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19th Australia-Papua New Guinea Ministerial Forum Joint Statement

19th Australia-Papua New Guinea Ministerial Forum Joint Statement

Marriott Hotel, Brisbane

10 June 2009

1. The 19th Australia-Papua New Guinea Ministerial Forum was held at the
Marriott Hotel in Brisbane
on 10 June
2009.

2. The Hon. Stephen Smith, Minister for Foreign Affairs co-chaired the
Ministerial Forum and led the Australian delegation which included the Hon. Simon
Crean, Minister for Trade, Senator the Hon. Chris Evans, Minister for Immigration
and Citizenship, Senator the Hon. Penny Wong, Minister for Climate Change and
Water, the Hon. Peter Garrett, Minister for Environment, Heritage and the Arts, the
Hon. Tony Burke, Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry the Hon. Martin
Ferguson, Minister for Resources, Energy and Tourism, Senator the Hon. Nick
Sherry, Assistant Treasurer, the Hon. Dr. Mike Kelly, Parliamentary Secretary for
Defence Support, the Hon. Bob McMullan, Parliamentary Secretary
for International Development Assistance, and the Hon. Duncan Kerr, Parliamentary Secretary for
Pacific Island Affairs.

3. The Papua New Guinean delegation was led by the Hon. Samuel Abal,
Minister for Foreign Affairs, Trade and Immigration, and included the Hon. Philemon
Embel., Minister Assisting the Prime Minister, the Hon. James
Marabe, Minister for
Education, the Hon. Paul Tiensten, Minister for National Planning and Monitoring,
the Hon. John Hickey, Minister for Agriculture and Livestock, the Hon. Ben Semri,
Minister for Fisheries, the Hon. Bob Dadae, Minister for Defence, the Hon. Sani
Rambi, Minister for Internal Security, the Hon. Sasa Zibe, Minister for Health, the
Hon. Charles
Abel, Minister for Culture and Tourism the Hon. Benny Allan, Minister
for Environment and Conservation, the Hon. Dame Carol Kidu, Minister for
Community Development, the Hon. Gabriel Kapris, Minister for Commerce and
Industry the Hon. Mark Maipakai MP, Minister for Labour and Employment, the
Hon. Don Polye, Minister for Works, Transport and Civil Aviation, the Hon. Peter
O'Neill, Minister for Public Service, the Hon. Beldan Namah, Minister for Forestry,
the Hon. Sali Subarn Vice Minister for Foreign
Affairs.

4. In his opening remarks, the Hon. Stephen Smith welcomed the Hon. Samuel
Abal and members of the Papua
New Guinean delegation to the Forum on behalf of
the Government of Australia. Australia and Papua New Guinea, the Hon. Stephen
Smith emphasised,
were close neighbours,
close friends and strong partners. He
highlighted that the relationship between Australia and Papua
New Guinea was at an
'all time high' and, despite
the global economic downturn, there were many trade and
investment opportunities. Australia valued Papua New Guinea as a development
partner and welcomed the continued close cooperation and partnership on regional
issues,
including the Pacific Islands
Forum Fiji and the Regional
Assistance
Mission
to the Solomon Islands. The Hon. Stephen
Smith welcomed Papua
New Guinea's
decision to re-open a Consulate in Sydney. He also reiterated the Australian
Government's appreciation for the generous
response
of the people and Government
of Papua New Guinea to the victims of the Victorian bushfires and Queensland
floods.

5. In reply, the Hon. Samuel Abal thanked the Australian Government for
hosting the 19th
Ministerial Forum. He agreed
that the bilateral relationship was at an
unprecedented
high, noting the early personal commitment of Prime Minister Somare
and Prime Minister Rudd to rekindle the relationship when they met in 2007. The
Hon. Samuel Abal thanked Australia for its contribution to Papua New Guinea's
development,
which had remained consistent
over many years. Agreement
by the two
Prime Ministers to review the development
relationship, he said, was in keeping with
Papua New Guinea's strong desire to be self-reliant and overtime reduce the
dependency
on foreign assistance
for its development.

