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15th Australia-Papua New Guinea Ministerial Forum Joint Statement

15th Australia-Papua New Guinea Ministerial Forum Joint Statement

Mt. Lofty House, South Australia

11 December 2003

1. The 15th Australia-Papua New Guinea
Ministerial Forum was held at Mount Lofty House, in the Adelaide foothills,
on 11 December 2003.

2. The Hon. Alexander Downer, Minister for Foreign Affairs chaired
the Ministerial Forum and led the Australian delegation which included the
Hon. Philip Ruddock, Attorney-General, Senator the Hon. Amanda Vanstone,
Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Senator
the Hon. Chris Ellison, Minister for Customs and Justice, and the Hon. Malcolm
Brough, Minister Assisting the Minister for Defence. The Papua New Guinea delegation was led by the Rt. Hon. Sir Rabbie Namaliu,
Minister for Foreign Affairs and Immigration, and included the Hon. Sir Moi
Avei, Minister for Petroleum and Energy, the Hon. Bart Philemon, Minister
for Finance and Treasury, the Hon. Bire Kimisopa, Minister for Internal Security,
the Hon. Sir Peter Barter, Minister for Inter Government Relations, the Hon. Kappa Yarka, Minister for Defence, the Hon. Sinai Brown, Minister for National
Planning and Monitoring, the Hon. Peter O'Neill, Minister for Public Service and the Hon. Mark Maipakai, Minister for Justice.

3. In his opening remarks Mr Downer welcomed Sir Rabbie Namaliu and
the Papua New Guinea delegation to the Forum on behalf of the Government
and people of Australia. Mr Downer noted the enduring strength, vitality and importance of Australia's bilateral relationship with Papua New Guinea. In response, Sir Rabbie thanked the Australian Government for facilitating the
15th annual Forum and acknowledged the warm welcome and hospitality extended to all

A Strengthened Partnership: the
Enhanced Cooperation Package

4. The Forum reaffirmed the joint statement issued on 18th September
in Port Moresby by Mr Downer and Sir Rabbie, which had set out a framework
agreement committing Australia and Papua New Guinea to work as close partners
in addressing core challenges in Papua New Guinea. The Forum endorsed Australia's offer of enhanced cooperation and agreed this would assist Papua New Guinea
to deal with those challenges.

Policing, and Law and Justice Sectors

5. The Forum agreed that Papua New Guinea's
law and order situation, required immediate action so that all other potential
gains would not be jeopardized as improving law and order is essential to
laying the foundations of Papua New Guinea, including the re-establishment
of investor confidence. The Forum strongly endorsed the need for adequate budgetary allocations to the
Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary (RPNGC) and to the broader law and justice
in Papua New Guinea.

6. In recognition of this, the enhanced Australian cooperation package
would include the placement of up to 230 Australian police personnel in Papua
New Guinea to be located in Port Moresby initially and extended to Lae, Mt.
Hagen and on the Highlands Highway, including Enga and the Southern Highlands
Provinces, and an offer to extend to Bougainville. Australia also agreed to provide a significant package of assistance for the
Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary to help ensure that counterpart Royal
Papua New Guinea Constabulary officers were effectively equipped and skilled. In addition, Australia agreed to assist appropriately in the Administrative
and Operational Review of the RPNGC.

7. The Forum also agreed that the broader law and
justice sector required appropriate support and enhancement to ensure that
other sectoral gains were not jeopardised. The practical assistance to the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary would therefore
be complemented through the placement of up to 18 specialists in non-policing
law and justice agencies, including the position of Solicitor General and
three litigation lawyers in the Solicitor General's office, five prosecutors in the Prosecutor's Office, two correctional service managers, four expatriate judges appointed
to the National and Supreme Court, and one lawyer for the Department of Justice
and one lawyer for law reform with other specialist officials placed in other
relevant agencies.

Economic Management and Public Sector Reform

8. The Forum endorsed the placement of up to 36 Australian officials
in key economic, finance and planning agencies. The Forum agreed that key priorities in this area were: the establishment of fiscal sustainability and transparency; the restoration
of the integrity of budget institutions and systems; the elimination of weaknesses
in the civil service payroll; provision of economic policy advice; improvements
in provincial budget management and stronger public sector performance and
outcomes. The Forum agreed that this new partnership in economic management and governance
would enhance Papua New Guinea's capacity to promote development and economic growth.

