Comment & opinion Feed

Neo-colonialism: It’s not personal; it’s just business


ADELAIDE - The sanctions imposed upon Iran by the USA are causing a huge amount of damage to that country’s economy.

The people of Iran, as distinct from the ruling regime, are suffering a great deal as a consequence.

What surprised me was that an apparently quite closed and tightly controlled economy like Iran’s was so susceptible to the influence of the US government’s edicts.

Continue reading "Neo-colonialism: It’s not personal; it’s just business" »

O’Neill continues to deceive on district funding

Peter O'Neill
Peter O'Neill has been been exaggerating the value of funding he provided for district development


MICHIGAN, USA - Former prime minister Peter O’Neill seems slow to understand the implications of the reality that he is no longer the leader of Papua New Guinea.

He thinks that when new prime minister James Marape attempts to pass legislation that he disagrees with, that he can tell the untruths he was able to get away with during his seven years in power.

Continue reading "O’Neill continues to deceive on district funding" »

Did 'presource curse' just deliver a pile of dung?

Continue reading "Did 'presource curse' just deliver a pile of dung?" »

Can PNG become the 'richest black Christian nation on earth'?

Black Christian Countries (Source Devpolicy Blog)
Black Christian Countries (Source: Devpolicy Blog)

ANDREW KORYBKO | Eurasia Future

MOSCOW - The new prime minister of Papua New Guinea only entered office a few months ago after a long-running political scandal led to the resignation of his predecessor, Peter O'Neill.

But he’s already making waves with his ambitious vision of turning this resource-rich but poverty-stricken island country into “the richest black Christian nation on earth”.

James Marape made his Trump-like nationalist proclamation in late July during his visit to Australia, which was his first foreign trip since assuming his position.

Here he also spoke about his plan of one day “participating with Australia looking after smaller island nations”.

Continue reading "Can PNG become the 'richest black Christian nation on earth'?" »

Increasingly hysterical Australia is bad news for PNG & the region

Illustration by Dionne Gain (Sydney Morning Herald)
Illustration by Dionne Gain (Sydney Morning Herald)


TUMBY BAY - Australia watchers in places like Papua New Guinea and the Pacific islands will have noticed that in the last few years a profound cultural change in their southern neighbour is in progress.

The main driving force of this change is a kind of paranoia driven by a largely politically orchestrated national fear.

One of the effects of this hysteria is that we Australian people seem to be sacrificing our basic liberties and, more profoundly, our humanity.

This is well illustrated by our treatment of refugees and asylum seekers but is also manifest in our trampling of the sovereignty of some of our neighbours and the moves to shut down the freedom of our own press and media.

Continue reading "Increasingly hysterical Australia is bad news for PNG & the region" »

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" »

Colonisation will not cut it any more in our beloved islands

Corney Alone - "It was crystal clear that Australia’s attempted bullying was sponsored  from the pouch of the coal and fossil fuel industry"


PORT MORESBY – They were very strong words from the Fijian prime minister, Frank Bainimarama: the sentiments of the rest of the Pacific Islands leaders captured in his views.

“China never insults the Pacific," Bainimarama said. "They don’t go down and tell the world that we’ve given this much money to the Pacific islands. They don’t do that.

"They’re good people, definitely better than Morrison, I can tell you that. The [Australian] prime minister was very insulting, very condescending, not good for the relationship….”

My own prime minister, James Marape, upon returning from Tuvalu acknowledged that "there is a climate change crisis in the region".

He further stated that he "will be vocal about it when he attends the United Nations General Assembly meeting in September this year".

Australia, or any other so-called leader of the free world, must know that Pacific Islands people value relationships.

Continue reading "Colonisation will not cut it any more in our beloved islands" »

Breaking the hearts of our Pacific friends & neighbours

Enele Sopoaga
Enele Sopoaga - "We are already crossing the red lines to keep, to save, the small island countries"

EMAIL | The Australia Institute

CANBERRA - Last week the Pacific Island Forum made clear that new coal mines were a 'red line' issue.

Its final communique made clear to the world what the Pacific nations require of its neighbours, including Australia: the survival of Pacific Island nations requires no new coal mines.

While Pacific Island leaders deserve congratulation for their vocal call for no new coal mines, it is a disappointment that Australia has bullied any language of a ban or limitation of new coal out of this week's 50th Pacific Islands Forum communique.

Australians cannot underestimate the importance of taking climate action, particularly in the Pacific. As the UN Secretary-General has said, “if you can save Tuvalu, you can save the world”.

Continue reading "Breaking the hearts of our Pacific friends & neighbours" »

Climate change - & the deafness of those unwilling to face reality

B&w Overland
Chris Overland


ADELAIDE - What passes as the climate debate seems to me to typify what is happening in our world today.

Those who occupy what might broadly be described as a conservative political position seem unwilling or unable to grasp the scale of the problem or its probable consequences.

As a result, they are quite unwilling to contemplate the economic and lifestyle trade-offs required, especially in the so-called developed world, to ameliorate the worst effects of the change process that is clearly and unequivocally occurring now.

Those who have what is called a progressive political outlook see the oncoming disaster but are apparently incapable of galvanising sufficient public support to induce governments to do anything meaningful.

