Wednesday 13 Nov 2019 | 18:40 | SYDNEY
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Papua New Guinea

PNG’s supplementary budget: An honest accounting

PNG’s supplementary budget passed the parliament last month (October) and represented Prime Minister James Marape’s first tangible policy stance after forming government in May. Compared to the previous forecast, major changes could be seen everywhere – in expenditure, debt, and revenue. PNG

Papua New Guinea’s untold media freedom challenge

This article is based on the podcast series “Developing” featuring interviews with PNG journalists, industry leaders, and politicians. Papua New Guinea has gained a reputation – at least, in international reporting on the country – for being corrupt, violent and poor, yet also a

PNG’s confusing budget debate

Papua New Guinea is in the grips of a confusing debate about the state of the 2019 national budget, including the Treasurer Ian Ling-Stuckey, Shadow Treasurer Joseph Lelang, and former prime minister Peter O’Neill. It is difficult to determine who is stating the facts as a matter of national

Bougainville’s predicament, independence or not

The referendum to take Bougainville a step closer to full independence finally looks set to start on 23 November, after the issuing of the writs late last month. Voters will have a fortnight to reach the polling places, which will close on 7 December. The Referendum Commission, chaired by former

Quiet and unquiet graves: letter from Port Moresby

“Our dead are never dead to us until we have forgotten them”. I remembered this line of George Eliot as I rattled around Port Moresby in a bus these last few days searching for remnants of colonial New Guinea for a book I am writing. Papua New Guinea was Australia’s only colony, and before

The changing dynamics of Australia, PNG and the Pacific

Prime Minister Scott Morrison showed he was serious about the Pacific “step up” when he ensured that his first overseas visit was to the Solomon islands and the first foreign dignitary he invited to host was Papua New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape. The visit by Marape represented a

Bougainville: A nation in waiting?

On 23 November this year, Bougainvilleans will vote in a referendum to decide whether they wish to stay part of Papua New Guinea or become an independent nation. It is perhaps the high point of a 20-year peace process that in turn followed a gruelling, 10-year battle for independence waged between

PNG: making sense of a massacre

It wasn’t long ago that Hela Province, in Papua New Guinea’s southern highlands, wasn’t a province at all, and hardly attracted the attention of the outside world. Now in just a few short months, it has found itself very much in the spotlight. The May election of James Marape as Prime

The Pacific’s social politics

When the news broke that Peter O’Neill had finally resigned from PNG’s top job last Thursday, it spread instantaneously, lighting up mobile phone screens across the country. It was social media, much more than PNG’s traditional news outlets, that had bored away relentlessly at O’Neill’s

PNG: the Peter O’Neill legacy

The past two weeks have been an anxious wait and see in Papua New Guinea politics, and will continue to be so until such time as a vote of no confidence takes place, if at all. On 6 May, prior to the PNG parliament’s last sitting, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill released a statement that his

Waiting in Waigani: PNG in political turmoil

Two Port Moresby hotels have been the backdrop for the story of PNG politics this past weekend. Members of Prime Minister Peter O’Neill’s government are perched in the Crown, looking over the CBD as they negotiate to stave off a determined parliamentary challenge. Up and over Burns Peak –

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

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

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

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

Deciding the future for PNG’s provinces

It’s been quite a week for Papua New Guinea’s national government and the evolving relationships it will have with the country’s provinces in the future. Last Friday, PNG’s Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and Autonomous Region of Bougainville President John Momis finally agreed on the

Facing ghosts of the past in Bougainville

There is disquiet among many for how post-conflict Bougainville society will evolve over the next generation if impunity reigns for the wartime horrors. Over the next few months, the spotlight in our immediate region will turn to Bougainville and its referendum on independence from Papua New

Australia-PNG: relationships are what matter

Papua New Guineans tell each other with pride and excitement that the eyes of the world will be upon them 40 days from now, when they host the APEC Leaders Meeting in Port Moresby on 17-19 November. They are not fazed that Donald Trump won’t be there. His representative, Mike Pence, is

PNG: new friend versus old, APEC and polio 

The condemnation of China last week by Nauru’s President Baron Waqa at the Pacific Island Forum leaders’ meeting may have been bolstered by Taiwan’s substantial investment in that tiny Pacific nation of 13,000 people. Nauru is one of six Pacific countries to have diplomatic relations with

Prime Ministerial persistence: Australia vs PNG

Remember when Australia used to refer to its near neighbours in the region as the “arc of instability”? The leadership shenanigans on Tuesday will have given the BBC’s former Australia correspondent Nick Bryant an opportunity to update his description of Canberra as the “coup capital of the

The new battle for Bougainville’s Panguna mine

Speculation about the future of the Panguna copper mine in Papua New Guinea’s autonomous region of Bougainville, which ignited a decade long civil war in the 1990s, peaked late last year when an application for exploration by former Rio Tinto subsidiary, Bougainville Copper Ltd (BCL), was put to a

Polio in PNG: a menace resurfaces

The news of pulse polio resurfacing in Papua New Guinea has created new challenges for a public healthcare system already confronting many related health problems. Polio virus is a potentially deadly disease that can spread through communities, causing paralysis and disability, mostly among

What a partial internet shutdown would mean for PNG

Debate arose in Papua New Guinea last week over comments made by Communications Minister Sam Basil about the possible imposition of a month-long ban on Facebook. This partial internet shutdown, according to Basil, would allow the government to conduct research on the use of anonymous

What PNG hopes to win from hosting APEC

It is not clear when the big-man politics in Papua New Guinea’s foreign policy began. It was likely during the prime ministership of Sir Michael Somare, in the early 2000s, when he pushed for PNG to be an aid donor to the region. At the time, and to this day, PNG continues to be Australia’s

The challenges to women on Bougainville

On 15 June 2019 there will be a referendum held in Bougainville, an autonomous region of Papua New Guinea, to determine the territory’s future political status. As I found during a recent research trip to Buka, Bougainville’s administrative capital, there is excitement at the prospect. I was in

Resettlement in PNG was never a viable option

In mid-2015 I was approached to work as a claims assistance provider at the Manus Regional Processing Centre. Initially, I was hesitant because I did not want to be part of an arrangement I believed was morally, if not legally, reprehensible. The processing of asylum seekers was of concern

Natural disaster mismanagement in PNG

On Monday 26 February, an earthquake measuring 7.5 on the Richter scale hit the highlands region of Papua New Guinea. Its effects throughout the Southern Highlands and Hela provinces were disastrous, and tremors continue to cause damage in the Enga and Western provinces. There are

Favourites of 2017: PNG speaks

As a close observer of Australia’s nearest neighbour, I often lament how little commentary there is on Papua New Guinea's short history from a local perspective. The most contemporary example is former prime minister Julius Chan’s autobiography, which gilds the lily on a few too many

What next for Papua New Guinea?

It has been a tumultuous year for Australia's nearest neighbour. The protracted and controversial elections in Papua New Guinea took up most of 2017, with Peter O'Neill winning a second term and cementing his position as the most formidable politician of his generation. The government

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