Launch the Pacific Leadership and Governance Precinct

  • Speech, check against delivery

Friends of Australia, Friends of Papua New Guinea. This year marks 40 years since Papua New Guinea's independence.

The mid-1970s was a turbulent era of significant global change. It was a challenging time for people and countries all over the world.

The oil shock, stagflation, decolonisation, and rapid technological change all made it a difficult time.

Yet amid such global turbulence, the people of Papua New Guinea made an historic decision.

Forty years ago, they chose to build a nation.

History shows that nation-building is no easy task – for any country, bringing together diverse and disparate peoples under a common flag is an immense challenge.

In many ways, it is a task that is never complete – because every nation is ever dynamic, always changing, always evolving to meet the needs of the present.

Considering the particular and daunting challenges that faced Papua New Guinea's founding fathers - unparalleled human diversity, spread over vast a terrain of extraordinary variability - the decision that the people of this land made 40 years ago remains a beacon of hope and optimism

PNG decided to forge a common set of values, with a common aspiration for the future.

Forty years on, our region has been transformed.

Papua New Guinea in particular has come a long way and has made great strides.

For over a decade now, PNG has experienced robust economic growth, establishing a major industry in mining and resources – an industry that provides significant export income.

Last year, economic growth reached double digits, with exports commencing from the PNG LNG Project.

The project has the potential to bring significant benefits to the people of PNG for the remainder of its 30 year life-span and beyond.

The challenge facing this generation of PNG leaders, and the next, is to take even bigger strides and build the very robust institutions that support successful and prosperous nations.

Such institutions must support the broadening and diversification of an economy.

Here in Papua New Guinea, such institutions must ensure that the national revenue base captures the benefits of PNG's valuable resources and is used to improve the lives of all Papua New Guineans.

It is important to make sure the benefits of a growing economy reach all people across the nation – leading to higher living standards, with better education, and better access to health.

Australia has always been part of the Papua New Guinea story.

We are a friend and neighbour– with a shared history, and a shared geography – we are partners in the future of our region.

Today we are launching the Pacific Leadership and Governance Precinct.

The background to this initiative lies in our shared vision of a prosperous Papua New Guinea.

The PNG private sector is playing a key role in driving growth in PNG, and is increasingly dynamic.

Australian companies are also investing heavily – with investments worth almost $20 billion dollars.

Australia is PNG's largest trading partner, with bilateral trade approaching $7 billion dollars.

Australia is therefore refocusing our half a billion dollar a year aid program to help support the PNG economy by supporting PNG's private sector, to drive investment and growth, as prosperity will provide more employment opportunities and lift a greater number of people out of long-term poverty.

In PNG, this complements other work, in partnership with the Government, to address health and education challenges.

Effective and ethical governance is a vital part of the equation, as it builds business and investment confidence.

PNG has shown a commitment to improve its public service.

The Government of Papua New Guinea has put in place a leadership framework for all PNG public servants, to drive more accountable government.

The Precinct we are launching today will further support and strengthen PNG's vision of a more professional and skilled public service with an embedded culture of capable leadership, ethics and values.

Together, PNG and Australia have established a new School of Business and Public Policy at the University of Papua New Guinea, and will help transform the Institute of Public Administration into the PNG School of Government.

These institutions will provide high-quality education and training to the current and future leaders of this great country.

The Precinct as a whole will also provide mentoring, undertake research to inform policy, and foster public debate.

In fact, Papua New Guinea and Australia have already made strong progress on our commitment and the Precinct is already providing training to strengthen PNG's public service and build their skills.

The Precinct has delivered courses on public policy, leadership, the responsibilities of company directors, and public administration.

More than 500 individuals have already undertaken courses through the Precinct.

The Precinct is also supporting new relationships and enhancing existing relations between Australian and PNG's institutions which offer new opportunities and expertise.

The Australian National University has signed a new partnership with the University of Papua New Guinea to establish greater ties between both our countries' national universities.

Our ANU is providing visiting lecturers, supporting collaborative research and student exchanges.

The University of Queensland is also working with the University of PNG to deliver new qualifications in governance and public policy.

The Australian Public Service Commission has been working with the Institute of Public Administration here to deliver Australian-certified diplomas in accounting and public administration.

New qualifications will be awarded to over 90 public servants in December this year.

The Precinct has also partnered with other institutions, including the Australia New Zealand School of Government and the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Cooperation and collaboration with these institutions will foster leadership and management potential in PNG, including, and particularly among women.

Encouraging more PNG women into leadership positions is a priority for both the PNG and Australian governments.

It is good economic policy, it's the smart thing to do and it has a powerful effect on productivity, efficiency and growth of the whole nation.

An important aspect of Australia's investment in the Precinct is to ensure professional teaching and learning facilities.

We are therefore making a major investment in new, modern infrastructure, with state of the art technology.

This includes an impressive, contemporary School of Business and Public Policy at the University of PNG and two new buildings at the PNG Institute of Public Administration.

And I'm delighted to see that the design concepts of these wonderful facilities are a feature of this launch today. I believe that the first stage construction is expected to commence early in the New Year.

Through this Precinct, I also see a continuing role for the private sector, through the provision of courses in leadership and company directorships in particular.

For example, the Precinct is working with ExxonMobil, the University of Queensland and the PNG Mineral Resource Authority to deliver a seminar on leadership in the extractives industry.

Ladies and gentlemen, today I am very pleased to launch the Pacific Leadership and Governance Precinct here in Port Moresby.

I commend the Government of PNG's commitment to building a new generation of public service leaders in PNG, committed to capable leadership, ethics and values.

This is nation-building work, as important as those first steps along the path to nation-hood taken by PNG's founding fathers 40 years ago.

I hope that all who pass through the Precinct, learning new skills and competencies, focusing on leadership, will add to the rich fabric of Papua New Guinea's society and help ensure that this nation is well governed and reaches its potential in the interests of all its magnificent people.

I'm delighted to launch this Precinct today.

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