Bougainville News May 2022 : Simon Pentanu “ The lessons out of Panguna provide an almanac of social, political, economic and environmental concerns we will do well to heed. “

For now ABG and the people have been all too aware matters surrounding mining and landowner concerns must be handled much better.

The lessons out of Panguna provide an almanac of social, political, economic and environmental concerns we will do well to heed. ” 

Simon Petanu

The benches around the Panguna mine that were so conspicuous and became almost a landmark of this humongous pit are still visible but mostly either in a state of collapse through slow seeping water erosion or giving way, tired of lying around with no purpose to fulfil.

The pit is a massive ‘dingkung’ (hole) on Bougainville’s landscape; it is also a massive statement that man is capable of gutting the resources and riches of the Earth from its belly and leave the land wasted and torn asunder after its riches have been extracted and shipped away.

The creepers and dwarf alpine tree roots that have held the land around the rim of the open-cut mine intact have been eroded through crevices allowing rain water to seep into the pit. Some of this water turns into a turquoise-green pond after it has come into contact with copper traces in the rocks.

The Euclid trucks and electric shovels in the pit that were torched at the height of crisis and sat in neat rows as lifeless sitting ducks, looking down from the top of the pit, are no longer there. Anything that was worth salvaging to sell as scrap has gone.

There is nothing much to find, cut or sell from Panguna anymore. It would be a completely desolate place if not for the resilience of women, who – despite the land, the creeks and the jungle and fauna and flora they have lost – still go about their traditional chores attached to the land.

Any activity that maintains a semblance of normal life here involves women. They have gone back to gardening, growing vegetables on whatever arable land was spared of mining.

There are no commercial tree crops like cocoa and coconut grown in Panguna. The people’s limited source of income comes from the vegetables from the land that find their way from the Crown Prince Range to the fruit and vegetable markets at Morgan Junction and Arawa.

The more you look at Panguna and the few remnants from its mining days, the more it looks as if some gigantic monster landed here and trampled on everything with its huge feet.

It is unimaginable how a whole area of rainforest could disappear from this once-beautiful place. Yes, humans – at our very best and our very worst – are capable of many unimaginable things!

Panguna is a paradox, a Pandora’s box. Once opened, its contents cannot be easily contained. This is still a huge mineral deposit under the ground. There is no doubt it still holds the potential to largely, perhaps singly, drive Bougainville’s economy in the same as it did pre and post independent PNG, if it is reopened.

For now ABG and the people have been all too aware matters surrounding mining and landowner concerns must be handled much better. The lessons out of Panguna provide an almanac of social, political, economic and environmental concerns we will do well to heed.

Much of the problem is that we tend to start by thinking about how much money mining promises to provide and imagine how that will transform everything for the better without also thinking through otherwise. We tend not to turn our minds to the human feelings, the societal issues, the injustices and the environmental harms that arise when huge projects of this magnitude are given the green light.

Yet the views, human feelings and sensitivities are much more powerful than what money may achieve in trying to reopen Panguna. Just consider how many millions, a figure close to K20m if you include hidden costs, of our good money has been thrown over the years at discussing re-opening Panguna.

A lot of this isn’t necessarily any government’s fault, the landowners’ fault or anybody’s fault.

What some of it is, is this. When a mammoth project like Panguna, particularly an extractive project like mining, is shut down while there are still underlying conflicts and competing interests in a complex land tenure system, it is very difficult to get traction with anybody unless you satisfy everybody.

In a society where land is not owned individually, but its use and tenure is shared, it is impossible to satisfy everybody regardless of how many MOUs, MOAs or similar pledges are signed. Or for that matter, how many reconciliations are done.

There are tried and tested ways to resolve land claims, land feuds and land grabs in traditional societies. These involve methods where the settlement of a dispute doesn’t benefit one group, one party, one clan or family, while disadvantaging others. Any resolution reached cannot have adverse impacts for some and benefits to others if it is to be widely accepted and shared.

Traditional Melanesian society is highly egalitarian.

It does not necessarily fit with a system where land is regarded as a valuable commodity – a resource that can be bought and sold, used and disposed of.

Paying heed to heartfelt feelings is critical when dealing with resource issues, as the following words from a New Zealand journalist’s interview with the late President Joseph Kabui remind us:

“The Panguna mine did a massive damage to the environment of Bougainville. Damage that affected the river system in the immediate vicinityi of the mine and of course all the way down to the sea.

The river that I once swam in as a young boy spearing prawns and fish, eels, whatever, the normal life of the river disappeared right in front of my eyes. It is still dead, it will never come back to what it was before.”

Land is not only the stuff we walk on, are buried under, sow gardens into, go walkabout on and hunt in.

Land is also the rivers and creeks, the shrubs, trees and forests, the insects, birds, lizards and marsupials the same land supports. When people sense a threat or get the notion they might be dispossessed, they will fight and protect their land with their lives if they have to.

No wonder Panguna continues to be a difficult problem to resolve, where good money has been thrown after dubious decisions. It is always better to start well at the front end of a complex equation than to go in, boots and all, make a mess then try to fix up issues from the back end.

Let us hope the Tunuru Agreement, which was openly representative and inclusive of the main custodial clans of traditional land in Paguna and its upper and lower tailings, has done things differently and is given a chance to succeed in ways other agreements did not.

Because if we continue to do the same things over and over again, but expect a different result, our hopes may collapse like the benches around the mine pit.

PHOTO: “Any activity that maintains a semblance of normal life here involves women. I am thankful we have women elected into our Parliament.”

 

Bougainville COVID-19 News : Bougainville champions Stand Up Strong – Get Vaccinated!

The Autonomous Bougainville Government has launched a powerful new awareness campaign featuring Bougainville leaders advocating for the region’s COVID vaccine program.

The campaign ‘Bougainville Stand Up Strong – Get Vaccinated! (Bougainville Sanap Strong – Kisim COVID Banis Sut) ’ features vibrant first term politicians Minister for Police Hon. Emmanuel Kaetavara and Women’s Member for North Bougainville Hon. Amanda Masono, school principal Finlyn Mamats, and a range of health workers.

Minister Kaetavara said, “As political leaders, we must lead by example. By getting vaccinated, I can help protect myself, my family and my community.”

Hon. Masono said there were a lot of rumours circulating in Bougainville about COVID and vaccinations, and she advised people to seek out information from the right sources.

“I’d like to encourage people, especially women, to visit their nearest health centre and get the correct information to make an informed choice.”

She said getting vaccinated had no negative impact on her health, and instead had made her feel strong and protected.

Launching the campaign of COVID champion messages adapted for video, social media, radio, SMSs and posters, Secretary for Health Clement Totavun said that vaccination is critical to ensure a healthy population in Bougainville.

“Getting vaccinated is something positive you can do for Bougainville. A healthy population equals a strong Bougainville. Despite all our best efforts, COVID-19 is here and we must stand up to this virus as we have stood up to many challenges before,” Secretary Totavun said.

The multi-channel awareness campaign went live on Sunday with SMS blasts reaching over 65,000 phones. The campaign is backed by Australia and New Zealand who have supported a range of COVID preparation and emergency response initiatives in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville including isolation facilities, protective and testing equipment, emergency medical teams, technical advice and awareness.

