28 May 2011

Hopes PNG symposium in Melbourne will boost public interest

9:11 am on 28 May 2011

Australia's Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs says a symposium in Melbourne yesterday should help to boost public interest in Papua New Guinea.

Richard Marles has been co-hosting a symposium on PNG at Deakin University, which brought together political and business leaders, academics and NGOs.

Mr Marles says while Australia's bilateral relationship with PNG is critical, academic and media interest has waned since the country achieved independence in 1975.

He says last year's cholera outbreak in PNG was an example of the lack of awareness.

"We saw hundreds of people die literally right across the border from Australia and yet whilst that was reported to a degree in Australia, I think most Australians would not have been aware that that occurred. And this is the kind of basic level of understanding I think it's important for Australians to have because this is a country with whom we definitely share a joint fate going forward."

Richard Marles says there was a waiting list for the symposium, which is a positive sign.