Monday 30 Nov 2020 | 00:43 | SYDNEY
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Papua New Guinea

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

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

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

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

A crowded house on the Bougainville ballot

There’s been little rest for democracy in Bougainville. After a break of a few months, the Autonomous Region of Papua New Guinea is plunging back into politics, with elections formally launched this week for its regional House of Representatives. Coronavirus had forced a delay to the process,

Debt threatens Digicel’s Pacific dominance

When it comes to mobile networks in the Pacific Islands region, Digicel is dominant. More than 2.6 million subscribers mean its SIM cards power more handsets in the region than any other provider.   But the telco’s US$7 billion debt has been

PNG and Covid-19: The costs of economic stress

Papua New Guinea has grappled with economic instability for years, exacerbated by generally declining global commodity prices, increasing national debt and allegations of fiscal mismanagement. None of this is helped by high rates of population growth and unemployment. Now the coronavirus pandemic

Notes on representing Australia in Papua New Guinea

Jon Philp, who commenced as Australian High Commissioner to Papua New Guinea early this month, is the 16th to serve as Australia’s lead diplomatic representative in Port Moresby. I know from experience that the role is unlike any other in the Australian foreign service. The incumbent has the

PNG: Coronavirus promises a testing time for Marape

It’s been a volatile week for the PNG Hunters. The Papua New Guinea rugby league team was celebrating on Sunday after staging a late comeback to clinch a 32-30 win against the Souths Logan Magpies in the first round of the Queensland Intrust Super Cup last weekend. The Hunters were supposed to

Bougainville: Ringing in the change?

Bougainville’s president John Momis has long been a towering figure in local politics. President for two consecutive terms since 2010, he was a leading instigator of the archipelago’s early secessionist movement in the 1970s while still a Catholic priest, then an important facilitator during the

PNG: Booting Exxon gives Marape a boost – for now

The recent announcement of the Papua New Guinea (PNG) Government to cease all negotiations with one of the United States’ largest oil and gas companies, Exxon Mobil, over the P’nyang LNG project, a new gas field in PNG, has broader implications for the US and Papua New Guinea. At first glance

Favourites of 2019: Wewak

As 2019 winds up, Lowy Institute staff and Interpreter contributors offer their favourite books, articles, films, or TV programs this year. Or in this case, a destination… As far as capital-cities-as-a-bubble go, Papua New Guinea’s Port Moresby is probably the world’s most effectively en-

An upbeat mood in Buka as Bougainville waits for a result

“Joyous” and “excited” aren’t the first adjectives I normally reach for to describe Buka town, but they are the ones that best encompass the mood here these referendum days. Buka is the administrative capital of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville and centre of operations of the two-

Bougainville referendum: Not the last word

For two weeks from this Saturday, Bougainvilleans will exercise their right to say whether their autonomous archipelago on the eastern edge of Papua New Guinea should become an independent country. This long-awaited referendum was at the heart of the 2001 Bougainville Peace Agreement, which marked

PNG’s supplementary budget: An honest accounting

PNG’s supplementary budget passed the parliament last month (October) and represented Prime Minister James Marape’s first tangible policy stance after forming government in May. Compared to the previous forecast, major changes could be seen everywhere – in expenditure, debt, and revenue. PNG

Papua New Guinea’s untold media freedom challenge

This article is based on the podcast series “Developing” featuring interviews with PNG journalists, industry leaders, and politicians. Papua New Guinea has gained a reputation – at least, in international reporting on the country – for being corrupt, violent and poor, yet also a

PNG’s confusing budget debate

Papua New Guinea is in the grips of a confusing debate about the state of the 2019 national budget, including the Treasurer Ian Ling-Stuckey, Shadow Treasurer Joseph Lelang, and former prime minister Peter O’Neill. It is difficult to determine who is stating the facts as a matter of national

Bougainville’s predicament, independence or not

The referendum to take Bougainville a step closer to full independence finally looks set to start on 23 November, after the issuing of the writs late last month. Voters will have a fortnight to reach the polling places, which will close on 7 December. The Referendum Commission, chaired by former

Quiet and unquiet graves: letter from Port Moresby

“Our dead are never dead to us until we have forgotten them”. I remembered this line of George Eliot as I rattled around Port Moresby in a bus these last few days searching for remnants of colonial New Guinea for a book I am writing. Papua New Guinea was Australia’s only colony, and before

The changing dynamics of Australia, PNG and the Pacific

Prime Minister Scott Morrison showed he was serious about the Pacific “step up” when he ensured that his first overseas visit was to the Solomon islands and the first foreign dignitary he invited to host was Papua New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape. The visit by Marape represented a

Bougainville: A nation in waiting?

On 23 November this year, Bougainvilleans will vote in a referendum to decide whether they wish to stay part of Papua New Guinea or become an independent nation. It is perhaps the high point of a 20-year peace process that in turn followed a gruelling, 10-year battle for independence waged between

PNG: making sense of a massacre

It wasn’t long ago that Hela Province, in Papua New Guinea’s southern highlands, wasn’t a province at all, and hardly attracted the attention of the outside world. Now in just a few short months, it has found itself very much in the spotlight. The May election of James Marape as Prime

The Pacific’s social politics

When the news broke that Peter O’Neill had finally resigned from PNG’s top job last Thursday, it spread instantaneously, lighting up mobile phone screens across the country. It was social media, much more than PNG’s traditional news outlets, that had bored away relentlessly at O’Neill’s

PNG: the Peter O’Neill legacy

The past two weeks have been an anxious wait and see in Papua New Guinea politics, and will continue to be so until such time as a vote of no confidence takes place, if at all. On 6 May, prior to the PNG parliament’s last sitting, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill released a statement that his

Waiting in Waigani: PNG in political turmoil

Two Port Moresby hotels have been the backdrop for the story of PNG politics this past weekend. Members of Prime Minister Peter O’Neill’s government are perched in the Crown, looking over the CBD as they negotiate to stave off a determined parliamentary challenge. Up and over Burns Peak –

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