Australian Government representative Fiona Crockford acknowledged the power of local voices in the face of a global pandemic.

“Rumours and misinformation spread fear around the world and prevent people from making the right informed decisions to protect themselves and their families from COVID-19,” Ms Crockford said.

“This campaign shares trusted Bougainville voices from all walks of life in engaging ways with a simple message: stand up, get informed and get vaccinated.”

The Acting High Commissioner at the New Zealand High Commission, Dr Nathan Ross, said it was important for Bougainvilleans to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

“I’m fully vaccinated and had a booster because the science clearly shows that this is the best way to reduce the chances of severe illness if I catch COVID. The new Omicron variant of COVID is extremely infectious, and it moves very fast within households and communities – so I urge everyone to get vaccinated as soon as possible.”

Health Secretary Clement Totavun challenged the people of Bougainville to hear the message from COVID champions and get themselves vaccinated as soon as possible and continue to practice the Nuipela Pasin of wearing masks, social distancing and hand washing.

The Bougainville Stand Up Strong – Get Vaccinated! videos can be viewed on Autonomous Bougainville Government’s Facebook page and heard on radio New Dawn and NBC Bougainville. The campaign is being complemented by vaccine advocacy support to the Bougainville Christian Churches Association, through the Australian-funded PNG Church Partnership Program.

Bougainville #COVID19 News Alert : The following Public Health Measures are issued as a response to the exponential rise in confirmed 26 Covid-19 cases in Bougainville.

The following Public Health Measures are issued as a response to the exponential rise in confirmed Covid-19 cases in Bougainville.

Updates 

ABG #Covid19 Public Health Committee : 14 new Covid 19 reported on Saturday 28 Feb- ARoB total cases at 23

If you have Covid-19 symptoms such as fever, dry cough, sore throat or shortness of breath, call toll-free : self isolation at home and call ABG toll free number 74460830

Pursuant to the Ministerial Directive issued by Hon. Raymond Masono, MHR, Health Minister dated 26 February, 2021, as Secretary Health, and Chairman of the Bougainville Covid-19 Public Health Committee, I hereby issue the Public Health Measure No. 02 of 2021.

1. The clinical medical officers within Covid-19 Rapid Response Team will step up compulsory Covid-19 contact tracing tests within regional health facilities of Arawa, Buka and Buin.

2. Swabs will be done on any patients who exhibit Influenza Like Illness (ILIs), simple cough, pneumonia, and Severe Acute Respiratory Infections (SARI) when attended to at the regional health facilities at Buka, Arawa and Buin, and based on referrals from District Health facilities.

3. All Covid-19 Medical Clearance Certificate issued by recognised public and private Medical Officers as compulsory requirement for entry into Bougainville through air and sea ports is hereby lifted.

4. A GeneXpert or Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test will be conducted at points of entry for both inbound and outbound passengers who exhibit Influenza Like Illness (ILIs), simple cough, pneumonia, and Severe Acute Respiratory Infections (SARI) and a body temperature above 37 Degrees Celsius.

5. The role of the Gazetted National Dep’t of Health Quarantine Officer is hereby affirmed consistent with the Quarantine Act 1953 to continue routine quarantine checks at points of entry, and maintain food and safety standards inspection as part of the ‘Niupla Pasin’ protocols.

6. As part of the Covid-19 Public Health Measures the following must be observed and adhered to by all persons at schools, churches, sea ports, airports, business houses, work places, social clubs, restaurants, public parks and markets, towns, and other public gathering spaces:

6.1. Social distancing of 1metre – 2metres,

6.2. Mandatory body temperature checks,

6.3. Wearing of face masks or shields,

6.4. Hand washing facilities and resources,

6.5. Covid-19 awareness materials.

7. In the event of confirmed community transmission within an education institution in AROB, the Bougainville Education Board working in consultation with the Covid-19 Public Health Committee, will suspend teaching and learning in targeted school(s) pursuant to Section 57, subsection 1(b), of Bougainville Education Act 2013.

8. Consistent with Public Health Measure No. 07, alternative modes of study such as home study, distance learning, online learning, and other learning approaches be recommended by respective schools or institutions for the affected students.

9.  With evidence of high prevalence rate of community transmission, all travellers between rural and urban constituencies are hereby advised to practice home isolation to prevent further spread of the Covid-19 infection.

10. Departmental Heads, Business Houses, Town Managers, and other responsible authorities  to be notified by Chief Secretary or Secretary Health in consultation with Chief of Bougainville Police Service if no compliance with Covid-19 Public Health Measures.

11. All Urban Community Governments in three (3) Regions (North, Central, South) to take a lead in managing public health, water, sanitation and hygiene measures in four (4) main town of Buka, Kokopau, Arawa, and Buin).

12. Alcohol consumption to be regulated under the Community Government Act 2016 and Liquor Act 1963 consumption regulations and laws. Directives could be issued by the Chief Secretary in consultation with Secretary Community Government and Chief of Bougainville Police Service for enforcement.

13. The Motor Traffic Act 1950, and relevant regulations in the land transport sector will be enforced by the Bougainville Police Service through its Traffic Division to ensure there is no overcrowding, and other related traffic related offences.

14.  All domestic vessels may berth at the ports of entry in Buka and Loloho, Kieta, and Kangu Ports to allow for routine quarantine checks. No shipping crews be allowed to disembark the ships without proper quarantine checks.

15. Pursuant to Public Health Measure No. 14, all foreign vessels must still be cleared at anchorage.

16. All small crafts moving between nearby Maritime Provinces and Bougainville must comply with endorsed Covid-19 public health measures.

17. In the event of lack of compliance with the Ministerial Directives and Public Health Measures, the Bougainville Police Service under its community policing program will intervene to ensure peace, order, and stability within the three (3) regions consistent with the Police Act 1998, Summary Offences Act 1977, Criminal Code Act 1974, and other related law enforcement Act to ensure compliance and adherence to the Quarantine and public health protocols.

All other relevant public health measures issued by the Ministry of Health on 22 January, 2021, and 29 December, 2020 remains enforceable.

Bougainville News : ‘Deal with the disaster’: The girl from #Bougainville who grew up to take on a mining giant RTZ

“Panguna mine is often cast as the economic key to Bougainville’s potential independence, but young MP Theonila Matbob says her people, and their land, must come first ” 

by Leanne Jorari and Ben Doherty writing in the Guardian

For all of Theonila Roka Matbob’s three decades, the scar on her land that was once the world’s largest copper mine has cast a pall.

The Panguna mine in Bougainville, eastern Papua New Guinea, has not yielded a single ounce in her lifetime – forced shut the year before Matbob was born – but she grew up in the shadow of the violent civil war it provoked.

When she was just three years old, her father, John Roka, was murdered by the secessionist soldiers who had forced the mine to close. Spending years in a “care centre” run by the PNG defence force, she remembers a childhood dominated by an all-pervasive fear, where the sound of gunshots regularly rang out across the valley, where neighbours disappeared from their homes, their bodies later found slaughtered.

There is peace now, but memories remain, and “we live with the impacts of Panguna every day,” Matbob says.