Australia-Papua New Guinea Partnership
for Development

6. The Forum welcomed the endorsement of the first five Implementation
Schedules
to the Papua
New Guinea-Australia
Partnership
for Development
that detail
mutual commitments to the achievement of improved outcomes in the areas of
transport infrastructure,
basic education,
health, the public service and statistics.

7. The Forum noted the requests of the Papua New Guinea Government to
consider a Memorandum of Understanding between transport sector agencies
of the
two countries
covering the areas
of safety and security; to assist
with securing funding
for the construction of missing links roads after feasibility studies have been
completed; and to explore opportunities for development of training institutions in
Papua
New Guinea on safety and security in all three modes of transport.

8. The Forum noted in particular the agreement
by Prime Minister Somare and
Prime Minister Rudd to target an increase in the net enrolment rate of Papua New
Guinean children in primary schools from 53 per cent today to 70 per cent by 2015.
Papua
New Guinea's proposal for non-formal and community learning education will
also be considered
under the Basic Education schedule
to the Partnership.

9. The Forum welcomed the addition of HIV/AIDS, Higher Education
(universities and technical education), and Law and Justice sectors
to the Partnership
schedules. Papua New Guinea's proposal for a comprehensive
program supporting
technical training at TAFE colleges for up to 2000 students annually will be
considered
under the Higher Education Schedule.
These schedules
will be considered
at the 2010 Australia-Papua
New Guinea
Ministerial Forum.

10. In endorsing the Public Sector schedule,
the Forum noted the importance of
public sector capacity
developments
focussing on all levels of government: national,
provincial and districts; establishing training programs aimed at improving public
administration and financial accountability; and improving training facilities,
particularly focussed
on the Institute of Public Administration (IPA).

11. The Forum discussed resource commitments under the Partnership for
Development, agreeing
the importance of increasing funding to Partnership
priorities
over the period to 2015. In light of the current global economic crisis the Forum
emphasised that increased funding for the Partnership priorities needed to be
consistent with maintaining sound macroeconomic settings and a sustainable fiscal
position

12. To achieve this, the Forum agreed that funding allocations to Partnership
priorities will be determined in the context of each country's annual planning and
budget process and fiscal strategy, and will take into account progress in
implementing mutually agreed commitments under the Partnership. Multi-year
funding projections will be included in the Implementation Schedules of the
Partnership
and updated annually.

13. The Forum acknowledged
Australia's 2009-10 budget increase in official
development assistance
to Papua New Guinea to $414.3 million and welcomed its
commitment to make available a further $18 million in country programmable
assistance
for 2009-10, noting total overseas development assistance
was therefore
anticipated
to increase
by 11 per cent in 2009-10. The Forum welcomed
Papua
New
Guinea's commitment to endeavour
to ensure
that for the 2010 Budget agreed
priority
outcomes
under the Partnership
would be reflected in the budget strategy
paper. The
Forum agreed
that clear information would be made available on both Governments'
budgetary allocations and expenditures in support of the Partnership. Both
Governments
would endeavour
to maintain annual budgetary allocations in support of
Partnership
priorities at least at the same
proportion of total outlays.

14. The Forum welcomed the agreement
by Prime Minister Somare and Prime
Minister Rudd to the joint review of the Papua
New Guinea university system by Sir
Rabbie Namaliu and Professor
Ross Garnaut. This will begin in October 2009.

Review of the Australia-Papua New Guinea Development Cooperation Treaty (1999)

15. The Forum welcomed the recent agreement
between Prime Minister Somare
and Prime Minister Rudd to review how Australia's aid can best support Papua
New
Guinea's long term development aspirations,
including gradual phasing out of Papua
New Guinea reliance on Australian assistance
over time, through a review of the
Papua
New Guinea-Australia
Development Cooperation
Treaty. The Forum endorsed
terms of reference for the review of the Papua New Guinea-Australia Treaty on
Development Cooperation and tasked a Steering Group to be established
within two
weeks. Ministers requested
a report on outcomes
be provided to the 2010 Ministerial
Forum.

Strongim Gavman
Program

16. The Forum noted that good progress
has been made to address
the findings of
the ECP Review. The Forum endorsed the revised arrangements
for the Strongim
Gavman Program, ensuring increased focus on capacity building, improved
integration with the broader aid program and joint management
and ownership of the
program.

