Thursday, September 29, 2011

Papua New Guinea in pictures


SINCE the beginning of this year, Stephen Dupont has been wandering Papua New Guinea, a self-described “nomad with a camera” to capture these moments for posterity. 
The Black Water River, Middle Sepik.-All Pictures @by STEPHEN DUPONT

This world-renowned photographer has this year worked in Port Moresby, Tari in Southern Highlands, Mt Hagen, Goroka, Wabag, Porgera gold mine, deserted Panguna mine on Bougainville, and the Sepik River as far as Black Water Lakes.

Stephen Dupont… ‘nomad with a camera’

A good mate of mine, whom I have known since 2009 when I assisted him and a French TV journalist on a documentary on crime in Port Moresby, Dupont has become well known to many at The National’s office as he wandered in and out to see me.

A church service and flag-raising at Kaningara village, Middle Sepik

Stephen Dupont was born in Sydney, Australia, in 1967.
During the past two decades, Dupont has produced a remarkable body of visual work; hauntingly beautiful photographs of fragile cultures and marginalised peoples. 
Trying to stay out of the rain, Enga Show, Wabag

He skillfully captures the human dignity of his subjects with great intimacy and often in some of the world’s most-dangerous regions. 

Evangelist bush church near Tari, Southern Highlands

His images have received international acclaim for their artistic integrity and valuable insight into the people, culture and communities that have existed for hundreds of years, yet are fast disappearing from our world.
Huli man and son, Tari

Dupont’s work has earned him photography’s most prestigious prizes, including a Robert Capa Gold Medal citation from the Overseas Press Club of America; a Bayeux War Correspondent’s Prize; and first places in the World Press Photo, Pictures of the Year International, the Australian Walkleys, and Leica/CCP Documentary Award. 
Highlands Highway between Mendi and Hagen
In 2007 he was the recipient of the W. Eugene Smith Grant for Humanistic Photography for his ongoing project on Afghanistan.
In 2010 he received the Gardner Fellowship at Harvard's Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology.

Watching the rugby at Kaugere Oval, Port Moresby
His work has been featured in The New Yorker, Aperture, Newsweek, Time, GQ, EsquireFrench and German GEO, Le Figaro, Liberation, The Sunday Times Magazine, The Independent, The Guardian, The New York Times Magazine, Stern, The Australian Financial Review Magazine, and Vanity Fair.

Waiting for a PMV at Mt Hagen market
Dupont has held major exhibitions in London, Paris, New York, Sydney, Canberra, Tokyo, and Shanghai, and at Perpignan’s Visa Pour L’Image, China’s Ping Yao and Holland’s Noorderlicht festivals. 

Mt Hagen

Dupont’s handmade photographic artist books and portfolios are in the selected collections of the National Gallery of Australia, National Library of Australia, National Gallery of Victoria, Australian War Memorial, The New York Public Library, Berlin and Munich National Art Libraries, Stanford University, Yale University, Boston Athenaeum, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, and Joy of Giving Something Inc.
Crowd waiting to see the Prime Minister arrive at Goroka Airport, Independence Day, September 16, 2011
He currently resides in Sydney with his family where he splits his production there with assignments and long term projects in the field. 
He is a photographer, artist and documentary filmmaker. 
Welcome singsing dancers on the tarmac at Goroka Airport waiting the PM to arrive, Independence Day, September 16, 2011
This year, he has been on a prestigious fellowship from Harvard University in the USA, called the Gardner Photography Fellowship at the Peabody Museum of Ethonology and Archeology at Harvard.
Mudmen on the tarmac at Goroka Airport waiting the Prime Minister to arrive, Independence Day, September 16, 2011
“My proposal was to do a project on Papua New Guinea,” Dupont says.
“My theme for this project would be around PNG society and detribalisation. 

