Friday, September 25, 2015

Endangered anteaters: Long-beaked echidnas successfully bred by conservationists

Sep 24, 2015 01:49 PM EDT

Long-Beaked Echidna
Long-beaked echidnas are threatened by habitat loss and hunters in New Guinea and Indonesia. (Photo : Wikimedia Commons )

Breeding efforts for the endangered short-beaked echidna, also known as the spiny anteater, are proving to be successful at the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary in Australia. The University of Queensland (UQ) is working along side scientists at the nature preserve where they have birthed 14 new babies in captivity over the past five years.

"Up to a few years ago it was thought almost impossible to breed echidnas in captivity, and most births were somewhat accidental and unplanned," Stephen Johnston, an associate professor at UQ, said in a news release. "Now we can pretty much predict that, if we put A and B together and provide the right environmental conditions, a mating is likely to be successful."
The success of the short-beaked echidnas (Tachyglossus aculeatus) represents the highest number of spiny anteaters that any zoo has ever been able to breed. Now, it turns out that their relatives, the long-beaked echidnas (Zaglossus attenboroughi), may need help too.
Populations of long-beaked echidnas who live primarily in New Guinea and Indonesia, have declined drastically due to being hunted for food and loosing their natural habitats to land development. Echidnas are one of the only mammals that still lay eggs.
"We now have a better understanding of the echidna's temperature regulation requirements," Johnston added, "and we are seeking to identify what hormones are involved at different stages of the female breeding cycle."
The typical gestation period for female echidnas lasts 20 days. Then they lay their eggs directly into their temporary pouch that develops when they are pregnant. According to the release, the "puggles" hatch roughly 10 days later and stay in the pouch for two or three months, receiving all their nutrients from their mother's milk.

Echidna Puggle
Photo : University of Queensland )
An echidna puggle breed in captivity at the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary in Australia.
"It's so important now we use what we have learned to make a real difference to conservation and the plight of the long-beaked echidna from Papua New Guinea," Michael Pyne, an official at the nature preserve, said. "Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary is committed to conservation and research of our native wildlife and is proud to work closely with UQ in world-leading research such as this echidna project."
During this year's breeding season, five viable eggs have already been laid. 

For more great nature science stories and general news, please visit our sister site, Headlines and Global News (HNGN).

Rare Australian dolphin found in PNG waters

Snubfin dolphin
Photo: Dr Isabel Beasley
New findings by a James Cook University researcher have confirmed that the recently discovered Australian snubfin dolphin is also found in waters off southern Papua New Guinea.

JCU’s Dr Isabel Beasley has been undertaking research on inshore dolphins in the Kikori Delta of southern Papua New Guinea since 2011, with funding from the PNG LNG Community Investment Program and the Australian Marine Mammal Centre.

It was previously thought that only Irrawaddy dolphins occurred in southern Papua New Guinea.

However, new research based on at-sea observations and genetic analysis has confirmed that the Kikori dolphins are a separate population of Australian snubfin dolphins, Orcaella heinsohni.

The snubfin is a small dolphin species previously thought to be restricted to northern Australian coastal waters.

As a result of the discovery, the ExxonMobil PNG-led, PNG LNG Project has announced a new scholarship program, where three students will receive JCU scholarships to study dolphins in Papua New Guinea, with a focus on Australian snubfin dolphins in the Kikori Delta.

The scholarships are called the 'PNG LNG - PIDU Research Scholarships', PIDU being the local name for dolphins in the Kikori Delta.

ExxonMobil PNG managing director, Andrew Barry said ExxonMobil PNG was committed to preserving Papua New Guinea’s unique environment and cultural heritage for future generations.

“Investing in the dolphin research complements the PNG LNG Project’s approach to the long-term conservation of the pristine environment in which we operate,” Mr Barry said.

“We are working with James Cook University and the University of Papua New Guinea to enhance the capacity of young Papua New Guineans to care for the very unique biodiversity of this country.”

UPNG has collaborated with the PIDU project since it began in 2011, with three UPNG students undertaking their 4th year research projects based on the study.

UPNG Registrar, Jennifer Popat said “The University of Papua New Guinea is proud to partner with James Cook University in the important marine research project. Without the PNG LNG Community Investment Program’s support for these Honours and Masters scholarships, the scientific knowledge concerning these species of dolphins would remain incomplete.”
The students will conduct projects in the Kikori Delta to further knowledge of this little known species, identify threats to the small remaining population, and work together with the local communities and fishers to develop strategies to mitigate threats, such as accidental bycatch in fisheries.

Dr Beasley said the Kikori Delta of southern PNG is the only location in the Pacific Islands and New Guinea where the Australian snubfin dolphin is currently known to occur.

“Conservation and management efforts are therefore imperative if the species is to survive in the region, where accidental bycatch and habitat degradation are threatening remaining populations throughout their range.”

Applications for the scholarships open on September 20, 2015 and successful candidates will be announced in early December 2015.

