Past events

This page provides a list of archived events we have held, including video recordings, related blogs, and (more recently) audio podcasts: Development Policy Centre Podcast.

My Father, My Country: a film evening with Dame Meg Taylor
7–9pm 22 June 2017
Professor Helen Sullivan, Director, Crawford School, ANU; Dame Meg Taylor, Secretary General to the Pacific Islands Forum.

In 1938 three Australian patrol officers – Jim Taylor, John Black and Pat Walsh – set off on an epic journey into the highlands of Papua New Guinea. Their purpose: to make contact with highland tribes who until then, had no contact with the outside world, and to explain to them that their lives were about to undergo incredible change.

Fifty years later, Jim’s daughter Meg retraced her father’s steps and met people who remembered the day the patrol arrived. Meg’s observations are combined with excerpts from her father’s journal to provide a personal and poetic narrative about an extraordinary meeting of cultures. [extract from In My Father’s Footsteps]

Dame Meg Taylor is a Papua New Guinean lawyer and diplomat. She studied at the University of PNG, received her LLB from Melbourne University and her LLM from Harvard University. She practiced law with the Office of the Public Solicitor and in the private sector, and served as a member of the Law Reform Commission of PNG. She was Ambassador of Papua New Guinea to the United States, Mexico and Canada in Washington, DC and then worked at the World Bank Group for 15 years. In August 2014, she was appointed Secretary General to the Pacific Islands Forum. Dame Meg is also Pacific Ocean Commissioner.

The film screening was presented as part of the Development Policy Centre’s PNG Project, which receives funding from the Australian Aid Program through the Pacific Governance and Leadership Precinct.

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Frost-affected sweet potato crop, Tambul, WHP (photo by Kud Sitango,NARI)
Drought and famine relief in Papua New Guinea, 2015-2016
3.15–5.15pm 7 June 2017
Dr Mike Bourke, Honorary Associate Professor, ANU; Brendan Jinks, PhD candidate, ANU; James Komengi and Matt Kanua, independent consultants, PNG; and Sally Lloyd, church worker, PNG.

PNG was severely impacted by the 2015-16 El Niño drought and, at some very high altitude locations, a series of destructive frosts. The drought and frosts impacted many rural villagers between mid-2015 and late 2016, with some people still severely impacted in early 2017. Impacts included: widespread shortages of drinking water; shortages of subsistence food in many places; negative effect on villagers’ health; partial or complete closure of schools; and the Fly River not being suitable for shipping for some months. The impact on food supply was greatest in four sub-regions: very high altitude places in parts of Enga, Hela and Western Highlands; much of inland lowland Western Province; several locations on the edge of the central highlands; and some island and mainland locations in Milne Bay Province.

The five speakers were closely involved in the assessment of food shortages and coordination of food distribution. Presentations covered: a national overview of the impacts; more detailed reports on impacts and food aid in parts of Enga, Hela, Western and Milne Bay provinces; and responses by the PNG national government, donors, churches, international non-government organisations and UN agencies.

The public forum is presented as part of the Development Policy Centre’s PNG Project, which receives funding from the Australian Aid Program through the Pacific Governance and Leadership Precinct.

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by Dr Mike Bourke OL (PNG)

by Brendan Jinks

by Sally Lloyd (Hoey)

by James Komengi and Brendan Jinks

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The absence of trust: Australian strategic thinking and PNG 1950-1975
12.30–1.30pm 24 May 2017
Dr Bruce Hunt, Research Fellow, School of History, College of Arts and Social Science, ANU.

The seminar focused on Dr Bruce Hunt’s recent monograph Australia’s Northern Shield? Papua New Guinea and the Defence of Australia Since 1880 and his current project, writing an official history of the bilateral relationship from 1970 to Papua New Guinea’s (PNG) Independence in September 1975 (part of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s series Documents on Australian Foreign Policy). Dr Hunt explained his use of cabinet notebooks in developing an understanding of government policy and decision-making in the period 1950 to 1975 and how these sources reveal the complexities and challenges for successive Australian governments as they sought to identify and implement policies for Australia’s separation from PNG against an ever-narrowing timeline and deepening concerns about the future stability and unity of the territory. The study of the framework for Australia’s future relationship with PNG is an opportunity to examine decision-making and the development of public policy in the foreign affairs and defence environment.

Dr Bruce Hunt is a Research Fellow at the ANU School of History and the author of the recently published book ‘Australia’s Northern Shield? Papua New Guinea and the Defence of Australia Since 1880’. Hunt served in the Australian High Commission in Port Moresby in the mid-1980s and was twice Director of the PNG Section in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. He completed his PhD on PNG in 2003.

