Commonwealth Local Government Forum

Scaling up engagement in Papua New Guinea

06 August 2018

CLGF Pacific has been busy implementing the recently signed agreement with Local Government Professionals Australia, one of CLGF's member organisations. Working closely with another CLGF member, the Papua New Guinea (PNG) Department of Provincial and Local Government Affairs, the three organisations are developing a joint project to strengthen the capacity of local level governments in PNG. This initiative is being enthusiastically supported by the High Commission of PNG to Australia.


One of the highlights of a recent joint exploratory mission to Port Moresby was a consultative meeting of key stakeholders to gather information on capacity gaps. These insights will be used to help design and undertake a collaborative project aimed at improving the service delivery capacity of PNG local level government. A total of 50 participants representing national, provincial and local level government, together with the Australian High Commission, attended the meeting held on 28 June. 


Significant achievements of past programmes

Opening the meeting, the Secretary of the Department of Provincial and Local Government Affairs, Mr Dickson Guina, highlighted significant achievements in local government capacity building under the past CLGF programmes. “The Commonwealth Local Government Good Practice Scheme was of significant value and this model should be revived” he said, adding “the Ministry for Intergovernmental Relations fully supports this meeting which is seen as a game changing event.” 


The Acting High Commissioner of PNG to Australia, Mr Sakias Tameo, then spoke about the importance of PNG/Australia bilateral relationships, suggesting “There is significant goodwill in Australia towards PNG and this should be channelled to help PNG to succeed”. Mr Tameo emphasised the importance of everyone working together to achieve the desired outcomes.


Innovative and effective local government

Representing Local Government Professionals Australia, incoming President Tony De Fazio said that his organisation “focused on innovative and effective local government, and interactions that enrich its institutions. Given the historical and geographic commonalities between PNG and Australia, the environment exists for meaningful collaboration between Councils in Australia and PNG.” 


CLGF Regional Adviser, Terry Parker, added that “CLGF has been working with PNG local government institutions since 2000 on strengthening local democracy, improving service delivery capacity, local elected leadership development, gender mainstreaming and exchange of good practice”. He emphasised that the time is right for scaling up collaboration. 


Technical twinning links revival

Following extensive discussion on the challenges facing local government in PNG and potential solutions, the stakeholders agreed that Australian local government is well placed to assist local level governments in PNG in the areas of town development planning, and strengthening local level government structures, methods, systems and procedures. In addition, it was agreed that the seven previously existing city partnerships/sister city technical twinning linkages between councils in Australia and local level governments in PNG should be revived.


Efforts are now underway by CLGF Pacific and LG Professionals Australia, together with the PNG Department of Provincial and Local Government Affairs and the PNG High Commission to Australia, to mobilise the necessary resources to undertake this essential work.


Photo caption: Participants at the consultative meeting; fourth from left: Acting High Commissioner of PNG to Australia, Mr Sakias Tameo.


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