Supporters of Prime Minister Peter O'Neil waiting for his arrival at Goroka Airport, September 16,  Independence Day, 2011
“In essence, I wanted to look at changes facing the human condition of PNG society today, 2011.
“I was awarded the fellowship to do this project for one year, so the money would help me come back and forth to PNG to complete this work, which would ultimately be a book and exhibition for the Peabody Museum.
Putting on make up, Enga Show, Wabag
“I started in Port Moresby where I focused on the urban environment and the effects of urbanisation on the various tribal communities."
“I wanted to contrast this window into the cities, with a focus on the rural environment, so I travelled to Tari in the Southern Highlands.
Singsing performers at Enga Show, Wabag
“I travelled the Highlands Highway to Mt Hagen and Goroka.
“I covered the cultural shows in Hagen, Goroka and Wabag.
“I visited Porgera gold mine and travelled through Bougainville, and documented the community around the Panguna mine.
Bride price ceremony, Banz, Western Highlands
“I also journeyed up the Sepik River as far as the Black Water Lakes, documenting traditional villages and their people.
 “I’m interested in these changes that are taking place in PNG.
“What I mean is that I’m looking at the effects and impact of globalisation on the society and westernisation on the society of PNG today.
“This can come through with obvious and dramatic new influences on the people, for example, the influx of commercialisation and advertising; the phenomenal advancement and popularity of mobile phones and telecommunications in this country; obviously the boom of mining today, like the LNG project in the Southern Highlands.
A bride price gathering in Banz, Western Highlands
“PNG is seeing a major economic boom in its resources and other resource-related sectors.
“Essentially, this is having a clear affect on the society.
“People are experiencing new and modern technologies like the mobile phone and internet, that people in rural communities never dreamt of before.”
Dupont searched for changes in culture.
“My project is a photographic project so I’m a visual storyteller,” he explains.
“Most of my information and stories need to be shown in the context of my photographs.
“I’m constantly on the lookout for these obvious clashes of traditional cultures and western influences.
“I’m walking the streets and I’m looking for this, whether it is in Port Moresby, or Mt Hagen, or the Sepik or Tari.
“I want to document, for history’s sake, these changes that are taking place in 2011.
“While I was in Tari, I witnessed the phenomenal impact that the simple mobile phone is having on the society there.
“These people in the Southern Highlands, like many other remote communities in PNG, have taken up the mobile phone and worshipped it, like they worship pigs or other valuables.
“The phone has introduced an unheard-of instant communication to friends and families around the country, that these remote communities have never experienced before.
“For the first time, it has brought communities together and in touch.
“In the West, we take this kind of thing for granted, but in PNG, the simple mobile phone network is a revelation.
“There’s nowhere in PNG experiencing these changes so quickly and aggressively as in the Southern Highlands.
“Traditional culture is rapidly changing forever.
“Whether this is seen as detribalisation or progress, it does not change the fact that ancient custom is on the edge of extinction.
“It is this question that I’m most intrigued about as I travel around the country - a nomad with a camera - that I’m trying to capture in my photographs.”
Dupont’s book, Piksa Niugini: The Land of the Unknown, is expected to be published and on sale in 2013.

The dawning of a new day for Ialibu


A powerful new book by Lutheran missionaries Claire and Len Tscharke tells of how they brought the Word of God into remote Ialibu, Southern Highlands, in the 1950s.
The book, ‘The Dawning of a New Day’, launched at Evangelical Lutheran Church of PNG headquarters at Ampo in Lae in July this year, is a wonderful account of God’s leading, His blessing and of the turn-around of many Papua New Guineans to go God’s way instead of Satan’s.

 Cover of ‘The dawning of a New Day’

Here were two young novice missionaries taking God’s promises at face value and proving them true in their lives.
The Tscharkes were missionaries in PNG from 1954-1972, Len fondly remembered by many as the founding principal of the famous Asaroka Lutheran High School in Eastern Highlands (that is another story).

The Tscharkes being welcomed home Asaroka Lutheran High School outside Goroka in July this year.

For a period of four years, from 1955-1958, they were the first Lutheran missionaries into the then highly-restricted area of Ialibu.
At the time, Ialibu was quite unknown to the wider world, although a government kiap (patrol officer) had preceded them by some months.
This kiap, Brian O’Neill, became as good friends of the Tscharkes as they brought government services, education and the Word of God to the people of Ialbu.
O’Neill was the father of one Peter O’Neill, who just last month, became Prime Minister of PNG.
“The young patrol officer, Brian O’Neill, who had been sent there by the Government to open up this new region for others to follow, was an Australian man in his mid-20s, full of energy and enthusiasm,” they write.
“We pictured him to be a busy man, conscientious in all that he did.
“The fact that he had already completed the airstrip seemed to suggest that he was a man of action, as only a person with drive and initiative could have achieved what he had done in such a short time.”
One of the most amazing things in the book is that the Tscharkes, who built the first school in Ialibu, wondered if a future prime minister of PNG would come out of Ialibu.
“How long would it be for someone to emerge from a school such as ours to be ready to fill a meaningful role in the forums of the worldwide Church of God or in the halls of the nations of the world?” they write in ‘The Dawning of a New Day’.
“Was there perhaps a future Prime Minister sitting in one of our wooden benches out there in forgotten Ialibu?
“These thoughts did come to us.”
God must have listened to them, albeit more than 50 years later, as Peter O’Neill became Prime Minister of PNG and represented the country “in the halls of the nations of the world” such as the United Nations.
When the Tscharkes entered Ialibu, no other white person had entered this area until then, where the people were still living in the Stone Age.
The Tscharkes lived amongst these people, got to know them well and helped them to a new, a better life, where they know Christ as their Savior.
A good friend of mine, Rebecca Ogann Kiage, who is studying at university in Adelaide and whose guardians are the Tscharkes, recently gave me a copy to read and I couldn’t put the book down until I had completed it this week,
In fact, I was invited to meet the Tscharkes when they came over in July for the book launch as well as visit their old stomping grounds of Asaroka and Ialibu, however, I just missed their flight.
It is a book that every child of Ialibu, Southern Highlands and PNG must read because of its rich historical content, one that will make you laugh one moment, make you cry the next.
The story begins in 1955 when the Tscharkes and their one-year-old son, Terry, got on board a Mission Cessna 172 VHF- AMO and flew off to their new assignment.
Much of what is written in the book is written in diary form, where days and events have been recalled in the order they happened.
It is one big Christian adventure from start to end!
It starts with their arrival, first impressions, settling in, starting a new school, Ialibu becoming a derestricted area, Ialibu becoming a circuit, expansion, changes, consolidation, visit of Claire’s parents, plans for self-government and independence, Ialibu tradition, Kagua becoming a derestricted area, first mission trip to Kagua Valley, growth of Ialibu, first trip to Wiru Taru, Len’s final trip to the Pangia-Tiripini region, and the heartbreak of leaving Ialibu in 1959.
Their first-hand experiences with the people of Ialibu make for fascinating reading.
Many people have, over the years, asked the Tscharkes to record their unque experiences, however, they always said “no” until recently when they decided to publish the book.
“What happened at Ialibu in those early years wasn’t about us at all,” they write.
“Nor was it about the evangelists who played a part in bringing the Gospel to those fine people.
“It was about God and the power that he had invested in His Word.
“We were no more than His voice that he used to create for Himself a people that now follows Him and brings honor to the name of Jesus.
“He wanted those Ialibu people to have a place in His Kingdom, together with every other tribe, nation and tongue.
“And so it happened that He asked us to go there for Him.
“Like almost everyone else at the time, we hadn’t even heard of the place called Ialibu before we were asked to go there.
“In fact, it had only just been listed as a future centre, because of a young patrol officer (Brian O’Neill) who had gone up there to open up a station for the government.
“Before that, there wasn’t even a village there!”
This amazing book is on sale in Port Moresby for K50 from Delma Yore, who can be contacted on mobile 71097679.
In Lae, copies can be obtained from Pastor Greg Schiller at ELCPNG head office, Ampo.
All proceeds from book sales will be used for the Ialibu Pastoral Training Initiative.

