Opening of Papua New Guinea Institute of Public Administration

  • Speech, check against delivery
22 March 2018

JULIE BISHOP:Sir Puka Temu, my dear friendForeign Minister Rimbink Pato, other government ministers and members ofParliament here today, Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare, the new PNG HighCommissioner to Australia John Kali, welcome, and also to Australian High CommissionerBruce Davis, distinguished guests, students, faculty, friends of Australia,friends of PNG.

As wegather here today for this celebration, we also take a moment to reflect on theimpact of the devastating earthquake that hit Southern Highlands and HelaProvince recently. Again, I extend the Australian Government's deepestsympathies to those who were killed. I know that many are still seekingassistance, and the Government of PNG is coming to terms with the sheer scaleof the impact of these earthquakes. The Australian Government will continue toprovide support for those affected. Iwas able to see our Australian Defence Force personnel with the RAAF C130transport plane and the Chinook helicopters at the Jacksons airfield as theywork in partnership with PNG Defence personnel to take supplies and personnelup into the highlands. Another team of Australian doctors will be arrivingshortly as part of the Australian medical assistance teams who will be workingwith the NGOs and private sector and the government to provide relief. PrimeMinister, I can assure you that the Australian Government will continue to workwith you as you enter the reconstruction phase and we will partner with you onthe priorities that your government has for the reconstruction of thisdevastated area.

YesterdayI had the opportunity to visit New Ireland. I believe I am the first AustralianForeign Minister to make a trip to that beautiful province, and I was greetedby Governor Sir Julius Chan. In the course of the morning, he presented me witha copy of his memoirs 'Playing the Game' and I read the book on the way home and last night. In it he makes particularmention of the years leading up to independence and the Bully Beef Club isreferred to as the foundations for the intellectual thought that went intoIndependence in 1975. The Bully Beef Club was where young, aspiring publicservants were receiving their training and amongst them was a very young SirMichael Somare and other great leaders including Albert Maori Kiki. Long intothe night these bright young men discussed the future of PNG where it could beable to determine its own destiny. At about the same time as the newlyestablished University of Papua New Guinea, budding statesmen were alsodiscussing PNG's future, Vincent Eri, Rabbie Namaliu and others who were alsotalking about a world in which PNG would be able to drive its future. Theseinstitutions, the University of Papua New Guinea, the PNG Administrativecollege, enabled young Papua New Guineans to come together to learn, to developtheir leadership skills, to make connections and friendships that in manyinstances would last a lifetime and these institutions are now bringing newlife to PNG as we open the next chapter in the story of this great nation.

Inabout 2014, I started discussions with then High Commissioner Charles Lepaniabout the need for PNG's current and future public servants to have a freshopportunity for education and training and mentoring so they could hone theirleadership skills, their ethics and principles and ideas. I remember a lunchwhere Charles and I discussed the concept of a PNG Kennedy School ofGovernment, the equivalent of what the US has at Harvard - and we thought, whynot?

Thediscussion evolved into a partnership between the PNG Government and theAustralian Government. We signed an MOU in 2014 and then I was delighted to behere in November of 2015 when the concept of the Pacific Leadership andGovernance Precinct was first announced.

ThePrecinct has an impact beyond Port Moresby. And the Provinces and Districts arealso taking the opportunity to train and re-train their public servants. It isa Partnership between the Australian National University, the University ofQueensland, the Australian Public Service Commission, the Australian Instituteof Company Directors, and the PNG Institute of Public Administration and theUniversity of PNG School of Business and Public Policy. A whole group of peoplecoming together to create what is truly extraordinary Precinct. Already, about2,250 PNG public servants have been through courses and training and over halfof them are women. So I say to PNG women here today, the world awaits you,wonderful opportunities for you through this precinct.

Anumber of people have also received qualifications in public administration,public policy, and economics. 310 public servants have received thesequalifications. A number more, about 60, will also be graduating in April so weare building a body of public servants who will be able to provide first classsupport to the PNG Government.

Allowme to put this in context why Australia is so pleased to be part of this newidea, this concept this partnership. Last year the Australian governmentlaunched a foreign policy white paper which sets out our framework forinternational engagement, our international activities in the area of foreignpolicy for the next decade and beyond. At the heart of it is our commitment tothe Pacific region and one of our priorities is listed as supporting a stableand prosperous Papua New Guinea. One of our closest and nearest neighbours andfriends.

Australianbusinesses and Papua New Guinean business already work together building ourtrade and investment ties. We think about 4,600 Australian businesses areoperating here in PNG. Recently we opened a consulate general in Lae to showhow focused we are on developing trade and investment links not only aroundPort Moresby but also into the Provinces including in Lae.

Ourdevelopment assistance program to PNG is about 550 million every year and weare dedicated to ensuring that out development assistance drives economicgrowth, alleviates poverty and builds stronger communities across PNG.

Thereare a number of initiatives that we have introduced into Papua New Guinea thatwill continue to forge such close friendships. Education and education exchangeis a key. The Australian Government has a new education program called the NewColombo Plan whereby we support Australian undergraduates coming to countriesin our region to gain skills and qualifications but also to build connectionsand networks for the future. Since PNG become a partner in the New ColomboPlan, 127 Australian undergraduates have lived and worked here in PNG. We alsohave the Australia Awards, which have opportunities for post-graduate studiesfor Papua New Guineans in Australian higher education institutions, and alsoscholarships for PNG institutions. There are about 224 Papua New Guineans inAustralia at present, about 400 in institutions here in PNG, developing theirskills in agriculture, in health, education and the like.

Wealso have announced during my visit here that PNG will be a partner with us ina new program involving schools. This is the Australia Pacific BRIDGE SchoolsPartnership Program and we are piloting it here in PNG and a couple of otherPacific nations whereby schools in PNG are twinned with a school in Australia,and through the use of technology they have joint classes. They Skype eachother and the teachers in PNG will come to Australia and learn from Australianteachers, and the Australian teachers will come to PNG to learn from PNGteachers.

Oneother initiative that I want to mention is amongst the Australia Awards. From anumber of very bright Papua New Guinean women, and from our Women's LeadershipProgram we have selected a number of female recipients of Australia Awards tobe mentored with Australian business women and Australian women in government,so that when the Australian Award recipients go back to PNG they continue theconnection with a female leader in Australia, who will mentor them in a formalprogram. The first eight Papua New Guinean woman have been selected and arealready in this mentoring program.

Ladiesand gentlemen, these new buildings are symbolic of the Australian-PNGpartnership. The new administrative building at the Institute of PublicAdministration that will be called the Pacific Institute of Leadership andGovernance is built on the foundations of the original Bully Beef plant. Thenew 394-seat lecture theatre at the University of PNG will provide a wonderfulenvironment conducive to learning. And the new Student Services building willalso add to the quality of the education here at the University of Papua NewGuinea. And we hope that the new School of Business will be completed in timefor APEC.

2018is a big year for PNG. In your forty-third year of independence, you arehosting the APEC Summit here in Port Moresby. To host the APEC meeting - ormeetings because there are many meetings - is a huge undertaking for anynation. And this gives PNG the opportunity to show case its people and cultureand policies to the world. There will be an enormous focus on PNG in 2018 asyou welcome leaders from the APEC economies here. Australia, in partnership withyou, wants to ensure that this is one of the most successful APEC meetingsever. Of course, no APEC meeting could be a success without the support of theskilled public servants just as the public servants were so essential at thetime of independence, so they are essential today. With our new partnership,the Pacific Leadership and Governance Precinct we will ensure that the futureof this country remains in good hands.

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