“Our rivers are poisoned with copper, our homes get filled with dust from the tailings mounds, our kids get sick from the pollution.

“Every time it rains more waste washes into the rivers, causing flooding for villages further downstream. Some communities now have to spend two hours a day walking just to get clean drinking water because their nearby creeks are clogged up with mine waste.”

Panguna is quiet these days. The mining trucks lie rusting in Bougainville’s clammy heat; the massive pit carved into the middle of a mountain is inhabited by a handful alluvial miners, digging with hand tools for what gold remains; and the Kawerong-Jaba river delta downstream is flooded with bright blue toxic waters which poison the land and the people who live there.

And Matbob, the little girl who grew up in the shadow of the mine’s violence, is now a parliamentarian, determined to seek redress for her people.

Newly elected to the Bougainville parliament for the electorate of Ioro, which encompasses Panguna, Matbob has led a formal complaint filed with the Australian government against Rio Tinto for environmental and human rights violations caused by the mine.

The complaint, supported by more than 150 members of her electorate and by the Human Rights Law Centre, alleges that the massive volume of waste pollution left behind by the mine is putting communities’ lives and livelihoods at risk, poisoning their water, damaging their health, flooding their lands and sacred sites, and leaving them “in a deteriorating, increasingly dangerous situation”.

A toxic legacy

Panguna was an immensely profitable mine. Over 17 years it made more than $US2bn for the mine’s former owner and operator Rio Tinto, who pulled 550,000 tonnes of copper concentrate and 450,000 ounces of gold from the mine in its last year alone.

At one point, Panguna accounted for 45% of all of PNG’s exports, and 12% of its GDP.

But for those whose land it was, Panguna brought but a sliver of the wealth and development that was promised – less than 1% of profits – leaving behind a legacy only of division, violence, and environmental degradation.

In 1989, amid rising fury at the environmental damage and the inequitable division of the mine’s profits, customary landowners forced the mine closed, blowing up Panguna’s power lines and sabotaging operations.

The PNG government sent in troops against its own citizens to restart the foreign-owned mine – at the behest of Rio, it says – sparking a civil war that would rage for a decade. Along with a protracted military blockade, it led to the deaths of as many as 20,000 people.

Rio Tinto cut and run, and has never returned to the island, claiming it is unsafe, despite pleas from landowners to repair the vast and ongoing environmental damage.

“These are not problems we can fix with our bare hands,” Matbob says. “We urgently need Rio Tinto to do what’s right and deal with the disaster they have left behind.”

‘We expect a fair share’

A product of Bougainville’s matrilineal society, which bestows women with custodianship of land and community authority, Matbob speaks quietly but forcefully.

A teacher by profession, and mother of two, she studied at universities in Madang and Goroka before working as a social worker and running for parliament. She beat a field of 15 candidates, including several former revolutionary soldiers, and even her own brother.

But the parliament to which Matbob has been elected has another primary and overwhelming concern, though one intimately related: negotiating independence from Papua New Guinea.

Last year, the province voted 98% in favour of seceding from Port Moresby, and the new president, former Bougainville Revolutionary Army commander Ishmael Toroama, has promised to deliver liberation.

Despite resistance from PNG’s government to losing its resource-rich eastern province, there is genuine expectation amongst Bougainvilleans that their decision to secede will be honoured.

Upe men line up to vote in the 2019 independence referendum in Teau, Bougainville. Photograph: Jeremy Miller/AP

But the argument allied to political independence in Bougainville is that it can only be achieved alongside economic autonomy.

To that end, the argument runs, re-opening Panguna is the surest, perhaps the only, way a small province of just 300,000 people can survive as an independent nation. On Bougainville, the issue of independence has become inextricably linked to that of resources, for which Panguna has become a grim synecdoche.

“Large-scale mining provides a route to fiscal self-reliance, but this strategy has risks,” a report by Dr Satish Chand for the National Research Institute of PNG found, arguing of Panguna, “the viability of this project, the… profitability of the mine, and the revenues generated for… government are all speculative”.

Deeply embedded in Bougainville’s political psyche is a belief in the transformative power of political and economic independence – most likely achieved through mining – to bring prosperity, development and stability after decades of turmoil and privation.

But those expectations may prove difficult to marry with reality: an independent Bougainville would likely face a revenue shortfall of tens of millions of dollars a year.

“The Autonomous Bougainville Government had, by 2016, reached just 6% of the distance to fiscal self-reliance,” Chand found.

Unquestionably there is money to be made on Bougainville: the potential profits to be pulled from Panguna alone have been valued at close to $60bn. But profits for whom?

New president Toroama, once a leader of the militancy that forced the mine to close, says any decision on its future lies with local landowners.

“Panguna mine will be a key target but we will not put all our eggs in one basket,” Toroama told Bougainville’s parliament last month in his maiden speech.

“We welcome foreign investment, because without outside funding and technologies, we may not be able to exploit our natural resources. But we expect a fair share of return and participation.”

As their elected representative, Matbob is more definitive. Her people must come first.

“Though there is a future for Panguna,” she tells the Guardian from her electorate, “… it will have to be shelved until the needs of my people are well addressed.”

Crowded with outsiders

Bougainville’s acute political uncertainty – poised, potentially, on the threshold of nationhood, with all of its attendant vulnerabilities – has brought ferocious renewed attention on Panguna.

An alphabet soup of foreign mining companies – at least four registered in Perth alone – have sought to carve up the province for future exploitation.

The jostling for position and favour with both the Bougainville and PNG governments has been sharp-elbowed, with accusatory press statements and missives to the stock exchange, even spilling into Australian courts.

Companies have variously accused others of corruption and bribing government officials, of being responsible for environmental vandalism or complicit in military atrocities.

And a Chinese delegation reported to have travelled to the province in 2018 was rumoured to have pledged $1bn to fund its transition to independence, accompanied by offers to invest in mining, tourism, and agriculture.

An allied, independent, and resource-rich Bougainville – in the middle of Melanesia and so soon after neighbouring Solomon Islands flipped to recognise Beijing over Taipei – would be of significant strategic value to China.

Even Rio, after years of claiming it could never return to Panguna, has recently indicated it is not entirely out of the picture, saying it was “ready to enter into discussions with communities”.

“We are aware of the deteriorating mining infrastructure at the site and surrounding areas, and acknowledge that there are environmental and human rights considerations.”

For a small island, Bougainville is, suddenly, very crowded.

Matbob understands the enthusiasm of outsiders to return to Bougainville. But for too long, she says, her people’s priorities were subsumed to those of foreign interests, and to profit.

“The Bougainville revolution… was founded on the protection of people, land, environment and culture,” she tells the Guardian.

“Though there is a future for Panguna… there are a lot of legacy issues attached to it. As the new member representing the Ioro people, I say it will have to be shelved until the needs of my people are well addressed.”

Bougainville Peace News : UN Secretary-General’s Peacebuilding Fund (PBF) Four key priorities include strengthening the relationship and trust between the #PNG Government and ABG towards effective implementation of the #Bougainville Peace Agreement  

The four key priorities are

(i) strengthening the relationship and trust between the PNG Government and ABG towards effective implementation of the BPA;

(ii) empowering the people of Bougainville to make informed choices in the referendum and increased confidence in the BPA process through access to objective information and fora for dialogue;

 (iii) strengthening community social cohesion and security in Bougainville through opportunities to deal with conflict-related trauma and resolution of local disputes; and

(iv) strengthening the ABG’s understanding and commitment to women’s empowerment and addressing some of the major issues faced by women in Bougainville communities, especially gender-based violence.

