Tuesday 17 Sep 2019 | 08:24 | SYDNEY
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Pacific Islands

Plugging in PNG: electricity, partners and politics

Getting the leaders of five Asia-Pacific nations together for the photograph amidst the tumult of a APEC Leaders Summit in Port Moresby last November was a triumph of logistics. But the last-minute scramble to get an upside down Papua New Guinea flag turned the right way up was maybe a sign of how

Ignoring international law in the Blue Pacific

Both the Australian Labor Party and Coalition have expressed support for France to remain as a Pacific power, seeing the French Republic as a stable, democratic, Western ally at a time of growing Chinese influence in the Pacific Islands. Australia’s neighbours are well aware that Australian

Australia’s PNG gateway: far north Queensland

Just a few kilometres separate Papua New Guinea and Australia at their closest point. But when it comes to migration procedures, people on both sides of the Torres Strait can sometimes feel like the countries may as well be on separate planets. Visas remain a constant obstacle to building a

Christchurch enters a nightmare peculiar to our times

“The nihilist … acts out the violence that so many others perpetrate verbally and virtually on the web: he is, in that sense, the avenging angel of post-truth and the rant made flesh.”- The Revolt of the Public The cold-blooded murder of 50 persons while at prayer at mosque in

Five questions about the Christchurch attack

The terrorist attack on two mosques in Christchurch by an Australian white supremacist accused of killing 50 people as they gathered for prayer has rightfully horrified people the world over. While police and security agencies grapple with how the attack came to pass without their

Pacific links: faux pas, cricket bats, more

Stephen Dziedzic reports on the visit by two of Donald Trump’s top security advisers to the Pacific last week, noting that the creation of a director for Oceania & Indo-Pacific Security at the White House National Security Council (NSC) demonstrates a greater commitment by the US for re-

Canberra’s Pacific pivot is bereft of vision

A refreshing wave of Pacific-mania is sweeping Canberra. There’s new postings, a new Office of the Pacific, a high profile visit from the prime minister to the region, and two major announcements on Pacific infrastructure: the creation of the Australian Infrastructure Financing Facility for

In New Zealand, much ado about China

Media outlets across the ditch have been buzzing in recent weeks with fresh concerns over a potential downturn in New Zealand-China relations. Talk of the supposed souring has been especially prominent in Wellington, where worries have centred on the implications for New Zealand’s all-important

Sovereignty for citizenship might help the Pacific

You cannot fault former Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd for a failure of imagination with his recent suggestion of trading sovereignty for citizenship. You can’t eat sovereignty, you can’t drink independence, and you can’t build a house on a flag floating in the middle of the ocean

The 2019 Solomon Islands election: how will women fare?

In terms of women’s representation in politics, Solomon Islands lags behind much of the world. In April, Solomon Islands will hold the first general election since the departure of the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI). There is one incumbent female MP. This means Solomon

A rising China and the future of the “Blue Pacific”

The focus of the Pacific Islands Forum and its Secretariat is securing the future prosperity and wellbeing of the “Blue Pacific”. The Forum seeks genuine partnerships with all actors who are willing to join us along the pathway towards that vision. Therefore, I reject the terms of the dilemma in

Pacific Links: logging paradox, erupted islands, more

Angus Grigg, Jonathan Shapiro, and Lisa Murray have written three articles for the Australian Financial Review this week investigating Paladin Group, a company that received contracts worth $423 million from the Department of Home Affairs to provide security for refugees on Manus Island. 

Australia, BRI backlash should be a warning on loans

Australia created a $500 million loan scheme for Indonesia to support reconstruction following the 2005 Boxing Day tsunami. Australia lent a hand, forging stronger links in the process. But the loan scheme had its flaws. As Australian ministers and officials currently tour the Pacific

Pacific links: APEC rebuke, raised eyebrows, and more

Papua New Guinea’s parliament is sitting amid speculation of a vote of no-confidence being moved in the government against Prime Minister Peter O’Neill. A grace period against such votes expires on 5 February. O’Neill has been under pressure from the opposition over the cost of hosting the

Australia’s new Pacific Czar

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has now established an Office of the Pacific, a measure foreshadowed in 2018 as part of Australia’s Pacific “step up”. Ewen McDonald, formerly High Commissioner in Wellington and a Deputy Secretary in DFAT, has been appointed head of the Office.

