A Prosperous Future: Papua New Guinea
Pacific Adventist University, Port Moresby
15 September 2014
Remarks by HE Ms Deborah Stokes
Australian High Commissioner to Papua New Guinea
- Honourable Malakai Tabar MP, Minister for Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology
- Dame Carol Kidu
- Lady Olewale and family
- Professor Ben Thomas, Vice Chancellor, Pacific Adventist University
- Professor David Lowe, Director, Alfred Deakin Research Institute
- Former Australian High Commissioner to PNG, Mr Ian Kemish
Thank you for the invitation to speak today at the fourth annual Alfred Deakin Research Institute PNG Symposium. And importantly the first to be held in Papua New Guinea.
It is a great pleasure to be here.
It is a pleasure to be here to launch “A Prosperous Future: Papua New Guinea”, a book edited by Dr Jonathan Ritchie and Ms Michelle Verso.
Dr Ritchie is well known to those with an interest in PNG’s history. He wrote a biography of Sir Ebia Olewale - providing a record of his life to inspire future generations of Papua New Guineans.
Sir Ebia was one of the founding fathers of PNG and was a passionate advocate for transparency and effective government.
The Australian High Commission has its own link with Sir Ebia as we are fortunate to have his daughter, Ire, working with us.
Ire is following in her father’s footsteps by working with our governance team.
Another important project that Dr Jonathan Ritchie is working on is the Oral History Project. He has been working with the National Museum and
Art Gallery and a range of PNG experts to capture the story of the World War 2 Kokoda Campaign from the perspective of Papua New Guineans; both eye witness accounts and the stories passed on to children and grandchildren.
The Oral History Project is part of the Kokoda Initiative: which sees both countries working together to keep the Kokoda Track open and safe, to improve the lives of communities along the track and to conserve the social, cultural, environmental and military heritage values of the surrounding area.
The book we are launching today draws on the presentations from the 2012 symposium, the second in the annual series, which focused on how PNG’s future.
The book draws on a selection of the more than 80 presentations from academics, government officials, business people and civil society representatives from both countries.
The book touches on important themes – important in 2012 and every bit as relevant today. Issues such: as improving governance; strengthening Australia-PNG relations; managing the rapid expansion in urban populations; promoting sustainable and broadly based economic development and improving gender equality.
I commend the editors and the contributors for creating this valuable record and the insights it provides.
History is important. And we often lose sight of this. It helps us understand how we arrived here and helps us to shape the future.
And shaping the future actively rather than passively is the challenge for all nations.
What does the future look like for PNG and what does the future look like for Australia-PNG relations? What can we do to shape this this future proactively?
Consistent with the title of this symposium - PNG in the World – these questions need to be looked at in an international context.
Neither PNG or Australia is alone in the world.
I will mention just two examples:
LNG – we hear a lot about LNG in PNG these days. PNG”s major LNG export markets are in North Asia. This means that more than ever before PNG has a strong interest in the security of international sea lanes and in seeing peaceful resolution of differences relating to the South China Sea.
APEC is another example – this is a tremendous opportunity for PNG – a big task but full of possibilities for PNG to actively shape its future in the world.
I have a vision of PNG and Australia working together on regional and global issues. As one step to strengthen this we held our first ever bilateral security dialogue this year. This brought together multiple agencies on both sides.
I could see the potential in this dialogue to build a bilateral security community.
Symposiums like the one today are important. They help us to reflect on where we have come from and what we can do to shape the future.
I wish to thank PAU and Deakin University for their contribution to helping us to think about the big questions facing PNG and Australia and PNG together. By bringing together researchers and those working in the public and private sectors and civil society.
We are pleased to be a sponsor of the Symposium.
Thank you for the opportunity to speak to you and I wish well in your discussions.