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Papua New Guinea

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Australia-Papua New Guinea engagement

Photo of Prime Minister Albanese and Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister Marape shaking hands at the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders’ Meeting.
Prime Minister Albanese and Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister Marape met at the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders’ Meeting in July 2022. Credit: @AlboMP Twitter.

The Papua New Guinea–Australia partnership is dynamic, multi-faceted and comprehensive. Our partnership goes beyond mere words – we are physically connected through our shared maritime border and joined through our rich cultures and history. The deepest commitment and longest lasting bond is through our people. This is exemplified by the volunteers, missionaries, business people, sports players, teachers, students and veterans who have made connections with the people, culture and land.

The Papua New Guinea-Australia Comprehensive Strategic and Economic Partnership (CSEP) signed in 2020, sets out a contemporary vision for what Australia and PNG want to achieve together, committing us to elevate our already close ties.

More about Australia's Pacific engagement and The Office of the Pacific

Security partnerships

Bilateral cooperation on security and strategic issues through the work of our diplomats, militaries, police, customs and immigration officials is growing.

Visit by HMAS Choules to PNG and handover of the first Guardian Class patrol boat in 2019. Credit: DFAT

The Papua New Guinea-Australia Defence Cooperation Program is by far our largest defence cooperation program with any country. Defence cooperation between our two countries has grown significantly in recent years, based on a recognition that regional security is enhanced by the capacity of our defence forces to successfully work together

Australia is scheduled to handover four Guardian-class patrol boats to PNG by 2023 to support maritime security in the Pacific region, under the Pacific Maritime Security Program.

Photo of HMPNGS Francis cruising through ocean.
The HMPNGS Francis was gifted to Papua New Guinea by Australia in October 2021. Credit: Calistemon (CC-BY-4.0).

The Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary (RPNGC) and Australian Federal Police (AFP) have a deep and trusted police-to-police partnership. On 24 March 2022, Commissioner Manning (RPNGC) and Commissioner Kershaw (AFP) re-affirmed ongoing close cooperation to address crime and safety issues impacting Papua New Guinea, Australia, and the Blue Pacific, consistent with the 2018 Boe Declaration on Regional Security. The PNG-Australia Policing Partnership (PNG-APP) Mission Design 2022-2026 supports the RPNGC through on-the-shoulder advisors, targeted mentoring, training of emerging leaders and more.

On 30 March 2022, Australia and PNG signed a new Cyber Cooperation agreement. The new agreement builds on a previous cyber security cooperation MoU between PNG and Australia signed in 2018, reinforcing the partnership's focus on enhancing PNG's cyber capacity and working together on cyber affairs. The new MoU paves the way for deepened cooperation to continue building cyber resilience and more broadly supporting a safe, secure, and prosperous PNG, Australia, and Indo-Pacific region.

People-to-people links

Reflecting the close historical association between Australia and Papua New Guinea, there are over 10,000 Australians in PNG at any time, and approximately the same number of PNG nationals in Australia.

Increasing numbers of Papua New Guineans visit Australia each year to study. Australia supports the next generation of leaders in PNG through the prestigious Australia Awards Scholarships. PNG participates in the New Colombo Plan, which gives Australian undergraduates the opportunity to undertake study, research, work placements and internships in our region. By giving students the opportunity to study in PNG, the New Colombo Plan helps to lift knowledge of PNG in Australia and provides a basis for ongoing engagement in business and tertiary education.

Photo of an Automotive trainer and student working on equipment.
Automotive trainer and student. Credit: Australia Pacific Training Coalition.

Australia adapts education support to meet the priorities of the PNG Government, particularly to meet skilled labour shortages. The Australia Pacific Training Coalition will expand Australia’s support for technical and vocational education and training beyond Port Moresby. This investment will scale up Australian funded trade graduates to more than 600 graduates annually by 2026.

Group photo of PNG workers with Aussie farmer with a water truck during Australia's 2019 bushfire crisis.
PNG workers at Aussie Orchards helped protect the farm during the bushfire crisis in late 2019. Credit: ABC North Coast.

The Pacific Australia Labour Mobility (PALM) scheme provides Papua New Guineans the opportunity to help fill labour shortages in rural and regional Australia. Aussie Orchards (an approved employer) is testament to the confidence Australian employers can gain in PNG workers under the scheme. During the bushfire crisis in late 2019, PNG workers went above and beyond to protect the family-owned farm and its 7,000 avocado trees.

PNG 2019 Rugby League Match between the Brisbane Broncos Legends and PNG Kumuls. Credit: PNG Rugby Football League

Australia and Papua New Guinea share a deep love of sports. Through PacificAus Sports, we supported PNG's national rugby league and netball teams to compete at major events. PacificAus Sports also helped PNG athletes to prepare for and compete at the Olympic and Commonwealth Games. We will continue to deliver sports for development outcomes through the Team Up program. Papua New Guinea and Australia are using the shared love of sport to improve health, build relationships and enhance institutional and people linkages.

