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Austrade should be partnering with PNG


IN HIS usual combative, rapid-response, fire from the hip style, our intrepid John ‘Moses’ Fowke did not answer his own question of how Australia can help PNG fight corruption through good governance.

John avoided the big issue question stimulated by the article What should Australia do about PNG while seeming to deny that AusAID is an ongoing problem.

John’s response would have been more helpful if it touched upon key areas requiring change other than local level government.

For example, should we turn our back on AusAID, considering its ineffectiveness ('boomerang aid'), or do we try to make it better.

Perhaps AusAID should be scrapped and Austrade substituted in a partnership arrangement between our two countries. I think so.

PM Julia Gillard needs to rethink Australia's aid arrangements with PNG. It is time to make a paradigm shift in policy towards PNG.

Australia would better serve PNG by implementing more bilateral trade. Ms Gillard must consider increased trade rather than the gesture of giving aid.

AusAID has come under criticism because much of its aid boomerangs back to Australia, with PNG not having much to show. Moreover, AusAID must not be seen as the only way Australia can help PNG with advice and instruction.

I agree with Moses that the educated middle class should work together to turn the country around and I agree this is every citizen's job, from PM Somare to the villager.

That said, this strategy of getting everyone working together will take a long time; but change; no matter how hard, will eventually come to PNG.

Despite DFAT's best efforts over the years to improve AusAID's deficiencies, aid recipients like PNG are still complaining that effectiveness needs to be improved.

Local aid projects need to be better factored into the government's own development plans so they can be better managed and have their progress monitored to pre-determined milestones.

AusAID is a one-sided policy contributing to political corruption in PNG.

A new trade policy between PNG and Australia under a partnership framework is much needed, because it will have more benefits than the current aid arrangements.

I am confident Julia Gillard can go one better than both John Howard and Kevin Rudd.

You can link here to a trade  fact sheet focusing on Australia’s trade with PNG.


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Joy Pokana

I agree with Reginald. PNG needs to increase its trade balance with Australia in future rather than keep throwing good money away into more expensive AusAID programs that have been so far proven overall to be not effectively delivered.

Bruce Copeland

Buka - Please read my comment below. What kind of trade are you thinking of that is not being conducted today? What does PNG have to sell that Australia needs?

Australia has to commit itself to PNG for the long term. There is no argument on that. To be cynical we have to say that if Australia does not, China will.

Buka Toansi

Bruce - Do you still want AusAID to continue in PNG or do you want PNG to do more trade with Australia.

Many PNGeans do not think Australia really cares for its former colony as it did a terrible job of not preparing it for Independence and now wastes a lot of its taxpayers' money by spoon-feeding PNG to this day. When will all this stop?

Bruce Copeland

Papua Tauna - My only thought is that a priority task is to maximise the sale of fruit and vegetables on the domestic market.

This would involve improvement of infrastructure, particularly roads and bridges. The highlands highway would be a good start.

There is so much produce in this country that rots on the ground because of landslides, tribal wars, floods and bridges damaged.

I doubt that PNG producers could keep a steady supply up to Australian buyers to keep them happy.

Papua Tauna

Bruce, maybe your 17 years living in PNG can give us some insight into the trade aspects of PNG and Australia engaging with more than aid.

Bruce Copeland

We read in the media the view that PNG needs trade not aid from Australia We really have to be realistic about this. PNG does not have products to trade except those normally sold.

Development economists have a scale of 1-6 to categorise nations. The countries at the bottom have no products to sell but coconuts and fish. They may rely on tourism.

PNG would be level 2 with timber, minerals, oil and natural gas to sell. There is tourism. Basic secondary industries exist such as making soft drink, beer, paint, chemicals, water tanks with construction of buildings as well as assembly of technical equipment. Tertiary industries exist in health and education.

Australia would be at levels 4-5 with primary and secondary produce made available and sold overseas. So too extensive tertiary industry is produced to be made available commercially overseas, particularly in the areas of health, education and defence.

All PNG can sell overseas is being sold. The exception is fruit and vegetables. We have to realise there is an extensive home producing market in Australia for fruit and vegetables. There is PNG tea, coffee, cacao and oil palm sold overseas.

PNG people should not call for trade not aid. Australia may take them seriously. Besides, Australia has a thriving consultancy industry funded by boomerang aid.

Produce is often sold between countries on the basis of what is called ‘resources diplomacy’. You take our oranges and we will take your electrical goods. What has PNG to offer for trade diplomacy?

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