Cuba, Oceania and a ‘Canberra Spring’ (2018)

Cuban engagement with Timor-Leste and the Pacific islands, particularly through powerful health cooperation programs, has helped reshape regional geopolitics. Most of the key initiatives came from the period when Fidel Castro was head of government, with strong continuity under Raúl Castro. The Caribbean island’s medical cooperation with Timor-Leste, from 2003 onward, was the most powerful and successful move, transforming the health system of that new nation. Continue reading “Cuba, Oceania and a ‘Canberra Spring’ (2018)”

‘Papua New Guinean Ways’: Hybrid livelihoods and human development (2015)

Policy complexity sometimes masks consistent and enduring concerns. What really are the key developmental priorities for a country with tremendous wealth in natural resources, yet a substantial history of resource mismanagement? Similarly, while any country’s greatest resource is its people, in PNG there have been failures to invest in human development. We know that some countries with few resources (e.g. Japan, Singapore and Cuba) have successfully upgraded their productive capacities, by investing heavily in their people. Continue reading “‘Papua New Guinean Ways’: Hybrid livelihoods and human development (2015)”

Land and livelihoods in Papua New Guinea (2015)

A slow motion drama is in play in Melanesia, above all in Papua New Guinea, where the ‘omissions’ of the colonial era are being addressed by neo-colonial forces. The economic interest of the big powers has its focus on land – always a key resource but increasingly valuable in times of multiple food, financial, energy and ecological crises. Continue reading “Land and livelihoods in Papua New Guinea (2015)”

Land and livelihood economics in Papua New Guinea – Shifting the paradigm (2014)

One of the most persistent myths in development is that people linked to traditional lifestyles must be in a process of ‘moving from subsistence to the cash economy’. This expression comes not only from finance agencies (for example, World Bank 1962) but also from analysts with greater sensitivity to livelihoods. Continue reading “Land and livelihood economics in Papua New Guinea – Shifting the paradigm (2014)”

Melanesian customary land and hybrid livelihoods (2010)

Community land was at the root of indigenous survival and social relations until colonial regimes enforced dispossession. Yet, as if by an accident of history, the countries of Melanesia (and particularly Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu) largely escaped this fate. To this day, the great majority of land in these countries is still held by communities and families under a customary law which is neither written down nor centrally registered. Continue reading “Melanesian customary land and hybrid livelihoods (2010)”

Women roadside sellers in Madang (2008)

A survey of women roadside sellers in Madang Province of Papua New Guinea found that they earn a weighted average income of more than three times the national minimum wage. The relative economic success of these roadside vendors relies to a large extent on access to good-quality customary land and proximity to major roads. Continue reading “Women roadside sellers in Madang (2008)”

Australia’s regional interventions: The antinomies of ‘good governance’ (2007)

This paper examines the antinomies of Australian ‘good governance’: the logical nonsense of regional coerced democracy and carefully tutored economic ‘best practice’. The tension between intervention and independence in the region – particularly with respect to the recent experience of Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Timor Leste – is apparent in the recent Australian regional assistance missions and largely self-serving ‘good governance’ aid programs. Continue reading “Australia’s regional interventions: The antinomies of ‘good governance’ (2007)”

On the economic value of customary land in Papua New Guinea (2006)

In discussing the economic value of customary land in Papua New Guinea, we must recognise the ongoing polemic over land use. Much of this debate is driven by special interest groups seeking access to customary land. Customary landowners in Papua New Guinea, on the other hand, have been mostly well served by their system of custodianship. The practical question, however, is whether small-scale landowners are able to pursue the best income-generating opportunities while holding onto the various social and subsistence advantages provided by their customary lands? Continue reading “On the economic value of customary land in Papua New Guinea (2006)”

Valuation and registration of customary land in Papua New Guinea (2006)

This paper considers what an opportunity cost valuation of customary land can tell us about the pressures for land registration in Papua New Guinea. The discussion here presents a historical perspective on land registration, introduces land disputes and land markets in PNG, explains an opportunity cost valuation of land, and then suggest ways in which such valuations can help us interpret the processes of land registration. Calculations on the economic value of customary land draws on data from pilot surveys of land use in two provinces (Madang and Oro). Continue reading “Valuation and registration of customary land in Papua New Guinea (2006)”

The Howard Government, Australian aid and the consequences (2006)

In 1997 the Howard Government gave Australia’s foreign aid program a ‘poverty reduction’ focus with a ‘national interest’ link, later developing ‘good governance’ as the principal program theme. This anticipated the IMF and World Bank’s 1999 abandoning of ‘structural adjustment’ in favour of ‘poverty reduction’ programs, and build on National Competition Policy established by the previous Labor Government. Most aid moneys are now contracted to private Australia (and New Zealand) based companies, and the total aid budget has grown considerably. Continue reading “The Howard Government, Australian aid and the consequences (2006)”