Originally Published HERE 

From 26 to 31 August, a mission of the partners of the UN Secretary-General’s Peacebuilding Fund (PBF) including Australia, Belgium, Germany, Japan, New Zealand and Norway visited Papua New Guinea (PNG).

Pictured above in Buka with the Speaker of the ABG House Simon Pentanu

The mission allowed partners to engage with the Government, civil society organizations, beneficiaries and the UN System and appreciate the impact of the PBF’s support. Participants discussed the PBF engagement approach, project results and also challenges and remaining needs in peace consolidation.

The mission included visits to Port Moresby, the capital of PNG, and to Buka, the capital of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, which has been the focus for the PBF’s support.

Context

Bougainville is an autonomous region within PNG. After nearly a decade of a bloody conflict between 1989 and 1997 resulting in about 20,000 casualties, the PNG Government and representatives of Bougainville actors involved in the conflict signed the Bougainville Peace Agreement (BPA) in 2001.

This agreement provided the legal basis for the establishment of the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) in 2005 and a gradual transfer of powers from the national Government. It also included provisions for weapons disposal, governance arrangements, and a referendum on the political status of Bougainville, the outcome of which is subject to the ratification of the PNG National Parliament.

Since 2001, the Agreement has enabled political dialogue between the PNG Government and the ABG and paved the way for the referendum planned for June 2019.

In this period, Bougainville has remained largely peaceful thanks to ongoing peacebuilding efforts. That said, many challenges remain, including key joint decisions yet to be made, additional progress with weapons disposal, reconciliation, integration of ex-combatants and outliers to the peace process, community confidence in the process and social cohesion. The planned referendum will be a critical milestone in this process.

The Peacebuilding Fund in Papua New Guinea

To strengthen the implementation of the BPA and assist the two Governments in making the necessary joint decisions, the PBF support to PNG commenced in 2015 following the declaration of PNG’s eligibility for the Fund by the UN Secretary-General in view of the approaching referendum. PBF support has included two phases totaling $15 million in allocations.

The first phase of $9 million was implemented between mid 2015 to early 2018, while the second totaling $6 million commenced in 2018.

Priorities for PBF support have been : (i) strengthening the relationship and trust between the PNG Government and ABG towards effective implementation of the BPA; (ii) empowering the people of Bougainville to make informed choices in the referendum and increased confidence in the BPA process through access to objective information and fora for dialogue; (iii) strengthening community social cohesion and security in Bougainville through opportunities to deal with conflict-related trauma and resolution of local disputes; and (iv) strengthening the ABG’s understanding and commitment to women’s empowerment and addressing some of the major issues faced by women in Bougainville communities, especially gender-based violence.

In addition to continuing with the first two priority areas, the new PBF phase of support includes (v) a joint and community focused process for weapons disposal and factional unification in Bougainville, accompanied by support for targeted community interventions on security and social cohesion in zones of political factions which had not signed up to the Peace Agreement, and (vi) stronger involvement of women and youth in the Peace Agreement and referendum processes. Projects are implemented by UNDPUN WomenUNFPAUNICEFand OHCHR together with partners.

Highlights

The Mission started with a meeting with the UN Resident Coordinator (RC), Gianluca Rampolla. He highlighted some of the important steps taken recently on the path towards the referendum, including agreements on the Bougainville Referendum Commission, but raised concerns on the short remaining timeline and the ambitious steps still pending, including the voter roll and the precise formulation of the question on the ballot.

An economic downturn made it more difficult for the national Government to allocate funds for various aspects relating to the peace agreement and the referendum, including the Bougainville Referendum Commission, the weapons disposal and the restoration and development grant.

But two sides have a common interest in making progress and maintaining the process’ integrity, not least because Bougainville’s political status will not be determined by the referendum alone. Rather, the referendum will lead to consultations between the two Governments on the next steps, including the national Parliament’s role in considering the referendum outcome. Any transition will take time and may require the amendment of the PNG Constitution. The RC highlighted that PBF support in 2015 had come at a crucial moment when the two Governments’ relationship was under some strain. “The Government has increasingly requested the UN to be part of a very sensitive political space in the lead up to the referendum in Bougainville and none of this would have been possible without the PBF.” The PBF enabled the UN to work better together and sharpened the preventive focus of the UN Country Team, providing a common platform.

The Mission team also listened to a briefing by the Autonomy Review experts, who were in country to conduct a fact-finding mission.

This is the second such review since the ABG was formed in 2005. It is mandated by the BPA and its objective is to provide a neutral assessment of the state of progress of autonomy arrangements by the ABG and the national Government. The current review is funded by the PBF.

The Mission participants then continued on to Buka (Bougainville) where they met with key ABG leaders and officials over two days, including the Vice President, the Deputy Chief Secretary, the Minister and the Secretary for Peace Agreement Implementation, the Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Minister for Community Development, women Parliamentarians, Bougainville Women’s Federation, members of the Community Government, human rights defenders, and a selection of ex-combatants, including an ex-combatant Parliamentarian.

On their return to Port Moresby, the mission met with the Bougainville President, Chief Dr John Momis, who was returning to Bougainville. The main impressions conveyed by these interlocutors were:

