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Too Close to Ignore

Australia's Borderland with PNG and Indonesia

Jodie Curth-Bibb Mark Moran



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Melbourne University Press
31 March 2020
Less than five kilometres from Australia's most northern islands in the Torres Strait lies the southern coast of Papua New Guinea (PNG). The people living on the PNG side of the border along the South Fly coast live in abject poverty, with a near total absence of services and infrastructure. The disparity in income, housing and health outcomes when compared with their nearby neighbours and relatives in the Torres Strait Islands, is extreme.

The border is the focus of a range of interventions by the Australian and Queensland governments, including border protection, quarantine, marine resource management, and infectious disease control, including an alarming outbreak of multi-drug resistant tuberculosis. Restrictions are increasing on trading, fishing and access to Australian services. However, questions remain as to whether this focus is having unintended consequences, increasing the destitution and frustration on the PNG side, in turn exacerbating the security threat to Australia. And as the Australian border hardens, the Indonesian border beckons.

This book presents the results of three years of research into the unique social and political geography of the borderland. The Torres Strait Treaty between Australia and PNG serves to construct a complex institutional layering, a tiered economy and a hierarchy of identities between those South Fly villagers who have rights under the Treaty to travel into Australia, and those who do not. This creates a politics of expectation and frustration that permeates everyday life along the South Fly coast, through which development projects must navigate.
By:   Jodie Curth-Bibb, Mark Moran
Imprint:   Melbourne University Press
Country of Publication:   Australia
Dimensions:   Height: 233mm,  Width: 155mm,  Spine: 22mm
Weight:   420g
ISBN:   9780522875478
ISBN 10:   0522875475
Pages:   312
Publication Date:   31 March 2020
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Mark Moran leads the Development Effectiveness Group at the Institute for Social Science Research, University of Queensland. His career spans academia, nonprofits, government and consultancy. He has worked in a range of international and indigenous contexts, including Papua New Guinea, Timor Leste, China, Bolivia and Lesotho, and remote Indigenous communities in Australia. His writing has appeared in the Griffith Review, the Conversation and the Australian newspaper. His book Serious Whitefella Stuff- When Solutions Became the Problem in Indigenous Affairs (MUP) was published in 2016. Jodie Curth-Bibb is a Teaching and Research Fellow for the University of Queensland's Institute of Social Science Research. She has worked across research and practice for over ten years with a focus on public sector reform and institutional capacity development in Pacific Islands countries. Jodie previously held the position of Pacific Manager for the University of Queensland's International Development group where she designed major capacity building and teaching programs for the PNG public service.

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