**** PM O’Neill to Deliver Keynote Address at PNG Mining and Petroleum Conference Today – Ongoing Partnership and SME Engagement ****
The Prime Minister is anticipated to ask resource sector companies to engage more with Papua New Guinea’s Small and Medium Businesses to help business owners to grow their capacity.
Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill CMG MP will deliver the keynote address at the Papua New Guinea Mining and Petroleum Investment Conference in Sydney today.
In his presentation the Prime Minister is anticipated to provide information on successes and challenges in the resources sector, and his perspective on the ongoing partnership between the Government and private sector.
“The Papua New Guinea Mining and Petroleum Investment Conference is an important annual event that brings together a broad cross-section of the Australian resources sector, investment community, and other stakeholders,” Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill said.
“I look forward to further sharing perspectives on how our government, the resources sector, and landowners can work together to achieve a new era of co-operation, stewardship and partnership.” The Prime Minister will make special representation on behalf of small and medium business owners to be afforded greater involvement in resource production related activities.
“I will be asking our partners in the resources sector to help existing and future SME owners to grow their business. “Papua New Guineans are very entrepreneurial and many more people would like to start and operate their own business.
“Our government has a twelve-point plan to significantly grow our Small and Medium Enterprises, and we would like to see our resources companies engage more closely with SMEs. “We want to see SMEs compete for contracts, and for supply and service work across the sector.
“There are many opportunities for small and medium size business in areas that include travel relates services, retailing, village based industries and information technology. “This is in addition to the more traditional support to resource projects such as agricultural and fisheries products.
“Working together, resource companies can play an even more constructive role in helping the government to grow our small to medium businesses.” The Prime Minister said he appreciates the efforts already underway by resource sector companies in local communities and in support for charitable and sporting causes that are taking place in resource development areas and beyond.
**** Future LNG Opportunities in Papua New Guinea Discussed at Mining and Petroleum Conference in Sydney ****
Speaking at the 13th PNG Mining and Petroleum Conference in Sydney, the Prime Minister, Hon Peter O’Neill CMG MP, has highlighted Papua New Guinea’s achievements in the completion of the PNG LNG project, and shared insight on future LNG project plans and expectations to make use of this capacity for power generation.
Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill made these points to around 2,000 industry delegates from 16 nations, noting that Papua New Guinea has proven any doubters wrong and set a standard for global projects to meet.
“We all know now that in many ways the PNG LNG Project sets the benchmark for the future,” the Prime Minister said in his keynote address. “However, there must be no resting on this achievement.
“We need to move to the next stages of the development of our vast petroleum resources. “I welcome the statement by the partners in the Elk-Antelope gas field project in the Gulf Province outlining their confidence in the project and highlighting just how massive it will be.” “Our experience in negotiating and helping to implement the PNG LNG Project will be invaluable in this process.”
The Prime Minister said the nation now had the opportunity to expand on the benefits already being achieved from LNG. “We want to value-add to the development of our petroleum sector and resources to the greatest possible extent,” Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill said.
“We also want domestic gas development to help the government meet its objectives to deliver affordable energy to our people, and especially our rural majority, and to our businesses and industry as well.” The Prime Minister said there has been positive discussion with resource development companies on these issues and he anticipates ongoing progress in the months ahead.
**** Speech by Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea Hon. Peter O’Neill CMG MP At the PNG and Petroleum Investment Conference Sydney, Australia 1st Dec, 2014 ****
I again thank the PNG Chamber of Mining and Petroleum for giving me the honour of opening what has become a premier investment event for Papua New Guinea.
I am advised the response has been exceptional. A broad cross-section of the Australian resources sector, investment community, and other stakeholders are attending this Conference.
I welcome you all.
It would be remiss of me if I did not thank the President, Chief Executive and Members of the Chamber of Mining and Petroleum, for your co-operation and support.
In my presentation today, I want to make brief comments on some key areas that I know you will be interested.
I will discuss not only the successes of our nation, but be frank and open in relation to areas where there has been challenge, or even some neglect – and tell you what our Government is doing now to rebuild this so we can have a better future for our country.
I will conclude by outlining proposals on how our government, the resource sector, and landowners, might achieve a new era of co-operation, stewardship and partnership.
POLITICAL STABILITY -
I want to begin today, as I have done on other occasions, by commenting on political stability and its critical importance to our future.
The government I lead has overwhelming parliamentary support – and our “underlying” political stability remains strong.
Last week we secured the passage of the largest budget in our nation’s history, with expenditure of 16 billion Kina, and there is other important legislation before the Parliament, including the Sovereign Wealth Fund, that will further strengthen the economic future of the nation.
As we move our nation forward, stability is key.
There is no doubt that there have been some political disturbances from outside the parliament this year that has caused some “confusion” to the casual spectator…but this is far from being an issue relating to stability.
For any long-term observer of Papua New Guinea – they will know that this is just part of the robust nature of our democratic political process. Certainly there is never a dull moment, fortunately we have a very capable judiciary that addresses such matters and deals with false claims. These events have the potential to concern some new investors, and can unsettle some in our own business community as well.
The assurance I give you is that in our country we manage our political interaction in a way that does not damage “good government.” We manage these issues in a way that does not undermine investor confidence or harm business certainty. These attempted distractions might keep the lawyers busy, but for the government we get on with the job of managing the economy and improving quality of life for our people. This is the mandate that our people have given to us as elected Leaders. As Prime Minister I have always regarded the maintenance of political stability and business certainty to be one of my key responsibilities.
We are now well into our third year of benefiting from that certainty – and I am confident we will continue to do so until the people of Papua New Guinea have the opportunity to judge our government’s performance at the 2017 national election.
SOUND FISCAL MANAGEMENT -
One of the core areas of interest for is fiscal management – particularly in the context of the overall global economy. Overall, our economic management has been sound. We have maintained our credit rating, our kina has strengthened, our balance of payments position has improved considerably – and it will continue to do so.
Inflation will be a challenge next year given our projected record GDP growth. While we can be proud of having among the highest GDP growth in the world, we are mindful of the side effects of that growth. The national budget of 2015 again significantly boosts spending in basic services that are improving the lives of our people, and building our socio-economic infrastructure that is critical for ongoing economic growth. I want to reaffirm our government’s commitment to improving basic services, and building a infrastructure in a careful and sensible manner.
This includes record investment in free primary education, free universal health care, and expanded skills training our people. The budget provides substantial outlay of 3 billion Kina for important infrastructure that is vital for rural communities, such as roads and bridges, as well as electricity and clean water. We are also lifting spending on affordable housing, and on urbanisation related issues.
The delivery of these Government services is being done through a delivery mechanism that devolves the actual implementation to the levels of government that is closest to the people.
This transfer of decision-making on services, and the delivery mechanisms to district administrations, and the local and community level government, remains very much a work in progress. Again I want to stress, that this is empowering communities not to just make good decisions on spending, but to do this effectively. A significant share of the increased spending on infrastructure under our government is directly benefiting the resource sector, and business and industry generally.
A good deal of our borrowing has been specifically directed at infrastructure work that will improve the efficiency and competitiveness of our key export industries – mining, oil and gas, and agriculture. This is a sound investment for our economic future and our community’s future. A further area where we are significantly increasing spending, and one I know is of interest to this Chamber and the business community, is law and order.
We are making a real difference when it comes to police training and police discipline; the rehabilitation and reform capacity of our correctional services; and, our judiciary is better funded than before. We are investing in programs that make our communities safer and this will have flow-on benefits for business as security costs reduce. Our common enemy will continue to be one of perception. Crimes occur in every country in the world, and while I acknowledge we have a lot of work still to be done in this area, the situation in Papua New Guinea is rarely as bad as the media will make it out to be. This is a real challenge for us all.
