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As PNG approaches its 40 years of independence from Australia, the foreign minister of Australia, Julia Bishop says PNG had gone backwards on many measures, despite receiving billions in aid money over the decades.

Bishop delivered a stinging speech to an audience that included PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and several of his ministers that attended the 30th Australian Papua New Guinea Business forum in cairns.

”I am troubled by the fact that despite a significant investment in aid into PNG over many decades, in some vital areas there has been no discernible progress.

”I am troubled by the fact that PNG has fallen from 77th place on the UN Human Development Index in 1975 to 156th today and I’m troubled that PNG is not expected to meet one of the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.

“The goals included indicators such as maternal health and infant mortality, she said, ”so a new approach is needed and that’s what I’m determined to deliver.

“Papua New Guinea has been one of the largest recipients of Australian aid, with about $520 million this year, second only to Indonesia.

Despite $7.6 billion of cuts to foreign aid delivered in last week’s budget, PNG is set to enjoy an increase in aid, largely because of Port Moresby’s agreement to process and resettle asylum-seekers who were headed to Australia.

Ms Bishop said PNG was ”on the cusp of transforming its economy” and could double its gross domestic product in coming years, particularly through large energy projects.

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