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.

2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011
2019 Papua New Guinea Economic Survey
12.30–1.30pm 15 July 2019
Rohan Fox, Professor Stephen Howes and Maholopa Laveil

The PNG economy has been struggling since 2015, but is it showing signs of recovery and growth? What are the prospects for the coming years?

The PNG Economic Survey is an annual report on the Papua New Guinea economy jointly produced by Australian National University and University of Papua New Guinea academics. The survey provides an analysis of the latest developments in the PNG economy. In this public seminar, the authors of the survey – Rohan Fox, Maholopa Laveil, Bao Nguyen, Dek Sum and Stephen Howes — presented their findings and analysis. With a new Prime Minister, James Marape, taking power in May 2019, the survey also examines the economic and governance challenges facing PNG’s new leader and his Cabinet.

This seminar 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, and the Asia and the Pacific Policy Studies journal.

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Navigation by judgment: why and when top down management of foreign aid doesn’t work
12.30–1.30pm 18 June 2019
Professor Dan Honig

Should aid programs micromanage their work? Or should they leave staff on the ground the space to decide for themselves?

In this presentation Dan Honig spoke to the key findings of his book, Navigation by Judgment, an in-depth attempt at answering these questions. Dan’s book draws on a novel database of more than 14,000 discrete development projects across nine agencies, and eight qualitative studies. He contends that tight controls and narrow focus on reaching pre-set targets can prevent frontline aid workers from using their skills to solve problems on the ground, undermining the performance of foreign aid. He suggests that pressure to demonstrate results can undermine performance, particularly in unpredictable environments where performance is difficult to measure.

Dan Honig is an Assistant Professor of International Development at the School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University. His research focuses on the relationship between organisational structure, management practice, and performance in developing country governments and organisations that provide foreign aid.

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Political animals: the qualities of successful aid policy entrepreneurs
12.30–1.30pm 29 May 2019
Dr Benjamin S. Day

Why do states redirect their aid policy? And what factors are most important in driving such change? Part of the reason we are not able to answer these questions satisfactorily is because the role individual political leaders play in aid policy change has received very little attention.

This seminar presented the findings of research conducted with Dr Joanna Spratt (Oxfam New Zealand and ANU Development Policy Centre) which addressed this oversight by applying the concept of policy entrepreneurs to the issue area of aid policy.

Dr Benjamin S. Day is an associate lecturer in the Department of International Relations, Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs at the Australian National University. His current research focuses on understanding the decision-making dynamics that operate in the foreign aid issue area.

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Research Officer Rohan Fox
Does financial inclusion empower women in PNG? Evidence from two large-scale surveys
12.30–1.30pm 15 May 2019
Rohan Fox

Many programs in Papua New Guinea (PNG) aim to achieve positive social and economic outcomes through women’s economic empowerment. Of note, the Bank of PNG and Asian Development Bank have invested significant resources to deliver empowerment through financial inclusion. However, there is limited evidence available to show whether, or to what extent, popular methods like financial literacy training, education, access to finance, or others, successfully achieve empowerment for women in PNG.

To help fill this gap, Development Policy Centre research officer, Rohan Fox, conducted a rigorous quantitative analysis to find the factors related to women’s involvement in household financial decisions. The research used data from the two largest surveys on this topic that have been conducted in the country, involving over 3600 respondents from across northern PNG.

Rohan Fox is a Research Officer at the Development Policy Centre.

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Australian aid: building a robust performance culture
9.30–10.30am 1 May 2019
Jim Adams

In this event, former World Bank Vice President Jim Adams reflected on the performance of the Australian aid program.

Jim is stepping down as Chair of DFAT’s Independent Evaluation Committee, having held the position for the past seven years. He discussed how to build a robust performance culture based on accountability, transparency, learning and appropriate risk management.

