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PNG celebrates 30 years of independence

PNG celebrates 30 years along the road to ‘development’

September 16th 2005 marks the 30th Anniversary of PNG independence. PNG is a unique country containing enormous cultural and ethnic diversity, plentiful resources and a population of over five million.

To commemorate this historic event AID/WATCH is hosting two prominent Papua New Guineans on a speaking tour of Melbourne and Sydney to discuss the role of Australia in PNG since independence.

Annie Kajir and Yat Paol will be discussing why Australian aid and the model of development it promotes has failed to deliver many positive impacts to the majority of Papua New Guineans.

Australia has given over $15 Billion in bilateral aid to PNG since 1975 yet Human Development Indicators for PNG remain among the lowest in world despite its enormous mineral, biological and resource wealth.

In addition to the problems, they will also discuss the successes in PNG that often go unreported in Australia. Unlike many similarly aged countries in Africa, PNG remains a dynamic democracy that is bristling with innovation particularly at the rural level where over 85% of the population reside.

A key areas of contention in PNG is the issue of customary land. International donors such as the World Bank, Asian Development Bank and AusAID see the registration of customary land, so it may be leased and sold, as a vital component in PNG attaining long-term development. Selling off of customary land has been violently opposed in PNG by landowners and remains a sensitive issue that Australia, through its aid program, continues to push in other aid recipient countries. Ms Kajir and Mr Paol will give an update on the current debate surrounding this issue.

EVENTS
Events will be held in Sydney from the 6-10th of September and in Melbourne from the 12-15th of September. See http://www.aidwatch.org.au/ for more information.

SPEAKERS
Ms. Annie Kajir, head lawyer at the PNG Environmental Law Centre has been involved in key cases challenging the model of development that is being imposed on Papua New Guinea by international investors.

Mr. Yat Paol is a community trainer with the Bismark Ramu Group, an organisation that works closely with communities to ensure they select the most appropriate form of development for them.

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