Australia’s enduring support for Papua New Guinea

By Lee Goddard (Commodore CSC RAN), Head APEC (PNG) 2018 Task Force, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet

While recently visiting Papua New Guinea, I reflected on the deep and enduring relationship that Australia has with our neighbour just across the Torres Strait, and our important role in supporting our close friend to host the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) in 2018.

I believe that the close relationship between our two nations is not only based on our unique historical and cultural bonds, and our strong economic cooperation, but the deep people-to-people links we share. It’s those personal ties that make our relationship so dynamic.

Sydney nurse Jen Evans (R) with Loni Koni (L). Port Moresby General Hospital, Papua New Guinea.

For the very first time PNG is hosting APEC, the premier regional economic forum comprising 21 member economies.  APEC implements a wide range of initiatives to support open markets, promote trade and advance regional economic integration. It is an influential force that has driven stronger economic growth in the region, helping to lift millions of people out of poverty across our region. APEC is particularly valuable to Australia, as more than 70 per cent of our total trade in goods and services is with APEC partners. Our participation in APEC strengthens Australia’s economic relationships, enabling economic growth and job creation for the Australian economy.

Australia is pleased to support PNG’s hosting of APEC this year, as it is an opportunity for PNG to showcase its business, investment and tourism potential to the world. Australia’s significant security and policy support to PNG’s hosting of APEC 2018 is an extension of long-term cooperation and institutional partnerships across our governments. It is also a demonstration of Australia’s steadfast commitment as PNG’s closest strategic partner.

APEC comprises many meetings and workshops throughout the year, culminating in APEC Economic Leaders’ Week, which will take place this year from 12–18 November. Few cities in the world have the standing capability to independently host a major event like APEC Economic Leaders’ Week. It is common in any APEC year for member economies to support one another. At PNG’s request, Australia is providing a range of capacity-building, policing, defence and security assistance to PNG. Our support is not temporary; it will have enduring benefits to PNG well beyond APEC.

Australian aid arrives to support PNG’s response to the February 2018 highlands earthquake. This helped with immediate needs including water, sanitation, shelter, power and the protection of vulnerable women and children. 

Australia’s support to PNG’s APEC will benefit regional economic integration and commitment to trade in the region. It will also facilitate stronger partnerships for economic growth, security, and relationships between the people of our region.

I have had the pleasure of leading Australia’s APEC (PNG) 2018 Task Force since February 2018. The preparatory meetings have been successfully and impressively hosted by PNG, and the preparations are in place for APEC Economic Leaders’ Week to deliver strong economic outcomes for our region.

Lee Goddard is currently the Head of the APEC (PNG) Task Force, situated in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. As Head of the Task Force, Mr Goddard leads the coordination of Australia’s security support to PNG for its hosting of APEC 2018.

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