Partly at least, this is because the progressive forces often are also the proponents of the sort of identity politics around sexual preferences, ethnicity, and so forth that have so material assisted the resurgence of ‘white nationalism’ that they despise.

Continue reading "Climate change - & the deafness of those unwilling to face reality" »

More than a belief in miracles to get out of this climate mess

Phil Fitz
Fitzpatrick - "For Morrison and many of his cohorts empirical science is something they view with scepticism"


TUMBY BAY - I hate to be the bearer of bad tidings but if the people of the Pacific believe that the Australian government will do anything meaningful about climate change they are sadly mistaken.

Australia currently has a conservative government with an undeclared core of climate change deniers in its ranks.

If that isn’t discouraging enough it is also led by a prime minister who is a committed Pentecostal Christian who believes in miracles and God’s will.

One of those miracles enacted by God was letting him win the last unwinnable federal election. He is now prime minister because God put him there.

Roughly translated this means that he believes that climate change has been imposed on the world by God for unexplained reasons that should not be questioned.

For Morrison and many of his cohorts empirical science is something they view with scepticism.

Continue reading "More than a belief in miracles to get out of this climate mess" »

Kase’s admission of health system failure 10 years overdue

Pascoe-kase (post courier)
"I said to Pascoe Kase (pictured) 'You have to go to the clinics and talk to staff because the information you are giving me here is wrong'.   It turned into a tense exchange"

SCOTT WAIDE | My Land, My Country

LAE - For the last five years, I have been repeating the same story: ‘We have a crisis in the health system.’

The rest of the country can see it. The people who are victims of the medicine shortages all over the country keep speaking out about it. Health workers have cried while being interviewed because they simply can’t save lives.

And we’re not talking about the expensive cancer treatment and operations families have to pay for. 

It’s the basics that are lacking. Antibiotics, malaria drugs, family planning drugs and consumables. The clinics don’t have them. Or even if they have them, the supplies are not enough for their catchment areas.

Personally, I have emailed the health secretary, Pascoe Kase, about the cancer unit in Lae, the ill-treatment of the late Dr John Niblet and the medicine shortages. I have called and sent text messages.

Continue reading "Kase’s admission of health system failure 10 years overdue" »

Sir Salamo not the right person to head UBS loan inquiry


KUNDIAWA - Prime Minister James Marape is to be commended for the appointment of a commission of inquiry to investigate the UBS loan affair, however the appointment of former chief justice Sir Salamo Injia to head the inquiry is dubious.

This is already a compromise of the outcome of the inquiry before it has even started and is not a good sign for the Marape government in its announced campaign of fighting corruption.

If Marape is serious about cleaning up PNG and ridding this country of corruption, the multi-billion dollar UBS loan is a classic case to start with.

This is an issue that has brought so much pain and misery to the country and its people.

It is essential for people who want the whole truth that no stone is left unturned in pursuing exactly what happened and who was responsible for it.

Continue reading "Sir Salamo not the right person to head UBS loan inquiry" »

The real people of Papua New Guinea


TUMBY BAY - There are many good people in Papua New Guinea. We often hear their stories on PNG Attitude. They are a welcome respite from all the doom and gloom that otherwise reaches our ears.

Papua New Guinea is a Melanesian society that is founded on the concept of community, as opposed to the concept of the individual, and one shouldn’t be surprised by these stories.

These good people exist in most communities. They are working quietly and without any expectation of reward in all sorts of ways and in a huge variety of different fields.

Teachers work in remote communities without resources and sometimes even without a salary. Aid Post orderlies and health clinic workers toil under similar conditions in many areas.

Sometimes we forget about all these good people and concentrate too much on what we hear is wrong with Papua New Guinea.

Continue reading "The real people of Papua New Guinea" »

PNG needs principled leaders to guide us to a better state


SONOMA - Cultivating leaders with moral principles is a societal responsibility to fill the leadership void in every age.

The story of Daniel in the Bible provides a template for how leaders with moral principles can be cultivated, to become a beacon and a moral force in a world washed in moral decay.

Another historic example who fits this mold is Abraham Lincoln who was raised in humble circumstances, developed a passion to learn and taught himself law, philosophy, rhetoric and mathematics.

One of the many books Lincoln devoured was the Bible, and the precepts found in that ancient book transformed and elevated him to become the president of America. His most memorable speech - the Gettysburg address – opens with a quote from Psalm 90.

The lives of these two moral giants show that leaders with principles can be cultivated.

Continue reading "PNG needs principled leaders to guide us to a better state" »

Caution needed in dealing with Australia’s police authorities


TUMBY BAY - I think Papua New Guinea’s police minister Bryan Kramer really needs to be careful.

He says he will reach out to the Australian Federal Police for assistance in restructuring PNG's fraud squad.

While a lot depends on the kind of assistance he is seeking, he should be very wary of inadvertently falling into a trap.

The AFP has close links to the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) and the Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS).

All these agencies are secretive and immune from freedom of information requests in Australia.

The ASD’s main function is listening in on communications domestically and in other countries which may be of interest to the Australian government.

Given Australia’s newly discovered interest in the Pacific region it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that a request made by Kramer would be seen as an invitation to engage in a little extra-curricular spying.

Australia, after all, has lots of skin in this sort of game. Just ask Timor Leste, where Australian spies laced listening devices in the cabinet room.