Border and Transport Security

9. The Forum agreed that effective border management and security
were vitally important to the national security of Papua New Guinea and Australia. To meet the objectives of both countries, Australia would provide four immigration
officials to advance Papua New Guinea's capacity for effective border and migration management. A study would also be conducted into Papua New Guinea's migration management requirements. Two Australian transport security officials would be placed within the Papua
New Guinea Department of Transport and Civil Aviation to help Papua New Guinea
guarantee the security and safety of its aviation and maritime transport
system and to meet its international transport security obligations. Australia will provide a deputy CEO in the Papua New Guinea Civil Aviation Authority
to assist Papua New Guinea maintain its air safety management and governance
at a high level. Australian Customs would place an official in Papua New Guinea Customs to help
improve revenue collection, and three officials to strengthen international
trade security and achieve border integrity. Skills transfer and capacity building would be key features of this assistance.

Legal Arrangements for the Enhanced Cooperation Package

10. The Forum agreed that a treaty level agreement between Australia
and Papua New Guinea covering the enhanced cooperation package should be
concluded as soon as possible. This would involve the passage of enabling legislation and other legislative
amendments at the next suitable sitting of the Papua New Guinea parliament. It was agreed that this process should be concluded in the early months of 2004,
to enable the package to be fully implemented shortly thereafter. Consultations would be held with a view to the early conclusion of a separate
Memorandum of Understanding relating to the proposed deployment of Australian
police to Bougainville. This would enable the proposed Australian police team to commence work on Bougainville
at the earliest practicable opportunity.

International Financial Institutions

11. The Forum noted the need for Papua New Guinea to engage closely
with the International Financial Institutions (IFIs), namely the International
Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank. Papua New Guinea agreed it would move to resolve outstanding governance issues
with the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank in respect of the forestry
and fisheries sectors respectively, which would otherwise place in jeopardy
the considerable resources on offer for key Papua New Guinea developmental
objectives. The Forum agreed that no other source could replace the help the International
Financial Institutions gave, nor create the confidence in Papua New Guinea
that is crucial for investment.

Public Sector Reforms

12. The Forum noted that appropriate and sustainable downsizing of
Papua New Guinea's public service was an integral part of overall public sector reform objectives. The Forum agreed that an important objective of the enhanced cooperation package
would be to ensure that essential reforms, including an overhaul of the human
resources payroll system, were implemented as a priority. The Forum welcomed the commitment by Australia, once such reforms were implemented,
to assist Papua New Guinea to seek the additional resources necessary to
provide for an effective redundancy program, including with assistance from
other donor sources including the International Financial Institutions.


13. The Forum noted recent developments in the Bougainville Peace
Process, including the agreement in-principle by former combatants to destroy
their weapons, the forthcoming Peace Process Consultative Committee meeting
to make the final decision, and plans to progress the transition to the establishment
of the autonomous Bougainville Government. Reconstruction of infrastructure, restoration of services, and economic recovery
with opportunities for Bougainvilleans to participate in development and
achieve self-reliance are important priorities. The peace process is now at a critical turning point when efforts to promote
reconciliation are preparing the way for the return of normalcy. Increased economic activity is vital. The Papua New Guinea Government and foreign aid donors should cooperate to ensure
their programs support these goals. Papua New Guinea expressed the sincere appreciation of all of the parties involved
in the Bougainville Peace Process for the contributions that Australia and
other countries make to the peace process through the Bougainville Transition
Team and foreign aid programs.

14. The Forum emphasized the need for further action by all parties
to embed the peace process, particularly though the prompt destruction of
weapons and the facilitation of free and fair elections. The Forum welcomed an offer to send an Australian Police team of up to 20 personnel
to Bougainville as a priority to assist in the maintenance of a sound law
and order environment, as part of the enhanced cooperation package with Papua
New Guinea. Implementation should take full account of the delegation of police functions
and powers from the National Government to Bougainville. This would include
some assistance to ensure that counterpart police on Bougainville were appropriately
equipped and trained. The Forum endorsed other law and justice initiatives for Bougainville, including
recruitment, training, community policing and infrastructure. The Forum endorsed in principle the new Australian four-year assistance package
for Bougainville which would seek to support the shift from immediate post-conflict
issues to longer term good governance. The Forum endorsed a scaled-down UN presence on Bougainville headed by Ambassador

Papua New Guinea Defence Force Reform

15. The Forum welcomed the agreement reached between Australia and
Papua New Guinea to continue support for the Papua New Guinea Government's reform efforts in respect of the Papua New Guinea Defence Force. The Papua New Guinea Government's clear commitment to a force of no more than 2,000 personnel would be supported
through the provision of a further $20 million in Australian funding. Release of these funds would commence once formalities on the Framework of Agreement had been finalised by both Governments. Papua New Guinea indicated that consideration of how capability rebuilding could
be advanced under future phases of the reform program has already commenced.

