Julie Bishop visiting Manus

Australia’s Opposition Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Julie Bishop is in Papua New Guinea this week on a fact-finding mission. Her trip follows the Australian Government’s response to a review of its development aid funding and priorities.

Australia provides nearly $500 million a year in development aid to PNG and Ms Bishop has led opposition complaints that it has been wasted on highly paid advisors. It is interesting that her trip comes after a letter written directly to Ms. Bishop by a PNG supporter. Among other things she noted that the cost of each adviser to the Australian taxpayer was $665,909 per year.

Besides the costs to Australian taxpayers her major reason for traveling here is due to the Australian Governments plans to reopen the Asylum processing facility in Manus Province. It would certainly be a little boost to the economy there. But it would be very important that all businesses and the Province be tightly integrated into the developments so that that they fully benefit from the project.

It would be a pointless exercise to Manus if the Asylum facility forced real estate and food prices upwards like what has been seen in the Solomon Islands with the presence of RAMSI there.

You can read more on Ms. Bishop at her website here.