  • PBF has been a very important partner in the political space and is seen to be making a positive contribution to the peace process and progress towards the referendum. In particular, the PBF is seen to be a major source of support for dialogue between the two Governments and for taking forward some of the Joint Supervisory Body (JSB) resolutions. According to James Tanis, the Secretary for Peace Agreement Implementation, “PBF has allowed for a continuity of dialogue even at times of mistrust and despite obstacles.”
  • PBF is also seen to be helping the ABG and the political factions to negotiate amongst themselves and come to common positions. Moreover, PBF support has enabled creative positive connections between PNG and ABG, including through a recent helpful visit by the leadership of the PNG Council of Churches.
  • PBF is seen as having made a crucial contribution to referendum discussions and preparations, especially by training the Bougainville MPs on the Peace Agreement and enabling them all to travel to and engage with their constituencies on the “Referendum Ready” process, which included sharing information and engaging in discussions on the BPA and the referendum, encouraging weapons disposal and helping to address remaining security concerns within the communities, following an agreed checklist. Hon. Francesca Samoso, the Deputy Speaker, stated: “With PBF support, we were able to travel to our constituencies, including the areas where ex-combatants hadn’t signed up to the BPA and raise awareness about the peace process and the referendum.”
  • Hon. Marcelline Kokiai also stated: “Through supporting the Referendum Ready process, the PBF has made souls meet. People who had not spoken to each other since the conflict are now coming together.” That said, interlocutors noted the need for additional support for reaching the constituencies, including through the community Government, to ensure that all the 33 constituencies have the support to go through the ABG-designated requirements to be declared as referendum ready and weapons free.
  • PBF support has contributed to some initial exchanges between the two Parliaments including the support to visits of the National Parliament bi-partisan committee on Bougainville Affairs and a draft MOU between the two Parliaments. This was seen as an important step forward, but interlocutors felt that more needed to be done given the level of understanding for and commitments to the BPA were still rather low.
  • PBF helped increase women’s participation in the political and peacebuilding debate. The female MPs testified how the UN’s accompaniment including training and travel helped reduce marginalization and increase their participation. They were also supported in rolling out three regional women’s unification ceremonies and establishing a parliamentary committee on gender equality and human rights.
  • Interlocutors in Bougainville generally felt that there is some room for the national Government to make more effort in implementing the Peace Agreement and enabling progress towards the referendum. Various promised funds have not yet been made available, impeding progress towards the referendum. A second JSB meeting, expected in mid 2018, to address the referendum question had not yet been agreed. Bougainville was ready to go forward, yet the timeline was shrinking and patience was waning. That said, there was a clear sentiment from all leaders that maintaining peace and stability would be paramount. There was also an understanding of why it is difficult for the national Government to contemplate potential independence of one of its parts. Moreover, the Bougainville leadership was clear that the referendum would not in itself lead to independence, but to a transition process mandating the Bougainville representatives to negotiate with the national Government. President Momis stated on the referendum: “It doesn’t matter which way the cookie crumbles, as long as the process is fair and inclusive and addresses the underlying grievances, as per the Peace Agreement.”
  • More needs to be done to address the grievances and demands by the ex-combatants, some of whom continue to be outside the Peace process, and to find ways to involve youth – both of which are included as particular areas of focus in the new PBF projects.
  • Interlocutors in Bougainville emphasized the importance of continued international presence and of UN support for the oversight of the implementation of the Peace Agreement to help ensure continued peace and stability. Some made requests for some kind of a UN or regional security observer mission. ABG expressed hope that the international community could help to ensure implementation of the Peace Agreement.

“It doesn’t matter which way the cookie crumbles, as long as the process is fair and inclusive and addresses the underlying grievances, as per the Peace Agreement.” – President John Momis

The Mission team was warmly welcomed to a formal ceremony in the Constituency of Hagogohe, one of the two constituencies which had gone through the full Referendum Ready process and declared itself ready. The ceremony included local leaders, women and youth representatives, who celebrated the moment and emphasized the importance of expressing their voice peacefully. The Mission team then attended the opening of one of three youth resource centers funded through the PBF. The center will provide young people with access to vocational training and a space to get information and discuss political, socio-economic and peacebuilding issues. The center is located on land next to the Parliament, which will be helpful in strengthening links between youth and Members of Parliament.

Back in Port Moresby, the Mission team met with four Members of the National Parliament representing Bougainville, Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs, Deputy Secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and National Executive Council (PMNEC), and Director of National Coordination Office for Bougainville Affairs. The four Members of Parliament stated that they needed additional support for their interactions with the rest of the PNG Parliament and that they hoped to play a greater role in the coordination of funding going to Bougainville. They also emphasized the critical role of the national Parliament’s bi-partisan committee on Bougainville.

The Deputy Secretary of the Department of PMNEC explained the variety of issues that PNG was facing and prioritizing, including improving health and education services, empowering local level government, dealing with national disasters etc.

He stated that the UN’s work funded by the PBF was important for the Bougainville peace process and mentioned some of the reasons the PNG funding to Bougainville had been delayed, including problems with ABG acquittals and reports.

He also stated that negotiation on the way forward would be key. The Secretary for Foreign Affairs emphasized it was very important for the people of Bougainville to have a chance to express their views and aspirations through the referendum as part of the democratic process. The implementation of the Peace Agreement is also paramount, especially regarding the disposal of weapons. Her Department has been raising awareness of the Peace Agreement and the referendum with the international community. The Secretary confirmed that the UN was considered an objective partner in this process and that the National Government appreciated the UN’s support for the implementation of the Peace Agreement.

The Mission team also met with an Australian NGO, Peace and Conflict Studies Institute Australia (PaCSIA), supporting community discussions throughout Bougainville, which is also establishing a partnership with the UN through PBF funding. The dialogues have shown the people in Bougainville have a genuine willingness to discuss the future political status, to understand better the options for Bougainville, and for a closer engagement with their leaders.

Finally, the Mission team engaged with the UN Country Team on two additional issues:

  • The UN Senior Electoral Officer presented the Bougainville Referendum Support Project, which still confronts a financing gap of nearly $4 million, following a contribution from New Zealand (other partners have been approached but no further contributions have materialized so far). He emphasized the country was 18 months behind the original notional calendar of preparations for the referendum proposed by the UN. Too much focus had been placed on the target date, and not enough on the process to get there, especially the voter roll which presents an important challenge. The funding from the PNG Government had not yet reached the Bougainville Referendum Commission. The question(s) have still not been formulated. It was still possible to catch up but with considerable challenges.
  • The UN Country Team made a presentation on the work in the Highlands region, following the recent earthquakes and humanitarian crises, which required UN assistance to a region that had been largely inaccessible. The UN has conducted a conflict analysis, which shows deep and complex conflict causes and factors in a region fraught by tribal tensions, disagreements over mining and land, high levels of inter-personal violence, increased access to guns, and little presence of and trust in the state. The UN team emphasized the importance of not leaving the Highlands behind but finding innovative ways of supporting local peace champions and local means of conflict prevention and resolution while increasing state presence. The UN is currently applying for a PBF grant through the Gender and Youth Promotion Initiative. Importantly, the Secretary for Foreign Affairs similarly emphasized the importance of assisting the Highlands in her meeting with the Mission team.

Participants appreciated the clear value-added of the UN’s engagement with PBF’s support in regards to the implementation of the BPA. Participants witnessed the One UN approach in action and the commitment and professionalism of UN staff. Participants noted the broad levels of enthusiasm from the partners they met in Bougainville. The road towards the referendum remains complex, but the UN’s engagement with PBF support was focused on the right issues. One challenge which was raised in the closing session was progress with weapons disposal, which is currently only supported by the UN and needs more commitment from the two Governments and engagement by ex-combatants. Overall, participants concluded to the continued need for PBF support and felt, in the words of Amb. Hanns Schumacher, representative from Germany and member of the Secretary-General’s Advisory Group on the PBF that “the projects in PNG provided a sterling examples of how PBF is working to implement its mandated vision and how relatively minor amounts of money can stabilize a complex situation and make a clear impact”.

About the PBF

The UN Secretary-General’s Peacebuilding Fund is the organization’s financial instrument of first resort to sustain peace in countries or situations at risk or affected by violent conflict. The PBF may invest with UN entities, governments, regional organizations, multilateral banks, national multi-donor trust funds or civil society organizations. From 2006 to 2017, the PBF has allocated $772 million to 41 recipient countries. Since inception, 58 member states contributed to the Fund, 33 in the present 2017-2019 Business Plan. The PBF works across pillars and supports integrated UN responses to fill critical gaps; respond quickly and with flexibility to political opportunities; and catalyze processes and resources in a risk-tolerant fashion.

 

Bougainville News coverage : AROB ABG Day celebrates our 13 years as Autonomous Bougainville Government and the question is asked What are Bougainville’s greatest resources?

