Perspectives on Papua New Guinea


Business leaders provide their own take on opportunities in PNG’s economy.

Greg Pawson, General Manager Pacific Banking, Westpac

Westpac’s Greg Pawson

‘Papua New Guinea is a very important market for us. We employ more than 400 staff across our PNG business. We have sixteen branches and we’re expanding, with new business centres in Lae and Port Moresby. We’re about to relocate our main branch in Port Moresby to a new centre and we’re investing in our technology and people. Particularly, we have expanded our team of experienced bankers in the commercial and the resources sector … We’re PNG’s first bank and have been here for more than 100 years. PNG represents a significant portion of our business for the region. With great growth opportunities, it’s a critical market for us.’

David Purcell, Chief Executive Officer, Ela Motors

Ela Motors' David Purcell

Ela Motors’ David Purcell

‘We have a tremendous workforce that are seriously, seriously committed to what we do and how we do it. It gives me a lot of encouragement to think that we’re heading in a direction where people are really seriously motivated and interested, and wanting to work and better their lives. I think that it’s indicative of what’s going on in this country that there is a greater awareness today of effort versus reward, investment confidence, taking a chance, doing something different.’

James Lau, Managing Director, Rimbunan Hijau (PNG) Group

R H Group’s James Lau

‘R H Group’s Vision City retail project is of huge significance to the country and to the region. This is the first retail development of its size in the country. It sets a new standard for PNG’s retail industry. However, I think its significance is also symbolic. It shows that PNG is moving forward. It is often said that PNG is a difficult place to operate, and it is often criticised in the media as having social problems. However, people need to look beyond that and see the long-term prospects for PNG. It has a young, growing population and is resource-rich. In other words, it has potential—and that’s what people need to see in a project like Vision City. ‘

Story continues after advertisment...

Tom Owen, Chief Operating Officer—Logistics, Steamships

Steamships’ Tom Owen

‘Steamships is completely committed to the country. We have been in PNG for 93 years and have a team of over 3,500 dedicated people behind our businesses. We’ve invested though the good times and the bad times and our fortunes are closely tied to that of the nation. We will continue to show this confidence going forward. Papua New Guinea has a chequered reputation for inward investment due I suppose to an external image problem. When people come and see for themselves however, they will see the longer term potential and will be pleasantly surprised at the situation here.’

Michael Rowland, Chief Executive Officer Pacific, ANZ

ANZ's Michael Rowland

ANZ’s Michael Rowland

‘PNG plays a critical role in our ANZ network and we are focused on growing and investing in our business there. While Australia and New Zealand have traditionally been the cornerstones of Pacific investment and support, we see more and more that investment and trade is coming out of Asia … We have customers in Asia who want to invest in the natural resources, infrastructure and agriculture, which are our three areas of specialisation. We can take them into Papua New Guinea; introduce them and bank them and establish them in Papua New Guinea or anywhere in the Pacific for that matter. That’s a key part of our strategy.’

This article first published in Business Advantage PNG 2012/2013