Voting opened on Saturday for the people of Bougainville in a referendum to decide if their homeland will become the world’s newest nation. The Guardian’s Kate Lyons looks at the history behind the vote, alongside a striking photo essay. Despite a warning from Papua New Guinea’s former
Since coming into office in 2013, the Coalition has cut aid by 17% in nominal terms and 27% adjusting for inflation. More cuts are in the pipeline, and by 2021 aid will have been subject to a real cut of 31%.
Given that the Coalition’s justification for cutting aid was the budget deficit, you
The big boost
When Prime Minister Scott Morrison put the South Pacific at the centre of his foreign policy priorities last year, the relatively low-profile Export Finance Insurance Corporation was suddenly thrust into the strategic limelight.
But last week’s foray into a form of state
For two weeks from this Saturday, Bougainvilleans will exercise their right to say whether their autonomous archipelago on the eastern edge of Papua New Guinea should become an independent country. This long-awaited referendum was at the heart of the 2001 Bougainville Peace Agreement, which marked
The refusal of the Vanuatu government to allow high-profile Vanuatu-based journalist to fly home on Saturday has given a sharper edge to concerns about a wider trend of attacks on media freedom in the Pacific and highlights both China’s influence and Australia’s policy failure in broadcast and
Six months after he was ousted as prime minister of Papua New Guinea, Peter O’Neill sat down with The Guardian to talk scandals and legacy. At the same time, the World Bank’s 2020 Ease of Doing Business report shows that PNG has taken a dive down the rankings from its 2019 placing of 108 to now
“Category 5 strength cyclones have occurred in some years with similar conditions leading into the 2019/20 season,” New Zealand’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research recently reported. “Therefore, all communities should remain alert and well-prepared for severe events.”
In the last two years China’s engagement in the Pacific – particularly through its aid program – has sparked alarm in Canberra. The spiking orange line in 2017 is part of the story.
In 2017 China committed to spend almost US$5 billion in the Pacific. US$4.1 billion of that was to upgrade
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
There has been a surge in climate litigation in national courts over the past few years, especially in the United States. Accompanying this has been growing interest in litigating climate change in international forums, including the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
Against a background of positive domestic economic forecasting, Indonesia plans to launch an Pacific aid program for the first time, distributing about $60 million annually to needy nations in the region. This echoes the announcement by the United States of their own Pacific Step up, the Pacific “
As the ABC chair Ita Buttrose reminded the audience at the weekend’s Lowy Institute Media Awards dinner, this year marks 80 years since Australia started broadcasting internationally. As she noted, Prime Minister Bob Menzies mused at the inauguration of the service on 20 December 1939, “The time
“Debt trap” diplomacy has been a recurrent rallying cry for critics of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and its overseas infrastructure lending activities. Over the past two years, this debate has taken centre stage in the Pacific, with China accused of drowning these tiny economies in
Solomon Islands made international headlines last week, with the New York Times running a story, “China is leasing an entire Pacific island. Its residents are shocked”.
While the last part of the headline is not in question, the first part of the headline is doubtful. Reading through the four
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
Preparations are proceeding in a businesslike way for the second of three possible independence referendums in New Caledonia, in 2020. Loyalists and independence groups are staking out their positions.
The Committee of Signatories of the 1998 Noumea Accord held its annual meeting in Paris on 10
Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare returned from his first trip to China since diplomatic ties opened last month, having signed five memorandums of understanding, including an agreement for Beijing’s “Belt and Road Initiative”.With the switch in Solomons away from Taiwan,
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has a problem. Australia’s Pacific Island neighbours urgently want industrialised economies to reduce their greenhouse-gas emissions and make policy commitments beyond existing pledges. Senior ministers in the Morrison government, however, do not accept the latest
In the varied debates about influence in the Pacific, rarely does Japan’s position in the region feature prominently. On the off chance that Japan’s presence in the Pacific is discussed, its “aid diplomacy” is usually characterised in quid pro quo terms.
Yet a closer examination of Japan
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
As Bougainville prepares for a referendum on independence, Australia must navigate a policy response that acknowledges the history of conflict and colonialism there, Bougainville nationalism, PNG sensitivities, the principles of the guiding Bougainville Peace Agreement and new geostrategic
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
The Pacific Islands are grappling with the effects of disasters and climate change, which have the potential to make entire countries inhospitable, posing significant development challenges.
Small Pacific Islands countries have limited natural resources, are far from major markets, and are
Two weeks ago, both Solomon Islands and Kiribati switched diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China. Solomon Islands Prime Minister Sogavare offered this statement to explain the decision, and here is the reaction from Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Radio New
Papua New Guinea continues to reform its education sector. In recent years, the spotlight has been on teaching quality. Research by the World Bank indicates that teacher effectiveness is the most important school-based predictor of student learning. Despite this, PNG has lacked a clear roadmap and
The recent state visit by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison to Washington offers an opportunity to pause and assess where things stand in Australian and United States efforts to respond to Chinese influence in the Pacific and to consider where there is space for improvement.
