***** PRIME MINISTERS SPEECH IN LAE July 1st 2013*****
Brief summary to the Prime Ministers speech in Lae for the first national PNC conference. We will update more detailed information of strategies and polices that will be put in place.
Good morning delegates of PNC, Coalition partners and PNC members -
You demonstrated your faith by working hard, by putting all your effort, your commitment, your money into ourcampaign so we can get here. For all of us it was not about winning an election it was about changing a country. That is what PNC is about today - changing our country for the better.
We have begun the decentralisation of government , and the delivery of basic services, to the provinces, district and local level government.
Our budget for 2013 made a significant start it provides the greatest increase in real spending on education, health, and law and order in history.
We have also begun the massive task of rebuilding and expanding the nations vital economic infrastructure - roads airports, bridges and sea ports. Every part of our nation will see benefits of our infrastructure agenda.
I hope the day will come when Papua New Guinea will be known across the region and beyond as a nation of aspirational people and small business men and women and i include farmers and primary producers in that definition - as well as our people who run shops and trade stores, operate tourist resorts, provide public transport, operate in service industries such as cleaning, or serve in key professions such as law, nursing and accountancy.
I also include our people who run our businesses that service the mining industry, build roads, build houses, operate accommodation places and more such as our agriculture producers tree crop, food crop live stock, fisheries and forestry sectors.
I appreciate that our rural producers especially our cocoa and coffee producers are doing it tough because of low world commodity prices, infrastructure challenges, pests and diseases. We are working on a plan to assist our farmers during this tough period that will be detailed in the near future.
Of course the economy is doing well and is expected to continue to grow providing more jobs and business opportunities for our people. These are good and shows that we are starting to move in the right direction and not going backwards.
******Prime Minister Peter O'Neill visited Smiles stadium in Townsville on the weekend. The PM and his delegation were warmly treated to a tour of the training facility by North QLD Cowboys player Matt Bowen July 1st 2013 ****
********ECONOMY STAYS FIRM IN QUARTER ONE July 4th 2013 ********
ECONOMIC activity remained strong in the first quarter this year but is levelling off after the construction phase of the PNG-LNG project reached its peak last year, reports the Bank of PNG.
The bank’s Quarterly Economic Bulletin for March reports high government spending, growth in commercial banks’ credit to the private sector, increase in long-term private sector investments and growth in the non-mineral private sector contributing to growth.
“With the winding down of the construction phase of the PNG-LNG project, there are signs that the spin-off effects to the non-mineral private sector is starting to ease,” Governor Loi Bakani said.
“The balance of payments recorded a deficit in the March quarter of 2013, mainly reflecting a decline in the international prices of PNG’s major export commodities.
The bank noted that the kina exchange rate depreciated against the US and Australian dollars in the third quarter.
***Strong relationship between PNG and Solomon Islands July 8th 2013***
Hon. Gordon Darcy Lilo, MP
Office of the Prime Minister
Dear Prime Minster Lilo,
On behalf of the Government and people of Papua New Guinea, I wish to take this opportunity to convey warm and sincere congratulations to you, your Government and the people of Solomon Islands as you celebrate your National Day on 7th July 2013. Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands continue to share excellent relations through close cooperation across the political, economic, social and cultural spectrum. We have seen remarkable progress in co-operative efforts in various development sectors including trade and investment, budgetary support, security, law and order and education. In terms of trade and investment, my Government is committed to conclude the Investment, Protection and Promotion Agreement (IPPA), Double Taxation Treaty (DTT) and a Visa Arrangement to cater for the increasing volume of trade and investments and movement of our corporate and ordinary citizens.
With regard to security, Papua New Guinea will continue to assist Solomon Islands undertake various security-related programs following the gradual phasing out of the Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI). On the regional and international fronts, Papua New Guinea acknowledges the support of Solomon Islands at fora such as the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG), Pacific Islands Forum (PIF), Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP), Commonwealth of Nations and the United Nations (UN). Once again, congratulations to the Government and people of Solomon Islands on this wonderful occasion.
Hon. Peter O’Neill, CMG, MP
***GOVERNMENT MOVES TO PARTNER WITH CHURCHES July 9th 2013***
The Government today moved a little closer to partner with churches to ensure that services reach out to the people. Minister for Community Development, Youth and Religion Loujaya Toni led with that at the National Consultative Forum for Churches. The forum was held at Gaire Village in the Central Province just outside Port Moresby. Present were Minister Toni, Acting Secretary Anna Solomon, various church representatives and state agencies. The goal of the forum is to gauge opinions to develop a policy framework from which the Government and churches would partner from to deliver services. In her keynote address, Minister Toni said the Government was now reviewing its support to churches. She said churches have played a big role in service delivery and they and the government needed to work together. Over the course of the two day forum, a number of objectives will be highlighted, including key areas to strengthen cooperation and to seek views on the names of the new policy and new office of religion. Acting Secretary Anna Solomon said the forum was also an opportunity for the church to understand some of the Departments roles. President of the Baptist Union of PNG Patrick Gaiyer said many churches have the capacity to provide services but needed more support. He said the Forum was a step in the right direction. Three more regional forums will be held before a National Forum. Once completed a policy framework submission will be submitted to the NEC.
