Mr Ian Kemish- Former High Commissioner to Papua New Guinea- spoke to a full house at the second Perspectives Asia for 2013. He discussed how Australians generally underestimate the extent of the changes underway in Papua New Guinea. He stressed the deep connections between the PNG people and Queenslanders- in particular those that live in Northern Queensland.
Twelve consecutive years of substantial growth are bringing significant economic and social change, but the challenges remain serious – demographic growth will see the population approaching that of current Australia by 2050, and health and education services are struggling. The country underwent a painful period of political transition in 2011 and 2012, but a new generation of leadership has now emerged, intent on grappling with these problems. Leadership remains a challenge but this is slowly changing and the new government is showing great strides to make a difference. PNG is also expected to increasingly take on a regional leadership role.
Australia has a strong interest in PNG succeeding, and will need to remain focused on the partnership with the country.
Mr Kemish has just completed his posting as Australian High Commissioner to the Independent State of Papua New Guinea. Prior to this post he was the Australian Ambassador to the Federal Republic of Germany, a position he held from April 2006. In Berlin he was also accredited as Ambassador to Switzerland and to Liechtenstein. Prior to this, Mr Kemish was First Assistant Secretary, International Division in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Mr Kemish’s overseas service includes Vienna and Brunei. He has also worked on secondment with the New Zealand Ministry of External Relations. Mr Kemish was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in 2003 in recognition of managing the Australian Government’s response in the aftermath of the 12 October 2002 Bali bombings.
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