Expulsion threat softened

TALK of expelling Australian advisers working in the Papua New Guinean government has been softened, with Prime Minister Peter O’Neill telling AAP he preferred consultants to be directly employed, and thus accountable to the government.
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He also said the ban on foreign advisers - which takes effect on January 1 - would not "displace families overnight."

The move was announced late August, where O'Neill took aim at "middlemen" pocketing aid funding and describing the current arrangements as making Papua New Guineans "lazy, not able to take over civil decisions" and "dependent on consultants".

"Development assistance has become a billion-dollar industry where so much of the goodwill ends up in the pockets of middlemen and expensive consultants," he said.

"As a developing country, we don't want handouts, we don't want Australian taxpayer money wasted and we don't want boomerang aid."

At the time, O'Neill also said the country would move to a model where aid partners would be asked to fund positions within the government and staff members directly reporting through PNG government systems.

Their salaries would be delivered through arrangements with donor countries.

"That will be an effective way to strengthen our government systems from within so after a period of time this development assistance will no longer be needed," O'Neill said.

"The current arrangement has foreigners occupying positions where the work should be done by Papua New Guineans.

"When they end their contracts they do not leave behind capacity or skills and this is not good for PNG or the donor country."

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