PNG PM Meets Counterpart In Australian Capital

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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

O’Neill, Turnbull discuss business promotion, APEC, Manus detention

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, March 7, 2016) – The Prime Minister, Hon. Peter O’Neill CMG MP, has met with his Australian counterpart, Hon. Malcolm Turnbull MP, where the two leaders discussed a range of issues that included promoting business engagement, APEC support and the Manus Island Regional Processing Centre.

This was the first official meeting between the two Leaders since Mr Turnbull became Prime Minister, and took place at Parliament House in Canberra on Thursday, March 3.

The Prime Minister said the Government of Papua New Guinea has accepted a request from Australia to open a consulate in Lae, that he said will create economic opportunities.

"Lae is the manufacturing capital of our nation, and is the road gateway to the highlands and other areas in the north," PM O’Neill said.

"There is great potential for increased investment from Australian businesses, and to increase the export of our agricultural products that are produced in the area.

"Australian companies are the largest investors in Papua New Guinea, and there is room for this to increase.

"The Australia Consulate will be a very useful resource for Australian businesses looking to create or expand their investment in Papua New Guinea.

"The consulate will also be appreciated by Papua New Guinea businesses seeking to export and increase their business engagement in Australia.

"Instead of having to arrange visas in Port Moresby, businesspeople from Lae, or the Highlands and other areas in the north of the country can go to the new consulate."

PM O’Neill also thanked the Australian Government for its support for Papua New Guinea’s hosting of APEC in 2018.

"We are working with our Australian counterparts and gaining from their experience in hosting APEC in 2007 and the G-20 meeting last year.

"The main area where we can work together on APEC is safety and security.

"We will have leaders and ministers from 20 other countries in Papua New Guinea, and we have already begun standing up a security operation that is of the highest standard.

"We appreciate the training that our military and police are undertaking with Australian forces, and their support for the upgrade of equipment that is being deployed.

"Our enhanced security capacity will last well beyond the APEC summit."

On the issue of the Manus Island Regional Processing Centre, the two leaders discussed progress in processing asylum seeker claims and the refugee resettlement program.

"The processing of asylum seeker claims takes time, and both sides are working to see the centre closed in the future.

"It has served the purpose to stop people smuggling and the loss of life at sea, and at the appropriate time it will close.

"Asylum seekers who are not deemed to be legitimate refugees are leaving our country. Those deemed as legitimate refugees, and who are willing to make a contribution to our nation have the opportunity to stay. There are refugees with skills and who are of good character that will want to help our people."

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