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Torres Strait Islanders and PNG nationals living in the PNG-Australia borderland have relatively unrestricted access across the border for traditional activities, under the legal framework of the Torres Strait Treaty. The interplay of public finance expenditure emanating from Australia strongly dominates the borderland economy, influencing cross-border mobility and attendant public health and security risks from disease transmission, quarantine and transnational crime. By problematising current policy framings and analysing the asymmetric socioeconomic context of the region relative to other borderlands internationally, the research will propose alternative finance modalities that improve effectiveness across both sides of the border.