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The federal government needs to assist our major banks re-engage with PNG

By Jeffrey Wall - posted Friday, 6 January 2023


The Prime Minister is due to visit Papua New Guinea next week. He will have a full agenda for a short visit.

However, there is one issue I hope he gets a thorough briefing on before he makes the trip.

In recent years the involvement of Australia's major banks in PNG has sadly diminished.

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I don't blame Westpac or ANZ for that. Doing business in PNG is not easy. It is especially difficult for our banks given the dominant position the Bank of South Pacific enjoys in PNG, and BSP has the national government as a shareholder, and almost all government and GOC business is transacted via BSP.

Sadly the Morrison Government did nothing to encourage our banks to remain fully active in PNG. Today both Westpac and ANZ have a limited presence.

At a time when the Albanese Government wants to increase our engagement in PNG and across the South Pacific, the decline in our banking//finance house presence is a serious obstacle to greater business investment.

The Prime Minister might well ask his officials if there is any way the government might help encourage our banks to re-engage.

Without government help that won't happen.

The PM might consult the banks on what reasonably might be done to assist them do so.

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There are an increasing number of PNG businesspeople interested in doing business in Australia- and entering joint ventures with Australian businesses. That needs to be encouraged.

The absence of a substantial Australian bank presence in PNG is most certainly an obstacle to that.

But there is another factor that deserves urgent consideration.

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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.

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All articles by Jeffrey Wall

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

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