Police disband NCD fraud squad


POLICE Commissioner Tony Wagambie has disbanded the National Capital District command centre and its fraud squad without explaining to his officers the reason, The National reports.
Attempts last night to contact Wagambie for a comment were unsuccessful.
But the Assistant Police Commissioner and NCD central divisional commander Fred Seekiot confirmed the move.
Seekiot said he had received instructions that the NCD fraud squad be disbanded and that the officers had been given until 10am today to vacate their offices.
NCD metropolitan commander Supt Joseph Tondop also confirmed receiving the instruction but declined to comment further.
A member of the NCD fraud squad confirmed receiving the instructions to disband the unit.
Seekiot said the letter from Wagambie did not give any reason as to why they were to be removed, and only stated that the "reasons were only known to him (the commissioner)".
Seekiot said he would be replaced by Assistant Commissioner Awen Sete.
He also revealed that Tondop would be replaced by the Morobe provincial police commander Peter Gui­ness.
He said they had been informed that the NCD fraud unit would be moved to the national anti-fraud and corruption headquarters at Konedobu.
Reliable sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said last night the decision was suspicious because it came at a time when high-profile fraud cases were being handled by the NCD fraud squad under the command of Seekiot and Tondop.
It included the K50 million Nasfund cases, Pacific Balance funds fraud case, and the K100,000 National Museum and Art Gallery case in which senior banker Aho Nollen Baliki appeared in court this week to answer charges of conspiring to defraud.
On that same case, police are looking for the museum board of trustees president Julius Violaris for questioning.
The sources said alleged fraud in the lands department in which the acting secretary had been implicated, the national planning anomalies and the public prosecutor case were among the ongoing high-profile cases being investigated by the NCD command.
The sources said the decision could affect the cases, some of which were pending in court.

Don’t stop InterOil LNG project, say clans

LANDOWNERS of the InterOil Gulf LNG pro­ject want Prime Minister Peter O'Neill to reconsider a cabinet decision to shelve it, The National reports.
They also want him to sack Petroleum and Energy Minister William Duma for misleading the people, the government and the developer, after deliberately sitting on the issue since the signing of an agreement with developers InterOil in 2009.
The Ihu and Baimuru landowners are represented by Aitari Huaupe, Ken Ori, Bernard Nikura, Winston Kupea, Gada Govea, Joe Meve and Ivan Evara.
They also represent the Gulf provincial go­vernment.
In a joint statement, they said they would stage a protest if the go­vernment failed to allow the project to go ahead.
"Why is he (Duma) advising the government to stop the project when he was the minister who signed the agreement and was making good promotional presentation on the project?" they said.
The landowners also want all LNG facilities to be set up in Gulf ra­ther than piping oil all the way to Port Moresby.
They said the Gulf people had been denied development for a long time and now wanted to use benefits from the project to change their lives.
"If it is removed, then we will remain poor," they said.
They also want Duma to name the company to take over from InterOil

