Thursday, December 5, 2013

Be wary of environmental damage, Governor Kas says

MADANG Governor Hon. Jim Kas MP

Source: The National, Wednesday December 4th, 2013 
MADANG Governor Jim Kas is concerned about the damage to the environment on the Ramu River.
He has called on the Ramu nickel project developer to be mindful of the damage being done and how it was affecting villagers living along the Ramu River.
Kas said although he admired the Chinese developer MCC for their perseverance and “still being around” despite the falling nickel prices on the international stock market, it needed to consider the Ramu River people with regards to the increased sedimentation.
While he admitted that he had no scientific data to support his argument, he believed the sedimentation was caused upstream.
He suggested that the Government should have the Marengo Mine come under the new Mining Act and not the 1992 Mining Act.
In addition, he said the Kurumbukari (KBK) should be covered under the old Mining Act.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Ok Tedi immunity removed

OK Tedi mine landowners can now pursue legal actions against BHP in relation to environmental damage caused by the mining operation.
It follows Parliament’s amendment of the Immunity Act 2001 yesterday.
The bill, tabled by Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, received overwhelming support from MPs. They repealed the Ninth  Supplemental Agreement on Ok Tedi where all parties undertook to waive any rights or action against BHP Biliton and the State in relation to environmental damage caused by the mining operations at Ok Tedi.
O’Neill said the mine caused a lot of environmental damage which the State and the people did not expect.
He said BHP, “hell-bent on the profits”, ignored it and allowed the disposal of waste into the Fly River, causing extensive environmental damage which affected many lives.
“No one can sit in this house and excuse BHP for the destruction it had caused. But that is what the government, under Sir Mekere Morauta, did in 2001,” the prime minister said.
“They came up with a deal that would grant total immunity to BHP from prosecution for environmental damage or compensation, in exchange for a programme company (PNGSD) set up outside of PNG in Singapore, and still controlled by BHP.
“Of course Sir Mekere now sits at the top of PNGSDP, and Ok Tedi Mining Ltd as chairman, courtesy of his friends at BHP when he retired.”
He said the Bill would remove this waiver for BHP Biliton meaning that landowners or affected parties could bring any action or enforce any right against it.
 “The government in 2001 made a very bad decision in granting immunity to a corporate giant, preventing its own people from exercising their right under law to sue for permanent damages done to their environment and their livelihood.
“This doesn’t happen anywhere else. Companies and corporate entities own up to their responsibilities and pay compensation,” he said.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

PNG Government takes control of Ok Tedi Mine

Eoin Blackwell, AAP Papua New Guinea Correspondent


Papua New Guinea will take over full ownership of the Ok Tedi mine, after the government of Peter O'Neill pushed through laws in parliament.
The laws passed on Wednesday also quash a 12-year-old law giving BHP Billiton immunity from prosecution for environmental damage stemming from the gold and copper mine's construction in the 1990s.
The laws cancel the PNG Sustainable Development Fund's (PNGSDP) shares in the mine, and issue new ones granting the state 100 per cent ownership of the mine in PNG's Western province.
The PNGSDP was set up by BHP Billiton to manage the proceeds of the mine on behalf of the people of Western province when the mining giant withdrew from PNG.
"Mr Speaker, it is the state's view that it is in the best interests of the people of Western province and PNG that the state have 100 per cent of the shareholdings in (Ok Tedi)," Mr O'Neill told parliament on Wednesday.
"The state commenced discussions with BHP Billiton with a view to acquiring PNGSDP's shares in OTML and changing PNGSDP's program rules.
"However, BHP Billiton has withdrawn from all discussions and the negotiation has broken down."
The laws passed on a vote of 62 to none.
Tensions between the government and the PNGSDP had been mounting for months.
On Tuesday, former prime minister and PNGSDP chairman Mekere Morauta launched a pre-emptive salvo at Mr O'Neill, saying his attempts to take over the mine amounted to theft.
"Stealing an asset worth approximately ($A860 million) to the people of Western, plus their annual share ($A193 million) of the Ok Tedi Mine dividends, is not acceptable legally or morally.
"It is unconstitutional as well.
"I also fear this is the first step - I hope he does not want to get his hands on PNGSDP itself and the $US1.4 billion ($A1.50 billion) in the long-term fund," Sir Mekere said.
In his speech to parliament, Mr O'Neill said shareholders will be compensated.
"Mr Speaker, the state is not taking these shares," he said.
"The state will be providing some compensation to PNGSDP. The proposed bill will provide that the prime minister, on the advice of (cabinet), will determine an amount of compensation; and to whom any compensation shall be paid."
In his speech removing BHP Billiton's immunity from prosecution for environmental damage sustained in the `90s, Mr O'Neill raised the recent BP oil disaster on the Gulf of Mexico.
"BP accepted responsibility for the disaster which has destroyed the environment and marine ecosystem and affected human lives in the US," he said.
"Why not BHP? What is so special for them to be granted total immunity for what they have done?"
He also took a swipe at Sir Mekere for passing laws in 2001 granting the mining giant immunity.
"Mr Speaker, no one can sit in this house and excuse BHP for the destruction it had caused," Mr O'Neill said.
"But that is what the government under Sir Mekere Morauta did in 2001.
"They came up with a deal that would grant total immunity to BHP from prosecution for environmental damage or compensation, in exchange for a program company set up outside of PNG, and still controlled by BHP."
BHP has repeatedly denied it controls the PNGSDP. Comment is being sought.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Agreement to allow Papua New Guinea students to study in New Zealand Uni

