Friday 20 Apr 2018 | 13:18 | SYDNEY
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Pacific Islands

Caught in a pincer

China, China, China. All the talk is of increasing Chinese influence in our region. But this is to wilfully ignore the elephant in the room.  Contrary to most commentary, the biggest destabilising player in Melanesia over the past five years has not been China, but Indonesia. Through

New trans-Tasman vision needed

“There is no closer friendship than that between Australia and New Zealand,” Malcolm Turnbull and Jacinda Ardern declared after their leadership meeting in Sydney in March. Their language reflected many such statements over the years. And it’s true. Our communities understand each

The lack of appeal in Nauru

The decision to terminate a long-standing arrangement that saw the Australian High Court act as a partial appellate court for Nauru, as reported last week, has heightened concerns about Nauru’s appropriateness as a venue for an Australian immigration detention centre. The timing of the

The many questions about China’s Vanuatu ambition

What to make of the extraordinary story in Australia’s Fairfax newspapers on Tuesday about reported discussions between China and Vanuatu that could allow the People’s Liberation Army to establish a presence in the South Pacific nation? If true, there would be significant cause for

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

The RAMSI legacy for Pacific policing

Despite the extensive coverage afforded most aspects of the Australian-led Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI), relatively little attention has been paid to the large number of Pacific Islands police who served throughout the 14-year deployment. RAMSI retained high levels of

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

Sensitivities flare in New Caledonia

Sensitivities have heightened as New Caledonia prepares in earnest for an independence referendum by November. Despite pro-France pressure, Emmanuel Macron’s government has now stated categorically that it won’t take sides. The mainstream independence group has sent a warning of its own.

Pacific Islands links: film in PNG, Vanuatu genealogy, and more

By Euan Moyle, an intern with the Lowy Institute’s Pacific Islands Program. Quartz outlines the importance of New Zealand and Australia’s strategic pivot towards the Pacific Islands region in the face of increased Chinese influence. ABC’s Future Tense podcast

New Zealand’s Pacific sea change

In a speech delivered on 1 March at the Lowy Institute in Sydney, New Zealand’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Winston Peters launched the country’s most significant shift in foreign policy towards the Pacific Islands region in decades. The speech followed Prime Minister Jacinda

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

New Zealand’s new idealism

In a speech to the New Zealand Institute of International Affairs delivered in Wellington this week, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has given us the clearest sense yet of the direction New Zealand’s coalition government will take on foreign policy. Any prime minister’s first

The hidden epidemic in the shanty towns of Honiara

Diarrhoea is a common illness for more than a third of people in Honiara, the coastal capital of Solomon Islands, where informal settlements with poor sanitation and water dominate. But the risk of diarrhoeal disease increases in the annual wet season, from November to April, and escalates during

Unblocking money flows in the Pacific

The modern focus on terrorism has galvanized efforts to stop the global financial system being used to launder money and fund terrorist activity. This effort is crucial and should continue. But the crackdown has had unintended negative consequences in developing countries. Tighter

Pacific Islands links: Papua tweets, logging in PNG, and more

By Euan Moyle, an intern with the Lowy Institute’s Pacific Islands Program. Pacific Islands Forum Secretary General Dame Meg Taylor is in Canberra to discuss Australia’s new Foreign Policy White Paper and Biketawa Plus, the expanded agreement on collective responses to

Vanuatu: flailing, not drowning

On Monday The Australian published an article titled “Pacific nations drowning in Chinese debt”. It suggests that a large number of recent “white elephant” projects are becoming an unsustainable burden on Pacific Islands countries. Although this contains a kernel of

Waitangi Day and Australia Day: contrasting symbolism

In a little more than a week, New Zealand will celebrate its national day, Waitangi Day. This year will mark the 178th anniversary of the Treaty of Waitangi, the agreement between the British Crown and New Zealand Maori rangatira (chiefs) that led to New Zealand becoming a British colony

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

Pacific island links: deep-sea mines and searching for life on Mars

By Euan Moyle, an intern with the Lowy Institute's Pacific Islands Program. The Lowy Institute’s series of papers on Papua New Guinea, Seven Snapshots of a Nation, looked at the challenges of PNG’s recent elections and the effectiveness of its government. ABC’s Pacific Beat discussed

Taiwan and its South Pacific allies

With fleeting news coverage, President Tsai Ing-wen of the Republic of China last month concluded official visits to Marshall Islands, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu, three diplomatic allies of Taiwan in the South Pacific. No surprises occurred during her South Pacific trip, which was based on

No zero-sum game in greater Pacific ties

For many commentators with an interest in the Pacific, the emphasis on the region in the Foreign Policy White Paper has been welcomed as long overdue. Yet it has also raised some questions about the manner in which Australia engages in the region. James Batley has questioned whether Australia has

New Caledonia: the future takes shape

A visit to New Caledonia last week highlighted the momentous discussions that are taking place to determine the future of Australia's closest eastern neighbour.  Amid profound differences, two opposing leaders have released ambit claims. On 13 November, independence Palika party leader

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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