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Tax pirates and tax fairness
10–11am 12 April 2019
Hon Dr Andrew Leigh MP

Two-fifths of multinational profits are now routed through tax havens, allowing firms to avoid billions of dollars in tax. Tax havens are used by drug runners, extortionists and arms dealers. They have the effect of undermining the global tax base.

In this talk, Hon Dr Andrew Leigh MP discussed how a Labor Government will tackle tax avoidance in Australia and our region. He announced a new policy initiative to help crack down on multinational tax avoidance and restore fairness into the system.

Andrew Leigh is the Shadow Assistant Treasurer and Federal Member for Fenner in the ACT. Prior to being elected in 2010, Andrew was a professor of economics at the Australian National University. He holds a PhD in Public Policy from Harvard, having graduated from the University of Sydney with first class honours in Law and Arts.

This event was co-hosted by the Development Policy Centre and the Transnational Research Institute on Corruption.

» Listen to the podcast

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2019 aid budget breakfast
9–10.30am 3 April 2019
Professor Stephen Howes

The Development Policy Centre has presented its Aid Budget Breakfast every year since 2012. It has become a not-to-be-missed opportunity to see how the budget has dealt with aid, but also to review key developments in aid and development policy over the previous year, and to discuss what is coming next.

At the 2019 Aid Budget Breakfast on the morning of Wednesday 3 April, Professor Stephen Howes, Director of the Development Policy Centre, presented on Australian aid and development policy in the context of the 2019-2020 federal budget.

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Australian Greens’ aid and development policy: towards the 2019 election
12.30–1.30pm 29 March 2019
Senator Richard Di Natale

“The Greens have a vision for a generous Australia: one in which we significantly boost our diminishing aid budget to meet our international obligations to the world’s poorest, and where we help those who are most affected by the impacts of climate change.”

- Senator Richard Di Natale, Leader of the Australian Greens

On Friday 29 March Senator Di Natale outlined the Greens’ full aid and development policy for the 2019 federal election, followed by a Q&A session with the audience.

Senator Richard Di Natale is the Leader of the Australian Greens, and the Greens’ spokesperson on aid and development.
Podcast: listen to the podcast here

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Cambodian scholarship awardees pose for photos with Chinese embassy officials and Cambodian education officials in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Aug. 8, 2014 / Khmer Times
Australian and Chinese scholarships to Cambodia: a comparative study
12.30–1.30pm 13 March 2019
Kongkea Chhoeun

There is a strong academic and policy interest in comparisons of OECD and Chinese development assistance, but few actual comparative studies. Scholarships are one of the few forms of aid favoured by both OECD donors and China and so provide a natural, but so far underexplored area for comparison.

This seminar presented findings from a PhD thesis comparing Chinese and Australian scholarships to Cambodia. Based on surveys of 1,170 future, current and past scholars to both countries, and on 36 in-depth, in-country interviews, the thesis seeks to understand the differences in the types of students selected, and the types of influence exerted by Australian and Chinese scholarships provided to Cambodia.

Kongkea Chhoeun is a PhD student at the Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University. This is his pre-submission seminar.

Date: Wednesday 13 March 2019
Time: 12.30pm - 1.30pm
Location: Griffin Room, Level 1, Crawford School of Public Policy, 132 Lennox Crossing, Acton

Photo: Cambodian scholarship awardees pose for photos with Chinese embassy officials and Cambodian education officials in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Aug. 8, 2014 / Khmer Times

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Credit: Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Promoting empowerment through aid for trade
4.30–6pm 18 February 2019
Dr Bambang Susantono, Dr Cyn-Young Park, and Dr Shishir Priyadarshi

International trade has been instrumental to rapid economic growth and poverty reduction in Asia and the Pacific, but its benefits are not always shared equitably amongst all segments of the economy. How can international trade promote inclusive growth and empowerment?

By actively pursuing participation of women and the growing youth population in trade-related activities; facilitating the integration of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises into regional value chains and global trade, and promoting inclusive industrial development by broadening trade for the services and rural economy, according to the Asian Development Bank’s new report Promoting empowerment through aid for trade. In this panel, experts discuss key findings from the report.