InterOil keen on Gulf deal

Oil company vows it will live up to agreement

THE InterOil Corporation says it is still committed to delivering a world-class Gulf LNG project in compliance with the 2009 agreement with the government, The National reports.
But this assurance did not help its performance on the New York Stock Ex­change as it got a hammering and shed 24% of its share value to trade at US$45.75 (down from an average US$56).
The NYSE recorded the big hit on the stocks as an "unusual stock move" which followed Petroleum Minister William Duma's announcement that the national executive council had decided to dump the project as InterOil had deviated from its original plan to build a world-class LNG plant alongside its NapaNapa oil refinery near Port Moresby.
InterOil chairman Phil Mu­la­cek said the company had this week discussed with Duma the government's concern over the project as highlighted in the media.
"We continue to be working together on the clarification of issues for the project execution, raised by the minister,'' he said in a statement.
"Recent meetings this week show support for the InterOil LNG project in the Gulf by the minister, prime minister and Gulf ministers. 
"Further clarification was added for additional support for LNG operations, which all parties are working on."
The government this week decided to cancel the InterOil-proposed Gulf LNG project be­cause the company had de­viated from the original project agreement.
Duma said InterOil had instead proposed a "small-scale fragmented" Gulf project to be developed by companies not recognised as LNG operators.
He said none of the companies were experienced in ope­rating a world-class LNG plant that InterOil was contracted to do.
Yesterday, InterOil said in the past 15 years it had been in ope­ration in PNG, it had worked hard to develop a lasting and constructive relationship with the people and the government.
A company statement said: "It is unfortunate that such assertions were being made by the
minister on the basis of preliminary interpretations of complex and permissive contractual definitions while the project continues to develop.
"As a company with a long history and all of its operations and business in PNG, InterOil hopes that these actions, together with the recent period of substantial change in PNG's national government, do not undermine PNG's status as a favourable country for foreign investment and international business.
"InterOil is developing its LNG project in compliance with its project agreement with the PNG government to deve­lop a world-class LNG project of the size provided for, of international scale and quality, and using internationally re­cognised technology.
"The company believes that reason and governance in the interests of the people of PNG will prevail, as has always been evident in its past dealings with the PNG government," the statement said.
Duma said earlier this week that while the agreement stated InterOil and its partners would build a world class LNG plant of international scale and quality, it had instead been announcing, presenting and promoting a different project without seeking prior formal state approval.
Duma, however, assured the developers that the government would continue to support the second LNG project if it complied with the original agreement.
InterOil said it was deve­loping a vertically integrated ener­gy business whose primary focus was PNG and the surrounding region.
Its assets include petroleum licences covering about 3.9 million acres, an oil refinery, and retail and commercial distribution facilities, all located in PNG.
In addition, InterOil is a shareholder in a joint venture established to construct an LNG plant in PNG.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Prime Minister: No job losses in airlines merger

PRIME Minister Peter O'Neill has given an assurance that there will be no single job loss in the proposed merger of Air Niugini and Airlines PNG, The National reports.
O'Neill also clarified that the National Executive Council had not made a final decision on the proposed merger but gave an approval in principle to look at the possibilities of merging the two airlines.
He said the NEC decision was very clear.
 "We will be looking at financial issues, job security and the ability to provide more services. The decision has not been made," he said.
He assured the workers of both airlines that there would be no job losses.
O'Neill's advice to unions is to look after the workers' welfare and not take over the job of the Independent Consumer and Competition Commission.
He said last week before leaving for New York to attend the United Nations general assembly that the details of the merger would be worked out by a special merger implementation office to be chaired by Public Enterprise Minister Sir Mekere Morauta.
The members will be the chief executives of Air Niugini, Airlines PNG and independent valuers.
"Both Air Niugini and Airlines PNG will be members of the implementation office as will the IPBC who will be assisted by technical experts including independent valuers to undertake a due diligence exercise to ascertain the exact value of assets and business of each airline,'' he said.
Sir Mekere said afterwards no firm decision had been made by cabinet on the merger.
"The MIO will examine the technical and financial feasibility of a merged airline and once a report is done I will take the recommendations to government, and the chairman and Airlines PNG CEO will take it back to their shareholders," Sir Mekere said.
He reminded unionist Michael Malabag that security of employment would be provided.
"The prime minister has given his assurance and if he wants me to put that assurance in writing I can do that."
Sir Mekere said the unions were resistant to changes and they were doing the job of the ICCC.
He said the ICCC had a role to play and would have a say in the merger proposal

InterOil LNG project shelving welcomed


FORMER Petroleum and Energy Mi­nis­ter Francis Potape has welcomed the government's decision to shelve the InterOil-proposed Gulf LNG project, The National reports.
He thanked his successor William Duma and secretary Rendel Rumua for coming to their senses and shelving the project after InterOil failed to honour the original agreement signed in 2009.
The agreement was that InterOil would buy crude oil from Kutubu, refine it and supply petroleum products to the domestic market.
Instead, it was buying refined petroleum products from overseas.
It was also discovered that InterOil had deviated from an agreement to build an InterOil LNG project alongside the NapaNapa oil refinery.
It instead opted for a different production method, a mini land-based trains and a fixed floating LNG plant.
Potape, a minister in the previous go­vernment, had raised the issue during a ministerial forum this year.
He had warned the executives of InterOil that the government would not allow companies with an unproven track record to operate a world-class LNG project with unproven technology.
"I told InterOil that the government will not allow any unproven techno­logy to be tested in PNG because PNG was not a guinea pig for international companies to test new technologies.
"My successor has now realised it and I commend him," he said.
He warned them to work within the agreement and not do things their own way because the government would not allow it.
Potape said Duma and Rimua had now realised the problem after sitting on it since 2009 when the agreement was signed.
"I think they have awoken from their sleep and have now realised the problem after I raised it with their executives du­ring my term as the minister," he said.