Black and white image of injured Australian soldier being supported PNG locals.
Australian soldier being supported during the Kokoda campaign. Credit: Adventist Heritage Centre, Australia.

The Kokoda region holds special significance in the relationship between Australia and PNG. Situated within Owen Stanley Range spanning both PNG’s Oro and Central provinces, the Kokoda region is home to the Kokoda Track, where during World War II Australian soldiers prevented the Japanese imperial army from reaching Port Moresby. Assisting Australia’s counter-offensive were Papua New Guineans, who became known as the Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels. Thousands of Australians travel to PNG to walk the Kokoda Track each year in honour of those who fought in the Kokoda Campaign. The Kokoda Track is a monument to the courage, endurance, mateship and sacrifice of those who served in the Kokoda campaign. In 2015, Australia and PNG signed a joint declaration on the preservation of the Kokoda Track Region.

The Australia-Papua New Guinea Network is an initiative to strengthen people-to-people links between the two countries, and to foster practical partnerships and sharing of knowledge between business, civil society, communities and academia. The Network is run by the Lowy Institute for International Policy, in partnership with the National Research Institute of Papua New Guinea.

The annual Australia-PNG Emerging Leaders Dialogue brings together young leaders from both countries across a range of sectors to exchange views on the bilateral relationship and contemporary challenges.

Economic development, trade and investment

Papua New Guinea and Australia share a longstanding close economic relationship.

Australia is PNG’s biggest trade partner with bilateral trade of over $6 billion in 2020. We are also a major investor in PNG, with investment valued at around $24.8 billion in 2021. Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics indicates more than 4,000 Australian companies export to PNG.

The Australian Trade Commission (Austrade) assists Australian companies to build and implement their export strategies. Austrade offers practical advice, market intelligence and ongoing support (including financial) to Australian companies looking to grow their business in PNG.

Australia continues to build on its long track record of supporting development and delivering quality infrastructure by financing climate-resilient infrastructure and quality investments through the Australian Infrastructure Financing Facility for the Pacific (AIFFP) and our ongoing bilateral program.

Ariel view of Kavieng Port, Papua New Guinea.
Kavieng Port, Papua New Guinea. Credit: PNG Ports Corporation.

Australia, in conjunction with the International Monetary Fund, the Asian Development Bank and World Bank, supports Papua New Guinea to build a more resilient and sustainable economy, including through a significant program of economic reforms.

Australia’s Development Support

Australia is Papua New Guinea’s largest development partner. Our development assistance is designed to help PNG meet its own development objectives and the global Sustainable Development Goals including in economic growth, education, health, law and justice, infrastructure, climate change, gender, and subnational priorities.

The assistance also addresses shorter-term challenges. For instance Australia worked closely with the PNG Government and people to support their response to COVID-19 outbreaks in 2020 and 2021. Our assistance included provision of PPE and vaccines, support for testing and surveillance, clinical response and assistance for economic recovery.

The PNG COVID-19 Development Response Plan sets out how Australia is helping PNG to recover from COVID-19 shocks. Our support is framed around three pillars: health security; stability; and economic recovery and is delivering results for the people of PNG.

Some specific examples of Australian assistance are listed below. In 2020-21, Australia supported:

  • 134,000 people to access sexual and reproductive health services
  • 1,327 schools across 10 provinces to improve literacy and numeracy
  • 12 major markets to become safer and more inclusive for women and people with disabilities
  • 1,613km (or 37 per cent) of PNG’s national priority roads to be maintained, which ensured access to critical services and generated significant local employment opportunities.
Photo of Senator Wong speaking with participants of the PNG Aus Partnership Secondary Schools Initiative on stage in panel discussion.
Foreign Minister Wong meeting participants of the PNGAus Partnership Secondary Schools Initiative (PASS). Credit: DFAT.


Photo of forklift loading supplies into a plane.
Australia worked closely with Papua New Guinea and the rest of our Pacific family to mitigate impacts of COVID-19. Credit: DFAT.


Australia's flagship gender program in Papua New Guinea, Pacific Women Shaping Development (Pacific Women) supports four outcomes: supporting increased leadership and influence in decision making, increasing economic opportunities for women, strengthening the national response to violence against women and expanding support services, and enhanced knowledge and evidence to inform policy and practice.

Women in leadership visit to Australia. Credit: DFAT

In 2019-20, Pacific Women implemented 24 projects in Papua New Guinea, with over half of Pacific Women’s support directed towards reducing violence against women and expanding support services.

More about Australia's development program to PNG and Pacific Regional Programs

Key documents

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