Our Government will continue to manage and improve communications through global and regional media to more accurately manage negative perceptions of our nation and our people. In concluding my comments on fiscal management, I do want to acknowledge in an unqualified way, our prudent borrowings in recent years. We have done this because we have the certainty of the revenue inflows in the future.
As an economy – and as a nation – we are taking action to improve the quality of life of the people. Our Government is rebuilding the infrastructure that has been so badly run-down. That is to say – we are starting from “ground zero” in many instances.
After decades of neglect, our proactive approach is right for Papua New Guinea today and for our nation’s future.
PUBLIC POLICY CONSISTENCY AND CERTAINTY -
Before I comment on our petroleum and our mining sectors, I want to address one other issue which I know concerns the Chamber, as well as our current and potential investors and financiers. It most certainly concerns our own business community, at all levels. And that issue is “policy consistency and certainty”.
Papua New Guinea is a young democracy with a young bureaucracy…..we should not forget that, but our capacity continues to improve at every level. But we know that the management of major investment at all levels of government can leave much to be desired. Considering our bureaucratic history – we can offer an explanation, but not an excuse. As Prime Minister, it is my responsibility to ensure that we manage the approvals processes for all projects – large and small – in a way that is fair, effective and transparent.
Those of you who have made representation to our government, both on individual projects and on major policy areas such as resource taxation, have always found an open door, with an open mind.
We understand concerns about policy consistency and policy certainty and we share those concerns. But what I ask for is your patience and your co-operation as our Government seeks to deliver certainly. I want you and all investors – and other key stakeholders such as landowners – to have the policy and process certainty that you deserve.
I have been encouraging my minsters and departmental heads, and senior officials to appreciate the impact of delays in decision-making process. Poor decisions, and even total neglect of decision making, is harmful not just to the projects, but to Papua New Guinea and our future. As you know we are living in a more competitive regional and international environment. The recent free trade agreements Australia has concluded with Japan, Korea and now China, are some examples of increasing competition.
Regional free trade and investment and business co-operation agreements are very much welcome – but they also present Papua New Guinea with some real challenges as we work to meet those obligations. But these are challenges that we must meet if we are to meet our socio-economic objectives.
We must ensure efficiencies and transparency in the investment approval process. We must facilitate reasonable and affordable incentives such as visa and work permit approvals, land title certainty, access to efficient infrastructure, and of course certainty when it comes to taxation, royalties, and fees. Our government is also working together to strengthen processes and train staff to better facilitate business and investment administrative processes.
We don’t just need our resources and construction sector, companies to be more efficient and be competitive, but of course the government – and all its agencies – must be more competitive and efficient as well.
We need to embrace this by the public sector as much as by the private sector. Our goal, in the year ahead is to deliver a significant improvement in the way all government departments and agencies – led by state ministers – manage the approval processes for large and small projects.
A key part of that will be increased and more constructive interface between project proponents with state ministers and departmental heads – from the beginning to the conclusion of projects. This will also involve a better engagement – again from the outset – with provincial, district and local level government, as well as landowners and communities.
As we develop this significant policy program, we need the support and the full engagement with our existing resource sector owners and developers, with new investors, and with construction and service providers in these sectors.
DELIVERING A WORLD CLASS RESOURCE PROJECT ON TIME -
The PNG LNG Project – our first gas project is now delivering high quality LNG to an energy-starved region and beyond.
This has been well publicised and is a great achievement for our nation.
I know other speakers will be discuss this project in some detail - but I do want to make one point. The completion of this project, ahead of time and with a relatively smooth construction phase, has already delivered massive benefits to Papua New Guinea.
Most importantly, the completion of this project has ensured our standing as a nation – that is capable of managing major, world class resource development projects, was confirmed and enhanced. We have delivered – and we have stared-down the doomsayers who just a few years ago talked about the project being a “pie in the sky.”
Some critics even said the project would not happen ahead of major other projects in our region such as Gladstone. Well, by working together, we have proven them to be just plain wrong.
We all know now that in many ways the PNG LNG Project sets the benchmark for the future. I applaud the achievements of Exxon Mobil and its partners, including Oil Search and Santos, in delivering our first LNG project so successfully. I also thank predecessor governments and ministers, and our Senior Officials, who helped deliver this great project.
I also thank landowners, local communities, and a skilled and committed workforce – the majority of them Papua New Guineans – and the construction sector for making the delivery of this great project a reality. However, there must be no resting on this achievement.
We need to move to the next stages of the development of our vast petroleum resources. I welcome the statement by the partners in the Elk-Antelope gas field project in the Gulf Province outlining their confidence in the project and highlighting just how massive it will be.
The government is very keen to move this project forward with train three – we expect the proponents to realise the aspirations of the Government in the coming months. This means that we all need to make some critical decisions have to be made.
Our experience in negotiating and helping to implement the PNG LNG Project will be invaluable in this process. As many of you will know now, there are other gas projects on the horizon as well…….some are stranded projects, with special needs.
What we want to in 2015 is the furtherance of those potential projects – and a real focus on the downstream processing. We want to value-add to the development of our petroleum sector and resources to the greatest possible extent. We also want domestic gas development to help the government meet its objectives to deliver affordable energy to our people, and especially our rural majority, and to our businesses and industry as well.
We have had some positive discussion with some of the resource development companies and I expect some progress in the months ahead.
THE CHALLENGES FACING THE MINING SECTOR -
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The contrast between conditions in our petroleum sector and our mining sector this year could hardly be greater. Continued low commodity prices for some of our key exports have seen a slowdown in the mining sector that has had widespread consequences that we are all aware of.
The government is fully aware of that, and we have taken a responsible and reasonable approach when it comes to the conditions relating to capital expenditure and licences. We want to see our mining sector grow just as soon as conditions, most of them beyond our control, improve.
In the meantime we will continue to work with individual companies, both existing operators and new project proponents alike, and with the Chamber. I understand fully there may still be tough times ahead for the mining sector globally – not just in Papua New Guinea.
I saw a report from a leading economic forecasters just a few days ago predicting that mining investment in Australia will decline by a further 40 per cent over the next four years. We cannot totally isolate Papua New Guinea from a depressed mining sector regionally and internationally. What we can do is improve our approval regimes, address our own infrastructure needs, and maintain a stable political environment that is conducive to attracting new investment while maintaining the confidence of our current project owners and operators.
Where we can provide affordable and reasonable incentives I am happy to consider proposals and work with state agencies to implement these proposals.
We must ensure our mining sector has a strong and secure future – we must work together to confront the challenges together.
THE GOVERNMENT, THE RESOURCE SECTOR WORKING TOGETHER TO GROW PNG OWNED BUSINESSES -
That brings me to the final point I want to leave with you today.
As you may be aware, our government is implementing a twelve-point plan to significantly grow our Small and Medium Enterprises. For a nation of over seven million people, we have a very small SME sector. Today we have just 50,000 small businesses – and that number includes sole operators, many of whom have limited facilities and resources. I believe the great majority of our people would welcome the opportunity to start and operate a small to medium sized businesses.
The national government has a duty to effectively encourage and support the development of our SMEs. With the involvement of our people in the ownership and management of enterprises and the support of the private sector we can achieve that.
As a government we are providing greater access to affordable finance for Papua New Guineans who want to start up, or grow, a business. We are also offering other support such as training and extension services. The wider role the national government must play is to help grow and nurture the sectors of the economy that are conducive to greater national involvement.
The obvious sectors are tourism, retailing, village based industry, IT and service areas, and agricultural and fisheries and of course downstream processing. I want to challenge you today to include the mining and petroleum resource sectors as well. One of the criticisms that I frequently hear about the development of mining and petroleum sectors is that nationally owned small to medium businesses are excluded or simply ignored from contracts, and supply and service areas.
