Thursday, 10 December 2020
Questions without Notice
Papua New Guinea: Foreign Investment
I thank Senator Patrick for his question and for some brief advance notice of the nature of his question. I am aware of a memorandum of understanding being signed on 13 November this year between Papua New Guinea's Western Province provincial government, the Chinese fishing company, Fujian Zhonghong Fishery Limited and the Papua New Guinea National Fisheries Authority. While bilateral arrangements are a matter for the respective countries, we are in contact with the Papua New Guinea government on the reported memorandum of understanding, in particular to ensure that the full range of Australian interests, including fisheries protection, are fully safeguarded. We are highly trusted partners, Australia and PNG, as demonstrated in the signing of our comprehensive strategic and economic partnership on 5 August. Even in the context of COVID-19, we were able to implement the CSEP. We have the closest of relationships at both the political and operational levels.
I would advise the chamber it is our view there is some way to go before any material activity commences in relation to this MOU. Normal monitoring and enforcement actions by Australian authorities continue to operate to particularly protect our fisheries. We expect all fishers in the Torres Strait region to follow respective Australian and Papua New Guinea laws and international obligations. Our engagement in the Pacific is driven by our commitment to the shared Blue Pacific vision of a secure, stable, inclusive and prosperous region. It is Australia's view that all external partners must respect our region's collective security interests. We make that clear in our engagement and we expect others to do the same.