Prime Minister Marape Meets Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong

Wednesday 19 June 2024

(left-right) Australia’s Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Cyber Security Hon. Clare O’Neil,  Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Lands, and Immigration, Hon. John Rosso, Senator Penny Wong, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Prime Minister, Hon. James Marape, Foreign Minister, Justin Tkatchenko and  Hon. Mark Dreyfus KC, Attorney General.  

Prime Minister Hon. James Marape this morning met with Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Hon. Penny Wong, who leads the Australian Ministerial Delegation for the 30th Papua New Guinea-Australia Ministerial Forum (MINFOR).

The forum was convened today following the PNG-Australia Business Forum at APEC Rumana, Era Kone. Senator Wong was accompanied by Hon. Clare O’Neil, MP, Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Cyber Security; Senator Hon. Murray Watt, Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and Minister for Emergency Management; Hon. Pat Conroy, Minister for Defence Industry and Minister for International Development and the Pacific; Hon. Mark Dreyfus KC, Attorney General; and Hon. Tim Ayres, Assistant Minister for Trade and Assistant Minister for Manufacturing.

 Prime Minister Marape, in welcoming the Australian Ministerial delegation, emphasised the importance and history of the existing bilateral relations.

 He referenced the Pangu Pati-Labor Party relations that set the foundation for PNG’s nationhood.

Prime Minister Marape thanked Australia for always being the first respondent to any natural disaster in PNG, particularly referring to the recent landslide in Mulitaka, Enga Province.

Senator Wong, in response, thanked Prime Minister Marape for making time available and reconveyed the Australian Government’s condolences on the disaster in Enga. She also thanked Prime Minister Marape for his historical Parliamentary Address in Canberra this year.

“That statement opened up the minds of many Australians and created an understanding of the history and importance of PNG-Australia relations,” said Senator Wong.

Senator Wong further emphasised the Labor Government’s deep respect for Pangu-Labor relations, acknowledging the past champions who paved the way for PNG’s independence in 1975.

She cited Prime Minister Albanese’s Address to the PNG Parliament in 2023 and his walk on the Kokoda Trail in April this year, with Prime Minister Marape as his guide, as testaments to this respect.

Senator Wong informed that for the first time, the Australian Government had deployed a high level Ministerial delegation to attend the MINFOR, signifying the importance Australia attaches to the current bilateral relations.

“Australia perceives PNG as an important partner for a stable and peaceful region and looks to PNG to play a more active role in leading from the front in regional matters of shared interest,” she said.

Significant progress has been made since the last MINFOR in Australia in 2023, especially regarding visa processing turnaround times, the formalisation of the Bilateral Security Agreement, Budgetary Support, and the NRL Bid, among others.

The MINFOR Agenda also includes Agriculture, Business, Trade and Investment, Cyber Security, and Critical Infrastructure. Prime Minister Marape expressed his satisfaction with the Pacific Engagement Visa, noting that PNG’s quota is the highest in the Pacific, with 1,350 out of 3,000 slots.

 He highlighted that this will enable skilled Papua New Guineans to live and work in Australia.

In closing the meeting, Prime Minister Marape encouraged a successful outcome and stressed the importance of phasing out the development assistance programme in the immediate to long term through aid for trade.

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