This is a day that should be celebrated by all Bougainvilleans.

 The past 13 years has brought many challenges for Bougainville as we continue our journey towards political self-determination we have faced obstacles, these includes lack of funds, limited capacity and constraints on our ability to deliver effective services to our people.

 I am proud with what Bougainville has achieved so far.

 Bougainville has demonstrated through the establishments and operation of democratic institutions that we can indeed manage our own affairs

The ABG President Chief DR. JOHN MOMIS when addressing today’s ABG Day celebration at the ABG House, KUBU said that today marks the anniversary of the day when Bougainville’s political aspirations were first recognized with the formal establishment of the Autonomous Bougainville Government.

Intro Photo Bruno Louey see FB Page Bruno Louey

 

 ” What are Bougainville’s greatest resources?

Not everyone will agree but I believe they are our environment, our cultures and our people.

When we think about how to transform Bougainville into a developing, progressive region in the modern world, it’s important we do so by harnessing and protecting these resources.

Our environment, cultures and people are the things that have sustained us for countless generations past – and they can continue to do so today and into the future if we are smart.

Keeping our natural environment healthy while transforming Bougainville into a modern, progressive region is something the ABG can achieve only in close consultation with communities – the land owners and culture custodians

Simon Pentanu Speaker AROB House of Representatives see part 2

There is concern in Bougainville that the Papua New Guinea government has put off a key meeting for two weeks.

The Joint Supervisory Board, the JSB, was to meet yesterday {THUR}  in Arawa, to resolve a number of key issues concerning next year’s planned vote in Bougainville on possible independence from PNG.

But at the behest of Port Moresby the JSB meeting was put back two weeks.

Don Wiseman spoke to the deputy leader of the PNG opposition and MP for southern Bougainville, Timothy Masiu, about the delay

Listen to interview

Part 1 ABG President Chief DR. JOHN MOMIS addresses ABG Day celebration

The ABG President Chief DR. JOHN MOMIS when addressing today’s ABG Day celebration at the ABG House, KUBU said that today marks the anniversary of the day when Bougainville’s political aspirations were first recognized with the formal establishment of the Autonomous Bougainville Government.

The President said that Bougainville has implemented important reforms established enabling laws and developed public service institutions and structures for the future.

And through the finalization of our strategic development plan we have a road map for the future that includes the referendum and beyond.

President MOMIS stressed that Bougainville cannot become complacent as we mark the anniversary of the Autonomous Government we must also continue to recognize the continued issues that we face.

He said we must remain vigilant in our fight against corruption and in our desire to ensure that our affairs are conducted according to the highest standards of good governance.

At the same time we must continue to grow our economy, empower our people and lay the continued foundation for lasting peace and prosperity throughout Bougainville.

Part 2 THIRTEEN YEARS ON THE SAME MESSAGE CAN BE REPEATED ON BOUGAINVILLE DAY 2018.

 ” THE morning began with a dawn service. The heavens opened with clear blue skies above and cool breeze from the sea unfurling the PNG, Bougainville and NSW flags to show their cacophony of colours flapping high on flagstaff.

The Bougainville Parliament devoted today’s 13th AROB Day celebrations to the Youth of Bougainville with students from St Mary’s Asitavi Secondary, St Joseph’s College Mabiri, Bishop Wade Secondary and Hutjena Secondary, invited to attend.

Our other main guests was a parliamentary delegation from the NSW State Parliament.

Our theme 2018: Children and Youth represent continuity and future of Bougainville.”

Simon Pentanu Speaker

As another Bougainville Day arrived and passed us by we continue to contemplate, celebrate and share the belief, hope and faith that with the right efforts and proper use of resources Bougainville will continue be a resilient society among its Melanesian brothers in the country and in the Pacific Islands.

What are Bougainville’s greatest resources?

Not everyone will agree but I believe they are our environment, our cultures and our people.

When we think about how to transform Bougainville into a developing, progressive region in the modern world, it’s important we do so by harnessing and protecting these resources.

Our environment, cultures and people are the things that have sustained us for countless generations past – and they can continue to do so today and into the future if we are smart.

Keeping our natural environment healthy while transforming Bougainville into a modern, progressive region is something the ABG can achieve only in close consultation with communities – the land owners and culture custodians.

Wherever we look around the world, there are lessons we can learn. Some communities and their environments have become victims of progress, not partners in development.

Think about the Melanesian people of West Papua. In the past 40 years vast quantities of their gold, copper, timber, palm oil and other resources have been mined, chopped down, extracted and exported, but few impartial observers would say this has been to the benefit of West Papua’s environment, cultures and people.

Of course, the vast majority of the resource extraction that has happened in West Papua has been undertaken with little or zero community consultation.

We have the opportunity to do things differently. To this end Bougainville’s mining legislation and policies address this. Let us hope it works in practice so that all parties involved in this industry and any such investment which harnesses resources are equal opportunity benefactors.

When we consider the various options open to us, I believe a CGP (community government partnership) is a more sustainable choice than a PPP (public private partnership). PPP have not really worked to any great success anywhere because there is still a dependence and expectation syndrome on the public purse of governments.

Free enterprise in our community oriented existence must involve initiatives and better participation by women at sustainable levels where they haven proven themselves in local enterprises.

CGP has the community as its starting point. CGP is a partnership that regards and protects the environment as enduring capital for sustainable humanitarian development.

A PPP is fine if it regards resource owners in communities as equal partners. But too often PPPs see resources merely as disposable commodities and consumables in a profit-oriented business model.

That way of thinking ends up depleting our strongest long-term assets for short-term gains that are here one year and gone the next.

Bougainville’s greatest resources – our environment, our cultures and our people – deserve so much better than that.

We can learn from the lessons from the past – some of which have been the most profound insofar as they have affected Bougainville more than any other society in Melanesia, and the whole of the Pacific for that matter.

Bougainville Women’s News : @Dfat Empowering Bougainville women through business

  “ The Bougainville women are so keen to learn, and it was great to turn up to so many smiling faces at the workshops each morning. For example, one lady – Debrah – runs a canteen. She’s got a great little business and is saving for a house and she’s just soaking up everything we have to say about running a business,”

 Australian volunteers Rae Smart and Jan Norton

For Avia Koisen PNG women’s chamber of commerce president “with the right skills women can build their own businesses and so empower themselves economically and socially.”

Avia Koisen, President of the Papua New Guinea Women’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry is adamant: “The big problem for many women in Papua New Guinea is that they don’t have the economic means to take control of their lives,” she says. “But with the right skills, women can build their own businesses and so empower themselves economically and socially.” The Chamber was the local partner in an intensive small business training and mentoring program for 15 Bougainvillean women, led by Australian volunteers Rae Smart and Jan Norton.

During the program, Rae and Jan, who between them have several decades’ worth of experience in business, ran five workshops in Arawa. Topics included financial management, business planning, marketing, risk analysis, and other areas essential to growing a successful business. They also delivered one-on-one mentoring to participants to help them put their new business skills and strategies into practice.

For Rae, the program was like a home-coming as she spent more than 20 years living on Bougainville until the conflict started in 1989. She says it has been hugely positive to meet so many local people, in particular women, working to rebuild and grow businesses. Rae has also taken the opportunity to meet with old friends and to give a number of families photos of grandparents who passed away decades before.

