Conflict and Resource Development

Conflict and Resource Development: In The Southern Highlands of Papua New Guinea

Nicole Haley
Ronald J. May
Volume: 3
Copyright Date: 2007
Published by: ANU Press
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  • Book Info
    Conflict and Resource Development
    Book Description:

    The Southern Highlands is one of Papua New Guinea's most resource-rich provinces, but for a number of years the province has been riven by conflict. Longstanding inter-group rivalries, briefly set aside during the colonial period, have been compounded by competition for the benefits provided by the modern state and by fighting over the distribution of returns from the several big mining and petroleum projects located within the province or impinging upon it. Deaths from the various conflicts over the past decade number in the hundreds. As a result of inter-group fighting, criminal activity and vandalism, a number of businesses have withdrawn from the province. Roadblocks and ambushes have made travel dangerous in many parts and expatriate missionaries and aid workers have left. Many public servants have abandoned their posts with the result that state services are not provided. Corruption is rife. Police are often reluctant to act because they are outnumbered and outgunned. This volume brings together a number of authors with deep experience of the Southern Highlands to examine the underlying dynamics of resource development and conflict in the province. Its primary purpose is to provide some background to recent events, but the authors also explore possible approaches to limiting the human and economic costs of the ongoing conflict and breakdown of governance.

    eISBN: 978-1-921313-46-2
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-x)
  3. Abbreviations
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. Contributors
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  5. Acknowledgements
    (pp. xvii-xviii)
  6. Opening Remarks
    (pp. xix-xx)
    Stephanie Copus-Campbell
  7. 1. Introduction: Roots of conflict in the Southern Highlands
    (pp. 1-20)
    Nicole Haley and Ronald J. May

    For a number of years the Southern Highlands Province (SHP) has been riven by conflict. Longstanding inter-group rivalries, briefly set aside during the colonial period, have been compounded by competition for the benefits provided by the modern state and by fighting over the distribution of returns from the several big mining and petroleum projects located within the province or impinging upon it.¹ According to some reports, deaths from the various conflicts in the province over the past decade number in the hundreds.² As a result of inter-group fighting, criminal activity, vandalism and politically motivated actions, a number of businesses, banks...

  8. 2. The National Government and the Southern Highlands since the 2002 General Elections
    (pp. 21-34)
    Joseph Dorpar and Jim Macpherson

    National government interaction with the Southern Highlands Provincial Government (SHPG) and administration has been based on a commitment to decentralisation, consciousness of the legal roles and limitations of central agencies and line departments, awareness of the political culture of the Southern Highlands Province (SHP), and political pragmatics since the national election in Papua New Guinea in July 2002. This chapter describes: national interventions in the SHP following the national election and in preparation for the supplementary election in April-May 2003; residual activities of the SHP desk in the Ministry for Inter-Government Relations (MIGR) between the supplementary election and the decision...

  9. 3. The Setting: Land, economics and development in the Southern Highlands
    (pp. 35-46)
    Bryant Allen

    Southern Highlands Province (SHP) is located almost in the middle of the mainland of Papua New Guinea. It is on the south-western end of the Highlands Highway and subject to the vicissitudes of landslides, bridge failures, potholes and criminal activity along the whole 600 km of the highway to Lae.

    The province is 25,698 km² in area and is the eighth largest province in terms of land area in Papua New Guinea. Land in the SHP ranges from below 600 m to over 2800 m in altitude. Land above 2800 m is not used for agriculture in Papua New Guinea...

  10. 4. The Southern Highlands: A hasty transition from unknown to riches and chaos
    (pp. 47-56)
    Joe R. Kanekane

    The late Mathew Kohai, a health adviser with the Department of Southern Highlands, still could not accept the recent developments in Mendi. Having lived there all his life, the Manus Islander was baffled that the once peaceful province is now a place of lawlessness. He sought answers, attempting to identify a particular cause, but could not find one. He recalled the days when systems were functional and public servants like himself were keen to work in the province. He was adamant that things would improve and had no intention of being transferred elsewhere.

    The rest of the province is still...

  11. 5. Cosmology, Morality and Resource Development: SHP election outcomes and moves to establish a separate Hela Province
    (pp. 57-68)
    Nicole Haley

    There have been calls for the establishment of a separate Hela province for the best part of three decades now, and although such a province has not come to fruition the Somare-led national government evidently is sympathetic to the needs and wishes of the Hela peoples. In May 2003, for instance, The National reported that the current government had promised the people of the Southern Highlands a separate Hela province by 2007 (The National 11 May 2003). More recently it has come to light that the national government, through the Boundaries Commission, will ′look into the possibility of a separate...

  12. 6. ′Hoo-Ha in Huli′: Considerations on commotion and community in the Southern Highlands
    (pp. 69-88)
    Laurence Goldman

    Even for the most sensitive of post-colonial consciences, a ′community without conflict′ is neither a destination objective, nor a socially imaginable outcome, desired by any stakeholder constituency (indigene, government or developer) in Papua New Guinea. Anthropologists, in particular, have long argued that disputes per se are not symptomatic of anomie. Social equilibriums are thus not perturbed by, but rather predicated on, cyclic patterns of grievance management. Notwithstanding its historical roots in comparative jurisprudence, the legacy of anthropological research then is that all cultures possess, or become endowed with, a spectrum of social control mechanisms for processing and settling their disputes.¹...