Oil Search signs statement of intent on next phases of Ramu Power Project

Oil Search on Wednesday signed a statement of intent with Government-owned PNG Power Ltd  (PPL) on the next phases of the Ramu Power Project (RPP).
This is further to the announcement on April 1of the commencement of continuous 24-hour power generation and supply to Tari, Hela.
The RPP is aimed at connecting up to one million people to a larger and improved electricity grid by 2030, through the provision of modular, low cost power supply.
Implementation agreements are planned to be developed with the PNG Government over the next few months to support the following projects:

  *Biomass Independent Power Producer (IPP). A 30 MW Biomass project in the Markham Valley, Morobe Province. This project is aimed at providing baseload power for the Lae region and will have
significant environmental, social and employment benefits. The development will be phased in two x 15 MW units, to match supply with demand.
*Highlands IPP. The construction of an initial 2 MW gas-fired power project, with potential to ramp up to 65 MW, located near Hides in the Hela Province. This project will source gas from the Hides gas field
and provide lower cost baseload and intermittent power primarily for households and social Infrastructure in the Hela and Southern Highlands Provinces.
*Hides to Tari Transmission Line. Installation of a 45 km transmission line from the Oil Search Hides Gas-to-Electricity Processing Plant to the Tari Power Station. The Hides – Tari transmission line is to be constructed, operated and maintained by PPL and PPL's selected third party.
*Highlands distribution and connections. Oil Search will assist PPL in designing a low cost rural connections rollout plan to households in the Hela and Southern Highlands Provinces.
*Early Power to Tari. Oil Search will extend the provision of diesel to PPL's power plant in Tari, which commenced in March 2015, until the earlier of completion of the Hides – Tari transmission line or the second quarter of 2016.
Peter Botten, Oil Search's Managing Director said: "Oil Search continues to work closely with the PNG Government to develop long-term solutions for PNG's power sector.
"With one of the world's lowest electricity connection rates, delivery of reliable, competitively-priced power is one of PNG's highest priorities and we are delighted that we can play our part in providing clean and sustainable biomass-fired and gas-fired power to the country.
"We have been exploring the potential for the Markham Valley Biomass project and cost-effective gas fired generation in the Highlands for a number of years and hope to sign Power Purchase Agreements for these projects, which have the   potential to make a real difference to people's lives, by the end of the year."