It’s also interesting to consider why Kramer thinks the fraud squad needs outside help.

In the recent past the fraud squad has shown itself to have a team of professional and incorruptible officers. Peter O’Neill will vouch for this fact.

The fraud squad will know exactly what needs to be done to make its work easier.

First, quarantining them from political interference.

Secondly, guaranteeing them a decent budget so they have the resources they need to be effective.

Once they’ve got all that it’s just a matter of letting them loose. They know who the crooks are and where they live.

One of the things they don’t need is dragging some AFP characters around with them hindering what they do.

If the AFP is happy to sit in the Airways Hotel propping up the bar and occasionally wandering over to the smorgasbord, well and good.

But if they want to get in the way things won’t work as well as the minister expects.

If the minister insists in getting outside help, he should look elsewhere for the expertise he seeks.

His own backyard might be a good place to start.

Economic segregation: let's get rid of racist advertising for a start

Expat neededEMMANUEL NARAKOBI | My Land, My Country

PORT MORESBY - So let me backtrack. Economic segregation has been practiced for a long time in Papua New Guinea.

The so called ‘expat’, as defined legally for the private sector, was someone supposed to train local talent where relevant experience did not exist in an organisation.

But there is no foreign worker license which then perpetuates the ‘expat’ policy and attitudes. In other words we have institutionalised economic segregation.

When the Bougainville copper mine was established, the company did not just set up a mining project.

It set up an entire town with schools, hospitals and leisure facilities. Everyone, both Papua New Guineans and ‘expats’ lived and worked together in Bougainville with their families using the same facilities.

Continue reading "Economic segregation: let's get rid of racist advertising for a start" »

Let's try to work out who the authentic politicians are

Marape Morrison
James Marape and Scott Morrison - what image do they want us to see? And how closely does it relate to the real leader?


TUMBY BAY – Keith’s now in London and getting a first hand experience of Britain’s transition to the rule of Boris Johnson and it will be interesting to watch how Boris the new prime minister progresses.

I'm not quite sure what image of himself he is trying to project and what he hopes will capture the minds of the credulous voters of the United Kingdom.

It is also still a mystery what sort of image Papua New Guinea’s James Marape is trying to project.

On the one hand he is trying to establish himself as someone who will not tolerate being leaned on by Australia while he has also projected an image of a transparent communicator with a strong bias against corruption.

I don't think anyone since Michael Somare has managed to manufacture a persona with such wide appeal in PNG and I'm not sure Marape (unlike Bryan Kramer for instance) has the charisma to do it.

One of the most appealing aspects of Michael Somare, at least when he was younger, was that he would actually answer questions put to him. This was very refreshing and quite unusual. He was a bit like Bob Hawke in this respect.

Continue reading "Let's try to work out who the authentic politicians are" »

Governments we deserve, but not governments we need

Scott Morrison and James Marape
Scott Morrison and James Marape - beanie clad and doing the populist footie thing


ADELAIDE – Strangely, while politicians as a class are seriously on the nose across the democratic world, individual politicians appear to remain popular within their own electorates, even if they clearly are not people of the highest moral or ethical character.

The former Australian deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce immediately springs to mind as an example of this.

Papua New Guinea has all too many examples of ethically-compromised politicians who remain very popular in their electorates. It must be the beer and lamb flaps effect at work.

More pragmatically, I put this phenomenon down to the fact that politicians, in their day to day work, spend a lot of time helping ordinary people navigate the labyrinthine byways of the government bureaucracy, thus building a reservoir of goodwill that they can draw upon when elections come around.

Continue reading "Governments we deserve, but not governments we need" »

Kramer investigated for cyber-bullying. But is Mr Kalaut serious?

Sylvester Kalaut - looks like overzealous assistant police commissioner is on wrong side of the law


PORT MORESBY – About a week ago, The National newspaper published an article under the headline, ‘Kramer Investigated on Allegations of Cyber-Bullying’.

The article, authored by Clifford Faiparik, reported that assistant police commissioner Sylvester Kalaut had confirmed that I, as police minister, was being investigated on allegations of cyber-bullying.

The allegations related to a Madang-based National news reporter who filed a complaint against me in June 2018 in relation to an article I had published on social media.

The article was critical of her biased reporting and having been paid K3,000 from district development grants by the former Member for Madang.

It appears Mr Kalaut has found himself on the wrong side of this issue. Perhaps he should have first taken the time to investigate what the law defines as cyber-bullying.

Continue reading "Kramer investigated for cyber-bullying. But is Mr Kalaut serious?" »

Did police mobile squad’s decline contribute to Hela killings?

The police mobile squad's effectiveness is argued to have been compromised by LNG camp security duties


RICHMOND, TAS - Prior to the commencement of the Papua New Guinea liquefied natural gas (PNG LNG) project, the Police Mobile Squad was an extremely feared entity in the Southern Highlands and later Hela Province.

Their Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary’s mobile squad had a modus operandi that at times was brutal – including rape, destruction of crops and livestock and burning of houses.

However, they did stop the fighting and brought most of the criminals to heel.

The very threat of their deployment made clans think twice about fighting and payback. Not only would compensation have to be paid between warring clans, but the mobile squad’s collateral damage usually had to be compensated for as well by the fight ‘owners’.

