25 Jul 2013

Claim of Australia aid control transferred to PNG dismissed

3:01 pm on 25 July 2013

A specialist in Australia's aid programme in Papua New Guinea says the suggestion by the Australian opposition leader that Canberra is handing over control of its aid programme to PNG is wrong.

Tony Abbott's suggestion followed the announcement of a new asylum seeker deal under which boat people arriving in Australia and found to be refugees will be resettled in PNG.

In return, PNG's government says it can more closely align the priorities of Australia's aid programme with its own.

The Australian National University's Stephen Howes says for some time PNG has been seeking Australian aid to be more focussed on capital or high impact projects.

"They involve building something either new or rebuilding. The Australian aid has traditionally been used much more for maintaining existing services. So a good example is in the area of roads where Australian assistance has been used for maintenance rather than for building new roads. So PNG's government would like Australian aid to be used more for capital projects and we see with the recent announcements, that is the direction in which it's now going."

Stephen Howes