| June 21, 2017

Papua New Guinea-Australia Policing policy

I rise to commend Mr Evans on the motion he has moved before the House this evening, which acknowledges the work the Australian Federal Police are doing in the Pacific to keep our neighbours as safe as possible. I heard what the previous speaker from the opposition said but this is about an investment of an additional $48 million to extend the long-term partnership we have with our Pacific neighbours and with Papua New Guinea. This extension is going to lead into the Asia-Pacific economic forum. There is a whole range of developments going on in Port Moresby to host this forum. I had the opportunity to go there late last year on a Save the Children trip. It was certainly a real eye-opener for someone who was not aware of some of the social climes that are a dynamic of the Papua New Guinean society.

One of the real issues with PNG at the minute is that its revenue is so heavily linked to the oil price. With the oil price spiralling downwards over the last few years, PNG has had its revenue practically halved within 12 to 18 months, down from around $40 billion in the previous financial year to around $8 billion. Therefore, PNG relies on overseas countries like Australia to continue to help support and make PNG safe in a whole range of different areas and this support is absolutely critical.

PNG is an absolute paradise when you go to experience it; however, it is an absolute victim of its own violence. It is devoid of tourism because it is simply too violent to attract tourists from around the world. It is violent for women, with over 90 per cent of the female population of New Guinea reporting serious domestic violence. It is violent for children—children are unable to walk to school until they can outrun an adult—and it is violent for its citizens.

This violence seems to be absolutely crippling the country from progressing into the modern era. There seems to be a total lack of acceptance and the political will do anything about this violence. It puts even more pressure on people such as the AFP as they set about putting in place a structure that is going to be able to make the streets of Port Moresby safe for the upcoming Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum.

Again, what happens to a country that has no money? The first thing that you notice is that you go to hospitals that do not have any drugs and do not have any medicines. You go to hospitals where the staff have not been paid for months. You can go to libraries in schools where there are no books, and if it were not for the philanthropic nature of some of the big industries around PNG—namely, Oil Search—a whole range of these social norms that we expect here in Australia are simply gone without.

There is very heavy reliance on Oil Search to build sporting infrastructure, to build and run hospitals and to fund schools. It partners with Save the Children to assist with the PNG government in the APEC forum. Certainly, what we have to understand is that the population of PNG is absolutely burgeoning. Horrible infant mortality rates have been the norm for the previous 30 or 40 years, and now this country is coming out of that. They are having incredible, greater success in relation to having their infants continue into adult lives. This is going to see the population jump, effectively, towards 30 million people within 10 to 15 years.

We need to make sure that when we have 30 million people sitting just off our Queensland coast that they are lawful and understand the damage of mistreating women and children. We need our neighbours to have a lawful existence, which is not the case at the moment. So a huge priority has been placed on the work that the AFP are doing. They are building the capacity of the local forces as well and certainly making sure that this work gets done in the best way that it possibly can.

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