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08 August 2008

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That there are so few Papua New Guinean members of the PNGAA is a matter the organisation needs to address urgently. One of the aims of our effort to transform the organisation is to make it more relevant to the Australia-PNG relationship and that inevitably means broadening and diversifying its membership.

There is no embracing organisation of this kind in Australia. And I believe the PNGAA should be it. To this end, I hope the PNGAA can get closer to organsiations like the PNG Wantok Club of Sydney, which is comprised largely of Papua New Guineans resident or studying in Australia. We need to be at least talking together about what we have in common and how we might be able to cooperate.

By the way the Wantok Club is having picnic in Centennial Park today, a lovely Sydney winter's day, which I'm about to head off to, and meet some of its members for the first time.

In addition to the joint aims of becoming a truly national organisation and looking to developing a more representative membership from the Australian population, there is third aim that could also be just as important to our organisation.

The PNGAA has historically comprised of Australians who have worked and visited PNG. If however, we are trying to foster better and closer relations with PNG, why not invite PNG people to also join our association? Many international organisations that work to foster relationships between two countries, consider membership from both countries as axiomatic.

Perhaps a new name for our nationally focussed association should be the PNG and Australia Association? Or is this concept this replicating an existing organisation?

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