By Alastair Davis, an intern with the Lowy Institute's Melanesia program

  • The election campaign is underway in Vanuatu and the Melanesian Spearhead Group and the Commonwealth have sent observer groups led by former Solomon Islands Prime Minister Sir Francis Billy Hilly and former Bahamas Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham respectively.
  • Staying in Vanuatu, while there are a wealth of parties and candidates contesting the election, female representation is low with only eight women among the 183 candidates announced to date.
  • This DevPolicy report examines the latest Papua New Guinea Public Expenditure and Financial Accountability assessment, the results of which underscore the need for a transparent and inclusive reform process.
  • PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has announced a cabinet reshuffle and signaled a renewed focus on the Bougainville independence referendum by adding the Bougainville Affairs portfolio to his PM duties.
  • 2015 Aus-PNG Emerging Leaders Dialogue participant, David Kitchnoge writes thoughtfully on the historical links between PNG and Australia, and the importance of capitalising on the agrarian strengths of PNG for development.
  • In the Solomon islands, a $3 million payout to ex-members of the Malaita Eagle Force militia has stirred up controversy and been roundly criticised by leaders associated with the rehabilitation process.
  • A 'Facebook for fieldworkers' has been launched to connect aidworkers, academics and journalists working in remote or difficult environments. The developer, researcher Dr Scott Flower, felt universities don't prepare graduates well enough after spending time in PNG.
  • The Indonesian government has revoked the visa application of a French journalist, Cyril Payen, who had produced a documentary on West Papua. Last year President Joko Widodo promised to open Papua up to foreign media.  
  • The Lowy Institute’s Jonathan Pryke analyses what the latest IMF report on the PNG economy says about the cost of 2018’s APEC summit and actual levels of public debt.
  • The reconstruction effort in Vanuatu post cyclone Pam has an emphasis on traditional housing materials over bricks and mortar ( H/T Kirk Huffman).