Boosting trade with our nearest neighbour

07_murphy_paul_dfat By Paul Murphy, Australian Consul General, Lae, Papua New Guinea

It has been five years since I’ve lived and worked in Papua New Guinea (PNG).  The country has made great strides in that time, with the capital Port Moresby transforming into a modern developing country metropolis. But the city’s growth is on the back of a broader economy, and the keystone in that economy is Lae.

The city of Lae is strategically positioned. It is the country’s major port, linking the populous and productive Highlands region to the world. It is also the capital of Morobe, PNG’s most varied economic region, including its manufacturing base, its centre for logistics, and the home of its principle agricultural and technical research institutes and education facilities.

Lae Aerial (1)
PNG’s largest port of Lae is helping the Morobe capital develop its industrial and economic potential. Photo: Gemma King, Lae  

I knew this before accepting the great honour to establish Australia’s new diplomatic mission in Lae, one of just 102 Australian diplomatic missions abroad.  What I didn’t know is that Lae is would be such a great place to live for my family and I – mixing the best of PNG town life (including the finest markets in PNG) with a diverse and dynamic atmosphere only found in cities which thrive on their commercial ingenuity.

Lae market is a busy hive of activity. Photo: Gemma King, Lae

Many are aware of Australia’s historical relationship with PNG, our proud war record and stewardship of the country towards independence. There is less recognition, however, of the opportunities for Australia as PNG develops into an important economy in the Asia-Pacific. PNG’s population is projected to reach twenty million in the next three decades.  The PNG Government, supported by donors like Australia, is improving infrastructure.  Institutions are evolving to better-reflect PNG’s unique society. Newfound growth is emerging in areas such as residential housing and tourism. Like Australia, PNG is increasingly integrating into the Asia region as it looks north for new markets.

Women are among those set to benefit from economic growth in Lae. Photo: Gemma King, Lae

Once again Australia is the lucky country, perfectly situated geographically, institutionally and linguistically, to service this emerging economy. The Australian Government’s decision to establish the Consulate-General in Lae recognises this and will support trade and investment links to the benefit of both Australia and PNG.

The rich culture of the Lae region is on show at the annual Morobe show. Photo: Gemma King, Lae 


Paul Murphy took up the position of Australia’s Consul-General in Lae, Papua New Guinea, in January 2017. Mr Murphy is a career officer with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and was most recently Assistant Director, Free Trade Agreement Division. He has served overseas as First Secretary (Economic), Australian High Commission, Port Moresby. In Canberra, Mr Murphy has served in the Iraq Task Force and the International Economic and Finance Section. He holds a Bachelor of Economics, Australian National University and a Bachelor of Arts, Australian National University.

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