Poll deadline reminder

PUBLIC servants wishing to contest the 2012 general election must submit their resignations by this week to meet the six-month deadline required by law, The National reports.
The Minister assisting the Prime Mi­nister on Constitutional Matters, Wake Goi, said the law allowed public servants to resign six months before the issue of writs.
"I want to inform public servants intending to contest the 2012 national elections that by law, they have to resign from their jobs to contest," Goi said.
He said public servants intending to contest must submit their resignations by this week to meet the Oct 27 deadline.
"As intending candidates, you have to do the right thing now to contest the election," Goi said.
He revealed that polling for the four highlands provinces of Chimbu, Western
Highlands, Enga and Southern Highlands would be conducted on the second week of the polling period.
He said this would allow security personnel monitoring the polling in other regions to be redeployed into the four highlands provinces to ensure security for a trouble-free election.

Casino hotel under threat


THE South Korean developer of the multi-million kina Port Moresby Casino Hotel was yesterday given a 10-day notice to show cause why its contract should not be terminated, The National reports.
Work came to a standstill at the end of last year as the developer, CMSS (PNG) Ltd, went abroad to raise funds.
CMSS signed a contract with the government in 2008 to finance, build and complete the project within two years.
However, there have been various delays and complaints in the past eight months regarding the project as some K22 million in landowner funds was invested in the project.
Reliable sources told The National last night that under the contract, CMSS was supposed to invest US$72.8 million (K164 million) as part of its equity for a 90% holding in the casino project, but that was disputed by CMSS last night saying “not US dollars”.
Two Kutubu oil landowner companies – Petroleum Resources Gobe (PRG) and Petroleum Resources Moran (PRM) invested K11 million each in the project – each for 5% equity.
PRG chairman Philip Kende confirmed their investment and complained of government’s inaction in co-ordinating and monitoring the project.
Petroleum Resources Gobe chairman Philip Kende at the Port Moresby Casino Hotel construction site yesterday. He is concerned about landowner investment in the project and wants a review of the agreement.-Nationalpic by YEHIURA HRIEWAZI

He wants a complete review of the project agreement.  
CMSS managing director and owner Jimmy Kim said yesterday he had written his response to the show cause notice which would be deli­vered today to the go­vernment.
It is understood he was also consulting his lawyers yesterday.
He complained bitterly about the government failing in its part as well and admitted the delay in the project.
“I am not running away, I will complete the project … “Yes, I admit there is delay, but work did not stop,” Kim said.
However, a visit to the site by The National yesterday afternoon proved otherwise.
Commerce and Industry Minister Charles Abel said his departmental head Steven Mera delivered the notice to Kim on Monday.
Abel said the developer should prove that it was still able to recommence and complete the project within the terms of the agreement.
He said one of the provisions was the time-frame for the completion of the project.
“The state injected prime land into this project.
“The developer’s obligation was to build the hotel within a specified time-frame.
“After 12 months, we are not seeing anything as outlined in the project agreement,” Abel said.
“As it is, the provisions allow us to terminate the project as we see fit, which we are doing now.”
He said the government was concerned about the interests of the Gobe and Moran landowners and other investors who had contributed capital.
Abel said so far, more than K33 million in investors’ funds had been spent on the project, while the state had contributed the land and related building board requirements plus a 10-year tax holiday.
He said should the developer fail to act on the notice, the state would terminate the agreement and publicly invite expressions of interest from other investors or consortiums capable of partnering with the state and shareholders to complete the project.
Abel revealed that there had already been unofficial expressions of interest should the CMSS fail to comply.
“It should cost roughly between K30 million and K60 million to carry on the work at the hotel site because the cost of materials has gone up and there is still a lot of work to do.”
The Mineral Resour­ces Development Company, which is the custodian of landowner funds, has already engaged an architectural firm to conduct surveys on the unfinished building.
MRDC managing director Augustine Mano said last night the Krammer Group was engaged to check the structural integrity of the building and conduct quantity surveys to establish how much money had been spent on the building and how much more would be needed to complete it.
“We have engaged an independent professional firm who does the work so that will give us the comfort.” 
Meanwhile, Abel is undeci­ded on whether a casino will be part of the project at 4-Mile.
“The government is not in favour of the casino but we are not going to remove it.
“We will just ensure that it is managed under strict guidelines,’’ he said.
“The casino is not intended for the public, so restrictions will be put into place such as people may have to pay subscription fees or produce passports to enter.”
He said the focus was on the accommodation part of the project and its immediate completion to give investors a just return for their money.
“What I’m saying is, should we have a new agreement, the issue of the casino can be reviewed and decided by the new partners to either keep it or not.
“As yet, we have not applied for nor received a casino licence from the National Gaming and Control Board.
“The options are open,” he said.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Australia's "racist" visa policies against Papua New Guineans to be on talkback radio tomorrow

Why does the Australian High Commission continue to treat the people of Papua New Guinea like "shit" when it comes to issuing visas?

