O’Neill is seen as a proxy for Canberra’s strategic interests in the region. As PNGexposed claimed in one posting, the Australian government “has already assumed the role of regional sheriff and wants to sit astride a region of compliant states and micro-states”.
“This means other countries markets and resources should be open to foreign capital without barriers such as the muscular protection of landowner rights, or strong environmental laws. Australia is targeting its aid spending to ensure Bougainville fits this model.According to figures released by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (see table here) show that more than 90 percent of $2.9 million a year spent on the salaries or commissions of consultants working for Australia on Bougainville is directed at ensuring Australian political structures, policy priorities, economic models, and security interests dominate in the new Bougainville government and bureaucracy.
“Whatever the future for Bougainville, Australia wants to ensure the island is a subservient neighbor providing a supporting role to Australia’s own economic and political interests. Australia is therefore targeting its aid spending to ensure that outcome, placing consultants in key political and financial roles and neglecting health and other people-centered sectors.”