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Monday, 19 September


Pacific and PNG Greg Taylor scholarship – call for expressions of interest Devpolicy Blog from the Development Policy Centre

Scholars from PNG and the Pacific are invited to submit expressions of interest in the Greg Taylor scholarship program for the 2016-17 round. Applicants would be expected to undertake research for a period of up to three months at the Development Policy Centre at ANU, most likely in the summer, and in close collaboration with a researcher from our centre (or possibly from the broader ANU).

The fellowship covers travel, living costs and a modest honorarium. Applications are accepted from students already studying at ANU or elsewhere in Australia, and from new and emerging scholars in the area of economics in the Pacific and PNG.

Applicants are asked to submit expressions of interest to Matthew Dornan, Deputy Director of the Development Policy Centre ( Expressions of interest should be accompanied by a resume and short research agenda (1-2 pages) outlining the research topic proposed by the applicant. Applicants are also asked to suggest researchers within Devpolicy (or the ANU) with whom they may be able to collaborate on the project.

The call for expressions of interest for this round closes on 17 October 2016.

The scholarships are made possible by a generous donation from an anonymous donor, and are named in the honour of Greg Taylor AO, whose former positions include: Executive Director of the IMF for both Australia and PNG, Secretary of various Australian Government Departments, advisor to the PNG Treasury Secretary, Chairman of the PNG Superannuation Task Force, and Director of PNG’s largest superannuation fund.

More details on the scholarship, and on past recipients, are available on our website.

The post Pacific and PNG Greg Taylor scholarship – call for expressions of interest appeared first on Devpolicy Blog from the Development Policy Centre.


Effective Altruism Australia conference – videos online Devpolicy Blog from the Development Policy Centre

If you didn’t attend the Effective Altruism Australia conference (EAGxAustralia) in Melbourne earlier this year, the videos of panels and keynotes are now online. The event attracted one of the biggest names in effective altruism – Peter Singer – as well as a range of other presenters on topics such as indigenous health, animal rights and more.

Our Director Stephen Howes also spoke on foreign aid policy – you can see his presentation below.

The full playlist of videos is available here.

The post Effective Altruism Australia conference – videos online appeared first on Devpolicy Blog from the Development Policy Centre.


PNG politicians and company execs could now be tried for land grabs in the International Criminal Court PNGexposed Blog


“The ICC announcement in The Hague is critical first step in the crackdown on violence and theft in the global trade in land and natural resources”

Source: Global Witness

A move by the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to expand its focus signals a landmark shift in international criminal justice and could reshape how business is done in developing countries, says Global Witness. Company executives, politicians and other individuals could now be held criminally responsible under international law for crimes linked to land grabbing and environmental destruction.

Global Witness has been campaigning for the ICC to investigate crimes committed amid the global rush for land and natural resources, which has seen an area the size of Germany leased to investors in developing countries since 2000.[1] This has led to millions of people being evicted from their land – illegally and often violently – in countries that lack functioning national courts. 

Peter O'Neill: Theft of forest resources: Guilty

With 5 million hectares of land stolen and over 3 million people affected by the SABL land grab could Peter O’Neill end up before the ICC?

At its worst, this violence is fatal. According to Global Witness data, in 2015 more than three people were murdered a week defending their land from theft and destructive industries – the deadliest year on record.[2] Conflicts over mining were the number one cause of killings, followed by agribusiness, hydroelectric dams and logging. 

“Chasing communities off their land and trashing the environment has become an accepted way of doing business in many resource-rich yet cash-poor countries,” said Gillian Caldwell, Executive Director at Global Witness.

“The decision by the ICC shows that the age of impunity is coming to an end. Company bosses and politicians complicit in violently seizing land, razing tropical forests or poisoning water sources could soon find themselves standing trial in the Hague alongside war criminals and dictators. The ICC’s interest could help improve the lives of millions of people and protect critical ecosystems.”

In its 14-year history the ICC has focused almost exclusively on crimes committed during armed conflict, whether crimes against humanity or war crimes. This has left a significant blind spot in the Court’s approach – it was not investigating mass atrocities committed in the name of profit that occur during peacetime.

The Court’s Prosecutor, Fatou B. Bensouda, has acknowledged this hole in its focus, adding to its priority list the investigation of crimes that result in the illegal dispossession of land, the illegal exploitation of natural resources and the destruction of the environment. The move comes ahead of a decision by the Prosecutor whether to investigate a case filed in 2014 that catalogues mass human rights abuses linked to systematic land seizures in Cambodia, where business leaders h...


The Strategy That Virtually Guarantees An Overwhelming PNC Victory In the 2017 Elections (Part 1) PNGBLOGS


“If you don’t like the Prime Minister, contest against him or vote for someone who is running against him!”

The above statement only has meaning if two conditions are met.  First, we would all have to be constitutionally given the power to vote directly for the top leader in the land.   We do not have that power and do not elect the Prime Minister directly.  Only 56 votes from the 111 MPs are needed to elect the Prime Minister and that process is easily corrupted because of the many opportunities to coerce, intimidate, and bribe those MPs in return for their vote.  The way PNG’s laws are currently structured, indirect payment in return for votes is probably legal even though it is unethical and corrupt.  