Source: The National, Friday August 9th, 2013
The Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea Peter O’Neill was guest of honour at the Victoria University in Wellington New Zealand, to witness the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the university and the Commission of Higher Education and to pave the way for Papua New Guinea doctoral students to complete education at Victoria.

It is an initiative of the Victoria University which is willing to pay tuition fees for PNG doctoral students with the PNG Government picking up accommodation and boarding costs.

The university’s vice chancellor Pacifica Luamanuvao Winnie Laban drove this initiative and visited all the six universities in PNG and the relevant ministers to seal the deal. The deal was signed by vice-chancellor Prof Pat Walsh of Victoria University and the director general of PNG Commission for Higher Education Prof David Kavanamur.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Brian Brunton on Papua New Guinea Mining

Is the Papua New Guinean Government regulating the Mining Companies in order to really benefit its people? Dr Brian Brunton, A Former National Court Judge, now based in the Milne Bay Province and co-ordinating the 'Alotau Environment' NGO Group says the Milne Bay people are no strangers to the outcomes of Mining. "We are left with a hole in the ground, and you can imagine where the money goes to," he says.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Enga students to study in Philippines

Enga Governor Grand Chief Peter Ipatas MP

Source: Post Courier, 3rdJune, 2013
One hundred and twenty Engan students will this year go to Philippines to undertake studies in various technical trades.
This is possible, courtesy of the Enga provincial government (EPG) under the auspices of “action” Governor, Grand Chief Peter Ipatas who has placed K4.5 million for this purpose.
The funding came from the Enga Childrens Fund, a facility created from the sale and proceeds from the EPG equity in the Porgera gold mine project.
Enga’s “action” Governor, Grand Chief Peter Ipatas made this announcement when officiating the second culture show of the St. Paul’s Lutheran Secondary school at Pausa, Enga province on Saturday June 1.
“It’s no place for wantoks but for the best to go” and anyone, grade 10 and 12 leavers from the Enga province are eligible, and if interested can apply when applications are opened (advertised) in two weeks-time, Ipatas said.
He boasted of the 16-year-old free education policy of his Government, describing it as “the most successful policy ever by any one provincial government since Independence, that has actually influenced the National Government to adopt”.
Ipatas reiterated his Government’s fullest and continuous commitment to funding free education for all Engan students, until “Enga tops the country with the highest number of professional people in the workforce”.
Mr Ipatas then presented a cheque of K20,000 to the school’s show organising committee, to assist in some of their costs while announcing an additional K430,000 funding for the school by EPG.
He then cut the ribbon to officially open the school’s completed projects such as the new Ludtke library, school clinic, a duplex classroom, three teachers houses, a new school grand stand, and new look school gate.
Thousands gathered to witness this fun-filled day that was coloured up with student participating in their traditional singsing groups.
Also in attendance was Gutnius Lutheran Church Bishop, David Piso.
School principal, Mr Gerry Mark thanked Governor Ipatas for his continuous support to education in the province.
Mr Mark said his school was proud to host its second cultural day which aims to promote the Vision 2050 goals on preservation of culture and secondly, commissioning of the schools various projects.

