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Papua New Guinea

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Stepping-up in Papua New Guinea

During PNG Prime Minister Marape's Guest of Government visit to Australia in July 2019, Prime Minister Scott Morrison hosted him at Shark Park to share their love and passion for NRL. Photo: @ScottMorrisonMP Twitter

"We commit to work together to strengthen further the bilateral relationship and to contribute our best efforts to making the Pacific a region that is secure strategically, stable economically and sovereign politically."

The Papua New Guinea–Australia partnership is dynamic, multifaceted and comprehensive. Our partnership goes beyond mere words – we are physically connected through our shared 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 and veterans who have made connections with the people, culture and land.

In 2019 Australia and Papua New Guinea committed to Annual Ministerial Meetings to further strengthen our bilateral relationship. Prime Ministers Morrison and Marape met in August 2020 for a Leaders’ Summit and signed the Papua New Guinea-Australia Comprehensive Strategic and Economic Partnership (CSEP). The CSEP sets out a contemporary vision for what Australia and Papua New Guinea want to achieve together, committing us to elevate our already close ties.

The Pacific Step-up initiative, announced by Prime Minister Scott Morrison in 2018, is taking our cooperation to a new level.

Ministers attending the 27th PNG-Australia Ministerial Forum in Port Moresby. Photo: DFAT

We will do more in infrastructure, media, sport, and enhancing our people-to -people links, with cooperation between churches, labour mobility and between secondary schools in both countries.

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

Security partnerships

Papua New Guinea and Australia jointly tackle security challenges. The cooperation on security and strategic issues by 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. Photo: DFAT

Our two defence forces have a long tradition of working together to protect our countries. Papua New Guinea is our largest Defence Cooperation Program partner.

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.

The first of the new Guardian Class patrol boats, the Ted Diro, in Port Moresby. Photo: DFAT

People-to-people links

The Seasonal Worker Programme and Pacific Labour Mobility Scheme provides Papua New Guineans the opportunity to help fill the labour shortages in rural and regional Australia.

Skybury (a dual Pacific Labour Scheme and Seasonal Worker Program employer) is testament to the confidence Australian employers can gain in PNG workers under both programs.

PNG 2019 Rugby League Match between the Brisbane Broncos Legends and PNG Kumuls. Photo: PNG RFL

Australia and PNG share a deep love of sports. Through the new PacificAus Sports program, we supported PNG's national rugby league and netball teams compete at major events. We will also 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.

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.

Australia’s support to PNG’s COVID-19 response

Photo of an Automotive trainer and student working on equipment.
Automotive trainer and student. Photo: APTC.

Australia is assisting PNG to respond to COVID-19. Since February 2020, we have reprioritised a large portion of our development assistance to support PNG to prevent, detect and respond to the virus, and underpin PNG’s economic resilience. More information on our support to PNG’s COVID-19 response, including the deployment of medical assistance teams, can be found on the Papua New Guinea COVID-19 response webpage.

Photo of forklift loading supplies into a plane.
Australia is committed to working with PNG and the rest of our Pacific family to mitigate impacts of COVID-19. In partnership with the Pacific Islands Forum, we are supporting the Pacific Humanitarian Pathway initiative to deliver much needed humanitarian and medical supplies throughout the Pacific. Photo: DFAT.
Photo of welding students watching their teacher weld.
Welding students. Photo: APTC.

Economic development

The Australian Infrastructure Financing Facility for the Pacific (AIFFP) will play an important role in addressing some of PNG's critical infrastructure needs in the transport, telecommunications and electricity sectors.

Australia has majority funded the Coral Sea Cable System, which now connects Sydney with Port Moresby (and Honiara) via a 4700 kilometre fibre optic submarine cable system. The System, with 20 Tbps capacity) will deliver faster, cheaper more reliable communications infrastructure for the people of Papua New Guinea, providing economic and development benefits.

Coral Sea Cable coming ashore in PNG. Photo: Vocus

Roads are critical to connecting communities to services and markets, and allowing businesses to grow. Australian support for road infrastructure saw 1,768 kilometres of Papua New Guinea’s national priority roads maintained in 2019. In New Ireland Province, Australia has supported the rehabilitation of the 265 kilometre Boluminski Highway, meaning that the centres of Kavieng and Namatanai are connected by sealed highway for the first time. This has enabled better access for communities to health and education, and is helping farmers get their goods to market. In 2019, a bicycle race, the ‘Tour de New Ireland’, was held on the newly sealed highway.

The Australian Infrastructure Financing Facility for the Pacific (AIFFP), which is now developing its first projects, will play an important role in addressing some of PNG's many critical infrastructure needs in the transport, telecommunications and electricity sectors.
Along with Japan, New Zealand and the United States, Australia is supporting the PNG Electrification Partnership, which will help Papua New Guinea meet its target of electrifying 70 per cent of the country by 2030. Electrification will improve living standards and lift economic growth in PNG.

Australia is supporting PNG to undertake a significant program of economic reform, in conjunction with the International Monetary Fund and the Asian Development Bank. In November 2019, Australia provided Papua New Guinea with a USD 300 million loan, to help it tackle a serious budget shortfall and cash flow issues, and progress the reforms. The reform program will improve the resiliency and efficiency of the PNG economy.

Australia is also supporting the agriculture sector in Papua New Guinea. In a country where most people live in rural areas, agriculture underpins food security, provides jobs, reduces poverty and improves living standards. Australia has supported training for coffee and cocoa farmers and beekeepers, and linked up growers to premium buyers overseas.


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. Photo: 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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