Liquefied Natural Gas Project

17. The Forum was encouraged
by progress on the Papua
New Guinea Liquefied
Natural Gas (PNG LNG) Project, noting that the Project provided an enormous
opportunity to improve the well being of all Papua New Guinean's. The Forum
reinforced the commitment of both countries to collaborate on support for the PNG
LNG Project. This would include working together to address
capacity constraints
through training and skills development,
and other targeted
assistance.

Coral Triangle Initiative

18. The Forum welcomed the progress of the Coral Triangle Initiative on Coral
Reefs,
Fisheries and Food Security and further acknowledged
its role as an important
mechanism for collaboration between Papua
New Guinea and Australia. The Forum
noted that healthy oceans
are essential
for healthy people and communities, providing
a foundation for a productive marine environment, poverty alleviation and
strengthened regional security. Specifically, the Forum welcomed Papua New
Guinea's commitment to fund CTI implementation and start immediate action and
Australia's multi-year commitment in support of the CTI. The Forum encouraged
senior officials to explore collaboration efforts following finalisation of Papua New
Guinea's
National Plan of Action.

Forestry Memorandum of Understanding

19. The Forum welcomed signature of a bilateral Memorandum of Understanding
for cooperation
on sustainable
forest management,
forest certification and governance
between the governments of Australia and Papua New Guinea. The program of
activities under the Memorandum of Understanding recognises the importance of
facilitating trade in legally-sourced
forest products
between
the two countries.

Kokoda Track Issues

20. The Forum welcomed the excellent progress made in implementing the Joint
Understanding on the Kokoda Track and Owen Stanley Ranges signed at the 2008
Ministerial Forum including: delivering improved basic services to a number of
villages along the Track; establishing a new Kokoda Track Authority Management
Committee and building Papua
New Guinea expertise
to develop the Track as a world
class trekking experience through provision of Australian-funded experts; the
development
of a Kokoda Track Code of Conduct; and the provision of technical and
other expert advice to build capacity
within Papua
New Guinea agencies. The Forum
particularly
welcomed
the
new
Kokoda
Track
Authority's
success
in negotiating
with
local landholders to re-open the Track, and its efforts to build greater awareness
in
Track villages of the ongoing benefits associated
with keeping the track open. The
Forum agreed that the good progress to date should continue to be built on through
further cooperative work in all of these important priority areas. The Forum
welcomed the announcements
of a further $1 million in funding to the Kokoda
Development Program,
to provide basic services
for local communities, and the grant
of $250,000 to the Kokoda Track Authority for urgent upgrades to trekking
infrastructure along the track.

21. The Forum also noted the need to now jointly pursue some of the longer term
objectives of the Joint Understanding, including: improving Papua New Guinea
Government systems for managing the Kokoda Track, Owen Stanley Ranges and
Brown River catchments; an analysis of potential future benefit streams and
livelihoods for communities along the Track corridor; income generation
projects to
ensure
ongoing sustainable
improvements
to communities; spatial data and legislative
work to enable
protection of the Brown River Catchment; and a feasibility study into
a possible World Heritage nomination of the Kokoda Track and Owen Stanley
Ranges.

Fuzzy Wuzzy
Angels Medallions

22. The Forum welcomed the Australian Government's announcement
that the
first presentation
of Fuzzy Wuzzy Angel Commemorative
Medallions, in recognition
of the invaluable assistance provided by Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels to Australian
Servicemen
during the Second
World War, would take place in Papua
New Guinea on 23 July 2009, Papua
New Guinea Remembrance
Day.

Kokoda Track War History Website

23. The Forum welcomed the progress to date in the development of a
commemorative Kokoda Track war history website that will help to increase
awareness,
particularly among younger generations,
of the importance of this iconic
site in our wartime history, and acknowledge
the service and sacrifice of the people of
our two nations in securing
the freedom and democracy
we enjoy today.

Tourism Cooperation

24. The Forum noted that the Framework for Bilateral Cooperation on Tourism
signed by Australia and Papua
New Guinea at the 2008 Ministerial Forum has since
facilitated collaboration on areas
of common interest. A number of key projects are
also under development
to assist
in the transfer of tourism expertise.

