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Thursday, 22 February


ONeill and Allan stitch up another huge land grab "IndyWatch Feed"

Philippines President Duterte and his Agriculture Secretary want to plant 1 million hectares of rice in Papua New Guinea by 2023

Prime Minister Peter ONeill and Agriculture Minister Benny Allan have promised the Philippines government at least one million hectares of land in Papua New Guinea for Filipino farmers to grow rice, according to media reports.

The 1 million hectares [10,000 square kilometres] will be leased to Filipino companies and thousands of Filipino farmers and agriculture graduates are expected to head to PNG, according to the countrys Agriculture Secretary, Emmanuel F. Piol.  

The Ph...

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Wednesday, 21 February


Why do farmers hire seasonal workers? "IndyWatch Feed"

The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) has published a report comparing the performance of workers under the Seasonal Worker Programme (SWP) with Working Holiday Makers (or backpackers).

Commissioned by the World Bank, the report extends a previous small-scale ABARES study carried out in 2013. Its findings are based on data collected from horticultural employers using seasonal workers and/or backpackers over three years.

The report asks two questions: what difference does labour choice (backpackers v seasonal workers) make to productivity; and what difference to profitability? Unfortunately, it only provides a satisfactory answer to the first.

The main finding of the report is that seasonal workers are considerably more productive than backpackers: by 20 percent on average.

Even first-time seasonal workers are more productive than backpackers, but returning seasonal workers are more productive still, on average by 15 percent. The second time around, the unproductive workers are weeded out, and/or the returning workers are more experienced.

It is important to note that productivity here is measured simply as wages per hour. All employers on which productivity calculations were based used piece rates. The more productive workers filled more bins, and therefore earned more dollars per hour.

It is also important to note that the samples for these conclusions are very small. Only three employers provided wage spreadsheets which allowed comparisons of backpackers and seasonal workers. Nevertheless, the finding confirms the earlier 2013 ABARES study, which found that seasonal workers were 22 percent more productive than backpackers. It also confirms anecdotal evidence from farmers who use the scheme.

So much for productivity. What about profitability? Should higher productivity push employers to hire seasonal workers? Here, things are not so simple.

The report finds that non-wage labour costs are significantly higher for seasonal workers than for backpackers: $1,620 v $134 per worker. For example, employers have to help with seasonal worker transport costs, whereas backpackers just turn up. Recruitment and administration costs per worker are also much higher under the SWP. However, the average seasonal worker works for almost six times as long on a farm as the average backpacker, so the cost...

Tuesday, 20 February


"LOVE TRIANGLE GONE WRONG" "Susan Merrell moving on from Belden Namah to Peter O'Neill to Powes Parkop". "IndyWatch Feed"

By Sonja Barry Ramoi
'The woman Papua New Guineans love to hate', who was a friend who became a foe after I told her off about a particularly rude and pretty much inexcusable comment she made about Belden Namah in 2013, has been deported from Papua New Guinea.
Susan Merrell - aka Ferrell Merrell, aka Floozy Doozy Suzy (or however which way she wants to spell it) - is so far up herself that she must be off her rocker to blame the Prime Minister for her deportation, and also to mention me in her post today.
Her deportation is not the PM's doing, and it also had absolutely nothing to do with me.
Yes I did report her to the Judiciary (possibly in 2015) for certain comments of hers which I found contemptuous, and I believe that I recommended that she be blacklisted. However I am certainly not the only person who has recommended in the past that she be blacklisted.
As for her official surname (not Merrell) being flagged, I have known about her official surname for years and I am sure, especially since I knew what name she travels on, that other people from PNG would also have known.
I have not yet contacted the Chief Immigration Officer Solomon Kantha to confirm the reason why she was deported.
It appears however according to a copy of a post by Susan Merrell which was sent to me (earlier tonight), that she did not fill out her visa application form upon arrival correctly, and therefore it seems that she did not disclose to Immigration the true purpose of her visit and thats why she was told to leave PNG.



by Eragairma Yal

I don't know if our Papua New Guinea Defence Force has a Blue Print.

PNG has obtained the Right to Self-Rule in 1973 as a pre-qualification to gaining independence in 1975, 16th September.

43yrs on and I have just learned one fundamental fact that our PNG Defense Force has still been operating as the Eighth Division under the Australian Defense Force Military. The fact is we have not gained Military Independence. We are an Eighth Element or Division similar to an Infantry under the Australian Defence Force Military.

One thing that baffles me is that the Australian Defense Force knowing very well that we are the Eighth Division operating under the ADF Military, why can't they develop our Defense Force into a full pledge Military Force carrying Land, Air and Sea Elements with complete state of the art equipment setup and logistics support with routine modern training as a requirement?

Whatever arrangements they may have had in the past that lead us to this stage, I write to challenge the PNGDF Brigadier General and the government of the day that we must have our own Blue Print for our Military that must lead us into attaining Militarily Independence.

I can remember the announcement of our Defence White Paper some time ago but what was it about? And what developments did we achieve as in the three elements of the Defence Force? What did our soldiers and paramilitary officers gain as in training and personal empowerment?

