“This was my first ever official engagement since I took up the Ministry in November 2019 and I’m pleased the visit was to Australia as they are our closest neighbour and very important development partner,” he said.
“During this trip, I met with my Australian counterpart, Paul Fletcher, and the Minister for International Development, Alex Hawke, as well as the Head of the Office of the Pacific Office, Ewen McDonald, in Canberra on Wednesday (26/02/20).
“This is the highest ICT Ministerial representation we have now established and our discussions were both frank and cordial.
“Among the many issues I discussed with Minister Fletcher, we agreed to further progress my notion to establish an annual Regional Ministers’ Forum, where we would focus on the current ICT challenges that we face in the Pacific, as well as opportunities presented by the rapid advances in technology.
“I also invited both Ministers to visit PNG and Minister Hawke will be visiting us next week,” Masiu stated.
The Minister also witnessed the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the respective heads of the PNG Department of Information & Communication and the Australian Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications a day earlier (25/02/20) in Canberra.
“The significance of this MoU is it will now enable my Department personnel to tap into the vast experience and resource base of their Australian counterparts, particularly in the areas of ICT policy development and staff training and mentoring.
“For far too long this Department has been given scant attention although it is commonly referred to as the enabler of our national development.
“The finer details of the MoU are being progressed by our senior officials but it will enable the deployment of senior policy officers from Australia to PNG.
“It will also encourage the development of a twinning arrangement where staff from PNG will be seconded to the offices of their Australian counterparts,” Minister Masiu explained.
He said in this way, the staff and policy capacity in his Department will be progressively developed and enhanced.
Minister Masiu said his three-State visit was also deliberately planned so he and his delegation visited and held discussions with agencies that are at the forefront of protecting and enhancing Australia’s ICT sector.
“The PNG ICT sector at the government level is still relatively underdeveloped and we will do well to learn from Australia’s experience in this regard.”
Prior to witnessing the signing of the MoU on Tuesday (Feb 25), the Minister visited the Telstra Global Operations Centre and the Joint Cyber Security Centre, both also in Melbourne.
Minister Masiu also visited the Australian Digital Transformation Agency and the Department of Finance’s e-government services and systems, in-between his meetings with his colleague Ministers in Canberra.
On Thursday (Feb 27), the Minister and his delegation travelled to Sydney and met with Facebook Australia.
“There has been a lot of discussions in PNG on whether to ban this hugely popular platform or not. I was able to get a firsthand briefing of the work Facebook Australia does and the measures and policies they in place to address abuse and breaches of the use of Facebook,” stated Masiu.
“In that regard, I issued an invitation to Facebook to set up an office in PNG. Our officials have been directed to quickly progress this government invitation,” he said.
The Minister then held discussions with the Australian e-Safety Commissioner on the work they are doing on public e-safety.
“PNG can learn a lot from the e-Safety Commission in terms of looking after our youth and younger children from online predators,” he said.
Minister Masiu then met with the ABC Managing Director, David Anderson, on the idea of reactivating the ABC training/mentoring engagement with NBC.
“I have directed the NBC Managing Director and the incoming Board Chairman to have a follow up meeting with Mr Anderson to work out the finer details of this program so our staff can benefit from further relevant training,” he stated.
Masiu said the ABC also informed him of the ongoing successful cadetship program of the ABC which the NBC can also tap into, particularly in the technical and editorial areas.
The delegation also visited the Paddington site of the Coral Sea Cable that is regarded as a huge game-changer for the ICT sector in PNG.
The Minister ended his formal engagements in Australia by driving for six hours to Bega in country New South Wales to represent the PNG Government as the Bega community thanked those that assisted them during the recent bushfires.
“Our PNG troops had returned to PNG ahead of the trial match between Parramatta and Penrith in Bega in support of the bushfire efforts and I was asked to receive the acknowledgement on their behalf,” Masiu stated.
“It was an honour to walk out before the match and have our Government and PNGDF publicly thanked for the support we have given them. The community also acknowledged others like the Australian Defence Force, their Fire Services, the Salvation Army and the Red Cross.
“I saw firsthand some of the devastation caused by the bushfires in Bega, and am pleased that we assisted Australia in the way we did,” Masiu added.
(The PNG delegation in Melbourne)