Early in the construction phase of PNG LNG there was a fight going on adjacent to one of the camps and some of the combatants jumped the perimeter fence when they saw a couple of people from another clan working in the camp.

Continue reading "Did police mobile squad’s decline contribute to Hela killings?" »

People, stay alert. The world has given us hopeless leadership

Phil 2015
Phil Fitzpatrick - "The old adage, don’t vote for them, it just encourages them, strikes a chord with many people"


TUMBY BAY - Politicians all over the world are on the nose. In some places they rank in popularity below street thieves and lazy public servants.

The most popular politician in Australia is New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern.

We don’t know who the most popular politician in Papua New Guinea is because nobody conducts surveys.

Right now it might be prime minister James Marape, who is still in his honeymoon period. But it could be Bryan Kramer because of his unflinching habit of doing the right thing and also communicating directly with people on social media.

In places like Australia people tend to select their favourite politician depending on their own right or left wing biases. In PNG it is more likely they would be selected along tribal and clan lines.

It would be interesting to turn the whole question on its head and ask people who is the most unpopular politician. I suspect that would attract a much more enthusiastic response.

But it’s in so-called Western countries that the biggest problems are seen – the US, UK, Australia, Italy, Greece and elsewhere.

Continue reading "People, stay alert. The world has given us hopeless leadership" »

Is Marape crabwalking away from anti-corruption legislation?

Editorial cartoon  The New Times  Rwanda
Editorial cartoon, The New Times, Rwanda


AARHUS, DENMARK – Once again we have a Papua New Guinea government that feels it needs to have another look at much-required legislation that PNG governments have been having a ‘hard look at’ for years.

And after each hard look they have made a bunch of promises and never have those promises been fulfilled.

Now the freshly-minted James Marape government is set to have a hard look at two desperately needed pieces of legislation that could be introduced tomorrow if the prime minister had the will.

I refer of course to whistleblower protection and anti-corruption laws.

Continue reading "Is Marape crabwalking away from anti-corruption legislation?" »

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" »

Don’t join the race to the bottom: Call out racial stereotyping


MORRISET - Does race exist, and if so what is it? The answers are many and vary over time and geography.

The only thing we can claim with certainty is that we are all members of the human race. We are all one species, as opposed to say horses or dogs.

Unfortunately the term race is used in such a loose and ideological way as to have become meaningless. There no white or black race, just as there is no American or Australian race.

Sure there are different ethnic backgrounds and ancestry which can be measured according to genetics and sociology.

But such explain diversity and culture, not superiority or degrees of 'civilisation'. These are value judgements.

Continue reading "Don’t join the race to the bottom: Call out racial stereotyping" »

The appeal of the regions & the richness of being poor

Phil Fitz
Phil Fitzpatrick - "Generation after generation have stayed in the towns until it has become impossible to escape"


TUMBY BAY - It’s estimated that about 80% of the people in Papua New Guinea are subsistence farmers.

A subsistence farmer is by definition someone who only produces enough to satisfy their basic or primary needs.

It is unclear who actually made the above estimate and what definition of subsistence they used.

As economic anthropologists have shown there is no such thing as a true subsistence economy because in every type of economic system there is nearly always surplus production.

In PNG’s old days this surplus was used in ritual or prestige consumption, communal use or for exchange.

In modern PNG the surplus has become part of what is known as the informal economy, much of it in the hands of women.

Continue reading "The appeal of the regions & the richness of being poor" »

PNG’s millionaires & zillionaires & the people who pay the price

8 point planGARY LUHRS | Ex Kiap Website

WUNDOWIE, WA - Forgive my scepticism at this latest expression of honesty and integrity from yet another Papua New Guinea prime minister.

James Marape is pledging to rid the country of corruption and espousing the intention of establishing an honest and dedicated public sector devoted to the development and well-being of his people.

Do you remember the first such declaration from the Pangu Party in the mid 1970s? In reality, the country’s first declared political manifesto.

The famous five-point plan that was going to address the neglectful shortcomings of the departing colonial administration and create Utopia for the oppressed peoples of Papua New Guinea.

The newly emerging intelligentsia from UPNG and the wider academia as well as the Public Service embraced the ideals with a vengeance.

Alas the famous five-point plan fell far short of its objectives, although it did attract foreign carpetbaggers by the plane load who offered their goods, services and financial incentives to those Ministers of the Crown who were eager to be wined, dined and regaled with lavish gifts.

Continue reading "PNG’s millionaires & zillionaires & the people who pay the price" »

Oh Bougainville, my Bougainville, sorry I caused you pain

Danny Gonol - "Marape, if I were in your position, I would apply my brakes and re-look at the whole Bougainville issue"

DANNY GONOL | Edited from an Open Letter

MT HAGEN – James Marape rose to the top of our country nearing the 44th anniversary of its independence.

He boldly announced he would consider himself a failure if by 2029 he had not made Papua New Guinea the richest black Christian nation on earth.

The world’s social and economic indicators puts our country in the Third World. Some say it is a developing country. Others say it is a poor country. Still others say it is a rich underdeveloped country.

Our country does not top the world in commerce, in military strength, in politics. But it tops the world in the number of languages our eight million people speak. What unity in diversity.