Our own BLUEPRINT must spell out the establishment of our military components, divisions, infantries, units and paramilitary forces etc.

Our trained Human Resources as in Cadets and Privates are sitting idle in the military barracks basically waiting for their pay packets, SoE callouts, and their eventual retrenchment cheque.

We need to use them in our circular workforces in the public service sector. While we already have some specialists trained as engineers, doctors, nurses, teachers, CHWs, lawyers, etc we ought to increase the training in the different disciplines and deploy them on secondment arrangements to serve everywhere in the country.

We need to use our trained human resource effectively to alleviate the shortfall in our workforce to develop our country.

I regret to see that we have some highly skille...


SABL petition anniversary marks PNG's greatest ever scandal "IndyWatch Feed"

February 21st is the first anniversary of the presentation of a 10,000 signature petition to the Department of Lands demanding the cancellation of the SABL leases. 2018, also marks five-years since the SABL Commission of Inquiry exposed the full extent of the illegal land grab, which affects more than 10% of the whole country.

But despite repeated promises from the ONeill government to cancel the leases, stretching back to 2013, almost nothing has been done. 

ACT NOW! believes the governments response to the illegal SABL land grab is the greatest scandal this country has ever seen. 

Even the brave landowners who have struggled through the courts to have leases declared illegal, without any help or support from the government, or have stood up and defied the logging companies despite attacks from the police, still have foreign companies occupying their soil.

A list released two weeks ago by the Lands Department revealed that of 75 SABL leases examined in the Commission of Inquiry, only 10 have been cancelled and 5 of those were on the direction of the courts and four voluntarily surrendered.

Meanwhile, as the government delays get ever longer, most of the SABL files have disappeared from the Department of Lands.

Fifty thousand square kilometres of land, more than 10% of the entire nation given away illegally yet the government does almost nothing to undo the wrong and indeed is still allowing logging companies to plunder the forests.

With APEC leaders now preparing to visit PNG, the SABL land grab is a huge embarrassment for the nation.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights slammed the PNG government over its failure to protect its own citizens during his visit two-weeks ago, saying many communities have been forcibly evicted from their homes, often reportedly violently, with impunity and allegedly sometimes with the complicity of local police.

It seems the whole w...


International Mother Language Day: sustainable development in everyones language "IndyWatch Feed"

On the 21st of February 1952, political activists and students at Dhaka University in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) were demonstrating about the imposition of Urdu as the national language on the Bengali-speaking population. Police opened fire on the protestors and dozens were killed. The simple monument built on that spot to remember those who died in the independence movement symbolises a mother and her children. It is still a focus of protest on the day I visited, there was a protest for the rights (including language rights) of the indigenous Chittagong hill tribes.

Shaheed Minar Martyr Monument, Dhaka (Photo: Hilary Smith)

Shaheed Minar Martyr Monument, Dhaka (Photo: Hilary Smith)

February 21 was chosen by UNESCO for International Mother Language Day, and has been observed worldwide since 2000. This years theme is Linguistic diversity and multilingualism count for sustainable development.

The symbolic power of language was described by French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu in 1982: language is not only used for communication but also as a means of power. This extends to symbolic violence when the power of a dominant group is seen as natural and used as a form of social control, as in the case where minority languages are suppressed. Minority groups are less likely to have access to the language required for education and employment, resulting in lower levels of development, which can result in conflict.

For those of us who grew up speaking English in a rich country where the national lan...


2018 APEC Study Centres Consortium Conference Call for Papers "IndyWatch Feed"

The 2018 APEC Study Centre Consortium Conference (ASCCC) is to be held from 14-15 May 2018 at the Laguna Hotel in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea (PNG). It will be research-focused, support the overall objectives of APEC 2018 hosted by PNG, and will be an exciting opportunity to inform and influence public policy for APEC economies.

The overall APEC 2018 theme is Harnessing Inclusive Opportunities, Embracing the Digital Future, with three priorities:

  • Improving connectivity, and deepening regional economic integration.
  • Promoting inclusive and sustainable growth.
  • Strengthening economic growth through structural reform.

The ASCC Conference will closely align with these priorities and focus on presenting evidence-based research, policy and best practice to inform and present practical steps for policy makers.

The PNG APEC Study Centre (PNG ASC) is calling for expressions of interest to present high-quality research, policy and best practice papers. Each presenter will be invited to speak for a maximum of 20 minutes, followed by a group Q&A at the end of each session.

All submissions should be made through the NRI website portal, and must include an abstract of no more than 500 words (which should describe any potential impact on public policy) and a short bio of the presenter (no more than 150 words). The deadline for abstracts is 23 March 2018. Potential presenters will be advised of the outcome of their submission on 30 March, and will then be required to provide any relevant paper, accompanying powerpoint presentation, and a photo of themselves to be used in the conference program.

Abstracts will be screened by a panel of experts to ensure that high-quality papers which align with the Conference theme and topics are delivered.

For further information please contact Martin Aspin.

Please note that Devpolicy is not involved in this conference and all queries should be directed to the PNG APEC Study Centre at the PNG National Research Institute.

The post 2018 APEC Study Centres Consortium Conference Call for Papers appeared first on...

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