25. The Forum noted the strong commitment of both Governments to working
together to support the development of Papua New Guinea's tourism industry,
including through the exchange
of knowledge and expertise.

The Economy and the Global Economic Crisis

26. The Forum noted the radically changed world economic circumstances
since
the 2008
Forum
and
the resultant
impact
on both economies.
Australia
and
Papua
New Guinea had both suffered a significant decline in mineral revenues and it was
uncertain when commodity prices would recover. The Forum noted the difficult
choices countries would face in determining spending priorities in the period ahead
and the importance of removing barriers to economic growth to ensure an early
recovery from the global economic crisis.

Microeconomic Reform

27. The Forum welcomed previous structural reforms and noted the positive effect
they were having on private sector growth and employment in Papua New Guinea.
The Forum noted that for the full benefits of large scale
resource
extraction projects to
be realised, reforms to remove barriers to widespread
growth and reduce the cost of
doing business are vital. The Forum discussed further areas of reform, with both
agreeing
to work together to remove impediments to economic growth in Papua
New
Guinea.

PACER Plus

28. The Forum affirmed
the continued
importance
of pursuing
greater
economic
integration,
with a view to promoting
the sustainable
development
of Pacific island
countries.

29. The Forum recalled the decisions taken by Pacific Islands Forum Leaders in
Niue in August 2008 and strongly supported the commencement
of PACER Plus
negotiations from August 2009. The Forum noted the good progress
to date on the
formulation of a detailed roadmap on PACER Plus designed
to provide an effective
framework for mutually beneficial PACER Plus negotiations.

30. The Forum confirmed the strongly shared desire to move forward with
PACER Plus and welcomed the work being undertaken to build and strengthen
the
national capacity of Papua New Guinea and other Pacific Islands Forum countries,
with support from Australia and New Zealand, to maximise the opportunities and
benefits
provided
by PACER Plus.

31. The Forum supported
the early establishment
of the Office of the Chief Trade
Adviser pending a decision to commence PACER Plus negotiations. The Forum
noted the importance of the Office in providing independent
assistance
and advice to
enable
Papua
New Guinea and other Pacific Islands Forum countries to participate in
the PACER Plus
negotiations.

32. The Forum commended
efforts to enhance
the national negotiating capacity of
Papua New Guinea and other Pacific Islands Forum countries through the direct
provision of training to Pacific island country trade officials under the Trade
Fellowships Program and support for independent
research
on trade priorities.

33. The Forum welcomed the opportunity for further discussions
on PACER Plus
at the Pacific Islands
Forum Trade Ministers' Meeting on 17-18
June
2009.

Business Participation

34. The Forum warmly welcomed the participation of representatives
from the
Australian and Papua New Guinean Business Council and the Business Council of
Papua
New Guinea. In their discussion, the Business Councils articulated issues
of
concern to business. Business representatives endorsed the Strongim Gavman
Program and identified a number of areas in which the program could further
strengthen
the capacity of Papua
New Guinean Government agencies,
particularly in
light of increased
demand being placed on agencies
in servicing the important needs
of the Liquefied Natural Gas project.

35. Business representatives
noted recent comments by Prime Minister Somare
and Prime Minister Rudd regarding the need to improve outcomes from the bilateral
development assistance
program and made a number of valuable proposals for
business
and government
to work together in partnership
in developing economic and
social infrastructure, including the possibility of an over-arching development
assistance
advisory council. The Forum welcomed the interest
of business
in working
towards improved development
outcomes,
and agreed
to work with business
to further
examine
these
proposals.

36. Business
representatives
encouraged
the Papua
New Guinean Government to
agree to enter into negotiations on PACER Plus, noting that the commencement
of
negotiations
does not commit governments
to particular, if any, outcomes.

37. The Papua New Guinea and Australian governments reinforced their
commitment to creating opportunities for economic growth including through
continued
dialogue with business
on removing impediments
to trade and investment.

Quarantine Co
operation

38. The Forum welcomed the strong ongoing collaboration between Australia and
Papua New Guinea in the area of quarantine cooperation and acknowledged the
important role it plays in strengthening
regional biosecurity.

