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On 10 October 2019, the ANU Department of Pacific Affairs hosted a symposium entitled, Bougainville & Papua New Guinea on the Eve of the Referendum. The event brought together players in the processes that have led to the referendum and community voices including:
• Dennis Kuiai - Acting Secretary, Department of Peace Agreement and Implementation, Autonomous Bougainville Government
• James Tanis - President’s Special Envoy on Peace Agreement Implementation & Advisor to the National Government of Papua New Guinea
• Rose Pihei - Bougainville Integrated Community Learning Centre
• Barbara Tanne - Bougainville Women’s Federation & Representative of the Churches of Bougainville
These speakers were joined by some of Australia’s leading authorities on Bougainville politics and society including Ted Wolfers, Satish Chand, Kerryn Baker, Thiago Cintra Oppermann, and Anthony Regan.
The three sessions were recorded and are available below.
The first session which involved a discussion between Dennis Kuiai, James Tanis, and Anthony Regan was entitled, Current state of play: referendum preparations and process. Speakers responded to questions including;
What are the expectations and concerns of the Government of Papua New Guinea and the Autonomous Bougainville Government in relation to the referendum? What is the role of the Bougainville Referendum Commission? What is the status of preparations - awareness efforts, voter registration and finalisation of the roll, recruitment of polling officials etc.? What are the regulations for campaigning and campaign funding? How have different groups and actors – women, youth, churches and former combatants – engaged in the referendum debate in Bougainville so far? How are the Government of Papua New Guinea and the Autonomous Bougainville Government preparing for the post-referendum period?
The second session which involved a discussion between Rose Pihei, Barbara Tanne, and Thiago Cintra Oppermann was entitled, Civil society perspectives on the challenges and opportunities presented by the referendum.
Speakers responded to questions including;
How has Bougainvillean civil society prepared for the referendum? Are Bougainvilleans ready for the referendum? What is the understanding of independence and ‘enhanced autonomy’ amongst Bougainvilleans? What are the major issues for Bougainvilleans on the eve of the referendum?
The third session entitled, Prospects for Papua New Guinea and Bougainville after the referendum, saw academics Ted Wolfers, Satish Chand, Kerryn Baker, and Anthony Regan in discussion with Dennis Kuiai, and James Tanis.
Speakers discussed questions including;
How has Papua New Guinea approached the issue of Bougainvillean independence aspirations? What are the implications for Papua New Guinea of the referendum? Is there a ‘third option’ to independence or greater autonomy and what might that be? What are the potential economic implications of independence or enhanced autonomy, for Papua New Guinea and for Bougainville? What is the status of the Bougainville Peace Agreement after 2020? What is the future of the relationship between Papua New Guinea and Bougainville post-referendum? Are the any implications of the referendum for Bougainville’s neighbours?
The event also saw the launch of two new publications:
A new publication by DPA’s Anthony Regan: The Bougainville Referendum: Law, Administration and Politics
A new book by DPA’s Kerryn Baker: Pacific Women in Politics: Gender Quota Campaigns in the Pacific Islands