The last time l was in the land down under, a white man was heard speaking.  "This man comes from the nation of a thousand tribes,” he said, pointing at me.

I was at ease with this. He said to me, “Your country is like no other. You are a nation of nations.”

Oh, what a great feeling of patriotism flowed through me. I shed tears of joy.

Continue reading "Oh Bougainville, my Bougainville, sorry I caused you pain" »

The hard task of striking a balance in our views of PNG

Fr Garry Roche - "Can we proclaim the many good things happening in PNG and at the same time not close our eyes to the many difficulties"


DUBLIN - Phil Fitzpatrick has raised the important question of the legitimacy of his views on Papua New Guineans or Aboriginal Australians, since he is ethnically neither of those people.

“This fact has occasionally been used to criticise what I write,” Phil has told PNG Attitude readers, “and I admit that such an argument has relevance.

“I don’t know what it’s like to be a Papua New Guinean or an Aborigine. All I can do is use what I see and hear, and guess what it feels like," he said. "Some people might say otherwise, but I don’t think this invalidates what I write.”

My own view, having lived in PNG for very many years and now back in Ireland, is that perhaps our criticisms of PNG would be better received if it is clear we also see the good in PNG and we acknowledge the good achieved.

I personally think PNG Attitude does achieve a balance between the negative and the positive, but it is an issue that has to be noted.

The current social and political scene in PNG has given rise to plenty of comment that has been generally somewhat negative.

Continue reading "The hard task of striking a balance in our views of PNG" »

Kokoda tour operators: Please improve your game

Lynn Morrison
Charlie Lynn with Australian prime minister Scott Morrison. Lynn was an MP in Morrison's home state of NSW

CHARLIE LYNN | Adventure Kokoda Blog | Edited extracts

SYDNEY – I’ve had documents forwarded to me that include some remarks made to a recent Kokoda Tour Operators Association (KTOA) forum in Port Moresby.

KTOA was established to look after the interests of a small but vocal group of Australian based operators of eco-tours in Papua New Guinea.

According to the documents passed to me, Association president Sue Fitcher told the forum:

“It is time to call out those who would choose to damage and destroy the industry for whatever warped vested interests they have – who would know.

“We have talked about some of the claims and accusations that have been made earlier; it is interesting to note that [these] are rarely, if ever, made in person but through others or from the safety of sitting behind a computer and ranting through social media.

Continue reading "Kokoda tour operators: Please improve your game" »

The value of the outside view: we observers also learn

Phil Fitzpatrick recent
Phil Fitzpatrick


TUMBY BAY - I’ve written a lot about Papua New Guinea over the years. I’ve also written a lot about Aboriginal Australia.

My writing has been as an observer and sometimes as a participant, but it has never been as a Papua New Guinean or an Aboriginal Australian because I am neither of those people.

This fact has occasionally been used to criticise what I write and I admit that such an argument has relevance.

I don’t know what it’s like to be a Papua New Guinean or an Aborigine. All I can do is use what I see and hear, and guess what it feels like.

Some people might say otherwise, but I don’t think this invalidates what I write.

I am well aware, perhaps more than most Australians, how oppressive has been the treatment of Aboriginal people.

Continue reading "The value of the outside view: we observers also learn" »

Why we must never legislate for prostitution in PNG

Pawa - ProstitutesPAWA KENNY AMBAISI

PORT MORESBY – During his time in office now ousted prime minister Peter O’Neill sign off on some controversial issues like the $1.2 billion UBS loan and dismantling Task Force Sweep but he wouldn’t sign the Prostitution Act, which was a blessing for the people of Papua New Guinea.

“I commend the O’Neill government’s decision not to legalise prostitution in Papua New Guinea,” Deborah Kai of Mt Hagen wrote a letter published in The National newspaper The government, in its power and wisdom, has saved Papua New Guinea from definite destruction.

“Through not allowing prostitution, the daughters of this country have been saved from degradation. PNG has been saved from turning to prostitution and the floodgate of wickedness has been prevented from being opened.”

Continue reading "Why we must never legislate for prostitution in PNG" »

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?" »

More than bad manners: the problem with ignoring the PNG media

Scott Waide
Distinguished PNG journalist Scott Waide. Newton Cain asks if Australia is signalling to the PNG leadership that answering questions from the media is something you only do when it suits you

TESS NEWTON CAIN | Twitter | Edited

“Senator Marise Payne, Australia's foreign affairs minister, made a brief visit to Papua New Guinea and Bougainville late this week….

"The Australian High Commission in Port Moresby had told local journalists in no uncertain terms that there would be no opportunity to ask Payne questions about her visit.

"This was not the first time the High Commission has shown such gross discourtesy to the PNG media, who have previously been excluded from interviews, official lunches and even media conferences.”

– Keith Jackson in PNG Attitude yesterday

BRISBANE - As I’ve discussed before [see for example, here and here] this type of behaviour on the part of Australian ministers when visiting PNG and other Pacific countries is more than bad manners.

It is a worrying sign that the Australian High Commission in Port Moresby assumes it is entitled to dictate access to a sovereign nation’s media.

