Australia offers help with PNG prosperity

Australia will support a push by Papua New Guinea to increase the number of workers taking part in a scheme to provide labour for farms and other industries.

PNG nationals are among people from 10 nations taking up jobs in Australian agriculture, fisheries and horticulture under the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility Scheme.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and his PNG counterpart James Marape on Thursday agreed to a boost in participation in the scheme.

"Acknowledging prime minister Marape's ambition to deploy 8000 PALM workers to Australia, the prime ministers asked responsible ministers to identify ways to strengthen PNG's worker mobilisation system and to consider at the 2023 ministerial forum specific actions for each side to take," they said in a joint statement.

Before his bilateral meeting with Mr Marape, Mr Albanese told the PNG parliament there are many opportunities to boost trade, investment, jobs and incomes in the two nations, representing a "new generation of prosperity" for the northern neighbour.

"Australian farmers and producers benefit from the expertise and industry of your people," Mr Albanese said in the historic address.

"Just as importantly, the people of PNG earn good wages and develop new skills they can use to support their families, educate their children and invest in opportunities that will deliver further prosperity for themselves and PNG."

The two leaders noted the Albanese government had committed to provide in-country support for PNG's Pacific Engagement Visa applicants to connect with employers in Australia.

As well, reciprocal work and holiday visa arrangements from July 1 will allow young adults to have an extended holiday in each other's country, during which they could work and undertake short-term study.

Mr Marape said economic strength was crucial for PNG to play a key role in the Indo-Pacific region.

"An economically independent PNG is a better, stronger and safer PNG," he said, urging the "free flow" of goods and people between the two countries," he told parliament.

Mr Albanese named coffee, cocoa, fisheries and tourism as key trade industries which could be boosted in coming years.

Australia's private sector investment in PNG stands at $24 billion, which is more than the nation invests in India, Indonesia or Malaysia.

"Our government also stands ready to assist PNG to improve your biosecurity regime to enable your farmers and producers to access international markets," Mr Albanese said.

There were also opportunities in the "green economy" and ensuring more women and girls took part in education and employment, he said.

"Equality for women is fair, it is right and it is powerful economic reform," Mr Albanese said.

"It boosts productivity, participation and drives growth because it means drawing on the talent and initiative and enterprise of the whole population, not just half of it."

Australia and PNG are co-operating on a number of major infrastructure projects including upgrading ports, improving roads and bolstering the communications network.