The argument that an enterprise needs to be a particular size, and have a certain level of capacity is valid. But the response needs to be more positive and pro-active. I want to see the resource sector, and major contractors and suppliers, actually helping existing and future SME owners to “grow” their businesses, and their capacities. We want to see them compete for contracts, and for supply and service work across all sectors.
And by this I do not mean a token support – I mean a substantial engagement from the outset for new projects, and new engagement for existing projects. We have in mind the national government playing a role in helping facilitate for a working arrangement between the resource developers, and the major contractors, and our SMEs. By working together, resource project owners and managers can play a very constructive role in helping the government to achieve one of its core goals – that is growing our nationally owned small to medium enterprise sectors in the country.
It will certainly bring the resource sector and the business community into having a closer and a beneficial relationship with our people. It will certainly improve the standing of resource companies among our people – it will contribute to a broadly-based economic development for our country.
I welcome your feedback on these issues.
Before I conclude I want to affirm our government’s position, our support and our confidence in the work done in our communities, and of course the support for many of our charitable organisations and sporting organisations by resource companies in the country. Some recent attacks by some respected Australian university on the corporate record and standing of our corporate citizens was disappointing. It is plainly wrong as well.
I applaud the contribution of the resources sector as a good corporate citizen in Papua New Guinea, and I applaud the massive contributions to sporting organisations and charitable organisations in the country. I welcome the initiatives – and I encourage other companies to do the same – so that these projects and this support continues to benefit our rural communities and our children, and our people as a whole.
Papua New Guinea remains a sound and secure nation in which to invest and to do business.
With our first LNG project we have the runs on the board – and more runs are being scored as we meet today. We can and we must build on our success – and we cannot do it without high level of quality overseas investment, foreign management and expertise. Papua New Guinea will enjoy record GDP growth in 2015. That will be a major achievement – but it will be much less of an achievement if we do not build on it.
That is where you and your colleagues come into play.
I invite you to come into PNG and help us in building a strong, secure and harmonious Papua New Guinea and in sharing the benefits that will bring to your businesses, as well as our seven million Papua New Guinean men, women and children of our nation.
I wish you every success in your deliberations.
**** PNG Budget a Topic of Discussion at 13th PNG Mining and Petroleum conference ****
Papua New Guinea’s record budget in 2015 has been a subject of discussion at the 13th PNG Mining and Petroleum Conference in Sydney that is being attended by around 2,000 leading resource industry and government executives.
In his keynote address and subsequent engagement with business representatives, the Prime Minister, Hon. Peter O’Neill CMG MP, provided information on key budget expenditure, particularly as this relates to the resources sector.
Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill further updated the business sector on increased government investment in the key areas of education, health, law and order and Infrastructure. “The national budget of 2015 again significantly boosts spending in basic services that are improving the lives of our people, and building our socio-economic infrastructure that is critical for ongoing economic growth,” the Prime Minister said at the conference.
“I reaffirm our government’s commitment to improving basic services, and building infrastructure in a careful and sensible manner. “This includes record investment in free primary education, free universal health care, and expanded skills training our people.”
Delegates were interested to discuss Papua New Guinea’s projected growth in the coming years that will be the highest in the Asia Pacific region largely due to the revenue generated from the PNG/LNG project. Ongoing investment in infrastructure and the devolution of services to local level government were also the subject of discussion with business.
“The budget provides substantial outlay of 3 billion Kina for important infrastructure that is vital for rural communities, such as roads and bridges, as well as electricity and clean water. “The delivery of these Government services is being done through funding which has been provided through the Provincial and District Support Improvement program which allows an allocation of K10-million for each district and K20-million for each province respectively.
“Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill said by dispersing funds this way, government resources are reaching people in the rural areas who are the ones that need the services the most.
“This transfer of decision-making on services, and the delivery mechanisms to district administrations, and the local and community level government, remains very much a work in progress. “Again I want to stress, that this is empowering communities not to just make good decisions on spending, but to do this effectively.”
**** Papua New Guinea and Australian Prime Ministers to meet today ****
The Prime Ministers of Papua New Guinea and Australia will have an opportunity to discuss bilateral issues when they meet today in Canberra, Wednesday, 3rd December 2014.
Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister, Hon. Peter O’Neill CMG MP, said it is important that ongoing high-level dialogue takes place with the nation’s close partner countries. Australia’s Prime Minister, Hon. Tony Abbott MP, will host the discussion in his Parliament House office in Australia’s capital city.
“I look forward to meeting with Tony Abbott tomorrow,” Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill said from the 13th Papua New Guinea Mining and Petroleum Investment Conference in Sydney. “There are always a number of ongoing bilateral matters to discuss between our two countries and it is important to maintain communications.
“There is a strong partnership between Australia and Papua New Guinea and we will continue to build on this relationship. “We have a number of ongoing partnership arrangements that are relevant to Papua New Guinea’s core government policy areas such as education and healthcare.
“Australia has also been very supportive in relation to preparations for Papua New Guinea to host the APEC process in 2018 that will conclude with the Leaders’ Summit.” Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill said he and the Australian Prime Minister have a good working relationship and have regular contact. While they met informally on the sidelines of APEC and at the Gough Whitlam Memorial in November, their last formal meeting was when Prime Minister Abbott visited Port Moresby in October.
**** PM O’Neill Applauds Growing Participation and Investor Confidence at the 13th Mining and Petroleum Conference ****
Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill CMG MP, has applauded this year’s attendance at the 13th Papua New Guinea Mining and Petroleum Investment Conference.
He said the increased participation, from a larger number of countries, is an indication of stronger interest and confidence in the mining and petroleum sector in Papua New Guinea.
Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill acknowledged that the mining, oil and gas sectors are currently experiencing an unprecedented period of activity and growth. “With this year’s conference theme ‘PNG Resources – Expanding Horizons,’ I would like to reiterate and acknowledge that our resources sector is at an all-time high with great potential for continued expansion,” the Prime Minister said.
“The construction phase of the world-class PNG LNG Project has been successfully completed and the first production was delivered to Japan well before the anticipated date of delivery. “Our discussions with investors and other representatives have been positive.
“Project developers have increased confidence in Papua New Guinea and we will continue to maintain the policy and process certainty that the business community requires. “We need to move to the next stages of the development of our mineral resources, and ensure the benefits are shared throughout the nation.”
He said national economic growth will continue through the public and private sectors continuing to work together on current and future projects. “Papua New Guinea remains a sound and secure nation in which to invest and to do business.
“My message to this conference has been clear. “We can and we must build on our success in the resources sector, and to do this we need high quality overseas investment, management and expertise.
“Our nation welcomes new partners to help us in building a strong, secure and harmonious Papua New Guinea.”
The Prime Minister said the conference has been well organised and of great benefit to business and government representatives who are attending.
**** Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill, and Prime Minister Hon. Tony Abbott in bilateral talks ****
Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill has met with his Australian counterpart Tony Abbott to discuss ongoing bilateral relations between the Papua New Guinea and Australia. The two prime ministers met at Parliament House in Canberra yesterday.
Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill said it is important that ongoing high-level dialogue takes place with the nation’s close partner countries. Prime Minister Hon. Tony Abbott hosted the discussion in his Parliament House office in Australia’s capital city.
Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill was in Australia to launch the 13th Papua New Guinea mining and petroleum investment conference in Sydney. "There are always a number of ongoing bilateral matters to discuss between our two countries and it is important to maintain communications," said Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill.
"There is a strong partnership between Australia and Papua New Guinea and we will continue to build on this relationship. "We have a number of ongoing partnership arrangements that are relevant to Papua New Guinea’s core government policy areas such as education and healthcare. "Australia has also been very supportive in relation to preparations for Papua New Guinea to host the APEC process in 2018 that will conclude with the leaders’ summit."
Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill said he and Prime Minister Abbott have a good working relationship and have regular contact. While they met informally on the sidelines of APEC and at the Gough Whitlam memorial in November, their last formal meeting was when Mr Abbott visited Port Moresby in October.