Wabag MP Robert Ganim's 10 Million Kina Budget Praised

Wabag MP Robert Ganim

Source: The National, Monday 3rd June 2013
WABAG MP Robert Ganim has been commended for a well-documented budget of K10 million for the district services improvement program (DSIP).
Enga provincial administrator Dr Samson Amean told a provincial management team last week that it was first time for the Ganim and the joint district planning and budget priorities committee to have a budget plan with realistic priorities on spending.
Amean said the allocation of funds was in line with development targets of the national government’s Vision 2050 and various medium term strategies.
He said Enga would go a long way if other districts did the same as Wabag.
“I am happy that the MP for Wabag has come up with a well-documented budget plan that reflected the aspirations of the national government’s long and short term plans,” Amean said.
He said it was the role of the district administrators to advise the MPs on procedures involved in coming up with plans on how to use public funds so that the people in the villages were the ultimate beneficiaries.
Amean’s comments followed public speculation that many MPs only had “shopping lists” for DSIP funds without following proper budget expenditure procedures.
It is understood that service delivery and project implementation in a particular district in Enga had come to a standstill because the local MP did not follow these procedures and did not hold any budget priority committee meetings.
A senior public servant, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the acting district administrator for that district was still waiting for the MP to organise the operation of the district while other districts were ready to undergo their second quarterly budget review.
Governor Peter Ipatas raised concern two weeks ago about at least one MP’s decision to engage Western Highlands provincial authorities to administer road redevelopment in his district.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Pundari Tours InterOil's Refinery at Napa-Napa

Pundari lauds InterOil for efficient ecology handling

Hon. John Pundari MP., Minister for Enivironment & Conservation, Papua New Guinea

Source: The National, Monday 20th May 2013 

RESOURCE companies in the country should ensure they apply sound management system in their operations,  Environment and Conservation Minister John Pundari says.

He said this during a tour of InterOil’s refinery facility at Napanapa, outside of Port Moresby last week.
During a briefing with the company, Pundari was impressed with InterOil’s environmental management and monitoring practices. He said the refinery facility was small, however, it uses some of the world’s recognised standards that are less harmful to the environment.

“This is small refinery but it introduces some of the world’s best standards as far as water treatment is concerned.  InterOil says it puts more emphasis on waste management and monitoring activities while using state of the art facilities. The company is also investing about US$250,000 on incinerator for treating solid and liquid wastes.

Friday, April 19, 2013


An outstanding success: Voreqe Bainimarama arrives in Port Moresby (Photo:ABC)
An outstanding success: Voreqe Bainimarama arrives in Port Moresby (Photo:ABC)

There’s elation in Fijian Government circles over the highly successful outcome of this week’s visit to Papua New Guinea by the Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama, at the head of the biggest Fijian trade and investment mission ever to visit another country. The original aims of the visit were ambitious enough – to lay more of the foundation for the creation of a single, integrated market for the countries of the Melanesian Spearhead Group. Yet the results exceeded even the most ambitious expectations of the PM, his Foreign Minister, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, and the trade delegation of 65 Fijian business leaders from 47 companies.
Commodore Bainimarama described himself as being “on a high”. And the normally ultra-calm and measured Permanent Secretary for Trade and Industry, Shaheen Ali, said he was “overwhelmed” by the “marvelous” outcome of the visit. Within hours, some of the Fijian companies were already receiving orders and entering into agreements with PNG suppliers and distributors. And by day two of the mission, two more Fijian businesses had registered as foreign investors in PNG. This is in addition to the F$180-million investment by Fiji’s national superannuation fund, the FNPF, in Bemobile – a major telecommunications provider in PNG and Solomon Islands – and the management takeover of its operations by Vodafone Fiji.

