The Lowy Institute hosted the sixth annual Australia–Papua New Guinea Emerging Leaders Dialogue from 4 to 6 December 2018 in Cairns, Australia. The Dialogue is the flagship event of the Australia–Papua New Guinea Network, a project of the Lowy Institute to build stronger connections between Australia and PNG. The project is supported by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

The Dialogue reflects the importance of the Australia–PNG relationship. It brings together 20 emerging leaders from both countries to discuss common challenges and issues and to form new professional connections.

The 2018 Dialogue was held in Cairns shortly after PNG hosted the APEC Leaders’ Summit in Port Moresby. This was the first time the Dialogue has been held outside a capital city in either country. Cairns is closely connected to PNG, with direct air links to the country and a large resident Papua New Guinean population. There are also strong links between PNG and Cairns through business, government and community connections.

The 2018 Dialogue looked at PNG’s time on the global stage as the host of APEC 2018, and also considered whether hoped-for opportunities in tourism have been realised. The participants also discussed the current state of the PNG–Australia relationship, including recent initiatives led by Australia alongside increased interest in the Pacific region by non-traditional development partners such as China.

Discussions were broadly focused on:

  • Contemporary PNG–Australia relations
  • People-to-people links
  • Tourism
  • Economic development
  • Politics and civil society

Participants developed a number of recommendations, summarised below, with the goal of improving links between the two countries and reflecting their perspectives on relevant public policy issues. Following the recommendations is a summary of discussions held in each session. Notes have been provided on a non-attributable basis.

The Dialogue was chaired by Alcinda Trawen, Director of Policy and Planning at the PNG Tourism Promotion Authority, and Shane McLeod, Project Director of the Aus-PNG Network at the Lowy Institute.

Shane McLeod and Jonathan Pryke, Director of the Pacific Islands Program at the Lowy Institute, contributed to the compilation of this report.

The Lowy Institute acknowledges the continuing support of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade for the Australia–Papua New Guinea Network.

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