Saturday 21 Sep 2019 | 10:37 | SYDNEY
What's happening on

Pacific Islands

Pacific Aid Map: An update

In August last year, the Lowy Institute launched our flagship Pacific research project, the Pacific Aid Map. Foreign aid is an important resource flow for many parts of the Pacific, making up 7% of regional GDP. Leaving out Fiji and Papua New Guinea, this number shoots up to 27%. But the world of

Quiet and unquiet graves: letter from Port Moresby

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

Why did the NZ Opposition Leader jump the shark on China?

One day (well, on 20 May of this year, to be precise) as Opposition Leader you’re launching a discussion document on your party’s international policies. “National’s positioning on international relations issues is anchored in our values,” you say. Those values are rooted in our country

Waking up to Australia’s real Pacific family

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has copped flak for claiming that Australia regarded the Pacific countries as vuvale (a Fijian term for family). He was under fire again following the Pacific Island leaders meeting in Tuvalu last month, for emphasising Australia’s aid contributions to the region and

The changing dynamics of Australia, PNG and the Pacific

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

Bougainville: A nation in waiting?

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

Pacific courts need more women judges

On 15 July, Viran Molisa Trief was sworn in as a Judge of the Supreme Court of Vanuatu, becoming the first ethnic Ni-Vanuatu woman appointed to high judicial office. She follows in the footsteps of Justice Mary Sey, from the Gambia, who served as Vanuatu’s first female judge from 2012 to 2017.

The state of the Pacific as the 2019 Forum convenes

The Prime Minister of tiny Tuvalu, a low-lying, reef-fringed island nation with only an 11,000 population, will hope to refocus attention on climate change and the threat of rising sea levels as leaders from the Pacific Islands Forum gather this week. But inevitably other issues will crowd the

Does Chinese aid make Australians more generous?

China is changing the way Australia’s political elites think about aid. Chinese aid to the Pacific isn’t new, but in recent years, “China the aid donor” has become an unavoidable presence. In response, the Australian government is increasing the Pacific focus of its aid programs. It has also

It’s time for a “Quad” of coast guards

The so-called Quad group of Indo-Pacific maritime democracies – Australia, India, Japan, and the United States – is a valuable grouping, although it is still underutilised in many ways. One of the most effective ways that these countries could work together to enhance maritime security in the

Pacific islands stand ground on West Papua push

One of the criticisms of the Pacific Islands Forum over the years relates to the regional grouping’s limited ability to advance its agenda in the face of the interests of Australia and New Zealand. The power imbalance hasn’t always made for a cohesive regionalism. Yet it’s worth noting a

Climate change is a national security issue

If only a minister of the Morrison government would be as forthright in identifying climate change as a massive destabilising force in Australia’s region as the Chief of the Defence Force Angus Campbell has been. In a private speech in Bowral in June, General Campbell is reported to have sounded

PNG: making sense of a massacre

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

The Pacific step up goes to Washington

One evening every June for more than 20 years, a “Pacific Night” reception has featured as a mainstay of the diplomatic circuit in Washington DC. It is organised largely through the New Zealand embassy, and also sponsored by the Australian embassy and other Pacific island countries. This year,

The limits to French grandeur in the Indo-Pacific

For the first time since the Geneva Agreements of 1954, France has turned its eyes towards what is now termed the Indo-Pacific. The renewal of Paris’s interest in the region not only reflects a desire to tap on the wealth of rising Asia, but also Emmanuel Macron’s desire to restore France’s

The Pacific’s social politics

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

Modi’s second term: what it means for the South Pacific

The Bhartiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Narendra Modi has secured his second term as India’s Prime Minister with a landslide victory in the 2019 general elections. He spearheaded the long drawn out election campaign by labelling himself as India’s watchman, while the opposition criticised him for

PNG: the Peter O’Neill legacy

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

What’s on offer? Pacific policy and Australia’s election

The Pacific has undergone a foreign policy renaissance of sorts, with politicians and policymakers falling over themselves to proclaim their commitment to the region and its vital importance to Australia. Leaders of both major parties have been increasingly speaking about the region, while starting

Waiting in Waigani: PNG in political turmoil

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

Pages