A new neighbour
Australia could soon have a new country on its doorstep.
In June 2019, the people of Bougainville, a province that is part of Papua New Guinea, will vote in an independence referendum. Earlier this month, leaders from both sides finally agreed that the question to be put will be: “Do you agree for Bougainville to have: (1) Greater Autonomy (2) Independence.”
The referendum marks a welcome development in an island province that is still recovering from a horrific conflict and has never seen itself as part of either Papua New Guinea or Australia, which controlled it until 1975. But a shift towards independence carries risks, especially when the fate of Bougainville’s most famous asset – Panguna, one of the world’s largest copper mines – remains so patently unresolved. CONTINUE READING