Thursday, September 24, 2015

The transfer of coffee price from consumer to grower

Is the grower getting a fair price of the FOB or export price achieved by the registered exporters?
The world's commodity and finance markets are something of a mystery to most of us.
In our coffee industry here in Papua New Guinea,   few except those engaged in the export of coffee  have any real understanding of how the coffee market works.
Because of this, a decade ago, Coffee Industry Corporation  published and circulated widely  (40,000 copies mailed out in 2003) a booklet which explains how both the local and the overseas sectors of the coffee market work , how coffee is valued and priced, and how the trade is financed.
The booklet, which was published with the assistance of the European Union, was called STORI BILONG KOPI and was available, free, in English and Tok Pisin versions ( It is interesting to note in passing that NOT ONE acknowledgement or note of thanks, from the Members of the National Parliament, who all received a copy, or from the nations High Schools and Universities, which all received packages containing 20  copies, was  received by CIC).
Among a number of things, the booklet shows an interested grower how to calculate the value of his coffee at the factory door, using current factors available daily in both the national dailies and on the EMTV six-o'clock news.
The advent of cheap and widely-taken-up mobile phone services in more recent times has added another effective tool aiding the interested coffee-grower in his pricing and marketing activities.
Using this information and a pocket calculator an interested grower may work out values with which to compare offers he is made for his coffee.
This is quite a revolutionary turn of events for those who may take advantage of the information, for never before has a PNG-based grower or small businessman been equipped to gain such insights into the workings of the market.
In fact, the highly-competitive nature of PNGs internal market sees to it that the grower who is alive to tricks played by itinerant buyers and who brings his coffee to a place where competition between a number of buyers  is the rule may be assured of somewhere between 65-70% of ruling FOB at the time of sale.
At certain times and for short periods only, generally due to seasonal variances in supply and consequent shortages, up to 85% of FOB value has been  achieved.
This means that on average between 15% to maximum 30% of FOB value is shared by coffee-buyers, factories, transport companies and exporters in the process of drying, hulling, insuring, transporting, preparing for export and actually loading coffee aboard ships.
CIC's industry levy of 8 toea comes out of this also.
The balance, being between 70% and 85% of FOB ( export) price goes to the careful grower who picks the place where competition exists,  and the buyer who offers the best price, to whom he sells.
These figures compare well with others from around the world where open, competitive coffee industries exist, and where Government involvement or centralised marketing is non-existent. Where the latter conditions do exist growers typically  realise less for their coffee because of the cost of large and often inefficient and partisan bureaucracy which is  the middle-man in these markets.
A case close to home was the late   now reconstructed and renamed  PNG Copra Marketing Board -  which was a byword in PNG for its deplorable record in dealings with small growers..
In answer to the question at the head of this section - yes a PNG-based coffee grower not only has the opportunity to obtain a fair price for his coffee in the internal market, but also the means, if he wishes to employ it, to check that this is so, and to make his discontent known if it is not through his statutory entitlement to a voice via his local Small Growers Association - prior to the antidemocratic reduction of the growers power over his industry by the current cohort of Department of Agriculture and Livestock Minister and his friends and appointees.
As for the rest of the chain of transactions leading towards the consumer situated in a far-off land, does PNG's  share within the totality of the market including the consumer side stack up as being fair?
The answer is a resounding No! It does not!
The reasons for this are very complex. There are many influences at play.
Meaningful reform by any agency other than the passage of time and changing attitudes is unlikely, although a return of the USA to membership of the International Coffee Organisation has prompted a trend towards a more even balance in the market. Sudden rises resulting from unpredicted events and shortages, whilst rewarding in themselves do not alter retention as percentages by sector.
A more equitable share of total value of the trade for origins will be slow to come, incremental in nature, and will be propelled by efforts  by the growing countries, or origins, themselves.
Salesmanship  and value-based promotion as well as adherence to desired levels of intrinsic quality and blending –types made for individual buyers will help, but increments achieved will be slow even though ongoing once established.
Why is the coffee market so intractable insofar as the origins are concerned?
Firstly, out of the 50 or so countries which export coffee,  there are only three which have sufficient volume even to consider influencing the trade through unilateral decisions and actions.
Even so, the three giants achieve little and are subject to the same pressures, generally speaking, as the mass of small origins, of which PNG is one.
As a group, the origins are price-takers, whereas the other side of the market is dominated in great degree by six immensely powerful commercial entities.
These entities have achieved a degree of control over the price of raw coffee which seems unshakeable.
With the massive growth in buying-power of post-war societies in the developed world, systems of supply and delivery to the consumer have become increasingly  integrated.
This has allowed consolidation within markets as well as cross-border or multinational integration.
The driving objective is the creation of economies of scale leading to market domination.
The result has been the corporatization - as opposed to the globalisation - of trade across the world.
The two terms  corporatisation and globalisation  are  portrayed by some as being essentially the same thing.
They are not the same.
The basis for globalisation is that the benefits of international trade may be shared more evenly, whilst multinational corporatisation works to accrue benefits for tiny, very wealthy minorities at the cost of poorer, less-integrated and thus less powerful entities.
In the coffee industry, worldwide, we have a perfect example of the meaning of corporatisation.
The origins sell around 60% of production to six huge multinational roaster-marketer companies  proprietors of the best-selling brand-names in the industry.
These brands are consumed by a majority of coffee-drinkers across the world.
Thus it is that coffee-growers, and to a lesser degree coffee drinkers, are linked inseparably to the owners of these brands as much as a dog is linked to his owner by his lead or chain.
The relationship between dog and man  may also be seen as a parallel: a relationship where dependence and conditioning ensures obedience.
The observable effect in the case of the coffee industry is that the small people at each end of this multinational market support, to their cost, a highly-efficient accumulative process at its center.
Coffee-drinkers in developed countries rarely if ever see a reduction in the cost of the product they love, no matter what the state if the international coffee market.
And due to the domination of  the industry by the multis,  today's severely-impoverished coffee-grower has been slowly, incrementally, deprived of  some 75% of what he was accustomed to receive in value  20 years ago - years in which the multi phenomenon has  flourished, nurtured by the fashion for market forces theory among economists and political leaders. Fortunately,  this state-of-mind is becoming less common in the face of the realisation that ever-increasing consumption is neither inevitable nor desirable,  to say nothing of its sustainability.
Thirty years ago,  the grower's share of the wholesale value of a carton of roast and  ground coffee as sold in consuming countries stood at around  30%.
Today,  the grower receives only 10%, whilst the consumer still pays what he has always been accustomed to pay for his packet of product, increased by the effects of inflation over the period.
Where has the 20% of  retail ( packaged, roasted coffee) value which used to belong to the coffee-grower been moved to? Obviously the consumer has not benefited.
This portion of value has been moved into the sector dominated by the multi-national coffee marketing companies, whose lead is followed by all coffee processors, large and small, in consuming countries.
These entities are making what economists term as  super-normal profits, and this situation, being intractable from the position of a single country of origin, or growing country, remains to be addressed.
As already stated above, salesmanship  and value-based promotion as well as adherence to desired levels of intrinsic quality and blending types made for individual buyers will help, but increments achieved will be slow even though ongoing once established.
This is the truth for coffee-growers around the world, just as it is for wheat, rice, sugar,tea, and cocoa growers- all producers of raw materials transformed in large quantity by huge, multinational brand-owners into retail products for markets the brand-owners have themselves created.
A truth which is part of the experience of farmers of edible commodities the world around.
First written and published in February 2008 and now ( 2014) updated in response to widespread fears that PNG's established internal and export marketing system is about to be trashed in an uninformed and naive experiment initiated by the DAL Ministry.
The new, small co-operative coffee exporters being created will be, to coin a familiar phrase, the blind, led by the blind. There is no-one in the service of the National Government, it seems, who is knowledgeable enough, or possessed of enough basic commonsense, to understand just how foolish, even childish ( big boys with big toys in a very big sandpit) this move is.
To say nothing of the predictable and conflict-producing outcome.
It should be noted that I have not touched upon the subject of seasonal finance.
It is well-known that PNG's banks are not willing to finance coffee export  or coffee processing ventures.
The whole great turnover of some 420,000 tonnes of hand-picked coffee berries ( cherry)  into some 60,000 tonnes of ready-to-roast dry green coffee-beans loaded and ready to leave Lae on a ship bound for an overseas destination is born along on a vast cash-float that is in the form of many foreign-currency advances-on-stock-to-be-shipped obtained UNDER ESTABLISHED TRUST AND RELATIONSHIPS as effective unsecured loans.
Now, how about that, Mr Minister?
No matter what vast cash resources are due to pour into Government coffers,  the coffee-grower of PNG is not going to believe that  ol Gaman ol bai fainensim olgeta kopi em kamap lo han blo mipla ya, em bai gutpla wei na bai ron stret tasol, nogat wari, nogat hevi ya.
©J.P.Fowke 2014
Not to be copied transmitted or used in any way without the permission of the author

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Coffee is in crisis in Papua New Guinea


