Friday 26 Feb 2021 | 06:20 | SYDNEY
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Pacific Islands

Terrorism and New Zealand’s dual citizenship conundrum

Last week, the issue of depriving an individual of their citizenship because of terrorist activity made headlines once again. An alleged Islamic State member, Suhayra Aden, had been detained by Turkish authorities crossing from Syria into Turkey and was being readied for deportation to New Zealand.

Allies but not friends? New Zealand and Australia

A pub quiz question for foreign policy nerds in ten years’ time: In early 2021, why did New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern accuse Scott Morrison’s government of not acting in good faith? “For not living up to its responsibilities on dual citizens crossing from Syria into Turkey” might be the

Foreign policy’s “Indigenous moment” is here

New Zealand’s Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta, the first Maori woman in that role, hit the ground running in her first few months in office. Not only did her appointment break barriers for Indigenous women in international affairs, she has also begun to outline a stunning example of what an

What next for Pacific regionalism?

It has been a disastrous week for Pacific regionalism. The controversial appointment of Henry Puna as Secretary General in a 9-8 vote in last week’s special Leaders Meeting has splintered the Pacific Islands Forum, with five Micronesian states following through on their threat to leave the Forum

PNG: Mistaking massacres for tradition

Each week, it seems we hear about new cases of violent killings linked to tribal warfare in Hela Province, in the heart of Papua New Guinea. Reports emerged last week of 19 dead, including a mother and her child, with thousands more displaced. This is just the latest of a series of gruesome

Pacific development outlook for 2021

Pacific nations have mostly escaped the heavy death toll and hospital bed shortages faced by Western countries battling Covid-19, but the pandemic has dealt a disproportionately severe blow to the region’s economic ambitions. But with the rollout of vaccines and economic recovery in sight in China

A bruising 24 hours in the Pacific

After a divisive marathon meeting into the early hours of Thursday, Pacific leaders have emerged with a new Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum. Cook Islands’ former prime minister Henry Puna was elected 9–8, with one abstention. A break from the consensus tradition of the Forum, the

How to China, from your friends in New Zealand

It was probably only a matter of time before Damien O’Connor, not one of the leading lights in Jacinda Ardern’s second-term Cabinet, stepped into some diplomatic doo-doo. But in an interview with CNBC, New Zealand’s Trade Minister has done so in spectacular style. He gets douze points for

Australia’s Pacific Step-up and the Quad

The growing synergy among the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue powers of Australia, Japan, the United States and India has provided a crucial impetus to the security architecture of the Indo-Pacific. Bilateral ties between these four states have also seen positive growth, largely a result of “like-

The modern sharing of Pacific “public goods”

The Covid-19 crisis has made the importance of data sharing more urgent than ever. For the island nations of the Pacific, ensuring a ready flow of information to support decision-making is critical. Robust data-sharing systems will be instrumental in helping countries collaborate with one another,

Avoiding a “lost decade” in the Pacific

The horror year that has been 2020 is thankfully coming to an end with a dose of welcome optimism, now that vaccines are on the way. But the end is still far from within sight for many of Australia’s Pacific island neighbours. In a new Lowy Institute policy brief, we argue that the Pacific is

PNG and the politics of the death penalty

Another season of turmoil has swept politics in Papua New Guinea. The Supreme Court has ruled the recent budget sitting to be unlawful, ordering the parliament to resume on Monday while the prospect a no confidence motion in Prime Minister James Marape hangs in the air. But for all the raucous

Favourites of 2020: Casting a line in Pacific fisheries

An end-of-year series as the Lowy Institute staff and Interpreter contributors offer their favourite books, articles, films or TV programs this year. Look back on the series and watch for more recommendations and reflections in the days ahead. The evolution of Pacific fisheries management is a

A false start for PNG-Bougainville consultations

F.R. Stockwell was a British officer of the old school, the grandfather of a friend of mine who writes historical crime novels. Stockwell had a wonderful maxim about political meetings: Decide before you have a meeting whether it is meant to achieve anything substantive. If it isn’t, hold it in

The UK’s unwelcome foreign aid cut

The recent move to cut billions of pounds from the United Kingdom’s foreign aid budget was long feared by advocates. As result, one minister has flagged her resignation, and others have made threats to cross the floor. The reduction of the UK’s aid spend from 0.7% to 0.5% of gross national

PNG budget: Pluses and minuses

Papua New Guinea’s 2021 National Budget was passed in the parliament on November 17 under unusual circumstances. The traditional pre-budget lockup for economists and media was cancelled, and no opposition was present. Parliament was reconvened quickly by the Speaker following a defection of

What does a Biden administration herald for New Zealand?