This seminar was presented as part of the Development Policy Centre’s PNG Project, which receives funding from the Australian Aid Program through the Pacific Governance and Leadership Precinct.

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Why Forests? Why Now? The science, economics, and politics of tropical forests and climate change
2–3.30pm 16 May 2017
Jonah Busch, Center for Global Development.

Tropical forests are an undervalued asset in meeting the greatest global challenges of our time—averting climate change and promoting sustainable development. Despite their importance, tropical forests and their ecosystems are being destroyed at a high and even increasing rate in most forest-rich countries. The good news is that the science, economics, and politics are aligned to support a major international effort to reverse tropical deforestation.

Why Forests? Why Now? a new book by Frances Seymour and Jonah Busch, synthesizes the latest research on the importance of tropical forests in a way that is accessible to anyone interested in climate change and development and to readers already familiar with the problem of deforestation. It makes the case to decision-makers in rich countries that rewarding developing countries for protecting their forests is urgent, affordable, and achievable.

This event was co-hosted by the Arndt-Corden Department of Economics, the ANU Indonesia Project and the Development Policy Centre.

Jonah Busch is a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development (CGD). He is an environmental economist whose research focuses on climate change and tropical deforestation. He is a research fellow at the Center for Effective Global Action at the University of California, Berkeley and a visiting scholar at the College of Environmental and Resource Sciences of Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China. Prior to joining CGD Busch was the Climate and Forest Economist at Conservation International.

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2017 aid budget breakfast
2017 aid budget breakfast
9–10.30am 10 May 2017
Stephen Howes, Director, Development Policy Centre, Crawford School, ANU; Jacqui De Lacy, Vice President, Global Strategy, Abt Associates; and Anthony Swan, Research Fellow, Development Policy Centre, Crawford School, ANU.

This year is the first after three years of cuts in which the aid budget is slated to increase – by $84 million. While only enough to keep the aid budget growing with inflation, how will this new money be spent? Health funding has been almost halved in real terms over the last four years. Will the government release information on its long-awaited health security initiative? At this year’s aid budget breakfast, we will also review the 2016 Performance of Australian Aid report and the 2015-16 Aid Program Performance Reports.

The fifth annual aid budget breakfast was held on 10th of May, the morning after the budget has been announced. This forum explained what 2017-18 budget means for the future of Australian aid.

Further information about the Development Policy Centre:

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The 2017-18 aid budget (and more)

By Stephen Howes

Aid Budget 2017-18:the macroeconomic context

By Anthony Swan

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Coping with high risk and uncertainty in aid policy design and practice
12.30–1.30pm 26 April 2017
Adam Fforde, Professorial Fellow, Victoria Institute of Strategic Economic Studies, Victoria University.

In this talk Professor Fforde will discuss how risk and uncertainty are best coped with in development practice. In doing this, he will examine the theories of change that underpin aid practitioners’ use of tools such as the logical framework approach. He will contend that in many situations we should explore methods of devising policy and organising practice that formally assume context is unpredictable and unsuited to tools like the logical framework approach. He will argue that aid work can often benefit from reconsidering the theories of change it draws upon.

Professor Adam Fforde is Professorial Fellow, Victoria Institute of Strategic Economic Studies, Victoria University. He has a long career in development practice and research. His forthcoming book is Reinventing ‘development’ – the sceptical change agent.

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Image sourced from flickr by bdunnette
Complexity in governments and markets
5–6.30pm 19 April 2017
Professor Vito Tanzi, former head of the Fiscal Affairs Department of the International Monetary Fund.

The Tax and Transfer Policy Institute and the Development Policy Centre are pleased to host this event.

As Governments expanded their activities over the years, pushing spending from around 10 per cent of GDP at the beginning of the last century to the current levels of 30 to 50 per cent of GDP, while increasing intervention through regulations, they tended to lose much of their ability to monitor well what they did. This led to problems of corruption, inefficiency, rent seeking, cronyism, and generally less equitable results in terms of economic results and income distribution. Professor Vito Tanzi presented and discussed the challenge of complexity in governments and markets in tax, spending and regulation.