  13. 7. Issues of Stability in the Southern Highlands Province
    (pp. 89-100)
    Laurie Bragge

    The author was assistant district commissioner in charge of the Koroba District from 1974 to 1976, a period spanning self-government in Papua New Guinea under the Australian administration (the era of the kiap or patrol officer) and independence under a Papua New Guinea government. At that time my family and I could safely travel anywhere in the Huli and Duna tribal areas without protection and be welcomed by the people.

    Rural Papua New Guinea often harks back to the peace, stability and service delivery of the kiap era and calls for a return to it. But as this paper will...

  14. 8. The Future of Resource Development in the Southern Highlands
    (pp. 101-106)
    Chris Warrilow

    During my 44 years in Papua New Guinea, and especially during the last decade, I have often said that the key to success in dealing with rural people involves contact, contact, and more contact. The government in Papua New Guinea has lost contact with its rural people. In resource-rich areas the vacuum has, to a large extent, been filled by resource developers through their community affairs staff.

    One of the greatest assets of the latter days of the Australian administration, retained briefly after independence, was the Department of Information and Extension Services. Using its network of rural workers (kiap, didiman,...

  15. 9. Community-Based Development in Tari Present and Prospects
    (pp. 107-122)
    John Vail

    The current situation in Tari is very poor, following a long period of decline. The restoration of law and order, services, and infrastructure is a basic need. But this will not be adequate in itself. A community-based development approach, in which people participate in the improvement of their own living standards, is required if the rural stagnation underlying the current malady is to be overcome. The experience of the Family Health and Rural Improvement Program (FHRIP) and Community Based Health Care (CBHC) in Tari over the past eight years provides a model for development that can provide shared benefits and...

  16. 10. A Brief Overview of Government, Law and Order, and Social Matters in the Tari District
    (pp. 123-128)
    Noel H. Walters

    The 2002 national election highlighted the extent of anarchy throughout the Tari District and greater Huli area — Koroba, Komo and Magarima. Similar situations exist in other regions of the Southern Highlands Province. Early indications of the now rampant situation were observable 15 years ago. What started as pockets of anarchy have now developed to cover the entire province.

    Some of the many factors contributing to the present situation in Tari will be briefly discussed; most also apply to other provincial locations.

    Social evolution has always been apparent in Huli society, but this process increased in intensity 15 years ago...

  17. 11. Porgera Joint Venture′s Presence in the Southern Highlands Province
    (pp. 129-134)
    Kai Lavu

    The Porgera Joint Venture (PJV) operates an open pit gold mine at Porgera, in Enga Province. The principal partner in the PJV is Placer (PNG) Pty Ltd, a subsidiary of Canadian mining company Placer Dome Inc. Mineral Resources Enga Pty Ltd, which represents the Enga provincial government and landholders, holds ten per cent equity in PJV. Although the Porgera mine is located in Enga Province, power lines to the mine cut across SHP, and disgruntled landowners in the SHP have on a number of occasions cut down pylons and damaged lines carrying electricity to the mine site, bringing mining operations...

  18. 12. What if they don′t want your kind of development? Reflections on the Southern Highlands
    (pp. 135-148)
    Maev O′Collins

    In his entry for the Southern Highlands in the Encyclopaedia of Papua New Guinea, McAlpine (1972:1089) noted that:

    The bellicosity of precontact society was indicated by the fighting ditches and trenched roads lined with defensive gate barriers noted by early exploratory patrols.…The District was the last to be brought into contact with European society and partly as a consequence is one of the least developed heavily populated areas.…Isolation and the recency of pacification have delayed economic and social development.

    After the major exploratory patrol by J.G. Hides and L.J. O′Malley in 1935, the Southern Highlands remained relatively undisturbed until after...

  19. 13. Conflict Vulnerability Assessment of the Southern Highlands Province
    (pp. 149-164)
    Neryl Lewis

    The Southern Highlands Province (SHP) is undoubtedly Papua New Guinea′s worst performing province. It is abundant in natural resources and its provincial budget is one of Papua New Guinea′s highest, yet services barely operate and human development indicators are amongst the lowest in Papua New Guinea. Whilst conflict has always been a part of life in SHP, since the late 1990s the incidence of violent conflict and crime has increased markedly. Correlating with this rise in violence has been a serious decline in governance standards and an associated deterioration in basic service delivery.

    This chapter seeks to provide a Conflict...

  20. 14. An Inside Post-mortem on the Southern Highlands: A perspective from Tari
    (pp. 165-180)
    Philip Moya

    The Southern Highlands Province (SHP) comprises eight districts and more than 14 linguistic groups. According to the 2000 Census, the province has a population of 546,256 and a landmass of 23,000 square kilometres. The population growth rate, at 3.4 per cent, is regarded as the highest in the country.

    The 2000 Demographic Survey indicates that there has been no significant improvement in the economic, social and political status of the province. This is clearly evident as the serious law and order problems experienced in the province contribute to the massive decline and deterioration of services — health, education, infrastructure —...

  21. Index
    (pp. 181-186)