The Fijian Government sees itself as equal partners with PNG in ultimately leading the other MSG countries into an economic union to improve the lives of every Melanesian. There’s a notable absence of rivalry of the sort we’ve witnessed over the years in Europe, where Germany, France and Britain have consistently maneuvered for advantage in the European Union. As Fiji sees it, Papua New Guinea has the biggest market – seven million people compared to around 900,000 here – plus the massive wealth that flows from its minerals and energy sectors. And Fiji has an established manufacturing base, a skilled and educated workforce and is positioned at the crossroads of the Pacific. In other words, their assets are complimentary. Each country has its particular challenges – Papua New Guinea with corruption and lawlessness and Fiji still grappling with finally putting to rest the divisions that have hampered its development since Independence. Yet there’s a strong feeling on both sides that working in tandem in a joint leadership role is the best way to improve the lives of their own citizens and their Melanesian brothers and sisters in the smaller MSG states.
There’s no doubt that Melanesian solidarity generally was a big beneficiary of this visit. As Commodore Bainimarama put it, PNG -Fiji ties go way beyond the mutual respect and cooperation that is the traditional benchmark of diplomacy. The peoples of both countries genuinely like each other, enjoy each other’s company and share a vision of a stronger Melanesia building a common economic and political future for all its citizens. And of course, both Governments bear significant grudges against the most dominant power in the region, Australia, which they regard as generally arrogant, overbearing and indifferent to Melanesian sensibilities. The same applies to New Zealand, albeit to a lesser extent.
As Grubsheet has written before, Australia’s mishandling of its Pacific neighbours – and especially Fiji – is a mistake of historical proportions. Its failure to fully engage with them, let alone comprehend their challenges, and its propensity to prescribe and even hector, has driven influential Pacific countries like Fiji and PNG further into each other’s arms and the arms of others outside the region. The Australian trade union heavies and their stooge of a Prime Minister who currently determine Pacific policy – and the foreign affairs establishment which implements it – seem to have little concept of Melanesian sensitivities and protocols. It’s well known in Suva than even the mention of Australia can trigger a surge of anger in Prime Minister Bainimarama, who feels sorely aggrieved that Canberra chose not to even  sit down with him, let alone try and comprehend his reforms. During this visit, the PM kept his counsel, adhering to the diplomatic convention of not criticising another country on someone else’s soil. In fact, it was the Papua New Guineans who made unflattering public comments about Australia. PNG’s Trade Minister, Richard Maru, accused Canberra of using his country as a “dumping ground” for its goods and said it wasn’t in Australia’s interests for the Melanesian countries to become self sufficient in anything. If that was what was being said publicly, then we can be sure that the language behind the scenes would have been a lot more colourful. The shared grievances of both governments about Australia would have been fully aired.

Certainly, there was general astonishment about the way in which this visit appeared to have been downplayed by Australia’s national broadcaster, the ABC, which also has a significant presence in PNG. Aside from one story that correctly cited a series of “historic” agreements, the rest of the visit was generally ignored. Indeed on the first day, Radio Australia’s current affairs program, Pacific Beat, chose to lead with an item criticising Fiji’s constitutional process rather than give weight to the region’s two biggest and most influential island countries forging closer ties. It merely reinforced the notion in Fijian minds of the ABC’s chronic bias against the Bainimarama Government and Radio Australia as a lapdog of Canberra’s foreign policy. By any normal journalistic standard, this was a big Pacific story of significant interest to the populations of PNG and Fiji and, to a lesser extent, those of Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and the Kanaks of New Caledonia, who make up the rest of the MSG. It was buried.

Is Australia sensitive about the fact that its so-called smart sanctions against Fiji haven’t turned out to be smart at all? You bet. American diplomats report that far from modifying their policies in the face of defeat, the Australians have stepped up their efforts internationally to isolate Fiji. Was Commodore Bainimarama’s visit a collective two-finger salute to Australia? Well, maybe just a little. Yet the overriding sentiment in official circles in Suva nowadays is that Australian attitudes are irrelevant. In any event, Blind Freddy can see that Julia Gillard’s Government is toast -with a 29 per cent primary vote in the most recent opinion poll – and that Australian policy towards Fiji is bound to be more realistic, if not more favourable, when the Coalition’s Tony Abbott storms into power in the Australian election in September. A full year out from the promised Fijian poll, Abbott and his likely foreign minister, Julie Bishop, will have ample time to end Labor’s vendetta and rebuild the relationship.