Jan had been to PNG on another short volunteer assignment, but this is her first time to Bougainville. Upon arrival, she was struck by the beauty and lushness of the island, in particular its rugged green mountains and the amazing fresh produce filling the market. Jan sees many opportunities for economic growth, for example in construction, cocoa, and groceries.

Under its Small and Medium Enterprise policy, the PNG Government has set a target of growing the number of SMEs from around 50,000 to 500,000 by 2030.

Rae and Jan’s assignments were delivered under the Your Enterprise Scheme (YES) program, implemented by Australian Business Volunteers. The YES program is supported by Pacific Islands Trade & Invest Australia (PT&I), Virgin Australia, and the Australian Volunteers for International Development (AVID) program, an Australian Government initiative.

Group of women standing around a table.

Australian volunteer Rae Smart (2nd from left) with participants in the YES program for women in Bougainville. Credit: J. Norton

Group of women standing under a tree.
Australian volunteer Jan Norton (3rd from right) with participants in the YES program for women in Bougainville. Credit: R. Smart

Last Updated: 21 June 2017

#Bougainville Communications and Media report : We need to improve awareness activities on the peace agreement and upcoming referendum.


Government research conducted across Bougainville has laid the foundation for more targeted public awareness.

The Autonomous Bougainville Government has released a report on people’s access to media and communication channels to better target awareness activities on the peace agreement and upcoming referendum.

The report is based on a survey of over 1,000 people across Bougainville. It found that the varying, but generally low access to government information required new approaches with greater attention to presentation of information.

The report recommended tapping into new channels people are using such as mobile phone and video, but a general need to focus on the content of information with clear, simple and consistently repeated messages, designed with the target audience in mind – whether they be youth, women or people of different levels of literacy.

The survey was an initiative of the Bureau of Media and Communications and was
conducted by the Centre for Social and Creative Media , University of Goroka.

Chief Secretary Joseph Nobetau thanked Bougainvilleans for their participation in the survey and assured them that the government was listening to their voice.

“This survey has gone down to the grassroots level to find out why awareness of the BPA and government remains low”, Nobetau said.

“It has found the penetration of traditional media: radio, newspapers and television, and newer internet channels is very low, especially outside Buka and Arawa. This creates a major challenge for a government to communicate with its people.”

The research showed there was still confusion about key aspects of the Bougainville Peace Agreement.

People said they wanted the government to come down to their level, invest in radio, but also suggested new ideas, like using mobile phone for information dissemination.

Mr Nobetau said while the survey showed there is a lot of work to do to prepare people for the referendum, it also gave many good ideas about how to do things better.

“The lack of a good understanding of the Peace Agreement is evidence that we cannot rely on using the same old awareness approaches of the past. We must look at presenting information more clearly, more consistently, more often, and use a variety of different ways to get a two-way flow of information happening. This will create greater impact and greater understanding.”

The head of the Bureau of Media and Communications Adriana Schmidt, said they were already responding to the findings.

“We are currently working with the Department of Peace Agreement Implementation to prepare multi-media information kits for our Members of Parliament, producing video and investigating mobile-phone based awareness,” Ms Schmidt said.

“With this report, the government has listened to the views of people and we are now better placed to plan and implement improved awareness.”

The Chief Secretary called upon all government agencies and communication partners to use the report to improve engagement with community.

“The task ahead is to better target our awareness campaigns and we will continue to survey and measure our activities in this regard.”

The Bougainville Audience Study asked people about their access to radio, mobile phone, TV, newspaper and the internet, their most trusted sources of information, and preferred ways of receiving government news. The research also asked people about their level of understanding of the three pillars of the Bougainville Peace Agreement: weapons disposal, autonomy and referendum, and other issues.

The survey was an initiative of the Bureau of Media and Communications,
conducted by Centre for Social and Creative Media , University of Goroka, with funding support from the governments of Papua New Guinea, Bougainville, Australia and New Zealand. Over 1,114 people were surveyed, and 200 in-depth interviews conducted.

Bougainville News : Media fail! Papua New Guinean women deserve better from the media

 ” The 167 women contesting the national elections comprise only 5% of the total 3,340 candidates. Their will and courage to take this step is remarkable, and every single one of these women, regardless of the election outcomes, is a leader and role model for all women in the country.

The Post-Courier cartoon is grossly sexist and only serves to reinforce social, cultural and political challenges women face. It also undermines the good work that the media generally have done in terms of coverage of the elections and women’s issues.

The challenges facing PNG’s women candidates are daunting, and they deserve more equitable and accountable treatment by the mainstream media.”

Michelle Rooney is a Research Fellow at the Development Policy Centre.

Originally published HERE

Recently, the Post-Courier, one of Papua New Guinea’s oldest and largest daily newspapers, ran a cartoon featuring a Papua New Guinean female candidate in the 2017 national general elections. She is dressed in a short skirt while discussing her election aspirations for a healthy democracy.

Behind her a Papua New Guinean man is sweating; somewhat delirious, with red love hearts floating above his head, he is more interested in watching her paint – and watching her backside. The underlying message is clear: try as they might to contribute to a healthy democracy, women contesting the PNG 2017 national elections are merely the objects of men’s desire.

Unfortunately, other than public outcry that may stem from PNG’s active social media, the Post-Courier is unlikely to be held to account for such a tasteless and harmful cartoon. By contrast, in other countries media outlets are met with great debate for similar images (for example see here and here).

While PNG’s media faces struggles to maintain media freedoms, it also enjoys considerable freedom from public scrutiny. This is largely because of a relatively low adult literacy rate of 64.2% and a social and political climate that tends to curb public debate. Even though a vibrant social media is changing this, the mainstream media still wields a powerful influence on the PNG audience. In this context, this cartoon speaks volumes.

This situation needs to be addressed and the PNG mainstream media should lead efforts to strengthen equitable and fair coverage of women in PNG face with respect to their political participation.

In this regard, an excellent body of emerging research identifies the constraints that women in the Pacific face in political representation as well as potential areas for support.

The evidence shows that women in the Pacific face immense challenges in political representation (see also here). Two case studies in PNG (here and here) confirm the importance of money politics and entrenched cultural perceptions about the place of women in society.

The good news is that within these detailed and comprehensive studies lies solid evidence that the media can help to improve the performance of women candidates and their performance in public life. This report notes that the media has an important role to play in shaping public discourse, while this interview notes that those who work in the media can do more to learn about gender and other issues to give fair voice to all sectors of society.

The findings of this report, suggest that collective action and strong robust coalitions are more likely to succeed at achieving transformational change and changing gender norms. As this submission to a parliamentary inquiry discusses, access to advertising space on TV, newspapers and radio can potentially play an important role in supporting women’s political representation.

This report notes that access to powerful networks can be important for mobilising support. Another report identifies how women politicians are subjected to greater scrutiny of their private lives. Other studies point to the importance of a sustained support for women candidates that is linked to the electoral cycle, and the need for wider national awareness campaigns that focus on women’s rights to contest elections and hold public office. On all these issues, the media has a clear role to play in catalysing action and responses, and in sustaining a national conversation about important issues such as gender equality.

