by Adelaide Sirox Kari
Prime Minister James Marape is adamant on improving the current close relationship and furthering it to a comprehensive economic partnership, a sentiment shared by Australian Prime Minister as PNG looks to stabilize the economy and become a key player in the development of the pacific region.
Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison saying he looks forward to annual leadership dialogue that will see the growth of both economies.
‘’I’m also incredibly pleased that it is Papua New Guinea who holds that status as the first country to visit, particularly post the election in this formal status, and I think that speaks absolute volumes about the closeness of the relationship between our two countries and the excellent opportunity that both Prime Minister Marape and I have had since his elevation to Prime Minister recently to establish a very strong rapport and a very good friendship and I look forward to continuing that in the years ahead.”
The Australian Prime Minister going on to announce further funding to PNG for its rural electrification program, health and education.
“Today, we’ve made some important agreements, and those agreements are to elevate our relationship between Australia and Papua New Guinea to a comprehensive, strategic and economic partnership. Taking the relationship to annual leader-level dialogues and a series of other arrangements which bring together the totality of the relationship between Australia and Papua New Guinea.”
“And today in particular, we’ve agreed and we’ve made further announcements regarding a $250 million investment in the electrification program, which will bring low-cost electricity generation to the Ramu Grid.
There are also additional projects that relate to the Enga Province electrification project, and this, of course, is part of that broader relationship that we have with the United States, Japan and New Zealand in supporting what is a transformational project for Papua New Guinea, combined with the Coral Sea Cable Project.
On top of that, we have $54 million which is going into the rural primary health services initiatives, and another project of $10 million going into a broader program on immunisation, which will see some 400,000 children in Papua New Guinea, across 12 provinces, receive immunisation. And also, $15 million to support the next phase of the controlling the drug-resistant tuberculosis programme.”
PM Marape thanking Australia for its continuous relationship with PNG stating that discussions were fruitful and that Australia should take advantage of the relation as PNG is strategically links Asia and the Pacific to Australia.
”We felt that nothing is more important, no relationship is more important than our relationship with Canberra in the first instance. And with Australia, the Government-to-Government, person-to-person, and more importantly, as head of states, we need to establish rapport and a reciprocal goodwill, and kind gesture.”
“So PNG, living in a very strategic part of our region in the middle of Asia and Pacific, we feel that we have a greater role in linking up Asia to Pacific, Pacific to Asia. You can walk across to Asia from PNG. You can paddle across to Asia from PNG. You can paddle across to Pacific from PNG. We are placed in a very strategic hub. The strategic placing of our country can be of better use to also consolidate on the economic potentials and propensity of our region, but more importantly, of our country, for the mutual benefit of countries in the Pacific region, including Australia and New Zealand.”
Marape also stating Papua New Guinea is ready to grow its economy and is opening its market to Australia. Once PNG establishes a robust Economy he believes that both countries should be able to access both markets in a sustainable manner.
”The future I envisage for PNG is not a future of economic insecurity. PNG must be economically secure. Once PNG is economically secure, we secure borders and we, in turn, become a very, very healthy and fruitful contributor to the peace and wellbeing of the region that we proudly all belong to. I believe the Pacific Island region is one of the best places, if not the best place, globally speaking. We need to keep the peace and serenity and the environment pristine as we have, something that is a global asset and our contribution to the global upkeep. And PNG and Australia can be leaders on those fronts, in our response to environmental protection.
Our response to good border security. Our response to the wellbeing of our citizens. More than PNG and Australia and the region, and because of cultural affinity, PNG has, with the region, we will have a greater role to play in supporting, also, the Pacific Island group of nations and we need to build a robust economy, a strong economy, a solid country that is not so much dependant on our foreign aid, and that is the direction myself and the new group of leaders in PNG are now taking our country into.”