Continue reading "More than bad manners: the problem with ignoring the PNG media" »

Interesting moves by a fresh prime minister. We wish him well

James Marape
James Marape’s new course for Papua New Guinea is laudable but its grandiosity has a touch of the unbelievable


TUMBY BAY - Papua New Guinean politics has always been interesting to watch.

For anyone brought up under the Westminster system of government with its adversarial politics and strict rules of process what goes on in Papua New Guinea can appear both bizarre and quixotic.

On the one hand its politics conforms to the Westminster ideal but on the other it seems to owe much more to traditional clan politics.

Mixed in there too is an element of patronage and corruption imported directly from Asia.

This potpourri has now been stretched even further from the realms of possibility by the recent musical chairs surrounding the sidelining of Peter O’Neill.

Continue reading "Interesting moves by a fresh prime minister. We wish him well" »

In a crazy world, can PNG have its own Age of Enlightenment?

Could James Marape be the harbinger of PNG’s age of enlightenment, with a genuine belief in truth, justice and fairness for all


ADELAIDE - When I first arrived in Papua New Guinea in 1969 I was in search of excitement and adventure which, as it turned out, was not hard to find.

To the extent that I understood my primary role as a brand new liklik kiap [junior patrol officer], it was to help bring to the people of PNG peace, good government and what I unquestioningly believed to be the benefits of western civilisation.

As a single man with no money, I carried very little physical baggage with me. With the benefit of hindsight, I was carrying more than a little intellectual and philosophical baggage, which I had mostly unknowingly acquired during both my formal and informal education.

In the late 1950s and 1960s I was taught by mostly young teachers who, predominantly, were born either during or immediately after World War II.

They were the first of the so-called ‘baby boomers’ and collectively were heavily influenced by ideas about the world that had first arisen during the Enlightenment, which is usually said to have commenced around the year 1500.

The ideas they impressed upon me and my fellow students included a belief in the primacy of science as a means of acquiring real knowledge and, just as importantly, of eradicating the superstitions, fears and ignorance that had for so long afflicted humankind.

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Becoming a rich black nation: Are we not rich already?

Children (Unicef)ROSA KOIAN

PORT MORESBY - We all want change and we want that change to happen quickly.

Many of us feel deprived of certain opportunities and privileges and therefore miss or forget that we are rich already.

As a country we didn’t have to struggle to become an independent democratic nation.

Beyond that we are rich with our good Papua New Guinean ways, cultures and traditions.

Our people have in them skills and talents that often are given freely.

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O’Neill's end brought forth the good; now call puppets to account

Kerenga Kua has never been politically disloyal or a yoyo in the many indecisive moments of PNG politics. He’s a steady, no-nonsense man


KUNDIAWA – It was a lively session on the floor of parliament before the election of Papua New Guinea’s eighth prime minister a few weeks ago.

One little remarked aspect of the controversy was Madang governor Peter Yama’s words to Kerenga Kua, member for Sinesine Yongomugl in Simbu and now petroleum minister.

The remarks have drawn widespread conjecture and condemnation, especially in Simbu. from many people, where people are questioning the integrity of Yama in calling Kua a ‘liklik mangi’ [little boy] in Pidgin.

Personal interest too often ruins the public interest. Even in the heated situation of a stressful parliamentary sitting, Yama should have shown the patience of a mature leader and representative of the people of Madang.

However, he egotistically levelled this derisive remark at his political rival, Kua, who without hesitation branded him as a political puppet.

Kua took the phrase ‘liklik mangi’ as no more than political rubbish from an ant speaking on behalf of floundering prime minister Peter O’Neill as the curtains were being drawn on the previous regime.

Continue reading "O’Neill's end brought forth the good; now call puppets to account" »

How decentralised funding became decentralised corruption

Jeffrey Febi
Jeff Febi - "If corruption was bad in Port Moresby, at district level it was worse. If corruption was secretive in Port Moresby, in the district it was in plain sight"


LUFA - Over the years, successive Papua New Guinea governments did well in decentralising power from Waigani.

The establishment of District Development Authorities signified the completion of the decentralisation process, and also showed that the distribution mechanism for funds was ready to roll.

Disbursements of K10 million each year to the districts was the highlight of decentralisation.

These funds not only enabled districts to implement their development goals without having to face the Waigani bureaucracy, it also gave them financial power and, ultimately, the freedom to choose and fund projects and deliver services according to home-grown plans.

With this freedom and power, rather unfortunately, followed endless impairments of virtue and moral principles.

The K10 million became everyman's object of envy: district government officials, local businessmen, village leaders, church pastors, recent graduates, and village illiterates. In fact every Tom, Dick and Harry.

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National anthem should reflect the true make-up of PNG

"....more than half are daughters of the land and most have suffered abuse, rape and mistreatment at the hands of males"


O arise all you sons of this land,
Let us sing of our joy to be free,
Praising God and rejoicing to be
Papua New Guinea.

MORRISET - This is the first verse of the Papua New Guinea national anthem. It needs to be changed.

How about changing it to be more inclusive? Instead of 'O arise all the sons of this land', maybe 'Arise all the children of this land'?

After all more than half are daughters of the land and most have suffered abuse, rape and mistreatment at the hands of males.

An estimated 67% of wives have been beaten by their husbands, and close to 100% in the Highlands Region according to a 1992 survey by the PNG Law Reform Commission.