Papua New Guinea's seasonal production of coffee has declined substantially since 2011.
The annual crop has dropped from an average established over 24 years from 1987 of one million 60kg bags per annum, down to 800,000 last year.
A crop of no more than 700,000 bags is estimated for this year ending in December. The crop  is expected to fall again by a significant factor in 2016.
This is due to the age of the vast majority of coffee trees which were planted some 55 years ago.
They are increasingly moribund, well past their most fruitful, productive years.
Over time attempts have been made to educate growers in tree-management, principally during the major AIDAB ( predecessor to AusAid )- funded programme of 1988-1993 when the grower-owned and controlled  regulatory and advisory/training organisation, the Coffee Industry Corporation, was set up.
Under AIDAB and CIC work commenced in 1990 on industry-wide renovation pruning. Some 30% of coffee growers responded immediately, and others followed as time went on and as resulting better yields were achieved in subsequent years.
Nevertheless,  this was a totally-new concept to PNG's subsistence farmers. Whilst experts in terms of the food-crops they have been accustomed to grow over many millennia, they were never known to cultivate fruit-trees in a big way.
Coffee is a fruit, and demands a specific fruit-tree management regime.
PNG small growers were never- right up until today- never-  been advised by CIC or the Department of Agriculture that a staged re-planting programme is essential as soon as symptoms of old-age become noticeable.
A suitable inter-planting renewal programme is where some 20 % of existing trees are inter-planted with new seedlings each year.
This to take place in five stages over a five-year period.
In the fourth and subsequent years all the old trees from the first year's inter-planting are removed, yielding ambient light, space, and moisture to the vigorous, new  four-year-old plants now coming into bearing.
Both CIC and the increasingly idiosyncratic leadership of the Department of Agriculture employ many highly-educated agricultural scientists and field advisers, but to practical purpose so far as coffee renovation is concerned.
Executive management in both organisations has sat back and talked about a range of policies focussing on marketing whilst the crop-yield falls annually; policies which are laughable in the circumstances and far from the real, urgent needs of the growers.
Far, too, from the needs of the nation, short as it is of foreign-currency derived from export earnings.
And when it is considered that coffee provides almost the only source of cash to most families in the populous but road-starved Highlands provinces, this is not simply an economic crisis.
It is the harbinger of serious social unrest as the years pass.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

PM O’Neill congratulates nation on an outstanding week of national celebration

Prime Minister Peter O'Neill  has congratulated people around the nation for an outstanding week of celebration for 40 years of Independence.
O'Neill made the comment as a week of celebrations drew to a close.
"We have seen national pride on show over the past week, from the capital city to remote villages," the Prime Minister said.
"People have been proudly displaying our nation's flag and the flags of their provinces, with great attendance at national events.
"From Port Moresby the nation watched a world-class concert that celebrated national culture and entertainment, and we saw another large attendance at the flag raising ceremony.
"Papua New Guinea is a great nation and one that all Papua New Guineans can be proud of."
The Prime Minister reiterated his observation that Independence is not only about 40 years of Independence, but the celebration of thousands of years of rich history and culture that has made the country what it is today.
"We celebrate more than 800 languages and cultures that we have developed across our lands.
"We are a nation of diversity that is rich and amazing, and we are a united nation."
"As a country, we have brought together our diversity to create modern Papua New Guinea."
O'Neill said everyone can look back with pride on what the nation has achieved together and look forward with confidence to an even better future for our children.
He said the government will continue to ensure all families have free education, better health care and better community services they are entitles too as citizens of this country.
"The introduction of free school education has been a milestone for our nation. Today, two million of our children are in school at all levels of education."
"But we must build on this. The next steps include improving teacher training and teacher numbers," O'Neill said.
He said the government want more young people to go to universities and do other studies.
"We are increasing places at higher learning institutions each year.
"Our Government will continue to strengthen technical training in our community.
"And through our vocational schools, we will empower our people with skills to get more jobs in key areas of fisheries, tourism and agriculture."
O'Neill said Papua New Guinea may be blessed with many natural resources, but the country's greatest resource by far is the people.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Landowner companies call for fair go at Lae Port Tidal Basin

The National Government has been urged to give preference to landowner companies in regards to terminal management at the new Lae Port Tidal Basin.
Representatives of landowner companies from the Labu and Ahi villages of Lae made the call on Tuesday after announcing that they had joined forces to create a new joint-venture company.
The two companies, Labu Holdings Ltd and Ahi Holdings Ltd, have formed a new JV called Morobe International Terminal Ltd to bid for terminal management at the new Lae Port Tidal Basin.
Labu Holdings and Ahi Holdings have a stranglehold on stevedoring at the Lae Port through their respective partnerships with Steamships Trading Company Ltd and Consort Shipping Ltd.
Ahi Investment chairman and Riback operations manager George Gware (pictured) told The National that the two companies also combined in 2013 to stop a foreign stevedoring company, Patricks, from starting operations at Lae port.
"Last month, when the tidal project was actually completed, there was also all this talk about government appointing a new (terminal) operator," he said.
"Finally, we saw in the adverts in the papers, that they're now talking about expressions of interest for an international company to come in and set up in Lae and also in Motukea.
"Even though we've got Morobe International Terminal at the current Lae Port, whoever that new operator is that comes into the Tidal Port, what will happen is that we will all compete for the same cargo volumes coming through.
"If the new operator comes in, and is able to secure and take contracts off from us from the current international shipping lines that have contracts with us, then we will slowly lose volumes, and over time, if we continue to lose volumes to the point that we cannot sustain, they we'll have to close down.
"That is the biggest concern we currently have as landowner investors."
On Tuesday, Morobe International Terminal Ltd presented its expression of interest for terminal management at Lae Port Tidal Basin, to PNG Ports Corporation.
"Our biggest concern, as landowner groups, is that unlike the resource projects in the Highlands or other parts of PNG where the government gives them seed capital to start off, when we started off when the (stevedoring) industry was nationalised in 1994, they didn't give us any seed capital," Gware said.
"It was up to us to go out and secure finance.
"From 1995 up to 2015, we've repaid all those loans, we're getting the returns and we're now starting to enjoy the benefits, and all of a sudden, when we as a country are about to celebrate our 40th Independence anniversary, we see the move by the government in promoting an international operator to come in."
Labu Holdings chairman Nasinom Dau said the people of Labu stood united together with the people of Ahi in the new JV.

