Thursday 8 February 2024
Serena Williams (right) of Ngunnawal People, traditional custodians of ACT receiving a gift from Prime Minister Marape, after welcoming PM and his delegates at the Reconciliation Place.
Prime Minister Hon James Marape in press conference in Port Moresby before departing for Canberra on Wednesday (7 February), informed the media that his address to the Australian Parliament is a historic event for Papua New Guinea and Australia Relations.
He will address the Australian Parliament today.
He said that since Papua New Guinea gained Independence in 1975, no Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea has ever addressed the Australian Parliament.
The Prime Minister said his visit to Australia were dates that were set in advanced and he will be in Canberra for two days and return back to the country on Friday, 9 February 2024.
While he is away, the Deputy Prime Minister Hon. John Rosso is Acting Prime Minister.
Upon arrival at the Fairbairn Defence Establishment in Canberra, the Prime Minister was received by the Australian Minister for International Development and Pacific Pat Conroy, PNG Minister for Foreign Affairs Hon. Justin Tkatchenko, the High Commissioner of Papua New Guinea to Australia His Excellency John Kali, the new High Commissioner of Australia to Papua New Guinea His Excellency John Feakes and Senior officials from both Papua New Guinea and Australia.
He was then transported to the Reconciliation Place of the Landowners of Canberra and given a traditional welcome to the country by Ngunnawal Elder Serena Williams.
Prime Minister Marape thanked Elder Williams and her family for giving the traditional welcome to the country ceremony and commended the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs for allowing the traditional ceremony to be a part of protocols for his visit. He also acknowledged the elders’ past, present, and emerging of the Ngunnawal and the Ngambri people, on whose land he meets the Australian Parliament.
“Thank you for welcoming us in this way, the way in which our shared ancestors have lived in this part of planet earth,” Prime Minister Marape said.
“I acknowledge those who have lived before us and Papua New Guinea being an ancient settlement, I am privileged to address the Parliament, in the land of meeting places.”
After the traditional welcome to the country ceremony, the Prime Minister’s motorcade proceeded to the National Archives of Australia that have records of the relations between Papua New Guinea and Australia.
Information of particular interest to Prime Minister Marape was the work done by the Administrative Patrol Officers (Kiaps) to bring services and development to the people of Papua New Guinea before Independence.
“The kiaps were very young men, in their 20’s when they came to Papua New Guinea,” Prime Minister Marape said.
The kiaps and their works is a part of Papua New Guinea and Australian history and must also be talked about and taught to generations to come in the same way that the history of Kokoda is talked about.
He also met with three former surviving kiaps before proceeding to the Regatta Jetty to plant a tree of memorial to remember the work that was done by the kiaps to bring development to Papua New Guinea.
Prime Minister Marape reiterated that the work that was done by the kiaps helps to contribute towards the human development of Papua New Guineans, teaching us the English language that we use today.
The Prime Minister will be visiting Australia for two days as a Guest of the Government of Australia from the 7th – 9th of February 2024.
Prime Minister Marape planting the tree at Commonwealth Park, (Wednesday 7 February), symbolizing the significance of the past history between Australia and PNG. The work done by 2000 plus Australian Kiaps that built PNG today, and importantly shaping the future by appreciating the past. (photo credit: PM’s Media).