*****PNG PM WANTS OLD AGE DISABILITY PENSIONS - July 10th 2013*****
Papua New Guinea may have a disability and old age pension by 2016, as Prime Minister Peter O'Neill asks his party to consider a new policy platform.During an address to People's National Congress (PNC) faithful in PNG's second largest city, Lae, O'Neill said he wanted to promote small business entrepreneurship.
He also flagged laws to mandate the amount of parliamentary sitting days and to have opponents list no-confidence motions three months before a vote.
At the PNC conference the prime minister said data collected from an electronic ID system, which he wants to see online by 2014, would be used to improve pay and living conditions in the country. The scheme will be used to study, then raise the pay and living conditions of provincial government employees, such as police and magistrates. Stage two is to have a disability pension by 2015. “We should also introduce an old pension system for all citizens who are over the age of 65 years in 2016,” O'Neill said.
***** PRIME MINISTER PETER O’NEILL TO DISCUSS ASYLUM SEEKERS DURING AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER KEVIN RUDD’S VISIT TO PNG - July 15th*****
The Federal Government has confirmed asylum policy will be a key agenda item in talks between Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and the Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O'Neill.
Immigration Minister Tony Burke has joined Mr Rudd on the two-day visit and says the progress of construction on the Manus Island detention centre will be one issue raised in the meetings.
Last week the United Nations Refugee Agency released a report which found the facility does not meet international protection standards for asylum seekers.
Mr Rudd would not say whether the report will be raised but he says asylum seeker policy will be discussed.
"The Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O’Neill will inevitably raise what's on his mind and I have a very open mind to dealing with his set of challenges and ours and obviously the ongoing implementations of existing arrangements with Australia," Mr Rudd said.
Trade Minister Richard Marles will also be part of the delegation.
Mr Rudd says he wants to use the meetings to improve the economic engagement between PNG and far north Queensland.
"There's a huge economic engagement with Papua New Guinea and we want to make that closer and better and mutually profitable to both business communities," he said.
Parliamentary Secretary for the Pacific, Senator Matt Thistlewaite, says PNG’s multi-billion-dollar Liquid National Gas project is on the agenda for discussion during the trip.
He says the Government is working with PNG to develop a sovereign wealth fund.
******** DISOBEDIENCE ANGERS O'NEILL - July 10th********
PRIME Minister Peter O’Neill cracked the whip yesterday pulling up department heads, night clubs and tinted government vehicles.
Angry at obvious disobedience of past directives, O’Neill barred by name seven department heads from overseas travel for the rest of this year and directed that from today, all tinted government vehicles would have the tintsremoved, including police vehicles.
He further directed that all night clubs operating throughout the country be closed by 2am or their owners would be hauled off to jail.
Chief Secretary Sir Manasupe Zurenuoc said the travel restrictions followed excessive travel by affected officials in the last six months. Sir Manasupe reminded them of the travel moratorium imposed and outlined in a government circular at the beginning of this year.
The moratorium on overseas travel by senior officials was imposed following concern over the large amount of money – between K20 million and K40 million – spent annually before 2013 on overseas travel by public servants.
“These funds have been reallocated to delivery of essential services. “As a departmental head your primary responsibility is leadership of the department.
“Any absences from the department have significant effects on staff morale and productivity,” Sir Manasupe said.
“It has come to the attention of Government that when compared with other department heads you have undertaken far more travel this year.
“Due to the large amount of travel that you have already undertaken this year I have been instructed by the prime minister that you are not permitted to undertake any further travel for the rest of the year. “No exceptions will be made. “I expect that you will be in PNG for the rest of the year.”
****All 46 members of the PNC met last night for a caucus meeting to discuss policies, nominate candidates for various actions and how they continue as a party to deliver results and outcomes for all of PNG****
*****Cops Warned - July 11th 2013*****
PRIME Minister Peter O’Neill yesterday said he would not condone the actions of rogue policemen armed with high-powered guns going after politicians and leaders under the pretext of doing police duties.
He said he would instruct Police Commissioner Tom Kulunga to discipline those rogue officers for their unwarranted actions against certain members of parliament.
The prime minister was referring to several armed police officers who went to arrest the Western administrator Dr Modowa Gumoi and the officers involved in the issue of arrest warrant on Chuave MP Wera Mori.
Gumoi was arrested over allegations of drawing funds from the Western people’s community mine continuation agreement fund while a warrant of arrest was issued for Mori for alleged misappropriation of funds from the Highlands Highway rehabilitation funds on a project he undertook before he entered Parliament.
The issues were raised by Western Governor Ati Wabiro and Mori during question time in Parliament yesterday that a group of armed policemen were colluding with people with vested interests and malicious intent to arrest leaders.
Mori also claimed that he was the subject of a draconian police investigation, funded by a political interest group.
He said one of the policeman involved was said to be a director of a few companies set up using development funds by a former MP.
O’Neill said policemen should not be managing development funds.
