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A special relationship - PNG and Australia

By Julie Bishop - posted Thursday, 15 March 2012

Australia has a deep and enduring relationship with PNG and while the relationship has challenges it also hold enormous potential.

Our common bonds, shared history and the proximity of our shores mean there will always be a range of shared interests.

The Coalition has been deeply critical of the Gillard Government for neglecting our near neighbours as it pursues its grand adventure for votes for a temporary seat on the United Nations Security Council.


It is widely reported that the Australian Government has taken its eyes off our region.

The recent political upheaval in PNG should serve as a wake-up call.

PNG must be one of Australia's highest foreign policy priorities. In government, the Coalition will seek to be judged on what it does when it comes to the bilateral relationship, not what it says it will do.

In early April I plan to visit Papua New Guinea with a group of my Coalition colleagues from North Queensland who have a strong interest and commitment to Australia-PNG relations.

This will be my second extended visit to PNG in the past year, having spent a number of days in Port Moresby and the Southern Highlands last July.

In government, we will not only work to broaden, deepen and diversify the relationship at a government-to-government level, but also, as importantly, at a community and person-to-person level as well.


Our vision for the relationship moves it away from the outdated stereotype of aid donor and recipient to a broad economic and strategic partnership.

As revenue from PNG's resource projects boosts its economy, Australian aid will play a comparatively lesser role in PNG's development.

Making sure that the benefits of Papua New Guinea's economic boom are shared by its citizens will be an important challenge for the PNG Government.

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About the Author

Julie Bishop is the Federal Member for Curtin, Deputy Leader of the Opposition and Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs.

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