Opportunities will flow if Australia and Papua New Guinea are aligned, says Australian Minister


During a recent visit to Port Moresby, Tim Ayres, Australia’s Assistant Minister for Trade, caught up with Business Advantage PNG to explain the growing nexus between Australia and Papua New Guinea, and what business opportunities it presents.

Business Advantage PNG (BAPNG): What do you make of the open invitation made by Richard Maru, PNG’s Minister for International Trade and Investment for Australian businesses to take up what he described as a ‘decade of opportunity’ in PNG?

Tim Ayres: There’s nothing wrong with issuing a challenge to the Australian government about the development opportunities in PNG. Trade is as much about commercial opportunities as it is about creating good jobs for ordinary people. But at this juncture in history, it’s also about climate, energy and security challenges. This creates a joint responsibility to get policy right, and where our two governments are aligned is where the commercial and development opportunities will follow.

BAPNG: The Federal government has hinted that the Pacific Labour Mobility Scheme (PLMS) is going to continue. What do you see as the key opportunities?

TA: Your fast-growing populace who lack work is both an enormous social and economic responsibility, and a governance challenge for PNG. In light of that dilemma, the PLMS scheme is really an opportunity to responsibly deal with the economic challenge in Australia, while also addressing an economic and foreign exchange challenge in PNG.

‘If we can find a way to support the growing and processing of PNG coffee, plus access to Australian markets, the sky’s the limit for local growers.’

Secondly, the PLMS scheme is an enormous skills development opportunity for PNG. The Albanese government is alive to implementing the scheme carefully. We want to ensure young PNG workers who come to Australia have a good experience working there, and return to their home communities with new skills and some capital behind them to improve their lives and the lives of their families.

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BAPNG: What role can the Australian government play helping the PNG government attract foreign investment?

TA: There’s no easy answer to this; it’s about working as equal partners, sharing our experiences, learning how to meet joint challenges and finding the right opportunities.

For instance, we can build on 70 years working with land-holding farming communities in areas like agricultural science, research and supporting commercial crop growth that’s efficient and smart while also supporting national economic development. If we can find a way to support the growing and processing of PNG coffee, plus access to Australian markets, the sky’s the limit for local growers.

BAPNG: What do you think the potential is to build on the Australian Infrastructure Finance Facility for the Pacific (AIFFP)?

TA: We have a strong track record in making large investments in infrastructure, including the recently opened Enga Provincial Hospital, the largest single investment in health Australia has ever done.

We want to continue working with like-minded partners to ensure ongoing investment is in high-quality, high-efficiency infrastructure that improves business and the access ordinary citizens have to health and education. There’s an endless need for infrastructure in this vast country and we’re determined to continue playing our part.


  1. australian investors should think long and hard about investing in png, especially when land is involved. the landowners are a real problem to development. and just a word of warning, dont come and invest on northcoast of madang.theres a group operating to prevent all investment and development.

    honestly, not worth investing with those attitudes

  2. This is a great comment so far..I think there are many opportunities in the relationship and connections Australians have with PNG. In fact, it is not new, but the term ‘alignment’ seems to portray something more profound. something that we can look forward to. As an independent country, we are the driver of our destiny, but we also need to look at our economy and the governance aspects of it.

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