On the 21st of February 2011, we posted a letter by a very concerned Australian Citizen, Trevor Freestone, addressed to Julie Bishop, regarding the serious governance issues facing PNG. Below is the response from Honorable Julie Bishop, MP, and Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Australian Parliament:
Thank you for your email dated 21 February regarding the situation in Papua New Guinea.
I share your concerns about the prospect for sustainable economic development in PNG. I note with disappointment that PNG is still ranked by the United Nations as one of the lowest performing countries for human development. The security situation in Port Moresby and the Southern Highlands, the spread of HIV/AIDS and cholera, and reports of widespread corruption are all pressing issues that require urgent attention.
I also have serious concerns about Australia’s aid program, particularly the government’s reliance on highly paid consultants and advisors. According to reports, 44 Australian officials were placed in PNG Government agencies in 2010 as part of the Strongim Gavman Program, at a cost of $29.3 million. The report noted that the cost of each adviser to the Australian taxpayer was $665,909 per year.
The Coalition has expressed concern about the effectiveness and efficiency of Australia’s aid program for some time now. At the 2010 election, the Coalition promised to undertake a broad review of Australia’s aid program if elected. We are pleased that the Government has supported our policy position and is undertaking a review.
I have met with a number of people and organisations concerning the situation in PNG and I have received briefings from the Government.
Thank you for writing to me on this issue and providing me with these useful websites on PNG.
The Hon Julie Bishop MP
Deputy Leader of the Opposition
Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs
Shadow Minister for Trade