**** Prime Minister Hon. Peter O'Neill stops Foreign Minister’s order to deport Lutheran missionaries ****
Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill has intervened in the decision to deport three Lutheran Church missionaries from Papua New Guinea, ordering a review. The Prime Minister has directed Chief Secretary Sir Manasupe Zurenuoc to review the matter, and Immigration officials have been told not to effect the decision of Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister Rimbink Pato.
Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill and Mr Pato are faithful Lutheran Church followers – the Prime Minister is a Lutheran of the Lae-based Evangelical Lutheran Church of Papua New Guinea while Mr Pato is a Lutheran of the Gutnius Lutheran Church, which is based in his Wapenamanda electorate in Enga Province. The planned deportation of the American members of the Gutnius Lutheran Church has created uproar and anger in Enga Province, where the Lutheran missionaries are based and have been doing missionary work for decades.
Mr Pato last week defended his decision in Parliament and in the media, but many members of the public, including MPs, are not convinced. He is sticking by his decision, taking out full-page newspaper advertisements yesterday and today explaining why the three Americans must leave PNG. A spokesman from the Prime Minister’s office yesterday confirmed that Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill wants the missionaries to remain while Mr Pato’s decision to deport them is reviewed. Under PNG’s immigration laws, the Prime Minister has the power to prevent a deportation and have the decision of the Minister reviewed.
The outcry against the deportation was led last week by Enga Peter Ipatas, who has called on Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill to revoke the decision of the minister. Mr Ipatas said apart from pastoral duties, the missionaries carry out health and education activities to assist communities in some of the most remote and inaccessible parts of Enga.
The head of the Lutheran Missionary Synod in Missouri, USA, has also written to Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill to intervene, saying it would be wrong to deport missionaries who were simply going about doing their normal church work.
It is understood the deportation of the missionaries was instigated by Bishop David Piso, the head of the Gutnius Lutheran Church whose controversial re-election as Bishop this year has deepened the rift that already exists within the church. Many question the legitimacy of Piso’s re-election, and have taken sides with his rival Bishop Nick Ayane. This crisis in the church has caused operations and service delivery of church run schools and health facilities in Enga province to drop drastically.
Lutheran faithfuls, including the Missouri Synod in US which supports the church, have urged both factions to reconcile soon, or face the demise of a church which has done so much for human development in Enga and PNG.
**** Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill Expresses Extreme Disappointment over Weekend Disturbances by Reckless Few – Warns Looters ****
The Prime Minister, Hon. Peter O’Neill CMG MP, has been briefed on disruption that occurred between police and soldiers on the weekend, expressing his extreme disappointment at the actions of a few reckless people.
He has also called on all citizens to obey the law and respect property.
Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill further expressed his appreciation for the efforts of police and defence officials to calm tempers and initiate a swift response to investigate the cause of the altercation.
“The internal investigations between the discipline forces is underway and will get to the bottom of this issue including the cause and the response,” Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill said.
“The actions of these groups of people are unacceptable, and those who have committed acts that are against the law will be charged and brought before criminal courts. “The nation expects much more from our disciplined personnel to not adopt a mob mentality in which tempers can get out of hand.”
The Prime Minister has further warned any person using the disturbance as an opportunity to loot that they will be dealt with through the full extent of the law. “All members of the public should respect other people's private property and not use this as an excuse to loot shops,” Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill said.
“Additional police are being deployed on the streets to maintain order and ensure the overwhelming majority of law-abiding citizens can go about their business without concern. “With the positive change and growth that is taking place in Papua New Guinea, it is confronting and disappointing to see this unruly behaviour.”
**** Government committed to infrastructure ****
The O’Neill Government is committed to delivering on its key policies on education, health and rebuilding major infrastructures.
National Planning and Monitoring Minister Charles Abel said this on his tour of the Highlands region on the weekend. Mr Abel and his delegation comprising Works Department officers visited major infrastructure development projects currently underway in the Highlands region where they travelled by road from Wabag to Mt Hagen, Kundiawa, Goroka and finishing in Lae on Sunday evening.
The main infrastructure projects currently undertaken by development partners and the Government are the rehabilitation and sealing of the Highlands Highway, the rebuilding of the Mt Hagen Regional Hospital, the Kagamuga airport redevelopment, the University of Goroka re-development which has been completed and opened and the Nadzab city and airport redevelopment.
Mr Abel said the National Government had put through K150 million in next year’s budget for the Highlands Highway. "We care and are concerned about the vital infrastructure like the Highlands Highway which is an important asset for Papua New Guinea," he added.
Mr Abel said the Government was spending a lot of money on education, health and infrastructure and apart from that law and order and growing the economy comes on the priority program. On education, the Minister said the Government has allocated over K600 million for free education, and will concentrate on building infrastructure in schools and is also making direct funding to teachers and nursing colleges next year.
While in Enga, the Minister told the people that the government has allocated K89 million next year to build a new provincial hospital. Mr Abel also visited the Mt Hagen Hospital redevelopment project that is underway.
**** Niue Premier’s Visit will Strengthen Regional Engagement - Shared Resolve to Meet Challenges Including Climate Change ****
Relations between the people of Papua New Guinea and Niue will continue to grow with the visit by Niue’s Premier, H.E. Toke Tufukia Talagi, for a two-day visit to Port Moresby that begins tomorrow.
Premier Talagi is visiting Papua New Guinea at the invitation of the Prime Minister, Hon Peter O’Neill CMG MP, who said it is essential to continue to strengthen the bonds between Pacific Island countries.
“We are all equal brother and sister nations in the Pacific Islands,” Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill said.
“Our countries have shared interests in our cultural exchange, in our ocean-based trade and in the challenges that confront us all such as climate change. “Niue is also interested to look at Papua New Guinea’s development experience as their country works to improve living conditions and economic opportunity.
“I look forward to discussing these shared substantive issues with Premier Talagi.” The Prime Minister said he has met with Premier Talagi on a number of occasions through regional forums, and he expects the Premier to be warmly received by Papua New Guineans. “Both of our countries are members of the Pacific Islands Forum, which is the paramount body for engagement in the Pacific. “We would like to look at how we can continue to work with all member states through the forum to improve prosperity in our region.”
Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill said he is aware that climate change continues to pose a significant threat to the people and the economy of Niue and he looks forward to further discussion on this issue. “Papua New Guinea is using our influence and our contacts through forums such as APEC to draw global attention to the effects of climate change on Pacific Island nations.
“The causes of climate change are global, but the problems are felt at a local level in countries such as Niue. “The global community must work together to help Niue to confront this challenge.”
**** Speech by Hon. Peter O’Neill CMG MP Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, At the Welcoming Dinner for the Official Visit by Hon. Toke Tufukia Talagi Premier of Niue ****
Representatives of the Diplomatic Corps,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a pleasure to welcome you, Premier and your delegation, to Papua New Guinea.
Your visit is a significant one as it is another chapter in the relationship between our countries.
This is the first time in a Premier from Niue has visited Papua New Guinea. As the elder statesman of the Pacific, we are honoured to receive you here in our National Parliament.
One is the formal relationship started in 1994.
But our traditional and cultural engagement was well before that – over thousands of years.
Cultural exchange between our countries through our history can be difficult to traced to a couple of hundred years ago when sailing ships travelled our waters.
This forged the ties of our relationship which we share today.
I was pleased to learn that your nation’s forefathers sent some of their sons as one of the early missionaries to visit our land.
For one of them I understand he returned to Niue with a young Hanuabadan wife.
That early union between our two people provides a special historical connection.
Premier, we are indeed located in one ocean, “wan solwara”, and despite thousands of nautical miles of ocean between our islands – we continue to grow closer and stronger together.
Our two countries are members of the paramount body in our region - the Pacific Islands Forum. Where we meet to discuss issues that matter to our people.