Labu and Ahi landowner companies join forces

Landowner companies from the Labu and Ahi villages of Lae have joined forces to create a new joint-venture company.
The two companies, Labu Holdings Ltd and Ahi Holdings Ltd, have formed a new JV called Morobe International Terminal Ltd to bid for terminal management at the new Lae Port Tidal Basin.
Labu Holdings and Ahi Holdings have a stranglehold on stevedoring at the Lae Port through their respective partnerships with Steamships Trading Company Ltd and Consort Shipping Ltd.
Hundreds of young people from the three Labu villages of Butu, Miti and Tale and the six Ahi villages of Butibam, Hengali, Kamkumung, Yanga, Wagang, and Yalu enjoy well-paid jobs on the waterfront through this arrangement.
Labu Holdings is 50-50 into a partnership with Rabaul Stevedores (100 per cent owned by Steamships) in a company called Lae Port Services Ltd, while Ahi Holdings is likewise 50-50 into a partnership with Consort in a company called Riback Stevedores Ltd.
Company representatives on Tuesday handed over their expression of interest to PNG Ports Corporation.
Labu Holdings and Ahi Holdings joined forces in 2013 to stop a bid by a foreign company, Patricks, to take over stevedoring operations at Lae Port.
"What (PNG) Ports was really asking was for us to merge the terminal operations for Riback and Lae Port Services," Ahi Investment chairman and Riback operations manager George Gware told The National.
"For that to happen, we need to agree on asset contribution, equipment that Riback has got and Lae Port has got, pool those equipment, and have a workshop and services in place so that we can actually maintain those equipment.
"The important thing is staffing, something that we will really have to work through, and consult the unions as well.
"This is because when that happens, some of the Riback and Lae Port staff may have to go, and we will just pick the core people that we can put into this new entity.
"We have formed a company called Morobe International Terminal, which will be the joint terminal handling company, while in terms of stevedoring we will still maintain Riback and we will still maintain Lae Port.
"They will only perform the stevedoring function, which is unloading and loading ships, but as the containers land on the wharf that's when Morobe International Terminal will take over."
Labu Holdings chairman Nasinom Dau said the people of Labu stood united together with the people of Ahi in the new JV.

PNGDF rescues Indonesian hostages

Prime Minister Peter O'Neill has confirmed that two Indonesian nationals, that had been taken hostage by near the border with Indonesia, have been rescued by the PNGDF.
O'Neill said the Governments of Papua New Guinea and Indonesia were in communication through the process of negotiation and eventual rescue of the two men.
"This was a serious situation that is believed to involve the deaths of at least one other Indonesian national over a period of one week," he said.
"Through careful planning by Papua New Guinea Defence Force and other security elements this situation has been resolved without further loss of life.
"I commend the PNGDF for their outstanding work to track down the detain the alleged perpetrators.
"The men are now undergoing medial assessments ahead of being returned to Indonesia.
"I was in communication with President Joko Widodo though this process and our agencies shared information during the planning and execution of the rescue operation.
"I thank Indonesia for their trust in the capacity of the PNGDF during this challenging and tense period."
O'Neill said the operation is still ongoing so it would be inappropriate to comment further until a number of matters relating to the situation are resolved.
"We must be careful to ensure that anything said in the media does not undermine operational security.
"What is clear is that these men have been through a terrible ordeal and their return to their families in Indonesia is a priority.
"An investigation is underway into the events leading up to and during the period when the two men were held against their will and moved to various locations near the border.
"We must ensure due process is followed."

PNGDF search of Indonesian men believed being held against their will

Prime Minister Peter O'Neill has confirmed that the Papua New Guinea Defence Force is searching for a group of individuals believed to be holding two male Indonesian nationals against their will close to the Indonesian border.
The Indonesian nationals are understood to have been taken last week and attempts had been underway to secure their release through peaceful means.
"When we were advised that two Indonesian nationals were likely being held against their will I ordered that contact be made with the people involved.
"Initial discussions were held, first through a mediator then through direct means.
"However the group have since changed location and Papua New Guinea Defence Force personnel are now moving to intercept the people involved.
The Prime Minister said it would not be appropriate to release further information at this time on the current operation.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

PM O'Neill speech - Independence Day Flag Raising

Speech by Hon. Peter O'Neill CMG MP
Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea

