Alfred Deakin Research Institute

2014 Papua New Guinea Symposium: PNG and the World

Theme - PNG and the World

Perhaps as never before, PNG is engaging with the world, giving rise to new and complex questions that require considered attention and discussion:

  • In its relationship with Australia, PNG is bound up in the complex and difficult matter of international asylum seeker politics, and is currently grappling with the implications of its 2013 decision to participate in Australia's regional resettlement policy. What role can or should PNG play in this issue?

  • In 2014 the first revenues from the colossal PNG Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) project will arrive, bringing with them the promise of economic bounty but also the challenges of managing profound change to the nation's economy and society. What challenges are implicit in these large-scale resource projects? How will they affect the survival of 'traditiona' PNG?

  • Vision 2050 has set the goal for PNG to be 'ranked in the top 50 countries in the United Nations Human Development Index'. Are there other factors, such as happiness, or particular Melanesian ways and values, which need to be considered to establish a more nuanced measure of development and well-being than the Human Development Index? Does the long-term framework in Vision 2050 provide a more realistic ambition than the 2015 Millennium Development Goals?

  • It could be said that PNG first came to world attention in 1914, and then more emphatically in 1942, when it became an important theatre of World War. Has the historical attention to both the First and Second Wars in the region served PNG well? What lessons are there to be drawn for PNG's understanding of the role it and its people have played in such world-wide conflicts?

  • With its population of seven million and its increasingly sophisticated and urban society, PNG identifies itself in the Pacific region as a major sub-regional power, but is it punching below its weight, or is it aiming too high? What is PNG's role in our region?

  • It is not only PNG that is changing; the geopolitics in the region and the world are also in flux. China, a growing world superpower, is increasingly active in PNG and the Pacific. Looking westwards, PNG's immediate neighbour Indonesia is experiencing a major democratic transition in 2014 with presidential, parliamentary, and provincial elections. What impacts on PNG will these geopolitical shifts have, and how should PNG respond? How could, or should, these impact on PNG's relationship with Australia and with its colonial past?

  • The 2015 Pacific Games and the 2018 APEC Leaders' Forum will both contribute to showcasing PNG to the world. How will its reputation be affected by how the nation and its peoples respond to these keynote events?

  • PNG is also connected to other parts of the world by important flows of ideas, beliefs, people, and material goods. The growth in use of Information Communication Technologies, including mobile phones and the internet, is creating new possibilities for connections with outsider people and places, and for projecting PNG voices within the world. At the same time, Papua New Guineans are physically travelling outside of the country more, and further, than ever before. How do these flows affect the ways that PNG relates to other nations?

Deakin University acknowledges the traditional land owners of present campus sites.

18th August 2014