We want answers from Australian High Commissioner Ian Kemish!

You can have your say at 10am tomorrow - Wednesday, September 28 - on FM100's Talkback Show when SIMON MERTON – who has singlehandedly been fighting against the AHC for its blatantly racist visa policies towards Papua New Guineans – will be on air with host Roger Hau'ofa.

You can be assured of fireworks as the long-suffering people of PNG vent their frustration at the AHC!

Numbers to call are 323 3777 and 323 3999.

Student bashed to death in East New Britain


A STUDENT at the Kokopo Business College died on Sunday after being severely bashed up by four others, The National reports.
Provincial police commander Sylvester Kalaut said an East Sepik student was in custody for questioning while three others, also students, were still at large.
He said student Gary Bosa of Central and Bougainville parentage, died on Sunday after he was taken to hospital.
Kalaut said Bosa was attacked by the four students when he was returning to the male dormitory from a nearby bottle shop at 9pm last Friday.
After he was attacked, Bosa accompanied one of his friends to Kinabot stage 2 to avoid further assaults that night.
But when he returned to the campus on Saturday while under the influence of alcohol, the four students went to his room and assaulted him again.
Kalaut said Bosa's roommate noticed later that Bosa had not woken up nor changed his sleeping position.
He was taken to the Vunapope Hospital on Sunday but died on arrival.
Kalaut said his officers were investigating the death and a post-mortem examination would be conducted soon.
Police suspect that the motive for the assault was related to an arson case which happened on the campus three months ago.
KIalaut said Bosa was the student who had triggered a riot on campus three months ago after he was attacked.
He said senior staff at Kokopo Business College told him yesterday that Bosa was recently suspended for one year over an alcohol incident.
Kalaut said three of the four suspects were students who had been suspended in relation to the arson suspected

22 seats reserved for women, United Nations told

PRIME Minister Peter O'Neill says the government plans to have more women take an active role
in national affairs and the economy, The National reports.
It was part of the message he delivered last Friday at the United Nations general assembly in his first address to world leaders.
"I believe that women play a critical role in all facets of development, therefore, the government
has recently passed the first vote on a parliamentary bill that will provide for 22 reserved seats for women to contest in the national election in 2012 besides contesting for any of the existing 109 seats," O'Neill said.
He said PNG appre­ciated the push by multi-lateral partners such as the Asian Development Bank
and the World Bank on gender equality.
And he urged them to support PNG's financial institutions and positively discriminate in favour of women by specifically allocating 10% of all funds without risk to be lent to women entrepreneurs to develop small and me­dium-sized enterprises.
"The good news is that many studies confirm the fact that women are good entrepreneurs, but even better when properly supported," he said.
"We note the recently adopted San Francisco declaration by Apec countries last week under the leadership of the United States of America.
"This is a major step forward in supporting wo­men in business and is a powerful tool for wo­men of Apec member countries like mine to effectively participate in business and the economy of our country.
"We will encourage our women in Papua New Guinea and urge the wider Apec community to take advantage of opportunities created by the declaration," the prime minister said.

O’Neill tells United Nations: Papua New Guinea on target

Caption: Prime Minister Peter O'Neill addressing the United Nations general assembly in New York City last Friday.
Caption: Prime Minister Peter O'Neill addressing the United Nations general assembly in New York City last Friday.

PRIME Minister Peter O'Neill has told the Uni­ted Nations general assembly that Papua New Guinea had achieved some of its national millennium development goals, The National reports.
Addressing world lea­ders for the first time since taking up office last month, O'Neill said since the publication of the inaugural MDG report in 2004, PNG had produced two MDG pro­gress reports – a summary report in 2009 and a more comprehensive report last year.
He said the reports showed that PNG was able to achieve some of the national MDG targets, especially on po­verty reduction and child mortality.
On poverty reduction, he said the country got the informal sector involved in cottage industries with growing access to microfinance services at user-friendly and affordable rates.
In terms of primary education, PNG was progressing well with the enrolment of children in Grades 1 to 6 increasing significantly by 53%, he told the assembly.
"This is a marked improvement and will increase the literacy rate in the long term," he said.
O'Neill told world lea­ders that PNG had welcomed and formalised the "One UN – Delivering as One" concept in 2006 as a model self-starter country.
He said PNG continued to benefit from a strong UN presence through its delivery of various development programmes.
"This has unified all the efforts of the separate UN agencies under one budgetary framework and monitoring and evaluation process,'' he said.
He said a new country programme for PNG to begin next January would target governance,
social justice, health, education, gender, environment, climate change and disaster management.
He said the government had recently announced a free education policy from elementary Grades 1 to 10, and subsidised fees from Grades 11 to university next year.
On health, O'Neill said PNG aimed to address key areas such as improving immunisation programmes, providing a clean and safer water supply, centralising the purchase and supply of drugs, maternal and child mortality, malaria, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and other communicable diseases