Independence Day Flag Raising Ceremony

16 September 2015

Speaker of the National Parliament
Chief Justice & Members of the Judiciary
Ministers of State & Distinguished Members of Parliament
Your Excellencies and Members of the Diplomatic Corp
My Fellow citizens
We live in a great nation, an amazing nation, and one that we can all be very proud of – our Papua New Guinea.
Today is a day that we not only celebrate 40 years of independence, but we also celebrate thousands of years of our rich history and our culture – that has made us who we are today.
We celebrate the more than 800 languages and cultures that have developed across our lands.
We are a nation of diversity that is rich and amazing, and we are a united nation.
As a country we have brought together our diversity to create modern Papua New Guinea.
Today we can look back with pride on what we have achieved together. 
And we can look forward with confidence to an even better future of our children.
We must all be grateful to the founders of our Nation.
Grateful to the leaders who guided us towards the declaration of independence on 16 September 1975.
We thank them for the progress that we have achieved as one united nation over the last four decades.
This is a time of reflection on what we have achieved together.
It is a time to look at how we can build an even stronger nation based on those achievements, and on the many blessings we enjoy today.
Of course there have been difficulties over the last four decades – but these challenges have made us stronger.
Right now our nation is facing challenges.
They come form outside our borders - but together we have to face up to them with the courage and determination that we are well known for.
The global economy is facing a very uncertain time at the moment. 
Unstable commodity prices are placing pressure on many economies and reducing economic growth all around the world.
But in Papua New Guinea we are managing our economy so that we can meet our commitments to our people.
Even with the grey clouds over the global economy, our country still has positive growth.
What this means for our people is that we will see through this challenge in the coming years and our country can grow even stronger.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We also face a further threats that come from changes in climate and weather conditions.
Right now, around our nation – food gardens have been destroyed by frost.
Right now families are worried about where their food will come from in the coming weeks – because they have had no rain.
We have been through this before and we learn from our past experiences.
Your Government has acted decisively by delivering immediate relief.
Food is being distributed as we gather here today.
We are also distributing seed so that when the rains do return – so our people can return to agriculture.
All we ask is that drought and frost is not politicised by people seeking to get attention for themselves.
This is not the time to play politics.
Drought and frost, as well as other extreme weather - and becoming worse because of climate change - is a big problem for our country and our region.
We recently saw the terrible tropical storms and cyclones that killed people.
We, in the Pacific Islands, did not cause climate change – but our people are suffering from it.
Papua New Guinea, and our Pacific partners are taking our message to the global community – that we need action to deal with climate change.
In December at the United Nations climate change conference –  the voices of grassroots Papua New Guineans will be heard loud and clear by world leaders.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
No matter what challenge our country faces our people are strong.  They stand tall to meet this challenge.
While our nation might be blessed with many natural resources - our greatest resource by far is our people.
You, the men, women and children of our nation are what drives our economy and is the power of our communities.
The commitment I give to you today, as I did four years ago, is that we will build on the foundations we have laid.
We will continue to ensure you and your family have free school education, better healthcare and better community services you are entitled to as our citizens.
We will continue to make communities safer and create more opportunities for you so you can participate in our economy.
The introduction of free school education has been a milestone for our nation. Today 2 million of our children are in school at all levels of education.
But we must build on this.
The next steps include improving teacher training and teacher numbers.
We want our children have a higher standard of education.
We also want more young people to go to university and other study. 
Our Government will continue to strengthen technical training in our country.
We are increasing places at Higher learning institutions each year.
And through our vocational schools, we will empower our people with skills to get more jobs in key areas of fisheries, tourism and agriculture.
We will further continue to support the wonderful work of our churches at all levels.
The health of a nation is a vital responsibility to governments at all levels.
While there is much more to be done to improve access to basic health care, we have made substantial progress in rebuilding all our run down health facilities throughout the country.
We, as a Government must give greater opportunity for our youth.
This can be through the development of small to medium enterprises.
Papua New Guineans are great entrepreneurs.
We always want to have our own businesses.
Your Government and your country is there to support you.
We will create more opportunities. 
This will be through making it easier to open a business.
Last night, at the Prime Minister's Excellence Awards Ceremony, I met several of these entrepreneurs and community champions.
You might have seen this on television.
They were both young and old.
They were from the highlands to the coast.
They were a demonstration of the inspirational people we have in Papua New Guinea.
I would like to tell you about a few of them.
One is a lady called Betty Higgins from Chimbu. 
In the 1970's Betty was an Air New Guinea airhostess.
Now she is a very proud trout fish farmer – with her farm at 2,400 meters above sea level.
Betty and her late husband had dreams and they followed their dream.
Now she serves locally-caught fresh fish in Chimbu.
Let me tell you about Yomas Dosung from Mt Hagen.
Yomas is taking up the fight against climate change and extreme weather conditions like el Niño.
He has been cultivating an African style of yam that withstands el Niño and drought.
The food developed by Yomas is being shared with many communities.
I would also like to talk about Dr Moses Laman
He is our Prime Ministers' Excellence Awards Papua New Guinean of the year
This young doctor from Ambunti in the East Sepik province is already a senior research fellow and respected around the world.
Dr Laman's research will reduce illness and death in underprivileged children in rural Papua New Guinea.
This is an inspiration to all of us.
We need to encourage our own Papua New Guinea entrepreneurs in medicine, tourism, and new economy areas such as communications.
To the people who already own a business in our country, and are already employing Papua New Guineans.
We will continue to encourage you.
By making taxation simpler we will further stimulate the economy and create more jobs.
We are doing more to make Papua New Guinea a great location for investment.
And we have received great support from international businesses and they have confidence in our economy.
This will mean more Papua New Guineans are employed and be in business.
Some of the largest corporations in the world are investing in Papua New Guinea, and this is making an important contribution to our economy.
But I also I want to see the people of our country take greater control in developing our own resources.
This means more investment from our private sector to access our own resources.
I would like to see more or our seafood and agriculture products processed in our country.
As a nation, we must be ambitious and bold when it comes to economic empowerment and improving quality of life for our people.
My fellow citizens, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am proud of the achievements of our nation the regional leadership.
Our country has excellent relations with our immediate neighbours – Australia, Indonesia and Solomon Island.
We are engaging with our partners in a more meaningful way.
We are also a great friend and partner with our Pacific Island nations.
We recently hosted the best Pacific Games ever – where athletes came from around our region to compete at the highest level in our country.
Last week we also hosted the leaders of the Pacific Islands Forum. 
In 2018 we will bring 20 of the world's Presidents and Prime Ministers to Papua New Guinea for the APEC Leaders Summit.
This will also include more than 10,000 delegates visiting our cities and regional communities throughout 2018.
This will be the most significant international event ever to be held in Papua New Guinea.
These events have brought considerable economic benefits to our country and city areas.
They also lead to the construction of first-class facilities that will be available for long-term community use and benefit.
Through our international government engagement, we would like to expand our knowledge and markets in important areas. 
And we are attracting increasing amount of foreign direct investment.
These include minerals, energy, agriculture, fisheries and forestry, and construction creating more jobs for our people.
When you look at our achievements as a nation, there is much we can be proud of and give thanks for.
Ours is a country that has seen a lot of challenge, as a united nation.
There is also much more that we can achieve if we work together as one united democratic and confident nation.
In wishing you, and your family, best wishes for our 40th Anniversary of Independence - I give, you our commitment, as Leaders in this country.
You can be confident that your elected Leaders will work each and every day – to ensure that the dreams we all share for our country and for our children.
May God Bless each and every one of you, and God Bless Papua New Guinea.
Thank you.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