There were many highpoints of this visit, not least the Bemobile signing -Fiji’s biggest foreign investment on behalf of all Fijians through the FNPF in one of the most dynamic sectors of the global economy- telecommunications. The Government’s critics continually harp on about the FNPF putting the retirement savings of ordinary Fijians at risk. Yet with Vodafone Fiji running Bemobile, the potential to grow that investment seems rock solid. In Fiji, there are more mobile phones than people – a penetration rate of 105 per cent. In Papua New Guinea, the penetration rate is 35 per cent. That’s a lot of potential customers and a lot of mobile phones.

Among other highlights of the visit:
·      The announcement that citizens of both countries will no longer require visas to visit each other. This is on top of existing plans to achieve a seamless flow of labour between the MSG countries.
 ·      The provision for retired Fijian civil servants – who are obliged to vacate their jobs at 55 – to work in Papua New Guinea to boost the local skills base.
 ·      The plan for a permanent Fiji Trade Mission in Port Moresby and the continuation of the joint effort to break down the remaining impediments to trade and investment, with a view to developing a common market.

Most important of all – at least in the shorter term – is the financial support Papua New Guinea has offered Fiji to conduct its election in September 2014 and introduce the first genuine parliamentary democracy in the country’s history of one-person, one vote, one value.

According to officials travelling with Commodore Bainimarama, the PM couldn’t believe his ears when the amount of the PNG contribution was announced out of the blue by his opposite number, Peter O’Neill. “What did he say?”, he asked. At first, the Ministry of Information flashed a media release that the amount was 15-million Kina. But it soon became clear that the fifteen was actually FIFTY. A sense of astonishment, delight and gratitude swept the Fijian delegation and text messages lit up in the corridors of power in Suva. More than 40-million Fijian dollars!  By any standards and especially in the Pacific, it is an astonishingly generous amount.

This contribution has sealed the Fiji-PNG relationship and laid to rest the concerns of some that PNG was more intent on cementing its own interests during this visit than pursuing a genuinely equal partnership. It means that Fiji no longer requires other outside assistance to finance the poll, and especially from those countries or groups of countries like the European Union, which appear more interested in using the money as political leverage than in assisting Fijians to determine their own future. Instead of having election observers from the EU – as happened controversially in 2006 – the Prime Minister wants election observers from PNG and the other MSG countries. He accused the EU observers of endorsing a “flawed” election in 2006 and said Fiji wanted an observer group with “integrity”. This will not be music to the ears of Fiji’s voluble EU Ambassador, Andrew Jacobs, who before the PNG announcement, was telling people that Fiji would need to  approach the EU for assistance and accept certain conditions that are now decidedly moot.

With Commodore Bainimarama having now travelled across the world to New York to chair a meeting of the G77 Plus China and the rest of the Fijian delegation making its way home, it’s clear that this visit has been an outstanding success. History may also judge it as the week that Fiji and PNG cemented their common future and came to realise more fully the potential they have – working together – to establish the MSG as the pre-eminent regional grouping and its integration as the best way to improve the lives of all Melanesians. One thing is certain. The axis of power in the Pacific is gradually shifting, whether Australia, NZ and their Polynesian client states such as Samoa like it or not.  

Thursday, April 18, 2013

PNG-UK trade takes off

Source: The National, Thursday 18th April 2013

Hugo Swire MP -Minister of State for the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office