Through the Forum our two countries continue to strengthen regional governance issues like fisheries and agriculture, transport and key areas of sustainable development.
We must continue to build on our engagement through the Pacific Islands Forum for the betterment of the lives of people throughout our region.
This includes adopting the reforms presented in the Eminent Persons Group Report that is aimed at improving the work of the Forum through the Secretariat.
As in all organisations reform can pose challenges and is not always popular, but with reform we can expect a stronger and more proactive Pacific Islands Forum.
At the Leaders’ Meeting to be held next year, we will also welcome two new Leaders to our table. Our Brother in Fiji, Frank Bainimarama, following Fiji’s return to democracy after the elections, and the newly elected Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands, Manasseh Sogavare.
Papua New Guinea as the largest island nation in the region, we have an obligation to continue to strengthen the relationship between all of our Brother Pacific Island countries, and continue to represent them in some of the global forums like APEC.
At APEC we continue to provide leadership for regional issues such as improving supply chains and regional connectivity; promoting a more inclusive economic growth; and, confronting challenges such as food security and climate change.
Papua New Guinea will host the APEC process in 2018. We have responsibility to chair the APEC substantive policy development in preparation for the Leaders’ Summit at the end of 2018.
Niue and the rest of the Pacific can rest assured that we will represent the region well.
We must continue to be highly vocal on the issues that threaten the Pacific Island Nations. Particularly in climate change and the fluctuations in energy prices and the transmission of communicable diseases.
Premier, Papua New Guinea once again states its desire to work with your government for the promotion of prosperity and the enrichment of lives of our people.
With our ongoing economic development, Papua New Guinea is expanding its regional support program to help other developing Pacific nations.
We are aware of the importance of the fisheries sector to your economy, as it is to ours. We look forward to working together in the development of that resources which is beneficial to the region as a whole.
We have already announced a number of projects that are being undertaken around the region worth hundreds of millions of Kina.
Niue will be the recipient of that support. As I have indicated to you earlier today, our Government has committed five million Kina to assist in the building of a new Parliament for Niue.
I hope more Niueans will have the opportunity to visit our Papua New Guinea, to come and work, study or visit us for holidays.
That is why we are also promoting the issue of regional labor mobility – which is an important issue for Papua New Guinea.
The economic growth we are seeing in Papua New Guinea is bringing with it great opportunity for workers from around the region.
We would like to see more Niueans come to Papua New Guinea to work and gain skills, and transfer this knowledge back to Niue to further contribute to your country’s economic development.
We seek your support for both countries to open up the labour markets and allow for freer labour mobility within the region.
This will enable our people, between our two countries, and of course within our region, to continue to enjoy employment and holidays freely without any difficulties.
Next year Papua New Guinea will host the Pacific Games and we this will give us further opportunity further build personal bonds between our people.
We hope your great athletes have great success and can take home gold medals. Our people will cheer them along.
Premier, I wish you and your delegation a successful visit and pleasant stay in Papua New Guinea.
I hope you enjoy your visit to Port Moresby, and I look to welcome you again to the Pacific Islands Forum next year.
**** Papua New Guinea Welcomes Election of Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare ****
The Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, Hon. Peter O’Neill CMG MP, has welcomed the election of Hon. Manasseh Sogavare MP as the Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands.
“I look forward to working with Prime Minister Sogavare and welcome his reelection by the Solomon Islands Parliament,” Prime Minister O’Neill said.
“The Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea have a strong friendship and are working to increase cultural exchange, and trade and investment between our countries.
“There are many areas in which our two Governments can increase cooperation in areas that include fisheries, agricultural production and education.
“In particularly I would like to see more students from the Solomon Islands given the opportunity to study at Papua New Guinea’s universities and technical schools. This not only shares education and skills, but also increases social engagement between our people and establishes life-long friendships.
“Papua New Guinea looks forward to further working with the new Government on a range of sustainable development issues that will benefit all of our people.
“It will be my pleasure to welcome Prime Minister Sogavare to Papua New Guinea at his earliest convenience and attending the opening of the Pacific Games and the Pacific Islands Forum.”
Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill said deepening regional integration is creating new opportunities for people around the Pacific, and it was important that both countries continue to make a positive contribution to this process.
“The Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea are members both the Melanesian Spearhead Group and the Pacific Islands’ Forum.
“These are two very important multilateral engagement processes in which the Solomon Islands has made an ongoing significant contribution.
“We look forward to continuing our high level engagement through MSG and Forum Leaders’ meetings and together improving the lives of people around the Pacific.”
**** Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill - Government keen on Pacific support ****
Papua New Guinea will build a new Parliament house for the Pacific nation of Niue, Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill announced yesterday.
"The Government will provide US$2 million – K5m – for the construction in the capital Alofi,” Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill said after meeting with visiting Nuie Premier Toke Talagi in Port Moresby.
Niue is an island country about 2,400km northeast of New Zealand which has established diplomatic ties with PNG since 1994. Premier Talagi and his team were in PNG for two days at an invitation by Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill during the recent Pacific Islands meeting in Samoa.
Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill said PNG had an obligation to continue to strengthen the relationship among all its Pacific Island neighbours. And it also had the responsibility and obligation to continue to represent them in some of the global forums like the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings, he said.
He said with the country’s ongoing economic development, PNG was expanding its regional support program to help other developing Pacific nations. "Niue and the rest of the Pacific can rest assured that we will represent the region well," he added.
"We must continue to be highly vocal on the issues that threaten the Pacific Island Nations, particularly in climate change and the fluctuations in energy prices and the transmission of communicable diseases. "We are aware of the importance of the fisheries sector to your economy, as it is to ours. We look forward to the development of that resource which is beneficial to the region as a whole," he told the Premier.
"The economic growth we are seeing in Papua New Guinea is bringing with it great opportunity for workers from around the region. "We would like to see more Niueans come to Papua New Guinea to work and gain skills, and transfer this knowledge back to Niue to further contribute to your country’s economic development.
"We seek your support for both countries to open up the labour markets and allow for freer labour mobility within the region. "This will enable our people, between our two countries and of course within our region to continue to enjoy employment and holidays freely without any difficulties,” Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill said. Premier Talagi was very thankful for the assistance from the PNG government.
**** Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill - Government awards K20m for road project ****
The Government has award a K20 million road project to Construct Oceanic Limited to work on the 16km road project from Mukurumand junction to Tale Bridge in the Tsak Valley in Enga Province.
The project has been welcomed by local leaders of Tsak Valley. Community leader Wamin Mosen Lai thanked the O’Neill Government for the project as it would ease a lot of transportation vows along the Tsak Valley.
Tsak Valley is a densely populated area where many educated elites from Enga come from however, for many years the Wapenamnada-Tsak Valley road has been neglected by past governments.
Tsak valley has been following government facilities.
"The O’Neill Government has seen our cries and on behalf of the people of Tsak Valley, I would like to take this opportunity to officially thank the Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, Works Minister Francis Awesa and Enga Governor Peter Ipatas who have been instrumental in getting the contract awarded delay," Mr Lai said.
He also thanked local MP and Foreign Affairs Minister Rimbink Pato.
"We share common border with Mendi, Tambul, Kandep and Construct Oceanic being a Mendi-based construction company we welcome you to Tsak valley to get the project off the ground," Mr Lai added.
**** Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill will reopen K19m Aropa airport ****
Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill will land at Aropa Airport this morning in the first charter to officially open the once defunct Aropa International Airport. During a visit to the region in January this year, Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill promised the people of Bougainville that the airport would be reopened for use as soon as practicable.
A total of K19 million was allocated for the exercise, and after three months of work, the airport is now ready for use. It was closed 25 years ago as a result of the Bougainville Crisis in 1989.
