By Euan Moyle, an intern with the Lowy Institute’s Pacific Islands Program.
- Aftershocks are continuing in Papua New Guinea as the death toll from its recent earthquake rises to more than 100 and aid starts to reach the most remote areas affected by the disaster. Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has asked Australia to conduct a formal inquiry into the cause of the earthquake amid speculation that oil and gas extraction in the region was its cause.
- Landslides in PNG have also blocked river valleys, creating “landslide dams”. There are fears that as these dams fill with water they will collapse, causing more destruction. The Conversation explains how steep topography, aftershocks, and weather patterns make PNG so prone to landslides.
- In The Diplomat, Grant Wyeth looks at how New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s recent tour of several Pacific Island nations forms part of NZ’s reset of its Pacific relationships.
- French Polynesia’s government has scrapped a controversial move to raise the age of retirement, after several thousand people rallied in the capital Papeete and protesters stormed the territory’s parliament.
- PNG’s Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has suggested the country may return to a first-past-the-post electoral system, after delays in counting, violence, and concerns about electoral integrity plagued last year’s election.
- The ABC investigates the devastating impact of the introduced coconut rhinoceros beetle in Solomon Islands, which could severely damage the nation’s key exports of coconut, palm oil, and copra.