TRADE between the United Kingdom and Papua New Guinea is growing fast and worth almost 160 million pounds (K531.8 million) a year.
Minister of State for the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office,
“In 2012, goods worth than 120 million pounds (K398.8 million) from Papua New Guinea were exported to the UK,” Swire said.
“Not to mention our import of six of your finest rugby players to play in the UK Super League.
“Distance matters less in the modern world.
“Spices and commodities like tea, coffee, palm oil, shell fish and gold from Papua New Guinea and the Pacific region are brought and consumed in the UK.
“The finest produce from across the globe finds its way to Fortnum and Mason, Her Majesty the Queen’s grocer in Piccadilly,, and their shelves are stocked with Papua New Guinean products like coffee and chocolate.
“Such is their universal appeal that the UK is the second biggest importer of Papua New Guinean produce in the EU – only Germany imports more .
“And goods produced just a few miles from here can be found in independent corner shops across the UK, from Cornwall to Aberdeen.”
Swire said it was not only finished products that were being imported.
“Raw materials also form a vital part of our shared economy,” he said.
“New Britain Oils Ltd has invested 18 million pounds (K59.8 million) in a state-of-the-art processing plant in Liverpool.
“This has created new British jobs and increased demand for sustainable-certified palm oil from plantations in Papua New Guinea.
“Just a few weeks ago a British company, Heritage Oil Plc, announced an expansion into Papua New Guinea’s gas market, acquiring operating rights and a substantial interest in two sites.
“The EU-Papua New Guinea Economic Partnership Agreement, which allows duty free access for PNG products entering the European market, can only increase trade – to the immense benefit of the Papua New Guinea economy and society.
“Indeed, trade between Britain and the whole of the Pacific is on the rise.”
Swire said PNG already had the largest economy in the Pacific and had the resources and potential to grow even more rapidly.
“A partnership with the UK will help to drive this long-term economic growth offering trade links, access to European markets, increased foreign investment and world-class expertise in the protection and sustainable development of natural resources,” he said.
“What I have seen and heard so far gives me great reason to be optimistic about our shared future, and I very much look forward to further successes.”
Hugo Swire, who is in Port Moresby for the Commonwealth Youth Ministers meeting, told a Port Moresby Chamber of Commerce and Industry breakfast at the Royal Papua Yacht Club yesterday that this was a significant achievement in the current financial climate.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Pundari: Ok Tedi mine a curse

John Pundari

 Hon. John Pundari, Minister for Environment & Conservation, Papua New Guinea


MINISTER for Environment and Conservation John Pundari yesterday broke his silence on the Ok Tedi mining pollution issue, describing it as a “curse” on the Fly River people of Western. He says he plans a visit to all impacted areas along the Ok Tedi and Fly River areas and intends to take along a contingent of international and national media to see for themselves the scale of damage.
 “The mine has been operating in the country for some 27 years, and while it has made a significant contribution to the development of our country, it has also brought a curse upon the people of Western in terms of the enormous environmental damage caused to the Fly River system,” Pundari said.
“The Ok Tedi mine has been using the riverine disposal of waste rock and mine tailings and has caused considerable environmental degradation. “This has had a major impact on the lives and livelihood of the Fly River people. “The benefits to the people in the impacted area, in my view, are far less than the impact the operation of the mining has done to the health of the environment. “The damaged environment will remain long after the mine has shut down and continue to affect the lives and health of our people for many generations.”
Pundari said Ok Tedi mine had been operating under the Mining (Ok Tedi Agreement) Act of 1978, followed by various supplementary agreements, which were amended over the years until the recent one in 2001 -- the Mining (Ok Tedi Mine Continuation) Agreement Act 2001.
“These agreements give indemnity against prosecution to BHP, the original developer of the mine,” he said. “Excluding the mine from regulations under the Environment Act has prevented my department from taking an active role in its management.”
Pundari said BHP walked away from the mine and left PNG to deal with the damage caused to the environment, which would remain long after the mine was closed and would become a burden to the government. “Our people of the Fly River and Western have suffered in silence for a very long time in their own God-given land from activities of the mine and the wastes generated in it,” he said. “I, as the minister responsible for the environmental matters, and our government, would not be able to fix the wrong done by these large multi-national corporations to our environment and our people.
“It hurts me greatly to hear the cry of our people in the Fly River area about the irrepressible damage done to the environment and their lives.
“It even hurts me to go and talk about the kind of benefit the Ok Tedi mine has brought in, when their suffering outweighs the benefit the mine brings in.”

Friday, February 1, 2013

Barry Holloway: An affair to remember

But Barry Holloway brought Papua New Guinea home with him to the little timber church with the peeling paint and rusting tin roof at Kimberley, near Sheffield. It was there in his children, in the readings in the pidgin and in the haunting strains of Rock of Ages sung in Motu, the language of the coast.