PM O'Neill congratulates new Australian leader

Prime Minister of Papua New GuineaPeter O'Neill has congratulated Malcolm Turnbull on his election as the Prime Minister of Australia.
O'Neill said he expects to build a strong working relationship with Malcolm Turnbull and progress a range of issues of importance for Papua New Guinea and the Pacific Region.
"I congratulate Malcolm Turnbull as the new Prime Minister of Australia and I look forward to meet with him in the near future," he said.
"There is a lot we have in common between our two countries, and there are areas where we can build closer co-operation.
"In particular, the people of the Pacific Island States are concerned at the effects of climate change and the devastation this is causing to so many lives.
"There are also a number of further areas of bilateral cooperation on which we will continue consultation and we look forward to this taking place."
O'Neill said the new Australian leader will be invited to visit Papua New Guinea at the next convenient opportunity.
"Tomorrow the diplomatic relationship between our two countries is 40 years old and the strongest it has been.
"Papua New Guinea will always work with Australia's elected Government of the day to gain the best outcome for both countries.
"Changes in political leadership are never easy and I look forward to ministerial roles being clarified as soon as is possible in the Australian Government.
"Papua New Guinea is the largest destination for Australian investment and the business and development relationship between our two countries remains strong."
O'Neill said he was pleased that Julie Bishop MP will continue in her current role.
"As Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop has engaged with our Government in a way that has been mutually beneficial.
"I especially thank her for development reforms she has driven that will achieve better outcomes for Papua New Guinea and Australia in the future.
"Foreign Minister Bishop has also been very supportive in strengthening public service training in our country and I look forward to discussing this when she visits Papua New Guinea later in the year."
O'Neill has written to Turnbull to offer congratulations, and written to Tony Abbott to thank him for the working engagement that has been maintained over the past two years.
"I thoroughly enjoyed the working relationship that we had with Tony

Kumul Consolidated Holdings official launch on December 2

Kumul Consolidated Holdings Chairman Paul Nerau has announced that the new corporation will be officially launched at a charity dinner on December 2.
This follows the recent introduction of the IPBC/Kumul Consolidated Holdings (Amendment) Act, making way for the formation of three entities responsible for the sovereign wealth of Papua New Guinea – Kumul Petroleum holdings, Kumul Minerals Holdings and Kumul Consolidated Holdings.
"The Minister of Public Enterprise and State Investments Hon. Ben Micah has agreed to launch Kumul Consolidated Holdings by hosting a charity dinner. This is an opportunity for us to not only launch the new entity, but also to assist those less fortunate in our community," Nerau said.
Nerau identified three charities that will be beneficiaries of the dinner launch – Life PNG Care, Cheshire Disability Services and the PNG Cancer Foundation.

°Life PNG Care makes a positive impact in the lives of disadvantaged and vulnerable children and youth.

°Cheshire Disability Services makes a positive difference in the lives of people with disabilities, their families and their carers.

°The PNG Cancer Foundation assists patients and their families and are advocates for the rights of cancer patients in Papua New Guinea for best treatment and supportive care.  

