
| Sipikriva Girl | Edited extracts
BUTAWENG – The Queen of Paradise Orchestra was established beside the sea in idyllic Baro Village in West Sepik in August 2018
The orchestra and its classical music school are the brainchild of the religious family of the incarnate word working in Vanimo, who were inspired by a similar project in Venezuela.
Continue reading "The marvellous Queen of Paradise Orchestra" »
Highlands road at Oiyarip looking toward Mendi
FR GARRETT ROCHE SVD
MAYNOOTH, IRELAND - My initial response to Jim Moore’s item, ‘Thoughts of Then, Now & Cultural Variance’, was to try to figure out which road Jim was referring to and what clans were involved.
Then Jim continued to discuss the appropriateness of the Western parliamentary system for an independent Papua New Guinea. So will I.
Between Mt Hagen and Togoba there are at least two roads heading towards Bukapena.
Continue reading "Roads connect but government can divide" »
NOOSA - The more infectious, faster moving Delta variant of Covid has been identified for the first time in Papua New Guinea.
The Delta strain is currently proving hard to control after breaking out in Australia’s two biggest cities, Sydney and Melbourne. It has killed three people so far.
Continue reading "Lethargic Australia drops ball on Covid " »
Georgina and Ulli Beier returned to Nigeria for the Osogbo Awards in 1992 (Iwalewahaus)
NOOSA - Georgina Beier (1938-2021), called the ‘founding mother’ of contemporary art in Papua New Guinea, died in Sydney last Sunday aged 82.
Her husband, Ulli Beier (1922–2011), was a German editor, writer and scholar who pioneered the development of literature in Nigeria and Papua New Guinea.
Continue reading "Georgina Beier, art pioneer, dies at 82" »
Westminster system spared Papua New Guinea nothing, not even the Speaker 's wig
CLEVELAND – It has taken me a long time to reach an understanding of what the problem was leading up to Papua New Guinea’s independence.
At the time, in the 1970s, the thought process was that the Westminster system works for us in Australia, this we can impose this obviously working system as a unifying force for a people and their many hundreds of cultures.
Continue reading "System we gave PNG just doesn’t work" »
LAE - How do we return Papua Niugini to a culture of Melanesian cooperation and how can the common people make those in power behave responsibly?
According to the evolutionary perspective, the birthplace of democracy was the tribe. Indeed, tribalism is sometimes referred to as ‘primitive democracy’.
Continue reading "Put politics last: Let’s stop reversing evolution" »
Road building, Pindiu, Morobe District, 1965 (Frank Haviland)
WARRADALE - In the late 1960s, as a young kiap based at Mt Hagen Sub-District Office, I was assigned to supervise work on a new feeder road.
It led off the Hagen-Togaba main road and heading north towards Bukapena in the Mul Council area, perhaps eight kilometres out of Hagen.
Part of the construction through a small hill had resulted in a cliff 10-15 metres high that had to be reduced to allow the road to be widened using the stock tools of the time - picks and long-handled spades.
Continue reading "Thoughts of then, now & cultural variance" »
CAIRNS – Michael Dom is right (Two questions long struggled with) in asking how can Papua New Guinea return to cooperation and how can the common people hold power to account and keep it responsible?
No one doubts the absolute necessity for a strong well-governed and administered political centre.
A modern nation state does not exist without it.
Continue reading "Needed: A compact between govt & people" »
Bank South Pacific in Port Moresby
| Investor Daily
SYDNEY - A Papua New Guinea-based banking group listed on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) has caught the ire of the regulator for alleged serious breaches of Australia’s anti-money laundering rules.
BSP Financial Group (BFL), which listed on the ASX earlier this year, is the largest bank in PNG with branches in six South Pacific nations.
Continue reading "Big bank in money laundering claims" »
Sir Julius Chan, EITI secretariat head Lucas Alkan and New Ireland provincial administrator Lamiller Pawut
| PNG Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative
KAVIENG - New Ireland governor Sir Julius Chan says a proposed law to promote transparency and accountability in mining and petroleum will keep everyone honest in the long run.
Chan made this remark when he opened the Extractive Industries Transparency Commission Bill consultation for the New Guinea Island Region.
Continue reading "Law to keep extractive industries in check" »
Forests Minister Walter Schnaulbelt was first to be vaccinated with the highly effective Chinese Sinopharm vaccine
NOOSA – Papua New Guinea began the rollout of the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine on Tuesday, with Forests Minister Walter Schnaubelt receiving the first official jab.
China supplied PNG with 200, 000 doses in late June, with 2,500 doses already given to Chinese nationals in the country as a confidence builder.
Continue reading "Chinese vaccine starts mass rollout" »
Sweet potato farming in the Southern Highlands - communal sharing for mutual benefit is the Melanesian Way
LAE – Power, power, power. Yeah, sure.
In Papua New Guinea subsistence agriculture is a basic mode of living, resources are communally shared and political power is gained and maintained by the assurance of mutual benefit for all.
It can be challenging to understand that the infant national character (that which emerged through parliamentary democracy) doesn't know what to do about the vast wealth made available to it.
Continue reading "Two questions long struggled with" »
Fight against ruining the Sepik
Stop harm in the Sepik
PanAust, 1/15 James Street in Fortitude Valley
Pukpuk LV handbags along every alley
Another Burlington Arcade so trendy and chic
The Sepik – A South Pacific Amazon
Once pristine but no longer unique
Continue reading "Old FARTS and Little SH*TS" »
CAIRNS - Patrick Angrai’s article, Death of a Teacher, hit me hard too. Firstly sadness, then anger.
Death in childbirth, through lack of timely referral or resources, is so horribly common in rural settings and often goes unreported.
As Arthur Williams has said, how can this happen in such a resource rich country?
Continue reading "PNG must make people the centre of power" »
President Toroama addresses people at Buka's Bel Park after the Wabag leaders' meeting
BUKA – Discussions were “tough”, Bougainville president Ishmael Toroama has revealed after last week’s top level talks in Wabag with Papua New Guinea prime minister James Marape.
Describing the leaders’ meeting in Wabag as “tough”, Toroama told a public meeting in Buka that Bougainville’s independence must be settled so the autonomous province can move forward.
Continue reading "Back our independence mission: Toroama" »
TUMBY BAY - In her 2020 book, ‘The Motion of the Body Through Space,’ the contrarian writer and novelist, Lionel Shriver, has one of her characters observe “that men in their teens and twenties are the most dangerous creatures on earth”.
“They’re competing for mates, and trying to establish dominance in the male pecking order.
Continue reading "Dangerous young men" »