What should be on the agenda of top Australian and Papua New Guinea officials when they meet for their ministerial forum this week? A discussion of how to expand their countries’ development cooperation strategy, the director of the Australia-based Development Policy Center suggests.
“The aim should be a broad statement of principles that the two countries are partners in growth and development, and that they aspire to closer integration,” Stephen Howes writes in the Development Policy Blog, explaining that the statement could be similar to Australia’s Basic Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation with Japan.
But an outcome document or statement at the end of the meeting is only one step towards a better and more effective relationship between Australia and Papua New Guinea, Howes says.
“The politics of symbolism can only take you so far,” he argues. “Some practical measures are also needed to move the relationship forward, and to tackle real problems on both sides of the relationship.”
Howes suggests three of these practical measures: an agreement on Australia’s aid program in Papua New Guinea, the release of an Australian government-commissioned report on how to support Papua New Guinea’s education sector, and streamlining of visa applications for entry into Australia.
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