Around the world: Australian TV corruption allegations and other international stories


PM rebuffs Australian TV corruption allegations, criticism of Kokoda aid, and where the Economist Intelligence Unit ranks Port Moresby.

It has been a somewhat negative week for Papua New Guinea in the international—especially Australian—media, with corruption rather than refugees or law and order the main focus.

On Monday’s Today Tonight show on Australia’s Channel 7, Professor Jason Sharman, a renowned expert on money laundering, claimed that  ‘most of Australia’s aid program [to PNG] is effectively wasted’ due to corruption.

This sparked an angry reaction from Gary Juffa, Governor of Oro Province, who countered on Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat that, although corruption is an issue in Papua New Guinea, Australian aid money for PNG is controlled by the Australian Government, not the PNG government.

Subsequently, PNG’s Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has demanded an apology from Channel Seven.

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Pacific Beat also reports on an ‘Oil Palm and Deforestation in PNG’ report, co-written by Australian and PNG researchers, on the relationship between Special Agricultural and Business Leases (SABL) and logging operations.

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One of the report’s authors, James Cook University academic Dr Paul Nelson, said many of the companies involved showed little evidence of being able to develop plantations:

‘There was [sic] quite a few players where we couldn’t find any evidence they had any capacity to develop plantations and mills.’

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Meanwhile, the Sydney Morning Herald reported that aid projects along the Kokoda Track had failed to bring any tangible benefits to local area.

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Finally, the Economist Intelligence Unit’s annual survey of the World’s Most Liveable Cities placed Port Moresby second-last. That’s ahead of Dhaka in Bangladesh but—curiously—well behind Damascus in war-torn Syria!