State of the Pacific 2018: Referenda in the Pacific

The decolonisation of Melanesia, in the opinion of many in New Caledonia and Bougainville, is not yet over.

New Caledonia will go to the polls in an independence referendum due to take place on 4 November 2018. The electorate is limited to those with long standing ties to the territory, and the outcome of the referendum remains uncertain. The referendum question has been decided, but what will follow it (whatever the outcome) remains to be seen.

Bougainville confronts an uncertain future. The 2001 peace agreement between Bougainville and Papua New Guinea promised Bougainvilleans a say on their political status, and the independence referendum is due to take place in 2019. The PNG and Bougainville governments have reached agreement on arrangements for the referendum but divisive issues remain, above all on whether mining should resume at Panguna or not.

This session examines these two upcoming referenda on future political status in the Pacific Islands.

Chair: Stewart Firth, Fellow, Department of Pacific Affairs, ANU

Speakers:Denise Fisher, Europa Visiting Fellow, Centre for European Studies, ANU

Nic MacLellan, Journalist and Researcher in the Pacific Islands

Thiago Oppermann, Research Fellow, Department of Pacific Affairs, ANU

Anthony Regan, Fellow, Department of Pacific Affairs, ANU

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