Vito Tanzi obtained his PhD in Economics from Harvard University and was subsequently a Professor at American University before becoming head of Tax Policy in the International Monetary Fund(IMF) from 1974 to 1981, and Director of the IMF’s Fiscal Affairs Department from 1981 to 2000. He was State Secretary for Economy and Finance in the Italian Government and Senior Consultant to the Inter-American Development Bank. He is recipient of numerous awards and honours and has published widely on public finance, tax, expenditure and regulation for developed and developing countries. Publications include Public Spending in the 20th Century (Cambridge U Press, 2000) with Ludger Schknecht; Taxation and Latin American Integration (Harvard University, 2008); Peoples, Places and Policies: China, Japan and Southeast Asia (NY: Jorge Pinto Books, 2008) and numerous articles on tax and globalisation, fiscal termites, corruption and the shadow economy.

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Andebrhan Welde Giorgis President
Democracy in Africa: past, present and future
12.30–1.30pm 12 April 2017
Andebrhan Welde Giorgis, President, Eri-Platform, and Senior Expert, Global Governance Institute.

Africa has a rich history; old and diverse cultures; and abundant and varied natural resources. Yet, a large majority of Africans remain poor, disenfranchised and oppressed. For five and half centuries, the trajectory of Africa’s autonomous development was distorted by the intervention of nascent Europe: the slave trade, the colonial venture and the Cold War. A legacy of the colonial system, the prototype independent African state has failed to deliver freedom, democracy and prosperity, giving rise to a crisis of legitimacy and relevance.

Against this backdrop, this lecture discussed the basic causes of the democratic deficit in Africa today and its prospects. The discourse focused on the concept of self-determination as a political right of: one, a nation to independence; two, a people to a government of their choice; and three, diverse groups to autonomy in the management of their day-to-day affairs.

Ambassador Andebrhan Welde Giorgis is President of Eri-Platform, an international civic association promoting inclusive dialogue on vital national, regional and international issues impacting Eritrea and the Horn of Africa. He is also Senior Expert in the Global Governance Institute, founding board member of the European Centre for Electoral Support and Brand Ambassador of Wallonia, Belgium. He served as a university president, central bank governor, Member of Parliament, ambassador to the EU and seven EU Member States, Permanent Representative to UNESCO and IMO, Special Envoy to the African Great Lakes Region, and Commissioner for Coordination with the UN Mission in Eritrea and Ethiopia. He has published several articles and his recent book is Eritrea at a Crossroads: A Narrative of Triumph, Betrayal and Hope.

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Papua New Guinea after the resource boom
2.15–3.45pm 11 April 2017
Marcel Schroder, PNG, ANU.

Dr Marcel Schroder presented a survey of recent economic developments in Papua New Guinea (PNG) since the end of the resource boom in 2014. The specific focus of the discussion was on the country’s exchange rate policy.

Theory suggests that the real exchange rate (RER) should depreciate following the observed fall in commodity prices. In practice, however, the imposition of foreign exchange controls has led to a large backlog in foreign currency orders suggesting that the kina is significantly overvalued. A related paper estimating the extent to which PNG’s RER is currently misaligned discussed. The results of the paper suggest that the kina should depreciate by about 20 per cent. Otherwise PNG is likely to pay high economic costs as real overvaluation sustained through foreign exchange restrictions led to resource misallocation, lower economic growth, black markets, and ultimately a balance of payments crisis in many other developing countries in the past.

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Australian aid evaluations: new policy, Indonesia's roads, and PNG health
2–5pm 10 April 2017
Staff from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), Australian Doctors International, and ANU.

This forum, which was jointly organised by the Development Policy Centre and the Office of Development Effectiveness (ODE), was the latest in a series on the evaluation of Australian aid.

This event focused on the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s (DFAT’s) new aid evaluation policy and two recent evaluations.

Recently, DFAT has overhauled its approach to evaluation, with a new Aid Evaluation Policy and, for the first time, an Annual Aid Evaluation Plan – both available on the ODE website. The Head of ODE explained what these mean, and what difference they will make.

The $336 million, ten-year Eastern Indonesia Roads Improvement Program was one of Australia’s largest ever aid projects, and one of the most successful. This recent ODE evaluation assesses its results, and draws out the lessons for aid-funded infrastructure programs elsewhere.

Remote service delivery in PNG is always a challenge. But a recent evaluation of remote health patrols run by Australian Doctors International (ADI) in New Ireland from 2011 to 2015 suggests that this is a model that works. The evaluator discussed her findings, and the ADI Chief Executive Officer presented respond of ADI on the evaluator findings.

ODE is an operationally independent unit within DFAT that measures and reports on the effectiveness of the Australian aid program.

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By Penny Davis, Office of Development Effectiveness

By Simon Ernst, Office of Development Effectiveness

By Klara Henderson, evaluation author (video)

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Dr Duncan Green
Understanding how change happens
12.30–1.30pm 4 April 2017
Dr Duncan Green, Senior Strategic Adviser, Oxfam Great Britain.