This event is part of the 2019 Australasian Aid Conference. Pre-conference events on Monday 18 February are open to the public, but all other sessions require conference registration.

An opening reception for the conference will be held following this event, with refreshments.

Chair: Dr Bambang Susantono is Vice President of Knowledge Management and Sustainable Development at the Asian Development Bank.

Presenter: Dr Cyn-Young Park is Director of Regional Cooperation and Integration at the Economics and Research Department, Asian Development Bank.

Discussant: Dr Shishir Priyadarshi is Director of the Development Division at the World Trade Organisation.

This session is generously supported by the Asian Development Bank.

Date: Monday 18 February 2019
Time: 4.30PM–6.00PM
Venue: Barton Lecture Theatre, #132 JG Crawford Building, ANU
More information: (

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Refugee camps in Cox's Bazar Bangladesh (UN Women Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
2019 Australasian Aid Conference launch events
2–4pm 18 February 2019
Various speakers

The 2019 Australasian Aid Conference will run from 18-20 February, and as part of the pre-conference program a series of four report and book launches will be open to the public. They will cover the role of ASEAN, Australian development policy, addressing inequality and marginalisation, and peace and justice in the Pacific.

All other sessions require conference registration. Details here.

ASEAN as the architect for regional development cooperation 2pm, Barton Theatre

ASEAN has not traditionally played a major role in development assistance, but the recent expansion of regional development initiatives, such as the Belt and Road Initiative, is increasing geopolitical competition in Southeast Asia and posing major opportunities and risks for ASEAN countries. In light of this, The Asia Foundation’s recent report on ASEAN as the architect for regional development cooperation examines the prospects and challenges of ASEAN playing a greater leadership role in development cooperation, how this could realistically happen, and the implications for international development organisations.

Thomas Parks is Thailand Country Representative of the The Asia Foundation.

Dr Helen Cheney is Counsellor at the Australian Mission to ASEAN, DFAT.

Dr Peter Drysdale is Emeritus Professor at the ANU.

Larry Maramis is a former ASEAN, UNDP and UNESCAP official.

Integrating foreign affairs: what has worked, what has not, and where to next in a changed world 2pm, Brindabella Theatre

The 2013 integration of AusAid into DFAT was controversial, but now, five years on, how successful has it been? In this strategic review, former AusAid Deputy Director General Richard Moore looks at the gains, the possibilities not yet identified, and the strategic risks, concluding that reshaping development cooperation will be critical to achieving White Paper objectives in Asia, as well as the Pacific.

Engendering transformative change in international development 3pm, Barton Theatre

The Sustainable Development Goals are grand ambitions for ending poverty, protecting the planet, and ensuring prosperity for all. But these are impossible without addressing other issues, such as inequality and marginalisation. Gillian Fletcher’s new book Engendering transformative change in international development brings together theoretical perspectives on social change, gender, intersectionality and forms of knowledge, concluding with proposals for revitalising a change agenda that recognises and engages with intersectionality and practical wisdom.

SDG16 in the Pacific 3pm, Brindabella Theatre

SDG16 focuses on peace, justice and strong institutions, and is particularly important to the Pacific region as it confronts many emerging challenges, both internal and external. This new report, SDG16 in the Pacific, part of a larger research project by the Institute for Economics and Peace with support from DFAT, outlines opportunities for the Pacific in measuring progress for SDG16, as well as regional opportunities for sustaining peace.

Murray Ackman is Research Fellow at the Institute for Economics and Peace.

Alison Culpin is Demographer and Social Statistician at The Pacific Community (SPC).

Dr Michelle Rooney is Research Fellow at the ANU.

Patrick Tuimalealiifano is Deputy Team Leader at Inclusive Growth, UNDP Pacific Office.

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Updated:  22 July 2019/Responsible Officer:  Crawford Engagement/Page Contact:  Devpolicy Admin