The airport, situated on the main island, is a significant infrastructure and its official re-launching will transform the pace of change in the economic development of the autonomous island province. Officials from the Civil Aviation Authority and Works and Transport departments, who will be accompanying Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill on this milestone visit, were directed to get to work on a working program to redevelop the airport in a short space of time.
The result of their hard work and tireless efforts will go down in the history books of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville. An Air Niugini Q400 did a test landing and take-off on the runway, and it proved successful to the satisfaction of CAA officials.
Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill will lead a big delegation from Port Moresby to Aropa this morning. He is expected to be joined on the ground for the opening ceremony by Bougainville President John Momis, Communication Minister and Member for Central Bougainville Jimmy Miringtoro and other leaders from the region.
The local people are expected to perform a traditional ritual to thank and honour the Prime Minister, who became the first sitting Prime Minister to visit Panguna, rebel leader Francis Ona’s stronghold and the epicentre of the crisis. For now, the Aropa airport will only take in aircrafts the size of Dash 8 and Q400 or smaller. It cannot take in F100 or bigger aircrafts until more work is done on the runway.
The airport saw the last Air Niugini flight out of Aropa International Airport in September 1989 when the Bougainville Conflict began. The Crisis was an armed conflict fought between Papua New Guinea and the Bougainville Revolutionary Army (BRA), who were fighting for independence.
**** Positive International Reporting of Change in Papua New Guinea – PM Calls on Detractors to Engage in Mature Debate ****
Ongoing positive reporting of Papua New Guinea’s economic growth and improvements in living conditions are changing the image of the nation around the world. The Prime Minister, Hon Peter O’Neill CMG MP, said the facts speak for themselves and there is no doubt that Papua New Guinea has changed from the “bad old days” when most reporting about the nation was negative.
Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill has further called on the Opposition and other detractors to play a positive role in nation building and not seek to undermine economic growth. He said positive assessments in international media about growth in the nation, including a recent report by the Oxford Business Group, is changing the way people think about Papua New Guinea.
“Papua New Guinea is heading in the right direction because the country has put its faith in our government and the policy program we have in place to improve lives,” Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill said.
“There is no doubt that we have an enormous amount of work still ahead of us, and the government is tackling these challenges in a careful and disciplined manner. “Task-by-task, issue-by-issue we are dealing with problems that have festered through neglect over decades.
“We have placed an additional 800,000 children in school so that we now have 2,000,000 children receiving an education. These children are our doctors, engineers and leaders of the future. “More people are have access to healthcare and this will keep our people alive for longer and hold families together.
“We have more police on our streets, more effective rehabilitation in our prisons and better funding for our judiciary.” The Prime Minister said the New Year provides an opportunity for the Opposition and detractors outside the Parliament to participate in constructive debate on policy, instead of trying to run the economy down for their own political gain.
“As our country enters a new age I call on the Opposition to engage in mature and well-considered discussion about our growth and policy direction,” Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill said. “I encourage and look forward to robust democratic debate and policy discussion, but let us see a new approach and work together for the future of our nation.”
The Oxford Business Group report provides an independent assessment of the Papua New Guinea’s economic growth and the policy approach of the government in managing the economy, while also noting challenges to take into consideration. (http://www.oxfordbusinessgroup.com/news/papua-new-guinea-steps-gas)
**** PM O’Neill: The people of Western Province to share in the equity of Ok Tedi Mining Limited ****
The Prime Minister, Hon. Peter O’Neill CMG MP, has announced that the people of Western Province will take possession of 33 percent ownership in Ok Tedi Mine Limited (OTML).
NEC approved the free transfer of equity in OTML following consultation between Landowners, the Governor and Western Province officials and the National Government. The balance of the remaining 67 percent of OTML is owned by people of Papua New Guinea through the State.
“This decision is fair and just, and it will be of great benefit to the people of Western Province following decades of neglect,” Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill said.
“The people of Western Province have long suffered extensive environmental harm that has been caused by the Ok Tedi mine. “It is important that affected communities are recognized and receive compensation, while at the same time efforts continue to improve environmental practices at the mine.
“Representatives from the CMCA communities, mine villages and the Western Provincial Government will be holding further discussions to propose how the 33 percent will be distributed.
Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill advised that the management and Board of OTML will be very independent with the State and Western Province together appointing three board members, while the remaining four will be independent experts including the Chairman who must be a Papua New Guinea citizen.
“The Board arrangements will be unique for any State Owned Enterprise and this is aimed at improving governance and ensuring transparency while bringing in worlds best practice to OTML.”
The Prime Minister said the Ok Tedi mine is unique and is the product of a bygone era of governance and corporate social responsibility. “It was a different world when Ok Tedi was established, when respect for the environment and downstream health issues were not given the same level of concern as they are today.
“The unprecedented environmental harm has affected almost the whole of Western Province. “We cannot change the past but we have the opportunity to create a brighter future for the people of Western Province. “The government is committed to improving the living standards of the people of Western Province.
“For too long the people of Western Province have suffered from treatable diseases and today are facing the challenge of multi drug resistant TB. This is not acceptable.” The Prime Minister said people in Western Province are also determined to be given possession of the substantial amount of money held by the PNG Sustainable Development Program (PNGSDP) that is subject to an ongoing court hearing in Singapore.
“The Government wants to see the money being held by the PNGSDP returned to the people of Western Province. “That money should be put to use now to improve the living standards for the people of Western Province and not whittled away by people from outside the province. “The money in the long term fund held by PNGSDP belongs to the people of Western Province and it must be given to them.”
**** Reopening Aropa Airport to Create New Opportunities for a Bright Future in Bougainville ****
The opening of the Kieta (Aropa) Airport is another vital part of Papua New Guinea’s national infrastructure that will create new opportunities for the men, women and children of Bougainville.
Speaking at the airport re-opening ceremony alongside Government Ministers and members of the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) last week, the Prime Minister, Hon. Peter O’Neill CMG MP, highlighted the achievement of reopening the airport as part of what he said is a bright future for Bougainville.
“This is a beautiful day for Bougainville and for Papua New Guinea,” Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill said to around 3,000 people attending the opening at the airport.
During his visit to Bougainville early this year, Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill had assured the people that the National Government would work closely with the ABG to re-open the Aropa Airport. “In January, I announced I was here to honor the National Government’s commitments and deliver important projects to bring Bougainville back to what it once was,” Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill said.
“The National Government’s main focus is to bring services to and improve the welfare of our people, especially, the generation who missed out completely.” He said this is a very important day for Bougainville and Papua New Guinea because after 23 years of non-air service to Arawa.
“This infrastructure can now effectively serve the people of Bougainville,” Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill said. “The welfare of the people of Bougainville is a priority for our Government.” He thanked the National Airports Corporation and the Board of Directors of Air Niugini, Airlines PNG and Travel Air for a job well done and for their support towards the government.
He also acknowledged the good work and commitment of past and present leaders and apologized for governments losing focus along the way. “This was to honor what our former leaders, like the Late Sir William Skate, former ABG President Joseph Kabui, Sir Moi Avei amongst others, set out to do.
“This government has renewed national government commitments and will continue to honor them,” Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill assured the people. He said after forming government over two years ago, the National Government strongly agreed to re-engage and strengthen relations with Bougainville.
Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill also assured the people that the National Government would continue to honor every word in the peace agreement.
**** Prime Minister Expresses Concern at Sydney Hostage Situation ****
The Prime Minister, Hon. Peter O’Neill CMG MP, has expressed his concern for the welfare of hostages currently being held in the unfolding security situation in Sydney.
“The thoughts and prayers of Papua New Guineans are with the people who have been taken hostage, and their families. We are shocked to see this situation occur to our close neighbour.
"I hope a peaceful resolution can be achieved as soon as is practical.”
Details are being released by New South Wales and Australian authorities as the situation allows.