Human society is full of would-be ‘change agents’. A restless mix of campaigners, lobbyists, and officials, both individuals and organisations, are set on transforming the world. They want to improve public services, reform laws and regulations, guarantee human rights, get a fairer deal for those on the sharp end, achieve greater recognition for any number of issues, or simply be treated with respect. Scholarly discussions of change are fragmented with few conversations crossing disciplinary boundaries, rarely making it onto the radars of those actively seeking change.

Duncan Green’s new book How Change Happens, bridges the gap between academia and practice. It brings together the best research from a range of academic disciplines and the evolving practical understanding of activists to explore the topic of social and political change. Drawing on many first-hand examples from the global experience of Oxfam, as well as the author’s insights from studying and working on international development, it tests ideas on how change happens and offers the latest thinking on what works to achieve progressive change.

Dr Duncan Green is Oxfam Great Britain’s Senior Strategic Adviser. He also teaches on international development at the London School of Economics, where he is a Professor in Practice. He has published two book From Poverty to Power and How Change Happens.

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Mr Stefano Manservisi
European Union development policy
12.15–1.15pm 28 March 2017
Mr Stefano Manservisi, Director-General for International Cooperation and Development, European Commission.

Development aid from donor countries amounts to more than US $130 billion annually. More than half of that amount comes from European Union nations. However, sustainable development cannot be achieved through aid alone. The United Nations’ 2030 Agenda and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on Financing for Development have underlined the importance of domestic resource mobilisation and investments – both public and private – for sustainable social, environmental, and economic development efforts to take hold. The paradigm has changed and the European Union’s development policy will be adapted within the framework of the European Union Global Strategy for Foreign and Security Policy in the light of the 2030 Agenda and new global challenges and also taking into consideration the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

The Director-General discussed European Union development policy in light of these developments, paying particular attention to the Pacific region.

Stefano Manservisi is the Director-General for International Cooperation and Development (DEVCO) at the European Commission since May 2016. He previously served as Head of the Private Office of Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Commission Vice-President. In 2014, he was the Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Turkey. Before that, he held other positions at the Commission including as Director-General for Migration and Home Affairs and Director-General for Development and Relations with African, Caribbean, and Pacific States. Stefano Manservisi has been a visiting professor at the University of Bologna, University of Roma III, and the College of Europe.

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2017 annual Australasian aid conference
2017 Australasian Aid Conference
9am 15 February – 5pm 16 February 2017
Researchers from across Australia, the Pacific and Asia, who are working on aid and international development policy.

The Australasian Aid Conference, was held in 15-16 February 2017 in partnership with The Asia Foundation. The aim of the conference was to bring together researchers from across Australia, the Pacific, Asia, and beyond who are working on aid and international development policy to share insights, promote collaboration, and help develop the research community.

The fourth annual conference in 2017 featured papers and interactive sessions on a variety of aid and international development topics, including aid effectiveness, political economy and the politics of aid, gender, private sector engagement, humanitarian aid, migration and trade policy, and the international aid architecture.

Plenary sessions on governance, humanitarian aid, and Asian approaches to private sector cooperation presented by leading global thinkers and practitioners, including Michael Woolcock, Phoebe Wynn-Pope, Adam Kamradt-Scott, Robin Davies, Guo Peiyuan, and Paul McPhun.




The Development Policy Centre would like to acknowledge generous funding support from the Harold Mitchell Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and The Australian National University.

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World Development Report 2017: Governance and the Law
5–6.30pm 14 February 2017
James Brumby, The World Bank; Luis Felipe Lopez Calva, The World Bank; Natasha Smith, DFAT; Dr Helen Szoke, Oxfam Australia; and Professor Veronica Taylor, ANU.

The launch of The World Development Report 2017, including a presentation of the report and a panel discussion was held on 14th February 2017.

The World Development Report 2017 on Governance and the Law explores how policies for security, growth and equity can effectively achieve their goals by addressing the underlying drivers of governance.

Building on the traditional concern about implementation problems resulting from limited state capacity, this report digs deeper to understand also how individuals and groups, with differing degrees of influence in the decision-making arena, bargain over the choice of policies, distribution of resources, and how to change the rules themselves to shape future interactions.

While in some cases, power asymmetries can lead to persistent policy failure through exclusion, capture, and clientelism, this report demonstrates that positive change is possible. The approach discusses reshaping incentives, shifting society’s preferences and beliefs, and making the decision-making process more contestable.

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Updated:  25 February 2016/Responsible Officer:  Crawford Engagement/Page Contact:  Devpolicy Admin