The PNG Solution

In the context of the at times heated commentary over 'the PNG Solution', it is timely to take a fresh look at our relationship.

A packed-out audience at the Australia and PNG Policy Forum.
A packed-out audience at the Australia and PNG Policy Forum.

The Alfred Deakin Research Institute hosted another of its very successful Policy Forums this week, focusing on 'Australia and Papua New Guinea'. These forums offer a considered and insightful perspective on contemporary issues facing Australian society.

Only a few kilometres separate PNG from Australia across the Torres Strait. Yet sometimes it seems a wide gulf lies between our two nations.The Regional Resettlement Agreement - otherwise known as ‘the PNG Solution’ - is just the latest iteration of this complex relationship, which in one form or another reaches back a century or more.

PNG is an influential member of our region, a strong partner with a thriving resources-based economy. Yet its human development indicators continue to diminish the country and its people. The implications for Australia of a failing PNG are unacceptable; and there are many reasons for both our nations to work together.

The Forum saw PNG’s High Commissioner, His Excellency Charles W. Lepani, joined by influential opinion leaders from Australia, will speak on the subject of the relationship between PNG and Australia.

After a delightful breakfast at Deakin Prime, the forum was opened by The Hon. Richard Marles and chaired by ADRI Director, Prof David Lowe.

His Excellency Charles W. Lepani gave us some first-hand contextual insight into the current economic and public policy environment in PNG and the sorts of changes they are experiencing in public sector planning system (including aid coordination).

Mr Rowan Callick, Asia-Pacific Editor for The Australian and Ms Jo Chandler, award-winning freelance journalist and Honorary Fellow at ADRI both raised interesting points about accessibility and movement of individuals and professionals between the two nations, as well as providing us a snapshot of the sorts of "complex, rich and baffling" life stories to be found in PNG.

Ms Stephanie Copus-Campbell, Executive Director, Harold Mitchell Foundation, rounded off the discussion with an important note on aid programs and the necessity for an outcomes-focussed, wholistic approach.

View our Photo Album from the event on Facebook!

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