The journey had begun here, in the house across the valley where his mother was born and where she gave birth to him in 1934, and in the nearby school where a boy dreamed of a life of adventure far away.
That journey was to take 60 years and it would traverse the modern history of PNG - from colonial trust territory, to self-government and independence and beyond.

It began with a teenage cadet patrol officer trekking through the remote and untamed territory of New Guinea and ended with a distinguished political career, a knighthood and the deep affection of a generation of Papua New Guineans.
Barry Holloway with the Queen in 1974.

At each step, Barry Holloway made a special mark. He was, probably more than any other Australian, instrumental in the making of modern PNG, and his death closes a circle on Australia's engagement with PNG's coming of age.

He was one of the first expatriates to advocate independence for the Australian trust territory in the 1960s. He helped found Pangu, the country's first political party, and ran the numbers that saw a brash young journalist named Michael Somare become its first leader. He chaired the committee that drafted the constitution and, at independence in 1975, he was one of the first white men to take citizenship of the new nation, happily surrendering his Australian passport.
Barry Holloway with a UN Trusteeship Mission in 1956.

He became speaker of the first parliament after independence, then a senior minister in several governments. He was a reformer, a champion of the ordinary man and a campaigner against corruption, the issue that many believe drove him to an early death.

After finishing secondary school, Holloway moved to Melbourne and was working as a labourer when he saw a newspaper advertisement seeking young men with ''initiative, imagination and courage'' to work as patrol officers in the UN-mandated Territory of Papua and New Guinea.
Between 1949 and 1974, more than 2000 Australians aged between 18 and 24 were recruited as patrol officers, or kiaps - pidgin for captain, from the German kapitan - and sent to bring the rule of white law to the often lawless outer reaches of the territories.

After six weeks' basic training, Holloway arrived in Port Moresby in April 1953, a lanky 18-year-old with a shock of curly red hair who was ready for adventure. After an initial posting with an experienced kiap on Bougainville island he was sent alone to a district in Madang province. Suddenly he was at once police chief, magistrate, medical chief, census officer and director of engineering for roads and airstrips.
On one of his first patrols into an uncontrolled area he had to defuse a clash between two warring tribes with the help of only a handful of native policemen.

''After three weeks, the whole crowd of about 600 to 700 would be massing around,'' he told the ABC in 2009. ''We demonstrated the power of the .303 by lining up about five shields, making a dum-dum out of a bullet, and showing how it would come out with a great gap on the other side. Because to these people these [rifles] were just sticks, and had no meaning until we demonstrated their power.'' That was the end of the tribal fight.

Holloway moved to the Eastern Highlands in 1958 and won election to the territory's first House of Assembly in 1964. He had a natural campaign advantage with his unruly red hair. Many of the tribes believed the gods had red hair.

He also had a unconventional but effective campaigning style. He would arrive at each village with a simple message: ''On election day just go the polling station and chant, 'Ollo-way, Ollo-way, Ollo-way'.'' And they did, in their thousands.

In Port Moresby, Holloway quickly befriended the first indigenous MPs and openly championed the case for independence in a parliament dominated by the colonial administration and conservative white planters.
In 1976 he and Tony Voutas, another kiap turned MP, helped found Pangu along with a clutch of others who would become legendary figures in the emerging nation - Albert Maori Kiki, John Guise, Ebia Olewale and Michael Somare.
Barry Holloway with Indonesian foreign minister Adam Malik and PNG chief minister Michael Somare

In the struggle to choose a party leader, Holloway was instrumental in securing the numbers for Somare to beat Guise, who later became governor-general. As Somare noted in a tribute sent to the Holloway family last week: ''I acknowledge his immense contribution and great support for my early political aspirations … He was among a handful of non-indigenous people who supported the principle that Papua New Guineans should be able to determine their own future.''

Somare went on to become chief minister when Australia granted self-government in late 1973 and the first prime minister at independence two years later. After serving as speaker of the first parliament, Holloway held a series of ministerial appointments, serving as finance minister under Somare and Julius Chan, who led the country's second government.

