Opening Statement by Prime Minister O’Neill, Joint Press Conference Hon. Peter O’Neill MP, Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, and Hon. Malcolm Turnbull MP, Prime Minister of Australia 18th April 2018

Members of the Press
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Thank you very much for joining us here this afternoon.

Firstly, let me extend our appreciation to the Prime Minister of Australia Malcolm Turnbull for his first official visit, in his capacity as Prime Minister, to Papua New Guinea on this occasion.

But also, let me take this opportunity to extend out sympathies, to many of the victims of the recent cyclone Debbie in Australia, especially our neighbours in far North Queensland.

Papua New Guinea understands the suffering that they are going through. We have similar experiences here by many cyclones that we continue to experience in our country.

Today, Prime Minister Turnbull and I discussed many issues that affect our two countries. The Bilateral relationship between our two countries is very strong and continues to strengthen each year.

We have discussed a number of issues, including of course, the Manus Regional Processing Centre, and the ongoing work that is going on at the centre in order for us to have a closure in accordance with the decision that was handed down by the Supreme Court of Papua New Guinea.

Work is progressing quite well. The Processing of the refugees are going on quite well and we appreciate the continued support of the Australian Government in managing the facility.

Of course we spoke about on-going trade and investment issues between our two countries. Australia is by far the largest investor in Papua New Guinea and as such we understand the role that they play in continuing in strengthening the investment confidence that Papua New Guinea continues to enjoy.

Our economy has been doing quite well over the last fifteen years, except of course for the commodity prices affecting our revenues for the last couple of years. Other than that, the economy continues to grow, well above global standards. And I think that we continue to encourage more and more investments from Australia and businesses that are doing business in Papua New Guinea.

We also extend our appreciation to the Australian Government, especially the DFAT for support on many programs that they have in the country.

These are in education, in healthcare, supporting our defence force and the law and justice sector, and many infrastructure projects that they continue to help us build in many sectors.

Today, we also spoke about APEC, which Papua New Guinea will be hosting in 2018.
We thank the Australian Government for its support in the area of security.

Together we will ensure that leaders who are going to come and visit for APEC are safe a comfortable.

Papua New Guinea is a safe destination and I know that all the leaders will enjoy their stay here with us.

A range of meetings relating to APEC have already taken place in our country, and close to 200 meetings will be conducted in Papua New Guinea before the leaders meeting in November 2018.

Policy development preparation are going very well, and again we appreciate the support of the 21 economies that are actively participating in these discussions.

Papua New Guinea is going to elections in a few weeks time, writs will be issued on April 20th, and the Australian Government is supporting us in logistics and capacity building within the Electoral Commission.

They will be also participating as international observers in our election process throughout many parts of our country.

Our aim is to try and deliver a free and fair election according to the people’s will.

Certainly, the support that has been extended to us by the Australian Government is moving us towards achieving that goal.

So once again, Prime Minister, thank you very much for visiting Papua New Guinea on this occasion. I hope you have a pleasant stay and we look forward to seeing you again here in 2018.

Thank you.

Prime Minister’s Office PNG April 9 , 2017 4.51 pm

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