InterOil failed to honour agreement, says department head

IN a double-pronged charge, the go­vernment has launched a direct attack against PNG's only oil refi­ner and promoter of the second LNG project, InterOil, The National reports.
While Petroleum and Energy Mi­nister William Duma announced a cabinet decision to "reject the Gulf proposal", department head, Rendel Rimua expressed concern at InterOil's "inability to comply with the requirements and obligations set out in the InterOil refi­nery project agree­­ment for NapaNapa refinery".
Rimua said the refinery was set up to produce refined petroleum products for the Port Moresby's market with provisions to extend to other parts of PNG.
He said: "Big companies like Shell and BP exited the retail petroleum industry in late 1990s and early 2000s while InterOil set up the refinery to fill the gap created by the departure of these companies to continue supplying refined petroleum products.
"The national government saw the need for a refinery to address the above situation; hence it nego­tiated and subsequently entered into a project agreement with InterOil to set up the refinery.
"The primary objective of the re­finery project agreement was for InterOil Ltd to buy crude oil from the Kutubu oil fields operated by Oil Search Ltd, then process the crude oil to produce and supply refined petroleum products for Port Moresby and the rest of the country.
"The department has reason to believe that InterOil Ltd is not complying with the intent of the project agreement signed between the company and the state.
"The department is concerned that InterOil Ltd has not been able to provide details of the volume of refined petroleum products produced at its refinery at NapaNapa since it commenced operations in 2004 des­pite numerous requests for them to provide the information.
"In light of the above, the department understands InterOil Ltd has not been buying crude oil from the Kutubu oil fields and the department believes InterOil has been importing refined products and is possibly reblending them again for distribution in the country, away from the agreement signed."
Rimua also said InterOil Ltd refinery project was not complying with the pricing mechanism esta­blished by the National Executive Council for Import Parity Pricing (IPP) formula.
According to Rimua, InterOil sought a review of IPP formula in 2007 claiming it was making losses on its refinery business.
The state undertook a review and came up with an interim IPP formula but InterOil Ltd had issues so it was revised again and the state finalised the formula for implementation in 2010 but Rimua said he was informed that InterOil "has not been complying with the revised IPP formula".
The InterOil refinery operates under Petroleum Processing Facility Licence (PPFL) No. 1 under the Oil and Gas Act.
"When the department issues directions or requests for information in relation to Licence conditions or as required by the Oil and Gas Act and a Licence holder does not comply, this is non compliance and this is undermining the laws of the country," Rimua said.
"The department also expects that any investor that has a contractual obligation with the State must ensure it honours its obligations.

InterOil LNG project in strife

THE  InterOil-proposed Gulf LNG project has been dumped by cabinet on grounds that it deviated from the original pro­ject agreement, The National reports.
An industry observer warned last night this could be seen as a case of "expropriation" by the government and the state could be hit with a "hefty lawsuit".
He said the project agreement provi­ded for disputes and agreements to go before an arbitration tribunal, but "it appears the government has taken the extreme decision".
InterOil executives were contacted last night for comment but did not  respond.
Announcing the cabinet decision, Petroleum Minister William Duma blasted InterOil for moving away from the original agreement and instead proposed a "small scale fragmented" Gulf project to be developed by companies not recognised as LNG operators.
He said none of these companies were experienced in operating a world-class LNG plant that InterOil was contracted to deliver.
"Hence they do not fit the description or intent of a world class operator as contained in the project agreement," Duma said in a statement.
In what appears to be a double-barrel blast at InterOil, Petroleum secretary Rendel Rimua issued a separate statement attacking the company for not complying with requirements of its NapaNapa oil refinery agreement.
Duma said original project agreement executed between the state and Liquid Niugini Gas Ltd (LNGL) in December 2009 was for a "world-class LNG plant of international scale and quality using internationally recognised technology with a plant size of 7.6 million to 10.6 million tonnes of LNG per annum and to be operated by an internationally-recognised LNG operator".
"Instead of delivering a pro­ject that fits this project description, LNGL/InterOil has been announcing, presenting and promoting a different project without seeking prior formal state approval," Duma said.
The original InterOil LNG plant was to be built alongside the NapaNapa oil refinery outside Port Moresby, but LNGL/InterOil had over time changed that and proposed a Gulf project using a combination of different production methods.
These included a land-based LNG plant using multiple mini LNG trains to be developed by Energy World Corporation and a fixed floating LNG plant to be developed by Flex and Samsung.
"Clearly this is not the project contemplated by the project agreement and to which the state has dedicated its gas for commercialisation," he said.
Duma said that since May last year, Rimua had on numerous occasions been conveying the state's requirements for LNGL/InterOil to deliver the project contemplated in the agreement.
The minister said the developers ignored these concerns and proceeded to publicly promote a different project in Gulf pro­vince.
Therefore, the cabinet deci­ded last Wednesday that the Gulf project was not the kind that was contemplated in the project agreement.
"I have also reminded LNGL and InterOil to comply with their contractual obligations to deliver a world-class project with the support of a world class LNG operator," Duma said.
He said NEC still supported the development of a second LNG project by LNGL/InterOil and reiterated that it must comply with the original project agreement.
"The NEC confirmed that if LNGL and InterOil continue to progress the fragmented Gulf project, they will inevitably reach a point at which LNGL/InterOil will commit a repudiatory breach of the project agreement.
"The PNG government supports and will continue to support LNGL/InterOil in delivering the project contemplated in the agreement but not a project which deviates from the agreement

