Published daily by the Lowy Institute

Pacific Island links: PNG's shrinking opposition, Pacific Labour Scheme, choc fest and more

This weeks links also include government limbo in New Caledonia and the new host for the 2019 Pacific Games.

Public Utilities Board workers in Ambo village, Kiribati (Photo: DFAT/Flickr)
Public Utilities Board workers in Ambo village, Kiribati (Photo: DFAT/Flickr)
Published 13 Sep 2017 

By Euan Moyle, an intern in the Lowy Institute's Melanesia Program.

  • Big news in PNG politics this week, with 12 of Pangu Pati’s 16 MPs, including party leader Sam Basil, defecting from the opposition to the government of Peter O’Neill. Basil was one of the government’s most outspoken critics during the 2017 election and in his many years in the opposition. He justified his move into government as necessary to access development funding for the party’s constituents.
  • The move rolls back commitments made by Basil last month when all of the then opposition members signed an accord 'in a show of solidarity and determination'. In this 2014 piece on the Masalai blog, Basil reflected on the role and importance of an effective parliamentary opposition in PNG.
  • PNG’s opposition is now made up of only 34 members of the 111-seat parliament. Former Prime Minister and fellow Pangu Pati member, Sir Mekere Morauta, has condemned Basil’s actions, and the other major party in opposition, the National Alliance, has reassured voters it will not be joining the government.
  • The Pacific Islands Forum wrapped up in Samoa last week, with leaders agreeing to more closely cooperate in fishing, security, and climate change. Prime Minister Turnbull announced Australia would accept 2000 workers from Nauru, Kiribati and Tuvalu to work temporarily in regional areas under a new Pacific Labour Scheme, part of broader plans to step up Australian engagement with the Pacific.  Matthew Dornan analyses the announcement on Devpolicy.
  • New Caledonia’s 11-member cabinet has failed to elect a President for the second time, leaving the previous administration as caretaker and the territory without a proper government. As it again tries to form a new government and prepares to hold an independence referendum in 2018, Denise Fisher looks at the instabilities and divisions that are affecting the island’s politics.
  • Samoa officially became the host of the 2019 Pacific Games on Monday, taking over from Tonga who pulled out in July citing funding concerns.
  • Bougainville’s Chocolate Festival in Arawa wrapped up last week, with hundreds of farmers displaying and processing their cocoa. The festival, created with the help of the Australian Government, allows farmers to better access the market and improve their living standards.



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