His love affair with PNG was both physical and spiritual. Nine of his 12 children were born to Papua New Guinean mothers. Friends say the unofficial count is 16.

His first wife Elizabeth, whom he met and married in Tasmania while on leave from PNG, moved back to Australia to raise their twin sons and daughter. The boys returned in 1975 to spend independence year at school in PNG.

Son Daniel recalls: ''He took Damien and me up to Goroka on one occasion. When we got there, one day he drove to his office and asked us to wait outside on the footpath. A little while later he came back with a skinny little boy and said to us, 'Meet Joe. He's your brother.' I think it was as much of a surprise to Joe as it was for us.''

Many other children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren were to follow. ''None of us quite knew when he was going to stop,'' Daniel says. ''It was a bit of a running joke. Each time another child was born, we told him, 'You can stop now'.''

Holloway married Ikini Yaboyang, a feisty young journalist, in 1974. He is survived by his last wife, Dr Fua Uyassi (Lady Holloway). Says Daniel: ''He cared very much for all his children … and despite his marriages unfortunately not working out, he also cared for his wives to the end.''

His large and unconventional family was just one of the ways in which his life matched that of many traditional ''big men'' in PNG society. His homes in Port Moresby and Kainantu were open houses to friends and colleagues, his vehicles were freely available and what money he had was shared with those in need. ''If he only had a dollar in his pocket and someone asked him for some money he would give it to them,'' Daniel says.
A lifetime of such generosity and a series of business ventures, including starting his own micro-finance scheme for villagers, left him with little at the end of his life.
''He was flat broke,'' said Ernie Lohberger, a fellow Tasmanian and long-time PNG resident. ''In the end he was living on a friend's boat because he couldn't afford the rents they charge in Port Moresby these days.''
Unlike many Australians who stayed after independence - and many more of the Papua New Guineans who succeeded them in positions of power - Holloway did not set out to enrich himself. He was appalled by those who did and, ultimately, it probably hastened his death.
Disturbed by a trend that now ranks PNG among the worst on Transparency International's global corruption index, Holloway decided to make a political comeback in last year's elections, standing for governor of Eastern Highlands Province.

Two weeks before campaigning was due to begin in the midyear poll, he suffered a stroke that temporarily blinded him, according to a close friend. He refused to go to hospital because his opponents had argued that, at 78, he was too old for politics and he feared they would use the news to wreck his campaign.
Despite the pleas of family and friends, he threw himself into the campaign, travelling by road and air and often on foot to visit as many of the scattered and remote villages in the province as he could. In the end, he lost, but only by a few hundred votes.
''He got more than 100,000 votes. It was testament to the strength of his following and his standing in the Eastern Highlands,'' Peter Donigi, a long-time friend and PNG's former ambassador to the United Nations told the mourners in Kimberley.

Supporters wanted Holloway to call for a recount, which they believed would see the result overturned, but he refused. Instead, he was one of the first to send a message of congratulation to the new provincial governor.
Some say he never recovered from the exhausting campaign, his health issues compounded by prostate cancer.

''Barry never saw himself as merely a catalyst for change,'' says Tony Voutas, who left PNG on the eve of independence. ''For him, it was his country. He was one of the few in those colonial days who looked at Papua New Guineans as equal human beings. The planters called them bush kanakas and some right-wingers regarded them as a different evolutionary stream.
''But Barry was one of those people who did not see race. And the Papua New Guineans regarded him as one of them. And once you are accepted into their society it is as if you were born into their society.''
After his death at a Brisbane hospital on January 16, the leaders of Kainantu wanted him brought back to be buried there, but Barry Holloway's last wish was to be laid to rest beside his mother and father in the church yard at Kimberley.

As men wept and women wailed on Saturday afternoon, a daughter stepped forward and sprinkled a sachet of his favourite Goroka coffee into the red clay of the grave. For a moment the aroma of the New Guinea highlands mingled with the scents of the Tasmanian bush.

''They will never see anything like this in Kimberley again,'' said Geoff Pedley, an old schoolmate.
They won't. We won't.

Mark Baker is editor-at-large. He is a former PNG correspondent for Fairfax.

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