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
Another scandal on Manus Island. Local employees at the Australian-funded immigration centres, managed by Paladin, have walked off the job due to pay and poor working conditions. Paladin is already under scrutiny due to its $423 million contract with the federal government. Papua New
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
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
The aid industry is complex. Dozens of bilateral donors, hundreds of multilateral agencies, and thousands of non-governmental organisations litter the development landscape in all corners of the globe.
In aid jargon, this is known as “fragmentation”. Conventional aid-effectiveness literature
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 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
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
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.
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
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
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison will visit Vanuatu and Fiji this week. He is the first Australian prime minister to visit Vanuatu since Bob Hawke in 1990 and the first to visit Fiji since John Howard in 2006 (both were for Pacific Islands Forum leaders meetings). Long overdue, the visits
With just under six months before Bougainvilleans go to the polls to decide if they want independence from Papua New Guinea, last month’s APEC leaders’ meeting in Port Moresby gave fresh impetus to assertions that Bougainville is yet another fly caught in the web of influence and counter-
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
The first in a series where Lowy Institute experts look back on what surprised them in 2018.
If you had told me this time last year that in 2018 I would be one of the most frequently quoted Lowy Institute staff members in the media, I would have laughed you out of the room. Conventional thinking
The United Nations is calling on France and the US to close military bases they operated in Pacific territories. France has military bases in New Caledonia and French Polynesia, while the US has three bases in Guam. Is this a response to Chinese investments in the Pacific? The US has joined the
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
An explanation of why the APEC Summit was like no other. A week later, after leaders failed to reach consensus on a joint declaration, PNG Prime Minister Peter O'Neill has released a final communique, titled the Era Kone statement. US Vice President Mike Pence confirmed that the US will join
It is undoubtedly in Australia’s geopolitical interests to invest in the development of our immediate region, but the question we should all be asking is: what is the most effective way to spend our taxpayer-funded aid budget in the Pacific, rather than simply, how can we compete with China?
It is both apt and overdue that veteran ABC correspondent Sean Dorney was last night awarded the Outstanding Contribution to Journalism at the 2018 Walkley ceremonies. Judged by the trustees of the Walkley Foundation, this award not only recognises Dorney’s extraordinary body of work built over
The statements about the importance of the Pacific to Australia by Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Foreign Minister Marise Payne, backed by the Foreign Policy White Paper last year, are most welcome. The further decisions announced at APEC last week did even better. The fact is, Australia has
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
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
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),
Port Moresby is hosting the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit this week, and there is plenty of early coverage. The New York Times offered a scene setter, while the ABC used numbers to describe the efforts made by Papua New Guinea to host the meeting. Stephen Howes, however, examines the lost
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
Bougainville’s history of peacebuilding is typically depicted as a story of light international intervention. Both the Bougainville Peace Agreement signed in 2001, and the later 2004 constitution establishing Bougainville’s political autonomy from Papua New Guinea, recognised local systems of
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
Against New Caledonia’s troubled history, Foreign Minister Marise Payne’s statement was highly appropriate, expressing Australia’s acknowledgement of the achievement by the French government and local parties in a momentous vote on 4 November. The vote is the first step of the final
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
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 “
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
On Sunday, 4 November, 174,154 voters will vote on the future of New Caledonia, a territory only a couple of hours flight east of Australia. They will be called to the polls to say “yes” or “no” to independence. How and why has this moment arrived, who can vote, and what will happen
Over the past six years, we have witnessed the steady, if not accelerating, deterioration of the mental and physical health of refugee children on Nauru. Their suffering has been described by medical experts as worse than they have seen in war zones or refugee camps around the world.
Over the past year, Pacific specialists have been caught between bemusement, frustration, and deepening concern as elements within the strategic community in Australia and the United States have sought to shape the regional security narrative to reflect their growing anxiety about Chinese influence
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
In preparation for APEC, Papua New Guinea has imported 40 Maseratis and other luxury cars to transport foreign delegates during the forum. PNG government says cars will be on-sold to “private sector”, and not everyone is happy. To protest against corruption in PNG, opposition MPs Bryan
Fiji, the country with perhaps the worst human rights record in the Pacific, has just been elected to the United Nations Human Rights Council. The event unfortunately coincided with the death of 26-year-old Josua Lalauvaki, who had been allegedly beaten by police in Suva last month.
Last month, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with Australia’s Foreign Minister Marise Payne on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. Wang Yi struck a surprisingly conciliatory tone, expressing the wish to partner with Australia in the development of the Pacific
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
As an onlooker at the intensifying debate about security in the Pacific islands, I see the danger of a widening paradigm gap between how Australia’s strategic community perceives the region, and how security is conceived by islanders themselves, as well as scholars of the region.
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
One month out from New Caledonia’s 4 November independence referendum, the French State has announced a number of steps it has taken to ensure a credible and peaceful process. The campaign is generally proceeding smoothly, although tensions around a boycott call and an ongoing mining blockade
Right when Australia finds itself with serious strategic interests in its neighbourhood, it has managed to turn its once influential international broadcasting voice into a whisper.
One that’s difficult to hear outside a handful of major cities across the region.
The competition of who gets to fund the Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF) Black Rock Camp in Nadi came to close late in August, with Australia coming out on top over China. The RFMF’s chief of staff for co-ordination, Captain Eronia Duaibe, said that Australia’s bid was successful because
A jet from the Papua New Guinea national airline Air Niugini missed the runway in the Federated States of Micronesia and ended up in the ocean. One passenger died. After significant delay, Fiji has announced the date of its general election for 14 November. In preparation for polls,
Pacific Islanders are extremely resilient, withstanding arduous journeys across the ocean, some of the worst natural disasters on record, and the quickest societal change in human history. But there are concerns that the coming challenges are different.
Shifts in the international order,
In July, the Marshall Islands signed a visa-free entry agreement with Taiwan, a clear testament to the strong diplomatic ties that Taiwan has achieved with some Pacific states in recent years.
However, the competition for the Pacific Islands is far from settled. Four countries have
Whenever a Pacific island leader starts insisting that his or her country is a proudly independent, sovereign state, standing firmly on its own two feet and not needing any help or advice from anyone else, it usually means the opposite.
Baron Waqa of Nauru was using “independent” and “