39. The Forum recommended
that this cooperation
be further extended
to cover a
number of areas
of mutual benefit to both countries. The Forum noted Papua New
Guinea's concern that, for biosecurity reasons,
certain marine products could not be
exported to Australia, and noted that Australia should be in a position to respond
shortly to this concern. The Forum also welcomed Australia's willingness to consider
any formal market access
request
raised by the Papua
New Guinea Government.

Pacific Seasonal
Worker Pilot Scheme

40. The Forum welcomed progress made on arrangements for Papua New
Guinea's participation in the Pacific Seasonal Worker Pilot Scheme, noting the
significant economic and people to people benefits that the Scheme should bring to
Papua New Guinea and Australia.

41. The Forum welcomed the possibility for students
to access
employment
opportunities
in Australia
for up to eighteen
months
following the successful
completion of approved tertiary studies, along with meeting other necessary
requirements,
under the subclass
485 visa.

Climate Change

42. The Forum noted the one-year anniversary of the signing of the Papua New
Guinea - Australia Forest Carbon Partnership
by Prime Minister Somare and Prime
Minister Rudd in March 2009 and the continuing importance of climate change to
Papua New Guinea and Australia.

43. The Forum agreed
on the importance of the issue of reducing emissions from
deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries, known as REDD. The
Forum recognised that emissions from deforestation represent approximately
18 per cent of global greenhouse
emissions and agreed that REDD can and should
make a significant contribution to the global mitigation of climate change.

44. The Forum noted the ambitious objective of setting the world on a path to
stabilise greenhouse
gas concentrations
at 450 parts per million or lower and agreed
that to achieve this or any similar objective, REDD must be part of the solution.
Papua New Guinea and Australia agreed to continue to work together in the
international climate change
negotiations
to include REDD as part of an equitable and
effective post-2012 international climate change agreement. To this end, the Forum
noted Papua New Guinea's and Australia's international leadership on REDD,
exemplified by the Forest Carbon Partnership, as a demonstration of their
commitment to REDD.

45. The Forum agreed on a Work Plan to advance
cooperation under the Forest
Carbon Partnership. The Work Plan provides a framework to progress current and
future cooperation
under the Forest Carbon Partnership,
as a further demonstration
of
Papua
New Guinea's
and
Australia's ongoing commitment
to REDD.

Policing Cooperation

46. The Forum welcomed the commitment of both countries to the Papua New
Guinea-Australia Policing Partnership, following its endorsement at the 2008
Ministerial Forum. The Forum noted that 14 Australian Federal
Police (AFP) officers
were presently deployed to key advisory position in Papua
New Guinea, to support
the Royal PNG Constabulary
(RPNGC), under Phase
I of the Policing Partnership.
The Forum welcomed collaboration between the AFP, RPNGC and key stakeholders
on the design process of the concept paper that will address areas of corporate
support, organisational
review, operational support, behavioural change,
learning and
development,
and provincial engagement
and marketing.

Customs
and Border Security Cooperation

47. The Forum welcomed the ongoing close cooperation between Australia and
Papua New Guinea on customs and border security issues. The Forum noted the
contribution made by the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service to
support Papua
New Guinea Customs modernisation
and border management,
through
the Border Security Project and the AusAID sponsored Papua New Guinea and
Australian Customs
Twinning Scheme.

48. The Forum also welcomed the continuation of the Australian and Papua
New
Guinea Customs joint cross border patrol program and increased
cooperation in the
Torres Strait.

Immigration issues

49. The Forum welcomed ongoing cooperation in the area of immigration,
including joint efforts to counter people smuggling. The Forum noted that Australia
and Papua New Guinea were in the last stages
of negotiating a Work and Holiday
Visa Arrangement.

50. The Forum noted the progress made with rollout of the new border
management system which will enhance Papua New Guinea's management and
administration
of its borders including entry of people in Papua
New Guinea.

51. The Forum noted that because
of Australia's universal visa requirements,
it
was not able to consider Papua New Guinea's request for a reciprocal visa
arrangement.

Tsunami
Early Warning Stations

52. The Forum welcomed the progress
made on the tsunami early warning stations
on Manus Island and in Rabaul, noting that both tsunami warning stations should be
operational
by the end of June.