"We will be releasing more details of the charity event in the coming weeks," Nerau said.
The announcement came as Kumul Consolidated Holdings celebrated the 40th Independence of Papua New Guinea with a cocktail function on Monday at the Grand Papua Hotel.
Speaking at the function Nerau made the observation that 40 years ago the Australian flag was lowered and not torn down, as Papua New Guinea moved towards independence.
"Papua New Guinea had a peaceful transition to independence. In a similar way, the IPBC Act was not torn down. It was amended under the IPBC (Kumul Consolidated Holdings) Amendment Act of 2015.                                                                                           
"Through this Act, the IPBC has been transformed into Kumul Consolidated Holdings. The IPBC Act was amended to make it contemporary and relevant. As the world changes, especially the world of business and governance, then so must we." 
The IPBC (Kumul Consolidated Holdings) Amendment Act of 2015 was first read in Parliament on June 5, 2015 and passed by absolute majority as required by the Constitution, then certified on August 12, 2015. The Act then came into effect on Wednesday September 2, 2015.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Prime Minister concerned at rising sea level comment by Australian minister

Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, and the Chair of the Pacific Islands Forum Peter O'Neill  has expressed concern at the comments by Australia's Immigration Minister last Friday.
O'Neill said the comments relating to climate change and rising sea levels were most unfortunate, and he hoped the attention the issue has received will help highlight the threat being faced by many people.
"Rising sea levels is a serious issue affecting thousands of our people around the Pacific," the Prime Minister said.
"Communities are under threat and they are loosing homes and their food source.
"People around the Pacific are living in fear with each high tide of storm.
"Every time seawater inundates their land their possessions are lost.
"Food crops are also destroyed when they are covered with sea water.
"Other communities are seeing beach erosion taking away their land and eventually their houses.
"People are being forced off the land where their families have lived for thousands of years.  
"Connection to the land is very important for Pacific people so having to leave their land is heartbreaking for many people."
The Prime Minister said the issue of climate change and rising sea levels was discussed at length over the past week at the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Meeting. 
"Pacific Islands Forum Leaders expressed great concern at the threat posed by climate change to our region particularly to smaller developing countries," O'Neill said.
"The people in Pacific Island nations did not cause climate change but they are suffering because of it.
"In December the United Nations Convention on Climate Change in Paris will give all countries the opportunity to do something to help our communities that are under threat."

Thursday, September 10, 2015

PM expresses appreciation for CSO input to Pacific Islands’ Forum

Prime Minister Peter O'Neill has welcomed the participation and engagement of a number of Pacific Civil Society Organisations in the Pacific Islands' Forum meetings this week.
O'Neill said Pacific Civil Society Organisations were of vital importance for people around the Pacific as a partner in the provision of services and community support.
Beginning with a forum with leaders on Tuesday, ongoing discussion has seen wide-ranging sharing of views and perspectives relating to the welfare of people in the region.
"Leaders have certainly appreciated the input and discussion from our community service organisiations, and this is factoring into Leaders'' deliberations," the Prime Minister said.
"We all know the challenges we face across our diverse islands states, and governments appreciate the partnership we have with Civil Society Organisations."
O'Neill said the meeting was the first of its kind to be held alongside a Pacific Islands Forum Leaders' Meeting.
"I have attended five of these meetings and I have never had the opportunity to sit down with civil society leaders and representatives," he said.
"This is a very good initiative and I think future forums should embrace this as we move forward.
"We live in the same region, same community, it is not only up to the leaders to make decisions that affect our way of live but it involves everyone." 
O'Neill said from Papua New Guinea's perspective, the discussion of climate change, disaster risk management and fisheries were particularly important.
"Like other countries in our region, Papua New Guinea is very much exposed to climate change.
"We are also facing extreme climate threats from drought and frost which is affecting millions of people," he said.
"Papua New Guinea is a very strong advocate of climate change action and will take a position that will enable the international community to try and work together.
"It is our obligation that before we go to the Paris COP-21 this year, as a region we come up with a common position on what to put forward to the global community.
"We thank Pacific Civil Society Organisations for their views and perspectives on moving this agenda forward."

Sunday, September 06, 2015

Welcome Pacific leaders!

Prime Minister Peter O'Neill has welcomed the arrival of the leaders of the region to attend the Pacific Island Forum this week in Port Moresby.
With several Leaders already in Port Moresby, a ceremonial welcome will be held on Tuesday night then leaders will get to work on Wednesday morning with an agenda that includes issues such as dealing with climate change, enhancing disaster preparedness and reducing cervical cancer in Pacific Island women.
O'Neill said the global economy faced the most uncertain period in recent history making this a particularly important summit for the region.
"The global economy is under pressure and we are seeing an increase in climate induced disasters, so this is a time when countries of like-mind must work together," he said.
"When we look around the Asia-Pacific economy we see a slowdown in major markets and uncertainty in commodities.
"As a region the Pacific will come together as partners to join our collective strengths.
"We have tremendous resources across our island nations and we need to work together to ensure that we get the best market advantage now and into the future."
O'Neill said enhancing preparedness for disasters, particularly disasters that occured as a consequence of climate change, would be an important topic of discussion between leaders.
"In our region we are seeing more climate related disasters.  This includes weather patterns such as tropical storms and flooding in one part of the year then droughts and frost in other months.
"Our climate is more unpredictable than ever before and we must prepare for this to continue and be ready for worst case scenarios.
"We in the Pacific did not cause climate change, but we suffer because of it.  As a region we must work together to build our collective capacity to be ready for these weather problems."
The Pacific Islands Forum Leaders' Meeting will take place this week in Port Moresby with a reception on Tuesday night and leaders' retreats on Wednesday and Thursday.  Other meetings include the meeting of small island states on Monday and the post-forum dialogue on Friday.