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13 January 2019


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As far as I know the late Bomai Kawale of Karamui Nomane district married 37 wives.

Why these remote women loved ugly Bomai Kawale so much is a mystery for me. He took all the women and young Bomai men ran around dry.

They did not question him or accuse him because of fear of his powerful black magic.

Nothing I can quote here, Keith. But after PNG I spent 20 years in immigration, most of it in the Enforcement Branch where we came across all manner of skullduggery and nefarious methods of bypassing the established migration systems.

So I got to see hundreds of applications for Australian residence and citizenship and to meet people involved with them. And I put all this to good use, because it was through my study of illegal immigration that I obtained my MA and later, my PhD.

Incidentally, the methodology I explained for polygamy in Australia is all perfectly legal, since there is no law against fathering babies with women not recognised as wives, and Centrelink is obliged to support Australian citizen babies whatever the circumstances of their birth.

Would you believe that polygamy is alive and well in Australia amongst our Moslem population. It works like this:

An Australian Moslem man already married in Australia goes back to his Moslem country of origin and marries another Moslem girl there. That second marriage is not recognised by Australian law, but it is by Sharia law.

The second wife has a baby born in the country of origin. The husband registers that birth in the nearest Australian Embassy, and the baby then becomes an Australian citizen by descent from the Australian citizen father.

The father then migrates to Australia his child by his second wife. He can't migrate her as his wife because in Australia she is not recognised as his wife. But she obtains a visa on humanitarian grounds, as the mother of an Australian citizen child.

So mother and child migrate to Australia where they survive happily due to our generous Centrelink family allowance payments. The husband repeats this process with two other girls from his country of origin.

He then has four wives by Sharia law and by Australian law he has one wife and he is associated with three other single mothers and their children all supported by Centrelink.

Some Moslem men have told me how lucky they are to live in Australia, because in their country of origin they never could have four wives and their children, because the Koran stipulates he must support them all equally, and he couldn't do it in the home country, but in Australia, Centrelink does it all for him.

Given what we know of Centrelink's frugality when it comes to doling out money and the legal constraints on polygamy in Australia, I'm very surprised to hear of this, Chips. Is there a reference or a citation? - KJ

In my opinion, Philip Kai Morre rightfully distinguishes between traditional polygamy and the type of polygamy that has become prevalent in more modern times.

Traditional polygamy was still common in the Mt Hagen area in the early 1970s. There was no social welfare system, and often widowed or divorced women could only survive by becoming an additional wife of a successful ‘big-man’.

In addition, marriage was a means of forming alliances with neighbouring tribes and good marriages helped to maintain peace.

I knew many men who had several wives and at times I was impressed by the manner in which some of these men dealt as fairly as possible will all the wives.

The old man Yaga from Mokei Akilika Ronimp near Hagen had 11 wives. He seemed to be able to keep peace among them all and also divide up the land among the various children in an equitable manner. He was a good man.

Rakopa from the Jika Komapi clan had at least eight wives. He had daughters married into very many neighbouring tribes including the Yamka and Mokei tribes.

Wamp Wan from Mokei Nampakae had at least three wives.

I am not advocating that polygamy be continued. I am simply saying that traditionally there were many reasons why society tolerated polygamy, and that polygamous men could be very good to all their wives and children.

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