Joe Biden’s election victory will be greeted in Wellington, as in many other world capitals, with a collective sigh of relief. That’s understandable. But what will the Biden presidency actually mean for New Zealand? The government of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will welcome a Biden

Next steps in advocating for the Pacific Islands Forum

Pacific Islands countries face the classic challenge as strategic competition unfolds across the Indo-Pacific, finding themselves wedged, like the proverbial meat in the sandwich, between two great powers. Small states do have agency, of course, and can influence the behaviour of larger powers.

New Zealand’s landslide election and the challenges ahead

The weekend ballot wasn’t really an election contest so much as a question whether Labour could govern in its own right. Since the introduction of proportional representation in New Zealand in 1996, no single party has won an outright majority. This year, circumstances combined to make that

Keeping West Papua on the agenda

When Vanuatu’s Prime Minister Bob Loughman addressed the UN General Assembly last month, he echoed a concern that has often been expressed by his predecessors, not about the Pacific directly, but about alleged human rights abuses in West Papua. “The world is taking a selective approach

PNG electrification: Spend on solar to help meet targets

The Maseratis are still collecting dust in sheds on a wharf in Port Moresby, but the sun has started to shine on at least one of the major deals Papua New Guinea gained from hosting the APEC Leaders Summit back in 2018. The PNG Electrification Partnership committed the leaders of Japan, the United

Evaluating aid in the Pacific

Each year, more than US $2 billion of foreign aid is invested in the Pacific Islands region, equivalent to roughly 8% of the region’s GDP. This aid comes in the form of thousands of projects from more than 60 donors. Information about these projects is often messy and opaque, with public

Bougainville: A new captain at the helm

Following weeks of anticipation, the people of Bougainville woke on Wednesday to news of a new president-elect. Former Bougainville Revolutionary Army Commander Ishmael Toroama, from Central Bougainville, will take up the mantle of president from John Momis. Toroama was a popular

Book Review: Where borders aren’t always badlands

Book review: Mark Moran and Jodie Curth-Bibb (eds) Too Close to Ignore (Melbourne University Press, 2020) Borders have been in the news in Australia, with the novel if frustrating experience of interstate pandemic restrictions leaving residents unable to cross previously free borders to access

Debunking the myth of China’s “debt-trap diplomacy”

Against the fear and distrust that increasingly characterise Australia’s relationship with China, the Belt and Road Initiative looms large. Australian politicians from both major parties rarely agree on much openly, but nearly all agree that China uses the BRI to achieve geopolitical goals. Many

Australia needs the workers, the Pacific needs the jobs

Finding a consistent stream of agricultural labour in Australia has long proved a challenge. With Australians often unwilling to accept this type of work in the numbers required to get food to market, the government has sought to use visa schemes to remedy the problem, welcoming foreign labour. Yet

A force to combat climate change?

The Defence Strategic Update 2020 has provoked a significant amount of debate in Australia. The reaction across the Tasman in New Zealand has been much more subdued, but Defence Minister Ron Mark reportedly suggested that increases in Australian capability would increase the ability to respond to

The way to post-Covid recovery in the Indo-Pacific? Act now

Australia plans to spend a lot more on defence to confront what Prime Minister Scott Morrison says will be “a post-COVID world that is poorer, that is more dangerous, and that is more disorderly”. A chorus of voices have responded that Australian foreign policy risks becoming unbalanced, with

Covid and crime: Twin tests for Papua New Guinea

There must be days when Papua New Guinea Police Commissioner David Manning wonders what he has signed himself up for. On Friday night, he revealed that his officers had found a ute-load of plastic-wrapped cocaine, just days after discovering an Australian-registered light plane that had

Brunei, ASEAN and the South China Sea

On 20 July, after a long period silence on the issue, the Brunei Darussalam Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement declaring that it “maintains its two-step approach in addressing the South China Sea”. As bland as this statement sounds, it represents a critical development in the tiny

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