Continue reading "National anthem should reflect the true make-up of PNG" »

O’Neill’s 8 years: achievements insufficient to counter mistakes

Peter O'Neill - tipped out of office with the economy "bleeding and struggling"

STEPHEN HOWES | Devpolicy Blog

CANBERRA - Peter O’Neill was Papua New Guinea’s second longest serving prime minister, and by a long way.

He was prime minister from 2011 to 2019, about one-fifth of the country’s history as an independent country.

He may well remain a political force, and even be a future prime minister. But for now at least his term of office is over.

How should we assess it? Certainly, no other individual has so dominated the pages of the Devpolicy Blog, which I have co-edited since its inception in 2010.

Indeed, the pages of our blog provide a rich source of materials on which to base an assessment of O’Neill’s long tenure. In what follows, I focus on domestic policy, the importance of the 2013 O’Neill-Rudd Manus agreement notwithstanding.

Continue reading "O’Neill’s 8 years: achievements insufficient to counter mistakes" »

A short essay on sycophants, toadies & arse-lickers


TUMBY BAY - Bill Brown’s last couple of chapters of his ‘A Kiap’s Chronicle’ reminded me of all the sycophants in the higher echelons of the Australian Administration in colonial Papua New Guinea that field staff had to deal with prior to independence.

A sycophant is a person who acts submissively (but insincerely) towards a more important person in order to gain advantage. In colloquial terms, dating back to the 16th century, they are known as arse-lickers.

One of the key aspects of an arse-licker is to tell other people, especially superiors, what the arse-licker thinks they would like to hear rather than what they need to hear.

Those colonial sycophants did an enormous amount of damage before PNG’s independence in 1975 and their legacy still lives on in the way Australia’s foreign affairs department operates today.

Sycophants have been around since the world began, of course. And especially where you have anything resembling a bureaucracy you’ll surely find them.

They are a self-perpetuating breed of hangers-on.

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Test of a constitution & a civilisation: Take-outs from a palace coup

James Marape
Marape’s rise to power was made possible due to the need for change and the opportunity for like–minded leaders to get behind him. This peaceful  political change is a plus for the country’s democracy.


PORT MORESBY -Clearly, many factors are involved to bring about a palace coup, which is defined as a non-violent coup d'état carried out by people in positions of authority who themselves are part of the ruling regime.

James Marape’s rise to power was made possible due to the conditions amenable to political change that prevailed at the time he won office, an act he justified in highbrow terms designed to appeal to the emotions and patriotism of the public.

A threatened no confidence vote in Peter O’Neill was set to dethrone both him and his People’s National Congress. But O’Neill opted to resign as prime minister as the numbers against him grew.

For 50 days effective government was impossible. The legitimacy of the state was at stake.

Continue reading "Test of a constitution & a civilisation: Take-outs from a palace coup" »

Will Peter O’Neill’s defeat result in his political demise?

Peter o'neill downcastBUSA JEREMIAH WENOGO

PORT MORESBY – Over recent days much discussion in Papua New Guinea has centered around the dethronement of Peter O'Neill by James Marape as the country's prime minister.

This outcome was celebrated with much fanfare by many Papua New Guineans, including the opposition, with the latter stating this was one of their top priorities when they came together after the re-election of O'Neill in 2017.

Nevertheless the mood of excitement and relief quickly changed when it was reported Marape supposedly ‘teamed up’ with O'Neill.

Most people are now of the view that it will be ‘business as usual’ with O’Neill predicted to still maintain a significant influence in the new government.

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What do we mean by owning our economy?

Martyn Namorong - "As I reflect on our leaders' messages, I look through the frame of Melanesian egalitarianism not western nationalism"


PORT MORESBY – Late last week Papua New Guinea heard great fiery statements from prime minister James Marape and Oro governor Gary Juffa about Taking Back PNG and owning our economy.

Both gentlemen seemed to signal the nation’s shift towards ‘resource nationalism’ — or at least that’s how western media has interpreted their Tok Pisin which was spoken in plain English.

Both parliamentarians reflected a public sentiment regarding economic independence that has lingered for decades amongst many Papua New Guineans.

As a left leaning writer and communicator, I found myself awkwardly worrying about how their words might affect foreign direct investment.

I mean, why should I worry about those foreign capitalists that have a history of exploiting my country?

But I also felt challenged as a Papua New Guinean writer to help my two compatriots communicate their message.

My perception of what was said is a call to Take Back PNG through our Papua New Guinean ways ( the fifth of our national goals) in order to achieve the third national goal and directive principle which calls for both political and economic independence.

Continue reading "What do we mean by owning our economy?" »

Don't believe the spin, our small businesses can do it

Corney Korokan Alone
Corney Alone - "Are our sons and daughters not fit to sit in the same lecture rooms of foreign direct investors' children to learn the fundamentals of business?”


PORT MORESBY – In an early statement, newly elected prime minister James Marape has pointedly emphasised a new policy orientation for small to medium sized enterprises (SME) whereby government contracts worth K10 million will be reserved for PNG-owned companies.

The discussion that follows is a contribution towards shaping that policy debate.

It is a fact that there are government subsidies and protectionism in all economies of the world.

