Papua New Guinea

The Road by John Martinkus & Too Close to Ignore edited by Mark Moran and Jodie Curth-Bibb

by
September 2020, no. 424

It is a damning – if not altogether surprising – indictment on our public discourse that the average Australian knows far more about political and social developments on the other side of the world than about those occurring in our ‘near abroad’. It takes just fifteen minutes to travel in a dinghy from the northern most island in the Torres Strait to Papua New Guinea. The flight from Darwin to Timor-Leste lasts barely an hour. If visitors were permitted in Indonesian-controlled West Papua, the trip from Australia to Merauke, by plane from Darwin or boat from the Torres Strait, would not take much longer. Yet judging by the sparse coverage these regions receive in our press and by their minimal prominence in our politics, they might as well be on Mars.

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The subtitle of this book is Papua New Guinea and the Defence of Australia since 1880. Michael Somare, first prime minister of Papua New Guinea (PNG), is at the centre of the cover photograph, and the cover design uses red, yellow, and black, the colours of the PNG flag. Yet for much of this book PNG is at the periphery of ...

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Papua New Guinea is so close to Australia, and yet so far away. We rarely hear about our near neighbour, unless there is a crisis reported in the media. Julius Chan's highly readable memoir should encourage more Australians to develop more curiosity about PNG, its complex history and multiple cultures.

Twice prime minister of Papua New Guinea (1980–82, 199 ...