And with the Abbott government determined to cut back on foreign aid, and PNG having long expressed a convenient relaxation with the concept, yesterday’s 22nd Australia-Papua New Guinea Ministerial Forum seemed a good opportunity to re-invent an old friendship.
Thus the official statements were able to boldly assert a ‘pledge’ that the governments of Australia and Papua New Guinea would take a “fresh approach” to their relationship.
For her part, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said it was time to move the relationship beyond the ‘stereotypes’ of aid donor and aid recipient.
"We decided it is time to look afresh at the development assistance," she said. "We are the largest donor to PNG and we want to ensure the funding we provide is able to go to developing a sustainable economy.
"We want to move away from direct service delivery like medicines and schoolbooks."
Of course these are the tangibles that, by and large don’t interest corrupt PNG fat cats because it is hard to make a decent quid out of them.
So what do you get when you don’t get medicines and schoolbooks?
"A strong law and order focus," Ms Bishop said, “because that also affects investment confidence and economic growth in a number of areas.”
Counterpart Foreign Minister, Rimbink Pato, responded that the “new focus is on a partnership which has matured and how we can partner together to benefit mutually from the economic growth taking place in Papua New Guinea."
And so, to the sound of mutual back scratching and saccharine words, those superannuated pesky medical and educational supplies shuffled off reluctantly into the distance.