R.J. May

Dr R.J. May is an emeritus fellow of The Australian National University, attached to the Department of Pacific Affairs. He was formerly a senior economist with the Reserve Band of Australia, foundation director of the National Research Institute of Papua New Guinea and head of the Department of Political and Social Change, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies at The Australian National University. In 1976 he was awarded the Independence Medal for his service to banking and research in Papua New Guinea.

State and Society in Papua New Guinea, 2001–2021 »

Authored by: R.J. May
Publication date: 2022
In a previous volume, State and Society in Papua New Guinea: The First Twenty-Five Years (2001, reprinted by ANU E Press in 2004), a collection of papers by the author published between 1971 and 2001 was put together to mark Papua New Guinea’s first 25 years as an independent state. This volume presents a collection of papers written between 2001 and 2021, which update the story of political and social development in Papua New Guinea in the first two decades of the twenty-first century. The chapters cover a range of topics, from an evaluation of proposals for political reform in the early 2000s, a review of the discussion of ‘failing states’ in the island Pacific and the shift to limited preferential voting in 2007, to a detailed account of political developments from the move against Sir Michael Somare in 2011 to the election of Prime Minister Marape and his performance to 2022. There are also chapters on language policy, external and internal security, religious fundamentalism and national identity, and the sustainability of economic growth.

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Election 2007 »

The Shift to Limited Preferential Voting in Papua New Guinea

Edited by: R.J. May, Ray Anere, Nicole Haley, Katherine Wheen
Publication date: September 2013
Papua New Guinea’s general election in 2007 attracted particular interest for several reasons. Not only did it follow what was widely acknowledged as the country’s worst election ever, in 2002 (in which elections in six of the country’s 109 electorates were declared to be ‘failed elections’), it was the first general election to be held under a new limited preferential voting system. It also followed the first full parliamentary term under the Organic Law on the Integrity of Political Parties and Candidates, which had been introduced in 2001 in an attempt to strengthen political parties and create a greater degree of stability in the national parliament, and was the first to embrace a ‘whole-of-government’ approach to electoral administration, through an Interdepartmental Electoral Committee. This volume provides an analysis of the 2007 election, drawing on the work of a domestic monitoring team organized through the National Research Institute, and several visiting scholars. It addresses key issues such as voter education, electoral administration, election security, the role of political parties, women as candidates and voters, the shift to limited preferential voting, and HIV transmission, and provides detailed accounts of the election in a number of open and provincial electorates. It is generally agreed that the election of 2007 was an improvement on that of 2002. But problems of electoral administration and voting behaviour remain. These are identified in this volume, and recommendations made for electoral reform.

Policy Making and Implementation »

Studies from Papua New Guinea

Edited by: R.J. May
Publication date: September 2009
There is a vast literature on the principles of public administration and good governance, and no shortage of theoreticians, practitioners and donors eager to push for public sector reform, especially in less-developed countries. Papua New Guinea has had its share of public sector reforms, frequently under the influence of multinational agencies and aid donors. Yet there seems to be a general consensus, both within and outside Papua New Guinea, that policy making and implementation have fallen short of expectations, that there has been a failure to achieve ‘good governance’. This volume, which brings together a number of Papua New Guinean and Australian-based scholars and practitioners with deep familiarity of policy making in Papua New Guinea, examines the record of policy making and implementation in Papua New Guinea since independence. It reviews the history of public sector reform in Papua New Guinea, and provides case studies of policy making and implementation in a number of areas, including the economy, agriculture, mineral development, health, education, lands, environment, forestry, decentralization, law and order, defence, women and foreign affairs, privatization, and AIDS. Policy is continuously evolving, but this study documents the processes of policy making and implementation over a number of years, with the hope that a better understanding of past successes and failures will contribute to improved governance in the future.

Conflict and Resource Development in the Southern Highlands of Papua New Guinea »

Edited by: Nicole Haley, R.J. May
Publication date: November 2007
The Southern Highlands is one of Papua New Guinea’s most resource-rich provinces, but for a number of years the province has been riven by conflict. Longstanding inter-group rivalries, briefly set aside during the colonial period, have been compounded by competition for the benefits provided by the modern state and by fighting over the distribution of returns from the several big mining and petroleum projects located within the province or impinging upon it. Deaths from the various conflicts over the past decade number in the hundreds. As a result of inter-group fighting, criminal activity and vandalism, a number of businesses have withdrawn from the province. Roadblocks and ambushes have made travel dangerous in many parts and expatriate missionaries and aid workers have left. Many public servants have abandoned their posts with the result that state services are not provided. Corruption is rife. Police are often reluctant to act because they are outnumbered and outgunned. This volume brings together a number of authors with deep experience of the Southern Highlands to examine the underlying dynamics of resource development and conflict in the province. Its primary purpose is to provide some background to recent events, but the authors also explore possible approaches to limiting the human and economic costs of the ongoing conflict and breakdown of governance.

State and Society in Papua New Guinea »

The First Twenty-Five Years

Authored by: R.J. May
Publication date: May 2004
On the eve of Papua New Guinea’s independence in 1975 there were many – both within the country and outside – who predicted political anarchy, with the possibility of an army coup or authoritarian single-party dominance, and economic collapse. Such fears appeared to have been justified when in 1975 both the North Solomons (Bougainville) and Papua unilaterally declared their independence. In fact, however, PNG achieved a smooth transition, and in its first decade as a new state enjoyed a high degree of political and economic progress. It remains one of the few post-colonial states that has maintained an unbroken record of democratic government. Nevertheless, from around the mid-1980s a number of problems have become apparent, including: a decline in government capability; increasing problems of urban and rural lawlessness; poor economic management, with growing evidence of nepotism and corruption; environmental degradation associated with mining and logging, and increasing pressure on land; and, from 1988, a rebellion on Bougainville. This volume brings together a number of papers written by the author between 1971 and 2001 which address issues of political and economic development and social change in Papua New Guinea. Dr R.J. May is a senior fellow in the Department of Political and Social Change, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies at The Australian National University. He was formerly a senior economist with the Reserve Bank of Australia and later foundation director of IASER in PNG (now the National Research Institute). In 1976 he was awarded the Independence Medal for his services to banking and research in PNG.

The Military and Democracy in Asia and the Pacific »

Edited by: R.J. May, Viberto Selochan
Publication date: March 2004
In The Military and Democracy in Asia and the Pacific, a number of prominent regional specialists take a fresh look at the military’s changing role in selected countries of Asia and the Pacific, particularly with regard to the countries’ performance against criteria of democratic government. Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, Burma, Pakistan, Bangladesh, South Korea, Fiji and Papua New Guinea all fall under the spotlight as the authors examine the role which the military has played in bringing about changes of political regime, and in resisting pressures for change. Under the auspices of The Australian National University’s Department of Political and Social Change, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, and within the context of the Regime Change and Regime Maintenance in Asia and the Pacific project, the following contributors compiled The Military and Democracy in Asia and the Pacific: Emajuddin Ahamed, Suchit Bunbongkarn, Stephanie Lawson, R. J. May, Hasan-Askari Rizvi, Viberto Selochan, Josef Silverstein, Michael Vatikiotis and Yung Myung Kim. The Military and Democracy in Asia and the Pacific provides a sequel to Viberto Selochan’s earlier collection, The Military, the State, and Development in Asia and the Pacific (1991).