SSGM Seminar Series
Date & time
On 11 May, voters in New Caledonia went to the polls to elect representatives to three provincial assemblies (North, South and Loyalty Islands) and the local Congress. This year's elections in New Caledonia are a crucial step in the path to self-determination: after 15 years transition under the 1998 Noumea Accord, the incoming Congress can decide by 3/5 majority to proceed to a scheduled referendum on independence.
Bougainville - another of Australia's Melanesian neighbours €“ is also undertaking a transition to a new political status, with general elections in 2015 being seen as especially important, because those elected will be negotiating the detailed arrangements for the referendum on Bougainville independence that must be held between mid-2015 and mid-2020.
Journalist and researcher Nic Maclellan has just returned from New Caledonia, where he visited all three provinces during the election campaign. He will discuss the new alliances and divisions that will determine the future of the French Pacific dependency: opponents of independence are divided amongst several competing parties, while the independence movement has united in a single electoral ticket for the crucial Southern province €“ the first united front since 1989.
Part one of the seminar will analyse the make-up of New Caledonia's incoming Congress, the election of women under New Caledonia's parity law, debates over the restricted electoral roll and the significance of the election results for the final five-year term of the Noumea Accord.
In Part two of the seminar, Nic Maclellan and SSGM's Anthony Regan will discuss the parallels and divergences between the self-determination transition in New Caledonia and Bougainville, as both nations move towards a new political status. With crucial decisions to be finalised in the next few years, they will compare and contrast: constitutional and electoral reform; post-conflict reconciliation; the role of mining and economic equity; the viability of state institutions; integration into the MSG, Forum and regional institutions; and implications for the Australian government.
Nic Maclellan is a correspondent for Islands Business magazine (Fiji) who has written widely on the French territories in the Pacific. He is co-author of La France dans le Pacifique - de Bougainville Ã Moruroa (Editions La DÃ©couverte, Paris) and After Moruroa €“ France in the South Pacific (Ocean Press, New York and Melbourne). SSGM has published his discussion papers on New Caledonia and his report on the 2009 elections: €œNew Government in New Caledonia: The May 2009 Elections in a French Pacific Territory€ (SSGM Briefing Note Number 3/2009).
Anthony Regan is a constitutional lawyer who specialises in constitutional development as part of conflict resolution. Has lived and worked in Papua New Guinea for 15 years and in Uganda for over three years. In PNG he advised government on decentralisation policy and law and taught at the UPNG Law Faculty. He has been an adviser to Bougainville parties in the Bougainville peace process since 1994.