Annual report on coasters proves a winner
Management of LNG revenue key to future

Symposium looks at PNG now & in future

EXPERTS FROM Australia and PNG are hoping to help broaden understanding of PNG at a symposium organised by Deakin University's Alfred Deakin Research Institute and Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs Richard Marles MP on Friday.

Institute Director, Prof David Lowe, said that after World War II Australians had had a high level of engagement and understanding of PNG, partly based on Australia's involvement in helping the country move toward nationhood.

But since then interest in the country had waned, politically, socially and academically.

“We feel that Australians' knowledge of PNG has really slipped,” he said. “We need to rediscover our closest neighbour and develop a much deeper understanding of what, in 20 years time, will be an even more important relationship to us.”

Professor Lowe said PNG's new generation of political leaders would confront many important challenges.

“PNG is blessed with an extraordinarily rich natural-resource endowment, including vast reserves of natural gas and other minerals, which could help it prosper in the future.

“But managing the growth in revenue from its mineral resources and distributing it across the rapidly growing population will be a major challenge for the PNG government.”

Prof Lowe said PNG also faced other challenges. It is still grappling with the social and environmental impacts of mining activities along the Ok Tedi and Fly Rivers, and has to develop ways to respond to growing interest from international investors, including China.

“The country's geography, while stunningly beautiful and environmentally significant, also poses other challenges,” he said. “At the most basic level, it's extremely difficult to get from A to B. Road links are undeveloped and transporting goods and people in PNG can be complicated.

“Bougainville, having endured a long conflict, is due to vote on its future status some time between 2015 and 2020. This will be of great significance to Australia, and to the region,” he added.

Presenters from business, government, academia and the wider community will offer perspectives on a range of topics, including the minerals sector, the economy, development, the law, and women in society.

By bringing together academics from across Australia and from PNG, the symposium also aims to generate in Australia renewed interest in PNG studies, and to strengthen academic collaborations within the South Pacific region, in fields as diverse as the natural sciences, language, history, the arts and conflict resolution.

“These are crucial times for PNG, for Melanesia and the wider South Pacific and I am pleased the Institute is able to play a key role bringing together experts from PNG and Australia,” Professor Lowe said.

Source: Campus Daily

Note – PNG Attitude publisher Keith Jackson was invited to contribute at the the symposium but an overseas trip prevented this


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

David Kitchnoge

Good initiative. However, I hope everyone comes to the discussion table with no prejudice and with an open mind that is ready to understand the various complexities that make PNG what it is.

I hope the discussion will centre around trying to really understand who we are as a people first and foremost. And I hope it is not about trying to understand what economic potential we have that is available for exploitation.

I know Australia always has good intentions for us, but if you don’t take the time to really understand what makes us tick, you may well end up destroying us while trying to help.

Any effort in trying to get us integrated into the modern world must not be done in isolation from the various factors on the ground that make us what we are.

For example, our social safety net in the wantok system must be understood properly and in its entirety before trying to help us.

We can not afford to belittle the wantok system as “just another benevolence scheme that makes Papua New Guineans lazy” and go on talking about ‘development’ without first understanding the implications of rubbishing such an important and crucial socio-economic structure.

Gelab Piak

I think it is true that Australians needs to learn more about PNG. In high school Geography class, we studied the climate of Australia, wind patterns, months, etc and we had to memorise them because we'd be tested on them.

Many Papua New Guneans, even children, know the names of popular Australian cities like Sydney and Brisbane. Most PNG kids are familiar with Aussie NRL players and stars, not PNG Kumuls players, or Port Moresby Vipers players.

We are so submerged in Australia and Australian things, as evident that even small kids know that Australia is a country more modern than ours. They'd sometimes joke to one another during play time, 'hey buddy, you coming from Australia?'

But I thnk it's a good thing. I don't know why, but I just think it is.

Robin Mead

Australia's need to re-engage in its relationship with PNG was raised this morning on ABC Radio.

In a brief but wide-ranging interview with the ABC's Fran Kelly, Professor Andrew Mcintyre outlined some of the factors involved, including the shift of Australia's focus away over the last 25 years engendered partly by emerging trade issues to the north as well as perceptions around law and order and governance.

He also looked at other changes in the last ten years with financial regulations in PNG, as well as the growth of mobile phone use and the Australiano aid program.

The symposium in melbourne later this week is being actively supported by the Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs. Watch this space.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)