Pacific links: “You’re my best friend”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison makes a historic visit to Fiji and Vanuatu this week amid concerns over Chinese influence in the region and a diplomatic hiccup around terrorist Neil Prakash. On Prakash, Shannon Molloy explains this case of the Aussie-born terrorist and his citizenship saga, which

A China chip on New Zealand’s shoulder?

Nice try, you might say. Huawei has proposed a purely Kiwi workforce to assuage New Zealand’s concerns about the Chinese company’s potential involvement in developing 5G infrastructure. That might not be enough if Wellington shares the full extent of its Five Eyes partners’ concerns about

Stepping up on Pacific infrastructure

Australia has decided it is going to do a lot more infrastructure financing in the Pacific. This is a welcome development. The Pacific faces some of the most difficult development conditions in the world and has huge financing needs, especially due to the effects of climate change. It is also

Dimly lit renewable energy initiatives for the Pacific

Renewable energy is high on the development agenda for the Pacific. The Lowy Institute’s Pacific Aid Map showed that donors and Pacific Island Countries are making a concerted effort to implement ambitious renewable energy goals. For example, the Cook Islands, Niue, Samoa, Tonga, and Tuvalu aim to

Australia finds itself at a Pacific crossroads

When Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the establishment of the multibillion-dollar infrastructure development bank for the Pacific, the overriding sentiment was that this pivot to the South Pacific was designed to curb the rising Chinese presence in the region. But is this renewed

Conflict, romance, and PNG: the APEC Summit

You get the sense that while Donald Trump didn’t make it to Papua New Guinea for the APEC Leaders Summit, his reality TV producers could have had a hand in how it played out. APEC 2018 had it all: conflict, romance, an exotic setting, and a dramatic finale that will keep trade diplomats on

Fiji election, from the polling booth

I arrived in Suva six days before the 2018 Fijian election, it was apparent that the country was bracing itself for a tight election contest. In 2014, Frank Bainimarama’s party, Fiji First, won in an electoral landslide. Its main opponent then, the Social Democratic Liberal Party (SODELPA),

Fiji: elections and the slow path to democracy

It is a busy month for the Pacific islands region. Ten days ago observers watched as an independence vote in New Caledonia came much closer than polling predicted. Prime Minister Scott Morrison delivered a surprise with one of the most significant Australian policy “step ups” in the Pacific in

PNG and APEC: who gets to keep the Maseratis?

Three weeks ago, the American Journal of Transportation reported that Air Bridge Cargo Airlines had delivered 40 Maserati sports cars to Port Moresby. One of the first social media outlets to report this news was in a Facebook post by Emmanuel Narakobi, runs the blog Masalai. Narakobi was then

The Orchids’ tale: PNG’s women’s rugby league team

I never set out to make a film. But, as many filmmakers seem to discover, the story found me. I have always been interested in the power of sport, and in 2014 I moved to Papua New Guinea to work in media and communications for the NRL-run, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade-funded League

New Caledonia to remain part of France

The victory is clear, but certainly not as wide as the loyalists had hoped for. On Sunday, the people of New Caledonia voted for their territory to stay part of France. To the question: “Do you want New Caledonia to gain full sovereignty and become independent?”, 56.4% (78,361 votes) voted “

Labor’s ambitions in the Pacific

Speeches on foreign policy made by prospective Prime Ministers or prospective Foreign Ministers in Australia are a bit like bingo games for foreign policy analysts. We listen (or read the transcript) eagerly to determine how many of the various recommendations we have all been making to the

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