Monday 16 Jul 2018 | 18:51 | SYDNEY
Monday 16 Jul 2018 | 18:51 | SYDNEY

Email of the day II: Repeating our Pacific mistakes?


Jenny Hayward-Jones


18 March 2008 14:52

In response to my post of last week questioning whether the new Government's Pacific initiatives were really so different from previous failed policies, Robert Cogger writes (my response follows):

The difference is that there may now be a possibility of AusAID working with the private sector in PNG in a real partnership for development, not in the contracted relationship between AusAID and project managers. There is an opportunity, many of us hope, for AusAID to engage directly with the large and medium-sized corporations in PNG to actually promote and achieve economic development – that is, businesses that make and sell things and create employment for people ( not work for academics, think tank specialists and consultants) or to refurbish or create the community and transport infrastructure that enable development to occur.

If the Declaration translates into something that involves the real business sector in real business development then we might see change. There are already interesting examples of where partnerships of this type have occurred in the more isolated and unstable western parts of the Highlands – and have been successful. The challenge is build on this.

I agree that the private sector in PNG and in other Pacific Island countries should be given a more direct role in development. But I don’t see that the text of the Port Moresby Declaration commits Australia to this any more than previous policies did, although Rudd’s speech to the PNG Business and Alumni Breakfast offers a little more hope. Ultimately, however, what is important is implementation, not rhetoric.  The real test will be in the awarding of future development contracts.

It is also worth noting that the lack of any PNG private sector role in development projects is not entirely down to AusAID. One of the biggest hindrances to PNG businesses taking on a greater role in development is the PNG Government’s own suspicion of the role of the private sector. A future Pacific Development Partnership with PNG could benefit from a focus on allocating a much more significant role to the PNG private sector and assisting to build local private sector capacity to deliver development, whether contracted by the PNG Government, AusAID or others.