Official Opening of the 32nd Australia New Guinea Business Forum and Trade Expo
Australian High Commissioner to PNG, His Excellency Bruce Davis; the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, the Honourable Peter O’Neill MP; distinguished guests; ladies and gentlemen. I too respectfully acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands around Cairns, and their Elders past and present. I thank also the Biddigal Indigenous Contemporary Dance Group for their purposeful welcome.
It is a great pleasure for me and Kaye to join you today in this beautiful Queensland city – on the eve of our first visit to Papua New Guinea since I was appointed Governor.
Our busy four-day trip will give us a better understanding of the broader relationship, including trade and investment ties between Australia and PNG, with an unsurprising bias towards the Queensland-PNG connection.
The number and enthusiasm of distinguished participants here today already tells us that the long-standing bilateral relationship remains robust.
Statistics tell the same story – well over $6 billion in two-way Australia-PNG goods and services trade, with Queensland accounting for over 40 percent of Australia’s merchandise exports to PNG in 2014-2015.
In that same period, there were over forty thousand visitors from PNG to Queensland. About 7,000 of those, one in six, came to our State on business.
Another team with a highly successful record is the Australia-Papua New Guinea Business Council, which has been an invaluable catalyst for, and supporter of, strong bilateral trade and investment links for decades.
The Council was established just five years after PNG gained its independence, and this business forum was established soon after.
I thank and congratulate the executive, staff, and members of the Business Council, and its partner organisation in PNG, on the vital role they have played in keeping the relationship strong and productive.
I thank Austrade and the Papua New Guinea Investment Promotion Authority for their generous support of this year’s event.
Kaye and I look forward to visiting some of the many stalls tonight, and meeting many of you to learn more about Australia-PNG ties.
But – duty first!
It gives me great pleasure to shortly cut the ribbon and declare the 32nd Australia-Papua New Guinea Business Forum and Trade Expo “officially open”!
Kaye and I wish you the greatest success, to the mutual benefit of our countries. Thank you.