Troubled times for James Marape

In Papua New Guinea, Prime Minister James Marape is having a rocky time of things. The ripples of discontent surrounding the former foreign affairs minister Justin Tkatchenko have yet to fully subside. More recently, the text of the newly minted Defence Cooperation Agreement with the USA has not landed well in some quarters.

The concerns with the agreement focus on issues of sovereignty including the granting of ‘unimpeded access’ for US personnel to nominated airports, ports, and military bases as well as immunity from criminal prosecution by PNG for Americans stationed in the country.

All this comes as the ‘grace period’ during which Marape cannot be challenged by way of a motion of no confidence nears its end.

Regional civil society voices expressed their disappointment at Marape’s apparent support for Japan’s intent to discharge treated waste water from the Fukushima nuclear plant into the Pacific. Marape has since backtracked on this.

Pacific pushes for big changes at International Maritime Organisation (IMO)

Pacific island countries are at the forefront of a push for significant changes at the IMO. This comes as the global organisation looks to accelerate emissions reduction across the sector. Shipping is responsible for three per cent of global emissions and experts have said that there needs to be major reductions in the near future in order for the 1.5 degree target in the Paris agreement to be achieved.

The IMO will meet in July. There are likely to be discussions about imposing a levy on shipping to incentivise decarbonisation and to provide funding for a just transition. A group of Pacific island countries, including Marshall Islands, Solomon Islands, and Tonga are pushing for a levy of US$100 per tonne of carbon emitted. It is not expected that the IMO will agree to this at July’s meeting although a levy of some sort is anticipated in the future.

Other Pacific News:

The Fiji Rugby Union (FRU) came under attack for failing to pay the Fijiana Drua players properly. After several of the players made their complaints public, the FRU issued an apology and has said that it now considers all payments to have been processed.

In Vanuatu chiefs of the northern island of Santo are seeking to have the name of the island restored to Venia. The island was named Espiritu Santo by Spanish explorers when they landed there in the 17th century.

In Papua New Guinea, former Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has been charged with perjury. The charges relate to evidence he gave to an inquiry into the ill-fated UBS loan which saw the country lose more than AU$300 million.

The Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat has announced that Mr Esala Nayasi will join the organisation as Deputy Secretary-General. Nayasi is a seasoned Fijian public servant with extensive international and regional experience.

In Australia, the winners of this year’s Sean Dorney Grant for Pacific Journalism have been announced. They are Stefan Armbruster from SBS World News and Marian Faa from the ABC’s Asia Pacific Newsroom.


Tess Newton Cain is a Senior Research Fellow at the Griffith Asia Institute and project lead for the Griffith Pacific Hub.