The Prime Ministers of Australia and Papua New Guinea recognise the critical importance of our bilateral relationship. Our two countries share a long history of close cooperation underpinned by common interests and deep community links. Our 2013 Joint Declaration for a New Papua New Guinea-Australia Partnership committed us to strengthening ties, deepening cooperation and working together to grasp opportunities and tackle common challenges. We are equal partners with a contemporary economic and strategic relationship.
In that context, we are today lifting our enduring partnership to a new level through the establishment of an annual leaders’ dialogue to drive the next era of cooperation between our two countries.
We have also committed to two new initiatives which will strengthen our existing cooperation on strategic and economic issues. These initiatives will build on past cooperation but point to a closer partnership in the future.
Australia and Papua New Guinea have a proud history of working closely to address common security challenges. We will continue this cooperation through a new joint initiative at the Papua New Guinea Defence Force’s Lombrum Naval Base in Manus Province. This initiative will further enhance interoperability between our defence forces, and deepen our maritime security cooperation, including through increased Australian ship visits over time.
It will also contribute to Australia’s strong partnership with the PNG national government and Manus provincial government to support economic development and create economic opportunities for Manus Province. Officials will soon conduct detailed discussions on options including infrastructure development, mentoring programs and tailored training.
Our joint initiative at Lombrum will complement our cooperation through the Pacific Maritime Security Program. It will also support closer regional collaboration – as decided by Pacific Island Forum leaders on 5 September in the Boe Declaration – and improve our ability to respond to regional challenges including illegal fishing and transnational crime.
The Australian Federal Police and the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary (RPNGC) have worked closely together for more than a decade to enhance the RPNGC’s capacity and capability, most recently through the PNG-Australia Policing Partnership. Our cooperation in the lead-up to APEC demonstrates our natural partnership in this area. Building on that close relationship, we are announcing today that the AFP will continue to support the RPNGC after APEC through a long-term police development program. The program will support the RPNGC to improve community level service delivery, enhance RPNGC policing capability, and increase support to the Bomana Police Training College.