Wednesday 15 Jul 2020 | 15:00 | SYDNEY
What's happening on

Pacific Islands

Polio in PNG: a menace resurfaces

The news of pulse polio resurfacing in Papua New Guinea has created new challenges for a public healthcare system already confronting many related health problems. Polio virus is a potentially deadly disease that can spread through communities, causing paralysis and disability, mostly among

Pacific links: Melanesian arts festival, more

Chinese President Xi Jinping has offered to host a meeting with Pacific leaders in Papua New Guinea ahead of the APEC leaders summit in November. The invitation comes amid extensive discussion in Australia regarding China’s growing influence in the Pacific. Nauru announced last week that it

New Zealand’s P-8 purchase: straddling the gap

Canberra will be pleased and relieved that New Zealand has opted to buy Boeing’s P-8A aircraft, in order to meet its future requirements for maritime aerial intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, and response. The P-8A, already operated by the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), will replace

New Caledonia: decolonisation in conversation

Speaking of “decolonisation” conjures memories of the 1950s and the wave of new nations that emerged, particularly in Africa, as European colonialism gave way to calls for emancipation in the post-1945 new world order. In contrast to the heady unrest which preceded the first referendum in 1987

The domestic politics of New Zealand’s defence

Anyone reading the media coverage of New Zealand’s defence policy statement might conclude its purpose was to lay out a stronger position on China. That would be a mistake. Its central purpose is to put defence policy into language that can be owned by the new coalition

Nauru ABC ban: Australia damned by faint criticism

He fainted on me. Big bloke, my local guide on Nauru, who in the sunbaked heat took me Topside on the island to steal a look at the refugee camp among the scraggy rocks known as the pinnacles. And down he went. Nauru was happy for reporters to visit the country then. In 2013, I was one of the last

Pacific links: tourism, PNG unrest, more

Riots and unrest in the Papua New Guinea Highlands this week have led to a 9-month state of emergency being declared, and more than 400 PNG Defence Force troops being sent to the area. In the past week, protestors – angered by a failed court challenge to last year’s election results

What a partial internet shutdown would mean for PNG

Debate arose in Papua New Guinea last week over comments made by Communications Minister Sam Basil about the possible imposition of a month-long ban on Facebook. This partial internet shutdown, according to Basil, would allow the government to conduct research on the use of anonymous

New Caledonia: dangerous games

Barely a month since the carefully choreographed visit by French President Emmanuel Macron to New Caledonia, positions have hardened as parties prepare for the 4 November 2018 independence referendum. Small hard-line pro-French parties with their eyes on the May 2019 local elections are

Sedition and Pacific media freedom

The decision by a Fiji court last week to acquit four people charged with sedition is a welcome step in the current regional debate over media rights and responsibilities. The Fijian-language paper Nai Lalakai, part of the Fiji Times group, published a letter by Josaia Waqabaca in

A “delicious” visit

Earlier this month, French President Emmanuel Macron spent 36 hours in Australia before a three-day visit to the French territory of New Caledonia. While in Sydney, Macron signed several agreements with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull aimed at establishing closer ties in

What PNG hopes to win from hosting APEC

It is not clear when the big-man politics in Papua New Guinea’s foreign policy began. It was likely during the prime ministership of Sir Michael Somare, in the early 2000s, when he pushed for PNG to be an aid donor to the region. At the time, and to this day, PNG continues to be Australia’s

Pacific links: Talanoa Dialogue, Press freedom, and more

On World Press Freedom Day (3 May) many media reports highlighted the state of the media in the Pacific. At The Daily Post, Dan McGarry called for an end to the persecution of the Fiji Times. The newspaper, its publisher, two editors, and a letter writer are on trial over an allegedly seditious

French choreography in the Pacific

French President Emmanuel Macron’s visit to Australia was a frank success, although some observers were puzzled after he raised the idea of a “Paris–New Delhi–Canberra” diamond within an Indo-Pacific axis.  Yet this proposal is clarified by French national objectives

Britain’s new Pacific presence

Last week, the UK announced it was establishing diplomatic representation in nine countries: Lesotho, Swaziland, the Bahamas, Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu. From an Oceanian perspective, this might be a game changer. There

Caught in a pincer

China, China, China. All the talk is of increasing Chinese influence in our region. But this is to wilfully ignore the elephant in the room.  Contrary to most commentary, the biggest destabilising player in Melanesia over the past five years has not been China, but Indonesia. Through

New trans-Tasman vision needed

“There is no closer friendship than that between Australia and New Zealand,” Malcolm Turnbull and Jacinda Ardern declared after their leadership meeting in Sydney in March. Their language reflected many such statements over the years. And it’s true. Our communities understand each

The lack of appeal in Nauru

The decision to terminate a long-standing arrangement that saw the Australian High Court act as a partial appellate court for Nauru, as reported last week, has heightened concerns about Nauru’s appropriateness as a venue for an Australian immigration detention centre. The timing of the

The many questions about China’s Vanuatu ambition

What to make of the extraordinary story in Australia’s Fairfax newspapers on Tuesday about reported discussions between China and Vanuatu that could allow the People’s Liberation Army to establish a presence in the South Pacific nation? If true, there would be significant cause for

The challenges to women on Bougainville

On 15 June 2019 there will be a referendum held in Bougainville, an autonomous region of Papua New Guinea, to determine the territory’s future political status. As I found during a recent research trip to Buka, Bougainville’s administrative capital, there is excitement at the prospect. I was in

The RAMSI legacy for Pacific policing

Despite the extensive coverage afforded most aspects of the Australian-led Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI), relatively little attention has been paid to the large number of Pacific Islands police who served throughout the 14-year deployment. RAMSI retained high levels of

Resettlement in PNG was never a viable option

In mid-2015 I was approached to work as a claims assistance provider at the Manus Regional Processing Centre. Initially, I was hesitant because I did not want to be part of an arrangement I believed was morally, if not legally, reprehensible. The processing of asylum seekers was of concern

Sensitivities flare in New Caledonia

Sensitivities have heightened as New Caledonia prepares in earnest for an independence referendum by November. Despite pro-France pressure, Emmanuel Macron’s government has now stated categorically that it won’t take sides. The mainstream independence group has sent a warning of its own.

Pacific Islands links: film in PNG, Vanuatu genealogy, and more

By Euan Moyle, an intern with the Lowy Institute’s Pacific Islands Program. Quartz outlines the importance of New Zealand and Australia’s strategic pivot towards the Pacific Islands region in the face of increased Chinese influence. ABC’s Future Tense podcast

New Zealand’s Pacific sea change

In a speech delivered on 1 March at the Lowy Institute in Sydney, New Zealand’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Winston Peters launched the country’s most significant shift in foreign policy towards the Pacific Islands region in decades. The speech followed Prime Minister Jacinda

Natural disaster mismanagement in PNG

On Monday 26 February, an earthquake measuring 7.5 on the Richter scale hit the highlands region of Papua New Guinea. Its effects throughout the Southern Highlands and Hela provinces were disastrous, and tremors continue to cause damage in the Enga and Western provinces. There are

New Zealand’s new idealism

In a speech to the New Zealand Institute of International Affairs delivered in Wellington this week, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has given us the clearest sense yet of the direction New Zealand’s coalition government will take on foreign policy. Any prime minister’s first