By Mickey Kavera – EM TV News, Port Moresby
Ialibu Pangia District in Southern Highlands province played host last week to a number of high-ranking personnel. The District was pleased to welcome the new Australian Chief of Army, Lieutenant General Angus Campbell, Papua New Guinea Defence Force (PNGDF) Commander, Brigadier General Gilbert Toropo, and the head of Australian Defence Staff to Papua New Guinea, Colonel Dick Parker.
Lieutenant General Campbell chose Papua New Guinea to be the country in which to make his first official visit since taking his post as the new chief of the Australian Army.
His visit was used to discuss how Australia’s assistance through the defence cooperation program can continue to support the PNGDF priorities for a more capable and professional force.
Campbell and his wife were officially welcomed by a parade hosted by the PNGDF Chief of Staff, Colonel Mark Goina, at Murray Barracks in Port Moresby on that same day.
On Friday he continued on his familiarisation tour and flew into Mt Hagen, travelling by road up to Ialibu Pangia District in Southern Highlands Province as part of his highlands region tour.
Upon arriving at Ialibu Pangia District on Friday, the delegation was officially welcomed into the district by Chief Executive Officer, Ron Yamuna, on behalf of Ialibu Pangia District Member of Parliament and Prime Minister Peter O’Neill.
Yamuna said that that it was indeed and honour to have the group visit the district.
He added that Ialibu Pangia District is now at its transformation stage with huge development projects coming up. Yamuna said the district has been doing fine, however, this year has seen drought riddle the area of vital crops.
Lieutenant General Campbell said he was privileged to come into this part of the region especially to the home of Brigadier General Toropo.
Brigadier Toropo also added similar sentiments, and said he was privileged to have the Lieutenant General accepted his invitation.
During the day the team took time out and visited Ialibu Secondary School. Their visit into the school was so special because it was the former high school of the Papua New Guinea Defence Force Commander Brigadier Toropo.
For Toropo, it was indeed an inspirational visit to the school he once attended 35 years ago. The high profile team were welcomed into the school in style by the students.
Campbell and Toropo challenged the students to work hard in their school work in order to become prosper in life.
To conclude the trip, Lieutenant General Campbell was traditionally welcomed into the home of Brigadier Toropo, and following this the pair took a short helicopter ride to Goroka to enjoy the Goroka Cultural Show.
The trip was no doubt an eye opener for all parties involved, with the relationship between the Australian Army and the PNGDF to prosper for many years to come.