Today I announced an expansion of Australia’s support for the maintenance of vital road infrastructure in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.

Australia assists the Autonomous Bougainville Government to maintain around 425 kilometres of its 600 kilometres main road network. About 80 per cent of Bougainville’s population of 300,000 people and schools and health facilities are located within seven kilometres of these roads.

The Australian Government will extend the road maintenance program into the township of Buin in south Bougainville to help unlock the economic potential of this area. We will also provide funding to reseal roads in Arawa, central Bougainville, to improve access to services and businesses.

The road maintenance program has already expanded market opportunities for many Bougainvilleans. Improvements to the road between Arawa and Kokopau have cut travel time between these agricultural centres from nine to three hours.

The program also creates employment opportunities for many Bougainvilleans, particularly women. Today I look forward to meeting women who work in a community road team who are benefiting from this important aid program investment.

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