Former President Jacques Chirac, a giant of French politics and the man who said “non” to George W Bush and the war in Iraq in 2003, died yesterday at age 86.
The news brought a shower of tributes from around the world. In France, a national day of mourning in honour of the former head of
The Pacific Islands is in a period of transition, with two new potential independent states on the horizon. In New Caledonia and Bougainville, referenda on self-determination are the culmination of decades-long peace processes.
The first referendum was held in New Caledonia in November 2018. While
After a public, protracted, and somewhat torturous process, the government of Solomon Islands last week decided to sever ties with Taiwan in favour of the People’s Republic of China. Days later, in sharp juxtaposition, Kiribati suddenly broke ties with Taiwan too, catching everyone by surprise.
“A vacuum simply offers opportunities for others to fill it up.”
That observation was offered by Vanuatu Member of Parliament Johnny Koanapo in a recent Facebook post. The Opposition MP is a former Director General of Foreign Affairs, and has been instrumental in several bilateral and
In August last year, the Lowy Institute launched our flagship Pacific research project, the Pacific Aid Map. Foreign aid is an important resource flow for many parts of the Pacific, making up 7% of regional GDP. Leaving out Fiji and Papua New Guinea, this number shoots up to 27%. But the world of
“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
This article is based on the Little Red Podcast episode “Should I Stay or Should I Go Now? Inside the Solomons’ Big Switch.”
Taiwan’s relations with Solomon Islands started by chance, and now hang on chance. Within the next few weeks, the island nation will decide on whether to switch
One day (well, on 20 May of this year, to be precise) as Opposition Leader you’re launching a discussion document on your party’s international policies. “National’s positioning on international relations issues is anchored in our values,” you say.
Those values are rooted in our country
Reuters and the ABC report on the potential for Solomon Islands to switch its diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China. Solomon Islands’ top diplomat went to Taipei on Sunday for talks, while Taiwan is considering sending a delegation to Honiara to better understand the needs of the Pacific
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has copped flak for claiming that Australia regarded the Pacific countries as vuvale (a Fijian term for family). He was under fire again following the Pacific Island leaders meeting in Tuvalu last month, for emphasising Australia’s aid contributions to the region and
It was indeed an emotional moment when Pacific leaders and delegates were greeted by small children of Tuvalu – submerged in water surrounding a model of their sinking islands with their call to “Save Tuvalu, save the world”, upon their arrival to the 50th Pacific Islands Forum held this month
The government of Papua New Guinea has been reshuffled. Ian Ling-Stuckey was sworn in as Treasurer, replacing Sam Basil, who took the lead position at National Planning. It looks like the change is aimed at forcing the party of former PM Peter O’Neill out of government.The reshuffle came after PNG
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
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
On 15 July, Viran Molisa Trief was sworn in as a Judge of the Supreme Court of Vanuatu, becoming the first ethnic Ni-Vanuatu woman appointed to high judicial office. She follows in the footsteps of Justice Mary Sey, from the Gambia, who served as Vanuatu’s first female judge from 2012 to 2017.
The Prime Minister of tiny Tuvalu, a low-lying, reef-fringed island nation with only an 11,000 population, will hope to refocus attention on climate change and the threat of rising sea levels as leaders from the Pacific Islands Forum gather this week. But inevitably other issues will crowd the
The Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) starts this week, welcoming back Fiji’s Frank Bainimarama, who had boycotted the Forum for the past 12 years. Many topics are expected to be covered, from West Papua to a rising China. However, it is climate change that is should be at the centre of discussions and
China is changing the way Australia’s political elites think about aid. Chinese aid to the Pacific isn’t new, but in recent years, “China the aid donor” has become an unavoidable presence. In response, the Australian government is increasing the Pacific focus of its aid programs. It has also
The so-called Quad group of Indo-Pacific maritime democracies – Australia, India, Japan, and the United States – is a valuable grouping, although it is still underutilised in many ways. One of the most effective ways that these countries could work together to enhance maritime security in the
One of the criticisms of the Pacific Islands Forum over the years relates to the regional grouping’s limited ability to advance its agenda in the face of the interests of Australia and New Zealand. The power imbalance hasn’t always made for a cohesive regionalism.
Yet it’s worth noting a
If only a minister of the Morrison government would be as forthright in identifying climate change as a massive destabilising force in Australia’s region as the Chief of the Defence Force Angus Campbell has been.
In a private speech in Bowral in June, General Campbell is reported to have sounded
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
A new call to split trade negotiation from diplomacy in Australia has once again underlined how the rise of China has unsettled traditional frameworks for making policy about economic and security interests.
The divide between neo-liberal economic policy approaches