Defence Cooperation

53. The Forum welcomed Australia's and Papua New Guinea's continuing
commitment to the bilateral defence
relationship, as endorsed
by Australia's recently
released Defence White Paper. Australia reaffirmed its continued support for the
development of a professional defence force in Papua New Guinea with improved
capabilities in core areas
such as border and maritime security. Australia will continue
to work closely with Papua New Guinea to help it develop a sustainable
Defence
Force.

54. The Forum welcomed the successful
delivery of the Goodwill Package
to
Papua
New Guinea and noted the commencement
of Phase
II of the Defence Reform
Program.

55. The Forum noted that Australia will provide assistance
to help the Papua
New
Guinea Government develop Papua
New Guinea's Defence White Paper.
It also noted
in-principle Australian support to assist the development of the Papua New Guinea
Defence Force's peacekeeping capacity, once the International Obligations Bill has
been passed
by the Papua
New Guinea Parliament.

Torres Strait Cooperation

56. The Forum noted the report of the Joint Advisory Council
which met on
Thursday
Island, Australia, on 28 october 2008. The Forum welcomed papua New
Guinea's
offer to host the next meeting
of the Joint Advisory Council in 2009.

57. The Forum welcomed the ongoing close cooperation
between
Australia and
Papua New Guinea in the Torres Strait and re-affirmed the commitment of
both
countries
to proper application of the Torres Strait Treaty's free movement provisions.

58. In recognition of the unique cross-border arrangements
which apply in the
Torres Strait region, the Forum noted the progress made to date in developing the
joint Papua New Guinea - Australia Package
of Measures
to Address Cross Border
Health Concerns, including the initiative for facilitated cross-border
movement. The
Forum welcomed the Australian Government's commitment of $13.8 million over
four years to the Torres Strait Health Protection Strategy which forms part of the
Package
of Measures.

59. The Forum acknowledged
the collaborative efforts and commitment by both
governments in addressing
cross border health concerns and stressed
the importance
of continued involvement and support from both governments
in order to achieve
the
better health outcomes sought under the Package
of Measures. The Forum expressed
its support for the further development and implementation of the Package of
Measures.
It was noted that the implementation of some elements
of the Package
had
already commenced
and will continue through 2009-10.

Sports Cooperation

60. The Forum welcomed continuing cooperation between the two Governments
on the promotion of sport. The Forum noted the potential of sport to provide a
significant social dividend in health and fitness. The Forum looked forward to the
forthcoming announcement
of the Rugby League initiative, as foreshadowed
by Prime
Minister Rudd and Prime Minister Somare.

Fiji

61. The Forum expressed
its grave concern about the deteriorating situation in Fiji
following the abrogation
of the constitution, including interference
with the media and
key national institutions, such as the Reserve
Bank, judiciary and police. The Forum
noted that these actions had serious negative implications for the people of Fiji, the
Fiji economy and regional stability and progress. The Forum reaffirmed its support
for the Pacific Islands' Forum Leaders' decision on Fiji in Port Moresby on 27
January 2009 and,
urged the Fiji Interim Government to take concrete measures
to
return Fiji to democracy and the rule of law, including holding elections, without
delay.

Pacific Islands Forum Leaders
Meeting

62. The Forum welcomed Australia's hosting of the 2009 Pacific
Islands Forum
Leaders' Meeting in Cairns and noted that a key focus will be developing
a regional
response
to the global economic crisis.

Forum Ministerial Standing Committee
on Regional Assistance
Mission to the
Solomon
Islands

63. The Forum welcomed Australia's decision to support Papua New Guinea's
permanent
membership
of the Forum Ministerial Standing Committee on the Regional
Assistance
Mission to the Solomon
Islands.

Date and venue
of next Ministerial Forum

64. Papua
New Guinea invited Australia to attend
next year's Ministerial Forum at
a date and venue to be advised. Australia thanked Papua
New Guinea and agreed
to
accept
this invitation.

The Hon Stephen
Smith
MP
Minister for Foreign
Affairs
Australia
The Hon Sam Abal MP
Minister for Foreign Affairs, Trade
and Immigration
Papua
New Guinea.

Last Updated: 29 January 2013
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