Even in Ialibu-Pangia district, the above advice to “vote against him if you don’t like him” only works if each vote cast is counted and counted accurately.   That means no intimidation or looking over the shoulders of voters.  No ballot box stuffing or accidental losing of ballots.  No manipulation of the voter rolls.   If any voting fraud occurs, the invitation to “vote against him if you don’t like him” becomes meaningless and voting becomes a waste of time, as the outcome has been predetermined.   

The above conditions are rarely met in the highland districts of PNG.  Thus it is likely to be meaningless to say “if you don’t like Peter O’Neill, contest against him or vote for someone who is running against him”.    



Tuberculosis and the mystery of the invisible solutions Devpolicy Blog from the Development Policy Centre

TB chest xray (Flickr/Day Donaldson, CC BY 2.0)A recent ChildFund report focused movingly on the scourge of childhood tuberculosis (TB) in Papua New Guinea (PNG), and its complex causes. But, as with many reports on TB, it was largely silent on the new solutions that could genuinely accelerate the end of TB.

This is one of the tragedies of TB. Not that it exists, but that the current global health paradigm too often ignores, delays or sometimes even undermines emerging new solutions. What is even odder is that these solutions are imminent, feasible and would have a huge impact on the lives of patients in PNG and globally – sometimes needing only the awareness and support of global health experts and organisations working in the field to come to fruition.

The facts of TB in PNG are not in dispute: infection and drug-resistance statistics are some of the highest in the world; and children are a distressing one-quarter of all cases, far more than the ‘normal’ 10 per cent of TB cases. The causes are equally well rehearsed – poverty, overcrowding, poor health systems, weak governments.

The problem is the proposed solutions, as summarised in the ChildFund report, which are at best optimistic and, at worst, fictions. The Strategy to End TB, developed by the World Health Organization (WHO), proposes “early diagnosis through active-case finding by systematic screening of contacts”. Sounds great doesn’t it? But there is no screening tool. The WHO’s ‘screening tool’ is “questioning patients for symptoms and Chest X-Ray where available”, a wishful dream for PNG villagers living hours from the nearest health centre, let alone a hospital with an X-ray machine and radiologist.

The other proffered solutions in the WHO’s strategy are similarly optimistic. “Treatment of all patients” is recommended, with a cheerful note that “the medicines for TB really aren’t that difficult”. But, by ‘not that difficult’ clinicians mean daily tablets for six months for simple cases of childhood or adult TB. For drug-resistant TB, they mean hospitalisation for many months to administer daily injections and cocktails of pills, followed by up to two years of multiple daily pills.

More shockingly, at the end of these years of painful and often toxic drugs – blindness and infertility are not uncommon side-effects – half of patients with drug-resistant TB will not be cured, and a dreadful 84 per cent of patients with extensively drug-resistant TB will fail treatment or die. WHO’s recently announced “shorter” regimen is still a cocktail of seven daily pills and injections for nine months to a year, with side-effects and toxicity a common sequel, and is only suitable for a subset of patients.

It is true that the broader solutions of economic growth, an effective health system, decreased corruption, a health-aware populace, and a road system giving access to remote areas would solve the problem of TB in PNG – but turning PNG into Singapore, or...

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Sunday, 18 September

Friday, 16 September


How a boxer brought a new country together "IndyWatch Feed"

Screenshot - Tumat Sogolik v Barry McGuigan, 1978 Commonwealth Games gold medal match (Youtube/Eamon Mcauley)Papua New Guinea (PNG) is a diverse country of over 800 different languages spread over remote and diverse terrain. Bringing a country like this together was always going to be challenging. This post describes how the many differences were put aside when a young boxer from Tsio Island represented PNG, just after its independence, at the Montreal Commonwealth Games in 1978.

The building of a nation

In June 1972, the Constitutional Planning Committee was established by a motion of the chief minister. The primary task of the committee was to recommend a constitution for the ‘full internal self-government of a united Papua New Guinea’ (Constitutional Planning Committee Report 1974, p. 2). The committee had a large task in front of it. It would ultimately determine what kind of political system this new country was going to have.

As a way of guiding its deliberations, the committee articulated a number of underlying principles. The first was nation-building. For true nation-building, the constitution would need to be homegrown and the result of ‘active and meaningful participation’ for all people of PNG (ibid.: 13). It needed to bring all these diverse people together and create something new. At that time, PNG was still dominated by tribal affiliations. There was little movement of people. If you were born in Finschhafen, it was most likely that you would remain there for your entire life.

After much consultation, the committee was firm in its conviction that ‘Papua New Guinea should have a fully decentralised system of unitary government’ (ibid.: 207). It recommended that provincial government be set up as soon as possible.

An uneasy compact

Already the Islands Region was threatening to break away from the rest of PNG. On the whole, it was doing well and considered itself far more advanced than other parts of the country. It had an advanced system of local government that was serving the people well — people who firmly believed they were able to govern themselves.

Tension was also building in Bougainville. The mine in Panguna was now highly profitable, but disappointed Bougainvilleans watched on as the riches flowed to the national government and local people continued to suffer.

However, the real surprise came when provincial government was omitted from the final constitution. The committee had been very clear in its recommendations, although there was strong opposition from the then Australian administration, whose main concerns were the high costs and disruption caused by such a large change. There was also the fear that provincial government was playing directly into the hands of Bougainville and the Mataungan Association, who were both seeking secession.[1]...

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