Australian High Commission
Papua New Guinea

130516 - Speech - PM at Breakfast

16 May 2013

Speech by Australia's Prime Minister, Julia Gillard to Port Moresby Chamber of Commerce and Industry Breakfast

Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea
10 May 2013

[Acknowledgments omitted]

It’s a great pleasure to be able to join you here this morning.

Let me thank the Port Moresby Chamber of Commerce and Industry for your invitation today.

The Chamber is one of this city’s most respected institutions.

Programs like the Business Against Corruption Alliance, Business Against HIV and AIDS and the Ginigoada Business Development Foundation are fine proof of that.

Let me also acknowledge the Australia-Papua New Guinea Business Council and the Business Council of PNG who join us this morning and who make a major contribution to the ongoing successful expansion of our bilateral business relations.

Above all, I’m in PNG today to express my confidence in this nation and its future.

That’s the message I want to share loudly and clearly: this is a period of unmatched opportunity for this nation.

That’s the message I’ll be sharing later this morning when I meet with your leaders of today – Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and his Cabinet.

That’s also the message I’ll be sharing when I meet with your leaders of tomorrow – young Papua New Guineans at Marianville Secondary School and at the University of PNG – young people who treasure the most precious commodity in an emerging nation; hope.

They are the grandchildren of Independence.

In an increasingly inter-connected world, they’re looking for opportunity, for better lives – and in many ways that means they are looking to all of you.

So much of the substance of the things these young people hope for will come from what the PNG business community does every day.

From the jobs you create and the wealth you unlock – the virtuous cycle you begin.

Trade and investment, leading to employment which gives dignity and hope – delivering the public revenues which are essential to better education, infrastructure and human services – in turn promoting future growth and opportunities for investment and trade.

You all know that this country is not only bursting with potential, this is a country already making so much of it.

A rich natural endowment, location in the Asia-Pacific region, the vast potential of your human capital – your people.

Eleven straight years of growth, the third fastest growing economy in the Asia-Pacific in 2011, the fifth fastest in 2012.

This is a formidable record and perhaps one not widely enough appreciated in the wider world.

The links between our business communities are so important to this success and where the work you all do matters so much.

As the PNG economy has grown, the economic relationship between Australia and PNG has grown.

Over the past five years, two-way trade has increased rapidly to more than 16 billion kina.

The balance of trade stands – by more than one billion dollars – in Papua New Guinea’s favour.

Australian investment, which has grown fivefold over five years to more than 41 billion kina shows the confidence Australian business has in this country.

Of course, Papua New Guinea is not only Australia’s closest neighbour, but one of our warmest friends: from war-time sacrifice and deep historic ties, to the broad and growing friendship between our peoples today.

I want that friendship to be expressed in jobs – in growth – in the bottom line.

Perhaps no single project better symbolises the promise of economic development than the PNG LNG project, which I will visit later today.

It is a 40 billion kina statement that our economic futures are tied each to the other, a project which will create jobs and growth for our peoples for decades to come.

For PNG, the project holds the promise of up to US$150 billion in returns over its estimated thirty-year life.

For Australian business, the project has already meant US$3 billion in new contracts.

This is why both the Australian and PNG Governments continue to work to get the greatest possible benefit for our peoples from our growing economic ties.

In 2011, we agreed to negotiate an Economic Cooperation Treaty with Papua New Guinea.

The Treaty – to be signed later this year – will place our economic relationship on a new footing as full and active partners.

Our Ministers also maintain a strong dialogue with our business communities through the Papua New Guinea-Australia Business Forum.

Since 2012, officials and business representatives have met regularly to further strengthen business links.

Of special importance was our agreement at the 2012 meeting to simplify the visa application process for PNG citizens.

The number of visitor visas granted has now increased by 25 per cent in the past year alone, we regularly exceed our ten-day clearing time, and we remain on track to deliver online visa lodgement for PNG tourism and business visitors to Australia by mid-year.

This is a very important development for PNG and Australian business: the PNG Online Visitor Visa will finally be introduced in a number of weeks.

So we are making progress together.

I come here with great confidence in this nation – I also come with great realism about the challenges you face.

The United Nations Millennium Development Goals remain elusive. Social indicators such as literacy levels and maternal and child mortality are disappointing to us all.

We know that your Government is determined to harness economic growth to meet this country’s development challenges, and you should know that Australia is committed to helping Papua New Guinea’s Government and its people do just that.

Our shared aspirations are embodied in the Partnership for Development – a partnership based on mutual accountability and with clear priorities in health; education; law and justice; transport and infrastructure.

I particularly note Prime Minister O’Neill’s focus on infrastructure, a commitment Australia shares.

This financial year Australia will spend 37 per cent of our development assistance on infrastructure – an investment of around 396 million kina.

We’re also working closely with the PNG Government to help design a Sovereign Wealth Fund. A best-practice Fund delivering stable returns will support long-term planning and help you to manage future economic uncertainties.

There’s another development priority that’s dear to my own heart – the empowerment of women in our region.

The ten-year A$320 million initiative Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development which I launched at the 2012 Pacific Islands Forum is designed to help.

Prime Minister O’Neill was at the launch in Rarotonga and strongly supports the initiative.

I want to thank the many businesses here who are working hard to extend opportunity to the women of PNG.

The Westpac ‘Women in Business Awards’ have helped lift the profile of women in business.

Companies like SP Breweries have been actively recruiting women into their graduate programs.

National Catering Services has implemented policies to ensure equal treatment of women in the workplace.

To encourage more businesses to follow this lead, I’m pleased to announce a new initiative in partnership with the International Finance Corporation to help PNG companies promote women’s participation.

I am delighted that Lady Winifred Kamit, one of this nation’s most respected leaders, has agreed to be patron.

Lady Winifred, I’m so glad you’re here today along with a number of other women who I am looking forward to meeting this morning, and I want you to know how much I admire your achievements and appreciate your support.

Our initiative will focus on two areas.

First, women’s welfare and safety, in particular preventing violence against women in the workplace.

Secondly, mentorship, networking and training to bring high-potential female employees into positions of leadership.

No nation can truly succeed without embracing the development of all its citizens and unlocking the talents of all its people.

Papua New Guinea has travelled far over the past 40 years.

So many early challenges have been surmounted. The institutions of a free nation have been entrenched. Economic development has brought new opportunities.

And the prospect of a better future has never seemed more real for all the people of Papua New Guinea.

Australia wants to work with Papua New Guinea as economic partners, as development partners, and as partners in the region, to help you seize that future.

Everyone here is so important to that work.

Doing business together – united in friendship and respect. Proud of what we’ve achieved together – and certain that even better days lie ahead.