**** Foreign Minister Pato Guides P-ACP Group to Select New Secretary-General of ACP ****
The Minister for Foreign Affairs & Immigration, Hon. Rimbink Pato OBE LLB MP, has worked with counterpart countries in the appointment of the new Secretary-General of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States.
Minister Pato guided the Pacific ACP Group in joining the African and Caribbean ACP Groups to appoint the new Secretary-General at the 100th Session of the ACP Ministerial Council Meeting in Brussels, Belgium, last week.
The new Secretary-General is H.E. Dr. Patrick Ignatius Gomes of the Republic of Guyana. A day before the ACP Ministerial Council, Minister Pato chaired a meeting at the Papua New Guinea Embassy in Brussels involving the P-ACP Ministers and Ambassadors.
The meeting was held mainly to deliberate on the recommendations made by Pacific Nation Ambassadors based in Brussels on candidates for the ACP Secretary-General post.
“In our deliberations, Pacific Ministers and Ambassadors emphasized the need for the Pacific ACP Group to support a candidate who understands development issues and challenges in the Pacific. “We had consensus that it would be very effective if the new Secretary-General was someone who will connect the ACP effectively with the Pacific, particularly with the regional organizations such as Pacific Islands Forum.
“The outcome of the deliberations and analysis on the ACP Secretary-General candidates favoured the newly appointed Secretary-General.” The Pacific ACP position and was conveyed to the ACP Ministerial Bureau by Minister Pato in his capacity as representative of the Pacific in the Ministerial Bureau.
Minister Pato also had the privilege of being appointed Rapporteur by the ACP Ministerial Bureau which delivered H.E. Dr. Patrick Ignatius Gomes as the new ACP Secretary-General. “I was pleased to convey congratulations on behalf of the Pacific ACP Group, and the Government and people of Papua New Guinea, for the appointment of H.E. Dr. Patrick Ignatius Gomes.
“I have great confidence in the new Secretary-General's stewardship of the ACP Secretariat, that will produce a legacy that the ACP family, particularly the Pacific ACP States, can be proud of in the years to come.” Minister Pato further stated that the relationship between the ACP and EU partners is going through many changes and the challenge is for the ACP those transformations to the mutual benefit of member States.
**** Growth changes image ****
Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill said the facts speak for themselves and there was no doubt that PNG had changed from the "bad old days" when most reporting about the nation was negative.
Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill further called on the Opposition and other detractors to play a positive role in nation-building and not seek to undermine economic growth.
He said positive assessments in international media about growth in the nation, including a recent report by the Oxford Business Group, was changing the way people thought about PNG.
"Papua New Guinea is heading in the right direction because the country has put its faith in our government and the policy program we have in place to improve lives," he said.
The Prime Minister said the New Year provides an opportunity for the Opposition and detractors outside the Parliament to participate in constructive debate on policy, instead of trying to run the economy down for their own political gain.
**** Papua New Guinea’s Condolences for Sydney Siege Victims ****
The Prime Minister, Hon. Peter O’Neill CMG MP, has written to Australia’s Prime Minister, Hon. Tony Abbot MP, to convey the nation’s sympathy following the death of two hostages in an armed siege in Sydney overnight.
“It was with great concern that we have seen events unfold relating to the armed siege at Martin Place in Sydney overnight,” Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill said in the letter.
“On behalf of the people of Papua New Guinea, I express our deep condolences to the families of the victims of this siege who died in such tragic circumstances.
“The innocent victims of this tragedy were in the prime of their lives and their loss is felt around the world.
“We further express our concern for the survivors and the torment they feel as they seek to come terms with what has occurred.
“Papua New Guineans stands with our Australian Brothers and Sisters and share the grief your nation is experiencing today.
“It is at times such as this that people and nations unite in common purpose to work together for a better world that is free of such brutal acts.”
**** Prime Minister Reassures the Nation of Increasing Preparedness to deal with Security Incidents ****
Following the armed siege that occurred in Sydney overnight, the Prime Minister has provided reassurance that Papua New Guinea’s capacity to deal with a range of threats continues to increase in the face of a changing global security environment.
“It is only natural that around the world right now people are asking if their domestic security services are effectively equipped to deal with a range of potential threat scenarios,” Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill said.
“As we have seen over the past day and night, no country in the world can be thought to be immune from such brutal acts, and even with the high skill level of New South Wales police, the safety of all people cannot be guaranteed in such a complex situation.
“The range and form of security threats facing the global community has changed in recent years, and security services of all nations take into consideration both domestic and international factors.
“Every country is different, and while Papua New Guinea does not face the same security threats as countries such as Australia or the United States, we must continue to be vigilant.
"Internal training has been improved through ongoing mentoring to raise the capacity of our security services.
"Direct training is further being undertaken by Papua New Guinea’s police and military personnel in Australia, the United States, Israel and other partner countries.
“This improves the capacity for our police and military to deal with a range of potential threats including hostage situations.
“Funding for law and order continues to increase each year and we are in a much better situation than a few years ago.
“Papua New Guinea’s security capacity and preparedness will continue to evolve particularly as we prepare to host global events including APEC."
**** Daewoo International Demonstrates Confidence in Papua New Guinea Economy ****
The Prime Minister, Hon. Peter O’Neill CMG MP, has welcomed Daewoo’s ongoing commitment to Papua New Guinea.
During a courtesy call by the Daewoo International’s President, Mr. Byeong Eal Jeon, and Senior Executive Vice President, Mr. Jeong Hwan Park, the Prime Minister, accompanied by the Minister for Public Enterprise and State Investment, Hon. Ben Micah MP, thanked the company for its enthusiasm for expanding operations in Papua New Guinea.
The Prime Minister said Daewoo is a major international company that recognises the investment and business potential of Papua New Guinea and is seeking to deepen involvement in the economy. “Our door is always open to international investment and the introduction of new technologies and processes. “Companies like Daewoo bring with them knowledge that has been gained around the world that can then provide solutions to challenges faced in a geographically diverse country like Papua New Guinea.”
Mr Jeon provided an overview and presentation of current projects Daewoo is currently operating around the region and would like to further expend in Papua New Guinea. These include engagement in power generation, the construction of modular housing and transportation infrastructure. “Mr Jeon has provided an assurance that Daewoo’s operations in Papua New Guinea will work accordance and national standards and environmental requirements,” Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill said.
“It is important that our people can physically access electricity, and that this energy is provided at a cost that is affordable to families. “Keeping costs down also expands the revenue base for energy providers and we ask all related companies to be aware to ensue they factor affordability into their business plans.” Mr Jeon advised Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill that Daewoo International is looking forward to presenting proposals to the Government on future major infrastructure projects as these open to tender processes.
**** PM O’Neill Congratulates Stakeholders Involved In Phase 1 of Lae Port ****
The Prime Minister, Hon. Peter O’Neill CMG MP, has congratulated stakeholders involved in the work undertaken to complete Phase 1 of the Lae Port (Tidal Basin Project).
Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill extended his congratulation to the contractor, China Harbour Engineering Co. (PNG) Limited, the landowners, Independent Public Business Corporation (IPBC), PNG Ports and all the people who were involved in the project.
He said Phase 1 of the project was delivered ahead of time and under budget and that cabinet has also approved the start of Phase 2. The Prime Minister said the opening of Phase 1 of the new port in the Lae Tidal Basin on 18 December 2014 was a very important occasion for the country.
“This is another demonstration of our ability as a country, as a government, as a community and as people to deliver world class infrastructure,” Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill said.
“As many of you know, our government has made infrastructure development a priority, and this is another major piece of our national infrastructure that will serve the people of Papua New Guinea.”
Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill said the port will benefit not only the people of Morobe Province, it will also serve people in the Highland provinces who get their goods freighted to the port then up to the highlands by road. Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill said landowners of the tidal basin will also benefit through opportunities such as stevedoring as did landowners of the old port, and more broadly thousands of additional jobs would be created.