Trade and Commercial Issues

16. The Forum welcomed the report of the Senior Executive of the Australia-Papua
New Guinea Business council, particularly its endorsement of the framework
agreement reached between Mr Downer and Sir Rabbie on 18 September. The Forum agreed that the various recommendations and issues raised by the Business
Council should be pursued vigorously as appropriate with a view to broadening
the robust economic relationship that existed between Papua New Guinea and
Australia. This was reflected not only in the trading relationship but also in terms of
promoting a sound investment environment. The Forum identified mining, agriculture, tourism services and infrastructure
as key potential growth sectors.

17. The Forum was briefed on the progress made in relation to the
PNG-Australia gas pipeline project by the PNG Minister for Petroleum and
Energy, the Hon Sir Moi Avei. Sir Moi informed the meeting that the economics of the project and the base-load
gas sales contracts are adequate and the FEED decision is likely to be made
in January 2004 by the proponents of the project.

People Smuggling and Terrorism

18. The Forum endorsed bilateral cooperation to deter illegal people
movement. Australia and Papua New Guinea remained committed to working together to reduce
the risk of Papua New Guinea being targeted as a destination or transition
point for people smugglers, reflected in the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding
between Australia and Papua New Guinea on people smuggling earlier this year. Australia extended its appreciation for Papua New Guinea's recent agreement to extend the Memorandum of Understanding on the Manus Offshore
Processing Facility for a further twelve months. The Forum agreed that Australia
would help strengthen PNG's capacity to monitor people smuggling and terrorism.

18. The signing by Mr Downer and Sir Rabbie during the Forum of the Memorandum
of Understanding on Cooperation to Combat International Terrorism
was welcomed. The Forum looked forward to agencies from both countries working together to
combat the threat posed by terrorism. Papua New Guinea welcomed the invitation to attend the regional ministerial
counter-terrorism meeting in Bali, 4-5 February 2004.

Aid Treaty Review and Development Issues

19. The Forum endorsed the Terms of Reference for the joint review
of Australian aid. The Forum agreed that the scope of the review would include: shared objectives and priorities for Australian aid to Papua New Guinea, established
through a new country strategy; a strengthened performance management framework;
and recommendations on management structures that emphasise mutual obligations,
effectiveness and a performance basis for aid. Where required, changes would
be reflected in the Treaty on Development Cooperation.

20. Australia urged Papua New Guinea to give particular attention
to future allocations of infrastructure maintenance funds, in particular
those relating to the maintenance of the Highlands Highway. Australia noted that such funding was disappointingly low in the 2004 budget
as announced. Australia and Papua New Guinea agreed that the HIV AIDS issue required strong
leadership and principled action if it was not to become an even greater
health and economic problem for Papua New Guinea and the region.

Torres Strait Issue

21. The Forum noted the outcomes of the 13th Joint
Advisory Committee Meeting held under the auspices of the Torres Strait Treaty
and welcomed the valuable input of the traditional inhabitants from both
sides. The Forum agreed that the Torres Strait must not become a target for people
smuggling, terrorism and other trans-national crime. The Forum welcomed the extension of the Moratorium on Seabed Drilling and Mining and noted that important environmental and planning initiatives were being pursued
cooperatively. The Forum agreed that the integrity of fisheries management regimes required
strong commitment by all parties. Discussions by fisheries ministers currently underway would address stock assessments
and quotas. The Forum agreed that important health and related communications issues in
the Torres Strait should be pursued as a priority, and welcomed initiatives
by Queensland authorities in cooperation with Australian federal agencies
to address these concerns. Papua New Guinea undertook to look closely at health and communication strategies
in the Western Province and would welcome Australian assistance where appropriate.

Regional Developments

22. The Forum reviewed developments in the Pacific region, and expressed
its full confidence in and appreciation for the outstanding work being done
by the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI), which included strong support and participation from Australia, Papua New Guinea
and other Pacific Island Forum members. The Forum endorsed the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) review process.

Next Joint Ministerial Forum

23. The Forum welcomed Papua New Guinea's
offer to host the next Joint Ministerial Forum in Lae in 2004.

11 December 2003

Last Updated: 29 January 2013
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