Monday, September 26, 2011

Australia’s policy on visas towards Papua New Guineans


I started this group on Facebook out of pure frustration in dealing with the Australian High Commission Migration Office in Port Moresby for visas,  etc.
I thought that due to the popularity of social media these days that I might stir up a couple of hundred of peoples’ interest.
Little did I know that in under a week that we would have over 1,000 members.
I find their policy and attitude towards Papua New Guineans in general to be borderline racist.
I understand that this is an emotionally-charged topic, but please do remember, our ultimate goal is to have such an impact where we encourage positive changes.
I am not trying to create disharmony, division, racism etc.
I am simply highlighting an issue that needs to be dealt with.
I feel that it’s an absolute disgrace, Australia's attitude towards Papua New Guineans at the High Commission.
What's even worse is the apparently racist attitude that the Papua New Guinean staff  have towards their own country folk.
As a former Australian citizen and long-term resident of PNG (I have been here since I was an infant) and married to a Papua New Guinean, I have sponsored relatives, friends and employees on several occasions to travel to Australia for short stays, for weddings, funerals, shopping trips and holidays.
It's the same each time, and it's getting worse.
Forced to line up in the hot sun or pouring rain like cattle, when they eventually get in the door and wait a further two hours, they treated with contempt and suspicion by the PNG officer who serves them.
They are then forced to provide hideous amounts of personal information that can include letters of support, medical histories, bank account statements of the applicant and those of their sponsors and even more.
Of course my story is the same as everybody else's.
The AHC demands sensitive and personal information that they never acknowledge receipt of.
The whole process can take months just to get a one-month visa.
I just met a couple in the AHC car park a few weeks ago morning, the wife was in tears.
They had applied for visas for themselves and their child to fly down to Brisbane for a couple of weeks and visit the husband’s sick grandmother who is in hospital down there.
 It cost them K300 each for their visa applications and guess what, their applications were rejected!
The reason? Well apparently the wife’s sister had previously overstayed her visa by a few days due to a mix up in airline bookings.
So she is automatically considered an overstay risk and automatically rejected. This poor lady and her husband get penalised because of a mistake that someone else made.
So I can now confirm, they are now black listing people based on who your relatives are. Were these people given a chance to explain or even submit further information to support their case? No, it was automatically denied.
How were these people told that their visas were denied? Via email. So on this particular day they came down in an attempt to talk to the officer and explain their circumstances, guess what? They weren’t even allowed past the gate.
You will find stories just like this one on our Facebook page, it’s absolutely disgraceful.
It appears that the Australians have Papua New Guineans on an automatic "at risk blacklist", something carried over from the pre-colonial White Australia Policy.
What's really insulting is Papua New Guinea's history with Australia, especially that of WWII where Papua New Guineans played a critical role in defending Australia from Japan during the war.
Now a citizen of Japan can apply for an Australian Electronic Travel Authority online and a visa is granted on arrival in Australia.
Papua New Guinea gives visas to Australian nationals on arrival at the airport as well. Yet the humble Papua New Guinean whose ancestors helped protect Australia from Japan during the war is made to jump through near impossible hoops.
I find this extremely unfair, when we offer visas on arrival to Australians as long as they arrive with a return ticket.
A Samoan, Tongan, and Cook Islander can freely travel between their home and their former colonial master, New Zealand, yet ours has put up an impassable barrier! Why ?
Now that the opening of two new Australian Visa Application Centers (AVAC) in Port Moresby and Lae is being promoted by the Australian High Commission as a positive step in addressing our concerns. Fact is, it doesn’t! All it is doing is shifting the line up from the car park to somewhere else. These application centers are third- party contractors who simply accept applications and then pass them over to the AHC for processing. What they have achieved by introducing these centers is placing yet another barrier between the applicant and the Migration Office which is now closed to the general public.
And to further rub salt into the wound, on top of the existing no- refundable application fee, people will now have to pay an additional k49 to fund these centres. Why is this? Because the AVAC is operated by a private contractor, TT Services which belongs to an Indian company that specialises in, among other things, “out sourcing solutions” such as call centres.
Now Papua New Guineans will be faced with even higher processing fees and of course, as they are now been handled by a private contractor, they will not be able to answer any questions in regards to declined applications or policies etc.
I strongly suggest that the PNG Minister responsible for Migration should immediately implement a blanket ban on the issuance of visas on arrival to all Australian citizens traveling to Papua New Guinea until such a time when Australia can accord Papua New Guineans the same privilege.
We have an email address
And our Facebook group, Australia’s policy on Visa’s towards Papua New Guineans can be accessed here,
We also have an online petition that can be accessed here,