“When fully operational, this port will create new jobs and related opportunities for over 5,000 people - with projections of this reaching 10,000 as port business increases in the coming years.” Currently around 55 vessels call into Lae port each month and this will increase substantially with the wharf extension, generating increased revenue through pilotage, wharfage and berthage revenue streams. This means more larger vessels, heavier machinery and increased throughput to meet the growing economy in the country as well as the Asia/Pacific region.
The trade forecast for the coming year is for the movement of over:
- 130,000 containers for international shipping.
- Over 56,000 domestic containers.
- Break-bulk and Liquid Bulk movement to be over one Million Revenue Tonnes.
**** Prime Minister Calls for Review of Procedures to Better Protect Police Personnel – Expresses Sorrow and Regret for loss of Police on the Job ****
The Prime Minister, Hon Peter O’Neill CMG MP, has called for a review of procedures to better ensure the safety of police undertaking their duty of protecting the community.
Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill made the comments following recent attacks on police personnel that have led to the deaths.
“I am greatly concerned about these instances of violence against our police and I am talking with police leadership about how procedures and processes can be reviewed to better ensure the safety,” the Prime Minister said. “Although these recent cases appear to have been carried out by individuals, some of them drug-induced, some under the influence of alcohol, we must stop this from happening.
“One immediate measure is to issue directives that police do not go out alone, but discharge their duties in pairs. “That happens in many parts of the world so that individual policemen and women are not going around by themselves in uniform, but are partnered. “Indeed, Policing is a dangerous job in any country, and as a Government we must work to ensure the safety of our police as best we can.”
The Prime Minister called on the public to be grateful for the work of police and to be vigilant for people who might seek to cause harm to police. “We express our deep sorrow and regret to the families of our brave police that have lost their lives, and been injured, in the course of their duties. “Our Police have dedicated their lives to the protection of the men, women and children of Papua New Guinea and to ensure that our communities are safe.
The Prime Minister said the Government continues to allocate greater funding each year for better training of Papua New Guinea’s Police with a focus on improving police skills to patrol their communities. “We need our police walking our streets and markets, and working with members of the community to identify law breakers and bring them before the courts. “Our community policing skills continue to be upgraded and our Government will continue to strengthen capacity in this area.”
**** PM O’Neill Thanks Families for Embracing Free Primary Education, Condemns Misleading claims by Opposition Leader ****
The Prime Minister, Hon. Peter O’Neill CMG MP, has expressed his appreciation to families around the nation who have embraced free primary education and are ensuring their children are attending school.
He said in Papua New Guinea all children now have the opportunity to attend school, and that it is important that all families make use of this opportunity to provide a brighter future for their children that could include further vocational or university studies. In highlighting the value of expanding access to education, Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill also condemned the misleading claims and ill-considered ideas of the Opposition Leader over recent days in relation to education policy.
“The Opposition Leader was part of governments for twelve years in which he held senior ministerial positions where he could have done something,” Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill said. “Mr Polye chose to do nothing about education and suddenly he has all these ideas about capacity.
“This government is addressing capacity issues including expanding infrastructure in all tertiary institutions and increasing funding for university places. “We are building more accommodation and lecture rooms at UPNG, with more funds are being given to colleges and institutions to build capacity.
“We are further providing direct funding to tertiary colleges, for first time in our history, so that they can build further capacity in order to increase tertiary student enrolments. “Clearly, our Government is increasing the intake of students into institutions which is well beyond the numbers quoted by the Opposition.”
The Prime Minister said it is somewhat astounding that Don Polye is criticizing the policy that is creating opportunities for children who, if it was not for the Government’s free education agenda, might never have had the chance for an education. “Mr Polye is being an elitist by suggesting that we should not be providing free education to every child in this country,” PM O’Neill said.
“Our Government’s free primary school education policy is aimed at helping the grassroots who for too many years were denied proper access to education “More 2 million Papua New Guinean children are now in school, which is eight hundred thousand more than when we came into office. “Our education policy is further helping to build gender equality as it was often girls in poorer families who missed out on school when parents had to pay school fees.”
The Prime Minister said he appreciates that student-to-teacher numbers are not optimal, but they are improving as more teachers enter the system. “It is better to get more children into school now while at the same time we are putting more people through teachers college and building additional teacher training facilities.”
**** Commission of Inquiry Report on Brief Out Matters Presented to the National Government by Judge Warwick Andrews ****
The National Government has received the “Report on the Commission of Inquiry into Processes and Procedures used to Brief Out Matters to Law Firms, and Processes and Procedures for Paying Public Monies to Law Firms” from Judge Warwick Andrew CBE CRH.
In receiving the document today, the Prime Minister, Hon. Peter O’Neill CMG MP, said the completion of the report by Judge Andrews and his team would provide clear direction for the Government officials in ensuing transparency and proper process, and save millions of Kina in legal bills.
“This area of brief outs has been the subject of abuse for many years, well before this government came into office,” Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill said in receiving the report. “As a government we have been receiving the raw end of this discussion, mainly because we’re trying to clean up the mess that has been there for a while.
“There are some issues that are still out there for public debate and of course some issues are before the courts. “But we will present this in the coming session of the parliament so that we can make sure that we tighten up the procedures in which the brief outs are being made in the future to many law firms that have been acting about half of the state for many years.
“I know that these recommendations will save the state lot of funds and excessive abuse that is being happening for quite some time, and as result of this inquiry we are going to ensure that there are strict guidelines that are going to be established from here onwards.” Judge Andrews made the following statement before presenting the report to the Government:
“The report was the initiative of the Prime Minister. “Despite previous investigations having been made into the processes and procedures for clients and brief out of legal matters to law firms, and despite several recommendations having been made, the area remains the subject of abuse.
“The focus of this inquiry, under the terms of reference, has been to the reform of the system by way of instituting proper control mechanisms. “As is well known, the state has made vastly excessive amounts of legal work carried out by private law firms from the past. “The commission believes and hopes that if its recommendations are implemented there will be appropriate systems in place which will prevent such abuse. “The commission has been completely independent, there has been no interference with the commission in any way, either political otherwise, by anyone at all. “Having said that I would now like to present the report to the Prime Minister.”
**** PM O’Neill: Offer Thoughts and Prayers Following Tragic Recent Events and Give Thanks for Family and Friends ****
The Prime Minister, Hon. Peter O’Neill CMG MP, has asked Papua New Guineans to offer their thoughts and prayers for the families involved in recent tragic events, and to embrace their own family and friends and give thanks for their communities.
Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill said this is the time of the year that should be filled with joy as communities prepare to celebrate Christmas and welcome the New Year, but recent weeks have seen tragedy. “The death in Australia of eight children from the Torres Strait this week, the massacre of more than one hundred children in Pakistan, the murder of hostages in Sydney, and the deaths of Papua New Guinean police officers have marked a sad time as we prepare for Christmas.
“What should be a time of happiness has been filled with grief and outrage and as a community we need to pull together, pray and reflect on the positives things in our lives. “As we prepare for Christmas this weekend, in your homes and in your churches, I ask Papua New Guineans to do two things. I ask you to pray for the families of people lost to these recent incidents, and I ask you to embrace those who are close to you and to give thanks for all we have that is good. “Give thanks for your family and friends, give thanks for your community and give thanks for this blessed country in which we live. “We have a lot to be grateful for and Christmas is a time to offer thanks and gratitude.”
The Prime Minister said the death of eight children from the Torres Strait has shocked the world and he has offered his condolences on behalf of Papua New Guinea. “Our nation grieves with people in Cairns and around Australia at the senseless loss of eight young lives. May their young souls find eternal peace. “Sadly, this is the third time this week our nation has extended condolences for a horrific event. “These terrible occurrences cannot be reversed, but we can unite in grief and all do our best to build a brighter future. “Lets look after each other, and look after our communities.”