The United States government grants subsidies and tax exemptions to most of their conglomerates in nearly every industry. This is done deliberately through the federal budget.

Australia is no exception, especially in its agri-industry sector. It has a Foreign Investment Review Board that plays the gatekeeping role, filtering what investment to allow and what to decline and operating in lock-step with Australia’s meticulous immigration and foreign visa policies.

The policies may have a different names and acronyms to deceive public perception, but when you flip the pages you’ll find the DNA of protectionism plastered all over the place.

Continue reading "Don't believe the spin, our small businesses can do it" »

The ascent of Marape – I was sort of there; sort of looking on

As seen from my hotel room - the flat stretch of bitumen foreshore  middle right contains about 150 vehicles purchased for APEC and never used


PORT MORESBY - From the window of my room in the Grand Papua, I have a magnificent westward view up Fairfax Harbour, with the remnants of the Macdhui still visible, but barely, in the middle distance.

Closer to my vantage point is a large flat expanse of freight concourse abutting a wharf.

The concourse is laden with vehicles – perhaps 100 buses and 50 people movers – neatly parked.

These are just some of the conveyances imported for the APEC summit last year. A few kilometers inland, in the less salt corrosive atmosphere near Bomana gaol, are the infamous 40 Maseratis.

It is these expensive, unused, unemployed and now derelict vehicles which an oaf of a minister claimed to have ‘pre-sold’ in a futile and false attempt to escape public mockery and anger.

Continue reading "The ascent of Marape – I was sort of there; sort of looking on" »

What the hell's going on? And what could possibly go wrong?

B&w Overland
Chris Overland - "Claims by politicians that they 'manage' the economy are risible. They might as well say that they manage history"


ADELAIDE - As an historian I am engaged in an endless struggle to try to understand why the world got to be the way it is and then to venture some tentative opinions as to what this might mean for the future.

History lends its students a more or less infinite capacity for the wisdom of hindsight but is not necessarily a great guide to the future.

In fact, the evidence is that those who predict the future in anything like definitive terms are almost always wrong. If historians were professional punters, I would expect almost all of them to be permanently skint.

Economists do not like to be compared to historians. They regard their discipline as a science because they use lots of mathematical equations and graphs, together with many complex words to explain their prognostications.

As a discipline, economics is right up there with history: pretty good at explaining the past and almost invariably wrong about the future.

For example, so far as I can determine, no mainstream economist has ever successfully predicted a massive economic catastrophe like the Great Depression or the Global Financial Crisis.

In every case they are, along with everyone else, completely and utterly blindsided by a proverbial Black Swan event.

Continue reading "What the hell's going on? And what could possibly go wrong?" »

My message to prime minister James Marape

Scott Waide
Scott Waide - "Do what is right by the people.  Listen to their voices through social media. Be brave enough to listen to the criticisms and find the threads of truth in them"

SCOTT WAIDE | My Land, My Country

LAE - As the new prime minister, you have your work cut out for you.

You have to try to get a lot of it done within two years before the 2022 elections.

That’s a big job.

Do what is right by the people.  Listen to their voices through social media. Not all of it is fake news. 

Take counsel from those who disagree with you, publicly and privately, in the interest of your eight million people.  Be brave enough to listen to the criticisms and find the threads of truth in them.

Be truthful about the state of Papua New Guinea’s health system.  The people of Papua New Guinea deserve a Government that tells the truth. There is a severe shortage of medicine.

Puka Temu did a bad job and he did not admit to it as health minister.  Many of our aid posts are closed and our hospitals don’t have medicine.  Yet the media is accused of ‘being political’ when we highlight these ‘open secrets.’

Be truthful about tuition fee free education.  It’s not working for us. Our schools don’t get the money on time.  If we have to pay for school fees, tell that to the people straight as it is.  Papua New Guineans are resilient and hard working.  They do not deserve to be lied to.

Continue reading "My message to prime minister James Marape" »

Marape must look beyond his hausman to take back PNG


PORT MORESBY - When Peter O'Neill accepted Patrick Pruaitch’s surprise nomination for the prime minister's post yesterday it dismayed everyone including James Marape.

Guided by recent political history and the latest developments in the political spectrum, Marape would have no doubt been reasonably confident of his nomination and eventual election as prime minister.

So the decision of O'Neill to accept the nomination would have shocked him and may even have changed his view of the former prime minister.

This is where I believe the opposition may have succeeded despite the fact that they did not achieve the desired outcome of electing their prime minister.

Continue reading "Marape must look beyond his hausman to take back PNG" »

A genuine alternative - or could it be just more of the same?


PORT MORESBY - If and when Papua New Guinea’s ‘Alternate Government’ finally puts an end to the O’Neill regime, and it should be this morning, the celebrations could be short-lived.

Very serious questions need put to the opposition, which comprises two distinct political archetypes and presently holds a majority on the floor of parliament.

One is the original opposition – the Juffas, Birds, Kramers and others – which has steadfastly battled PNG’s institutionalised political and public sector corruption from a seemingly impossible minority starting point.

The second group comprises the opportunists – the Pruaitchs and Marapes – whose modus operandi is power (and money) and who are willing to float wherever the political wind takes them with acolytes in tow.

Continue reading "A genuine alternative - or could it be just more of the same?" »