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Australian taxpayer funds Chinese construction companies in PNG

By Jeffrey Wall - posted Tuesday, 11 May 2021


While Canberra ponders a very expensive cancellation of the China-controlled Darwin Port, it has an opportunity to slow, if not halt, the absolute monopoly Chinese construction companies have over infrastructure projects in Papua New Guinea.

The facts, and they are facts, I reveal here, demand not only an answer from the Australian Government, they demand action!

The question is whether or not the government has the will to do so?

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Australia was a founding member of the Asian Development Bank. As such it enjoys a privileged status at the ADB. The Federal Treasurer is a Vice President, and a senior Australian official holds a privileged position at the ADB Headquarters in Manila.

You would think this would entitle, no require, Australia, to ensure that when the ADB awards contracts for major infrastructure projects in Papua New Guinea, and the South Pacific, both Australian and Papua New Guinea construction companies get a "fair go" in the tendering process.

Membership of the ADB is determined by the percentage of shares held, Australia holds just over 4 per cent, while China has just over 5 per cent. Australia subscribes around $450m a year as part of the process. That means China contributes a similar amount.

Since Australia joined the ADB it has contributed $8.8 billion in capital commitments and $2.8 billion in special payments.

Since we joined the ADB, Australian companies and contractors have received just $1.7 billion worth of ADB contracts!

Even looking at ADB contracts in Papua New Guinea alone, Chinese companies have been awarded much more, especially in recent years. As I write, China is pushing PNG to sign up to at least $2 billion in road projects, mainly funded by the ADB.

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The question really is – are we getting a fair deal, and are PNG companies getting a fair deal? And are our tenderers totally disadvantaged when it comes to ADB funded projects? And is Papua New Guinea getting high quality infrastructure from the effective monopoly Chinese companies hold over major infrastructure work?

The answer is No! No! No!

You don't have to take my word for that.

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About the Author

Jeffrey Wall CSM CBE is a Brisbane Political Consultant and has served as Advisor to the PNG Foreign Minister, Sir Rabbie Namaliu Prime Minister 1988-1992 and Speaker 1994-1997.

Other articles by this Author

All articles by Jeffrey Wall

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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