THE CURRENT foreign aid framework between Papua New Guinea and Australia is out-dated and needs to be fixed, according to the Australian High Commissioner to PNG, Bruce Davis.
“There is much in the relationship that is positive,” Mr Davis (pictured) said at a conference in Port Moresby. “But there is one thing that I would like to see recast,”
Australia and Papua New Guinea should not be seen as donor and recipient nations but as economic and strategic partners.
He said for too long the relationship had been framed by the issue of foreign aid.
“We need to fix that. We need to recast that framing. It’s out-dated, and does not reflect the reality of our deep and broad bilateral partnership.”
“Australian business investment in PNG stands at a massive 45 billion kina. Two-way trade between our countries amounted to almost 14 billion kina last year [and] there are over 5,000 Australian companies that do business here.
“To me the story from these numbers is clear,” he said. “They tell me it is economic cooperation that is at the heart of the relationship, not our aid program. They tell a story of a contemporary relationship, a contemporary partnership.”
Mr Davis went on to say that it is no longer appropriate for Australia to be seen as a financier of basic service delivery.
“Instead our development cooperation must support our economic partnership,” he said. “This does not mean that we will not support service delivery – we will.
“We have significant and ongoing investments in health, education, women’s equality, law and justice, governance and transport.”
Mr Davis said that in these key areas more focus must be placed on helping improve governance, attracting further finance, trialling new solutions, training the next generation of PNG’s leaders, supporting institutional partnerships and reducing gender based violence.
He said that one of the key institutional partnerships was the creation of the new Pacific Leadership and Governance Precinct.
“The precinct is a joint initiative of our two countries to continue to develop capable and ethical leaders who will drive economic growth and improve service delivery,” Mr Davis said.