Sunday 25 Aug 2019 | 12:18 | SYDNEY
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Pacific Islands

What will drive votes in the PNG election

Papua New Guineans head to the polls on the 24 June in a national election which will be as fiercely contested as its precedents. Five years ago, intense candidate rivalry, carnival showmanship and controversy about electoral roll discrepancies were the hallmarks of a drawn-out contest between

Tanna: Bare feet on the Oscars red carpet

The Pacific is abuzz with the news that the film Tanna, released in 2015, has been nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Foreign Language Film category. Directed by Australian documentary-makers Bentley Dean and Martin Butler, the film was shot entirely on the island of Tanna in the southern

Solomon Islands: Big hopes for new constitution

By Catherine Wilson, a freelance journalist and correspondent reporting on Papua New Guinea and the Pacific Islands region Popular aspiration for a federal government in the Solomon Islands was not forefront in my mind as I sat under a tree in a squatter settlement on the edge of the capital,

No. 1 Neighbour: How culture binds Australia & PNG

Last weekend marked the close of the Queensland Art Gallery’s No. 1 Neighbour: Art in Papua New Guinea 1966-2016 exhibit. This was a landmark exhibition, the first in Australia to exclusively explore contemporary Papua New Guinean art. The exhibition showcased Papua New Guinea’s vibrant art

The benefits and challenges of ICT in PNG

Access to information and increased communications capacity bring major benefits to a society. New business opportunities emerge, as do opportunities for education. Access to ICT can broaden opportunities for capacity building and increase workforce productivity. The adoption and use of

How the ABC can avoid tuning out the Pacific

This week the ABC announced it would end shortwave transmission services to the Pacific region early next year, delivering an estimated $2.8 million in savings. It’s unclear exactly how much of these savings will be ring-fenced for the ABC’s already stripped-back Pacific services. I have a lot

John Key's departure a blow for the region

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key’s surprise resignation announcement has brought the curtain down on a political career that can only described as astonishingly successful. Still hugely popular in the second half of his third term, Key has displayed a remarkable ability to calm incipient

Pacific links: NZ quake, PNG budget, Palau election and more

By Harriet Smith, an intern with the Lowy Institute's Melanesia program New Zealand Prime Minister John Key said the cost of damage caused by this week's 7.8-magnitude earthquake in the nation's South Island, which killed two people, may reach over a billion dollars. New Zealand is part of the

Australia needs to invest in its relationship with PNG

Papua New Guinea is our nearest neighbour, yet few Australians have more than superficial knowledge of its culture and history. In a recent Lowy Institute poll, more Australians failed to identify the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea than failed to identify Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Pope

Australia's marriage-equality debate reverberates through the Pacific

Harriet Smith is an intern in the Melanesia Program, Lowy Institute. As the LGBTQ+ community in Australia continues the struggle for marriage equality, some are asking what impact this will have for our neighbours, especially in nations which still criminalise homosexuality. With the bill to hold

Mapping Pacific aid: Facebook, India and money laundering

Mapping China’s opaque aid program in the Pacific Islands was more complicated and time-consuming than I had anticipated. I made peace with this fact when I found myself building a makeshift 270-degree visual cocoon out of every electronic device in my apartment so that I could cross-check the

Fiji’s democracy cracks again

Last weekend Fiji's police force arrested six prominent opponents of the ruling party. Their alleged crime was breaching the Public Order Act by making remarks about the constitution at a conference convened by Pacific Dialogue, an NGO, on Fiji's Constitution Day. The arrests were nothing short of a

How the gloss came off PNG's PM Peter O'Neill

Papua New Guinea’s Peter O’Neill survived last Friday’s vote of no confidence, the first since his turbulent term as prime minister began in 2011. With Parliament to now adjourn until August, O’Neill looks set to remain prime minister until next year’s June election. This would make him

Students against PNG's Prime Minister: A bloody struggle

The fight against Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister Peter O’Neill reached a new level with last week’s shooting of unarmed university students. The worldwide media attention this generated has prompted some to comment that PNG is once again making headlines for 'all the wrong reasons'. Others

PNG shootings are not a Tiananmen moment

    The reporting on the tragic confrontation between students and police at the gates of the University of Papua New Guinea on Wednesday reminded me of a comment made some years ago when I was covering a landslide in the PNG Highlands. Initial reports out of Port Moresby this week

Standoff in PNG: Students take on PM Peter O'Neill

Students at the University of Papua New Guinea are the latest in a long list of those in the firing line for denouncing the leadership of PNG’s seemingly impregnable Prime Minister Peter O’Neill. The students have been on strike against the government since the end of last month. Students from

Why most in PNG don't care about Manus

The PNG Supreme court ruling last week that the detention of asylum seekers at the Manus Island was illegal did not come as a surprise. The PNG judiciary has always been fiercely independent and it proved so once again. It is also not unusual in PNG for governments to do the wrong thing and

PNG's emerging leaders differ from their elders

I’m glad my paper, Papua New Guinea: Old Challenges for New Leaders, has triggered debate on The Interpreter about PNG’s future. I agree with James Batley and Stuart Schaefer that thinking about development in Papua New Guinea needs a long-term perspective. I am also keenly aware that I am

Australia-PNG relations: Decades of missed opportunities

Last year Papua New Guinea’s High Commissioner to Australia, H. E. Charles Lepani — who was one of the first Papua New Guinean heads of a government department at independence — observed in Reflections: 39 years of Sovereign Statehood in Papua New Guinea that, despite the two

Vanuatu's neglected international airport

By Jonathan Pryke, Research Fellow in the Lowy Institute's Melanesia Program and Matthew Dornan, Deputy Director of the Development Policy Centre Vanuatu is the 9th most tourism-dependent country in the world. The tourism sector accounts for between 40% and 65% of GDP (measures vary by year and

Fiji regroups: Coordination key to effective Cyclone Winston response

This first-hand account from strategic communications adviser Vani Vulaca tells what it was like when Cyclone Winston tore through Fiji, looks at which areas are in most need of aid, and explains the challenging logistics of coordinating disaster relief. Fiji has had its fair share of tropical

PNG is changing and we need to keep up

Sean Dorney is right when he says that Australians should take a stronger interest in Papua New Guinea. Sean is a consistent advocate of this cause. He is one of the leaders of a special Australian ‘tribe’; those who have been touched by PNG, and who will have it in their blood forever. I'm a

The Embarrassed Colonialist

Forty years after independence, Papua New Guinea is the largest single recipient of aid from Australia. Yet Australians seem to be largely ambivalent about the country. Few Australians know the history of our colonial rule in PNG and our ties to the country are being forgotten.    

Fiji's democracy takes a hit

By Jenny Hayward-Jones, Director of the Lowy Institute's Melanesia Program, and Alastair Davis, an intern in the Melanesia Program. The process of rebuilding democracy in Fiji after eight years of military rule has taken a hit in recent weeks. Elections in 2014 engendered a sense of optimism for a

New Caledonia: Slow progress on defining its future

The latest meeting of those charged with steering New Caledonia into its next stage of governance went some small way to resolving sensitive political issues but also demonstrated just how deep divisions run regarding the possibility of independence. The Committee of Signatories that met in

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