The other good news is that some relatively easy steps can be taken to draw on this rich literature to strengthen the role of the media in supporting a national effort to improve women’s political participation.
PNG’s development partners, including the Australian aid program, are also well placed to supplement these efforts given that many of them are supporting both women’s political participation and the media. These steps include, but are not limited to, the following:
Positioning media as an actor in a coalition: As the peak body and voice of the media industry, the Media Council of PNG is a good starting point. Its website states that it was formed in 1994 to address moves by the then government to control media, to raise awareness about the importance of free press, provide training and support a complaints tribunal. This mandate gives the Media Council a broad platform to foster practices that move beyond reporting the news towards engaging as a coalition partner in the cause for greater women’s political representation.
Informing media of current research: The sexist Post-Courier cartoon indicates that more needs to be done to translate and share the referenced research findings with the media. Synthesising some of this research for a media audience and providing training on it may be one way to inform the media of the important and powerful role they can and should play.
Establishing a media watchdog: In May 2017 the PNG Media Council launched a code of conduct with partners including an array of international development partners such as the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the United Nations, the European Union Delegation, the Australian Press Council, the Pacific Islands News Association, and others.

The code includes a comprehensive list and applies to all media. Several of the guidelines within the code are of direct relevance to the cartoon referenced in this post. To strengthen the code of conduct, the PNG Media Council may also consider establishing something similar to the Australian program Media Watch. Such a mechanism could provide media analysis and engage with the public to generate dialogue about the PNG media’s role and the need for it to be accountable.

Tracking media coverage of women in politics: The cartoon shows that the media has a long way to go in terms of addressing gender equitable reporting. Establishing guidelines for gender equitable reporting may help. A media tracking research project designed to conduct text, image, advertising and other analyses might also be useful.

This should ideally commence now and be sustained until the next elections. Its aims should be (i) to measure changes in gender equitable coverage; (ii) to support maintain a sustained national campaign; and (iii) as the research suggests, track the links between the media, women’s strategies at accessing media platforms, and how this influences their success at elections.

Obviously these steps will require some resources to be realised. The studies mentioned in this post are comprehensive and detailed, and point to a number of opportunities for media to better support women’s political participation.

The challenges facing PNG’s women candidates are daunting, and they deserve more equitable and accountable treatment by the mainstream media.

Michelle Rooney is a Research Fellow at the Development Policy Centre.

Bougainville Lifestyle News : Wonders of the past. Lure into the future . A world to be shared

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“We should tell our stories in the first person because this is the best way we used to share our stories and exploits as children growing up in the village. I still see and hear kids in the village doing the same today”.

Simon Pentanu

Picture 1 Above : The faithful canoe still very much in use to take you anywhere : Modernization has brought speed and progress but will not take the fun and joy away from using canoes.

As I remember, growing up more than three score years ago, Pokpok Island was covered with a lot of primary green forest, thick jungle, dense canopy and impassable undergrowth. Along the coastal beaches the forest laden with its vines and creepers came bearing down to meet the sea.

This was before Lucas walkabout sawmills, Stihl and Husqvarna brand chainsaws, purseiner nets, and material affluence and its effluence from mining arrived and happened on Bougainville.

Growing up on the Island what we mostly liked and enjoyed was what we did, not what we had or acquired. Our idea of abundance and being happy growing up was not toys, computer games, gifts of sorts for every occasion or a treat in shops where mum and dad could get you whatever you asked for.

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Picture 2  :Children still create their own fun climbing up or sitting on tree branches above ground

Rather, and looking back, it was more about what we did with a lot of time we had like making kids bows and arrows, going up trees and hanging from their branches, getting into canoes and paddling out, staying out in pouring rain and playing in puddles or small floods, swimming a lot, or running into the bushes looking for wild fruits and nuts and admiring the pingtu (praying mantis).

Growing up in the village you couldn’t miss noticing the Island always teemed with a lot of life and innocence that was simple. Everyone then seemed more caring. The whole Island also looked bigger and taller with taller and bigger old growth trees still standing from the beaches up to the hills and mountain.

Possums, other tree climbing marsupials, and snakes roamed the island from end to end along tree tops and along the forest canopy without touching the ground. This might sound like something like a story with drawings from a children’s story book.

No, this really is true about what was then before human habitation, starting with first initial years of settlement of the Island by Chief Sarai and his son Miramira.

In the bushes, brushes and shrubs the hissing flow of pristine creeks was unmistakable for anyone walking or doing gardens or hunting and gathering that wanted to quench their thirst.

Near the ground on the small branches and vines the pingtu always camouflaged itself well but its stationary, slow motion stick dances and sways gave them away.

I used to wonder what they ate and lived on. As for the kids we could wander and walkabout most of the day feeding off the bush on wild fruits, ground tucker and tree nuts like the galip.

Birds sang as they liked, the crickets cranked, the cockatoos blah blah’d at the slightest sight of any human movement below. Other birds shrieked and whistled their unique sounds.

You could never miss the flying hornbill couples by the continuous harmonica like noise produced by the flapping of their wings.

We came to know and realise that the deep-thong gooey sounds of some birds meant it was time to make headway home before the sun set and night fell quickly.

A lot has changed since of course. And not all of it for the better. Along with many of the old growth trees have also gone family members, relatives and friends.

But those of us that are still here still remember them by the trees that still stand, the same bush tracks that we used to walk following each other, and by the familiar sound of birds though they aren’t plentiful and boisterous anymore.

Pokpok Island still supports its inhabitants in increasing numbers. The Islanders are more conscious and have increasing awareness and respect for the environment. There is less and less food gardening in the hills.

Fishing is the mainstay of food for protein as well as being the main reliable income earner.

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Picture 3  :Modernization has brought speed and progress but will not take the fun and joy away from using canoes.

To all inhabitants this is their Paradise, a safe and peaceful haven where everyone knows and respects each other.

It is an Island of peace, of peaceful people and is quickly becoming an allure for day visitors and short stayers.

Our traditions in Bougainville are founded more in sharing than in giving and taking. This is the case with most traditional societies in most parts of this planet.

We share the lavish beauty that surrounds us, the food that we grow in family or communal plots, the sunshine we allow everyone to get by sharing open spaces with no boundaries, the beachfront where we swim and play together, and staring into each other’s eyes and faces as a gesture to acknowledge we all have similar differences.

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Picture 4  : Sharing village beach with young Australian visiting Marist students.

If you venture to Pokpok Island today you can still soak some of the past but it is a stay that is more about how much time you have to enjoy what is around today.

Accommodation is available at Uruna Bay Retreat that is already catering for the quiet, adventurer short sayer type that want to be left on their own, that prefer swimming, snorkelling, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, bit of surfing and other water sports. Trekking  is included in the mix.

It’s fun. Come and rejuvenate, enjoy, and leave with a clear head, as a kinder soul, and with a mindful heart. It is in places and surroundings like this that you can find peace, stop talking and listen to and understand the language of your heart.

😇 May you enjoy the rest of the remaining days of your life with joy, peace and happiness as you desire.

For more info about or book

Bougainville’s PokPok Island and Uruna Bay Retreat