He said there was no need for police officers armed with high-powered arms terrorising and hunting leaders.
“I do not condone these kinds of actions against leaders,” O’Neill said.
“I will not tolerate these kinds of actions by rogue policemen. There is no need for policemen to be armed to arrest leaders.
“Our leaders do not tolerate these kinds of actions.
“I will instruct the commissioner to discipline and suspend those rogue police officers and allow investigations to be carried out as their actions to the leaders are not acceptable.”
O’Neill said there were many good policemen and women doing a good job but it was the actions of few that needed to be brought into line.
The prime minister also said earlier that there was a general decline in police morale and there was a need to rebuild the force that should regain the trust and confidence of the people.
He said police actions had instilled fear in citizens.
*** PRIME MINISTER CONTROLLING GOVERNMENT FUNDING - July 12th 2013***
PRIME Minister Peter O’Neill has given instructions to suspend funding to resource project areas until a full audit is carried out on millions of kina spent over the years with nothing to show on the ground.
Landowners and the provincial government of Hela, Southern Highlands, Gulf, Central and Western province will be affected by this decision to freeze Infrastructure Development Grants (IDG), Business Development Grants and Ministerial Commitment funds under the UBSA and LBSA.
For Western Province the Prime Minister during Question Time in Parliament yesterday ordered a freeze on the Trust Account from Ok Tedi to landowners and the provincial government until a complete review of the trust structure is sorted out.
The Prime Minister has now created an ad hoc committee that has him as chairman, with Governors from the affected provinces and developer ExxonMobil as members’ for the management of IDG, BDG and Ministerial Commitment.
In a letter dated July 5, 2013 to economic Ministers William Duma, Don Polye, Charles Abel, James Marape and Richard Maru, he informed them of the decision.
“As we are fully aware the Infrastructure Development Grants (IDG), Business Development Grant and Ministerial Commitment funds under the UBSA and LBSA have not be utilised properly for their intended purposes since their inception. These funds in millions of Kina have been totally mismanaged and misapplied resulting in a lack of services and tangible development in the project areas.
“Quite frankly there is no evidence on the ground for the use of these funds. The people who trusted us to bring service and development for the use of their resources have been either forgotten or denied their rightful benefits.
“This is a sad state of affairs which we must address urgently so that future funds are protected and genuinely used for bringing development to our people,” the Prime Minister said.
“You will recall my earlier directive for a full scale audit and to date I have yet to be informed on the progress or outcome of this audit, if it has been already done.
This was necessary to establish how IDG/BDG/Ministerial funds were used, projects delivered and what remedies or measures the Government can take to ensure proper utilisation of these funds amid public concerns.”
“Whilst this audit is pending, it is important that we take some corrective measures so that undisbursed funds for 2013 and any future funds are managed properly and high impact projects are funded and delivered to the project areas.”
“Consistent with the understanding I had reached with a number of key Ministers, an ad hoc committee has been established compromising four governors, representatives from the developer and myself as chairman. The ad hoc committee will now oversee the management and administration of these funds until a proper structured process is put in place after the completion of the audit investigation.”
He stated that this effectively meant the functions and responsibilities of the current administrative structure including decision-making process for the disbursement of funds would be performed by the adhoc committee.
“In the meantime, no IDG/BDG/Ministerial funds are to be disbursed or released without the vetting and approval of the ad hoc committee.”
“I trust you will fully understand the rationale for this temporary management approach and ensure all necessary technical and logistical support is rendered to the ad hoc committee to carry out its responsibilities.”
*****PRIME MINISTER PETER O'NEILL'S ADDRESS TO AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER KEVIN RUDD July 16th*****
It is a privilege to welcome you back to Papua New Guinea, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd so soon after your return to the high office of Prime Minister of Australia it is a sign of the importance you attach to our bilateral relationship – an importance I share and my government shares.
The bi-lateral relationship between our countries is as strong as ever. It is a very diverse and a very healthy people to people relationship, Underpinned by growing links in education and training, sport, culture and especially wartime history.
I believe we need to embrace the people to people growth wholeheartedly. It will secure the relationship in a mature and wholly mutually beneficial way.
Prime Minister, I am delighted to assure you that the level of political stability and certainty in Papua New Guinea has never been greater then it is today. My government is delivering on some quite basic fundamental’s that are made possible by a strong parliamentary majority and a stable political climate.
Our total focus is on the key policy and program areas that will enhance the living standards and opportunity of our seven million people and growing our economy with maximum sharing of the benefits of growth. In our budget this year spending on school education and basic health care is up fifty percent and spending on law and order measures increasingly similarly.
Progress has also been made in:
Education – free schooling
Health – providing basic healthcare
Infrastructure - roads, ports, airports, water and electricity
All so we can meet the needs of our growing economy and deliver productivity improvement.
One of the most important policy agendas is to build our small to medium enterprise sector. We believe this holds the key to sharing as widely as possible not just the benefits of economic growth, but in the actual participation in the economy.
Our GDP is strong. Thanks to the commissioning of our first LNG project by the end of next year we will have 20% plus GDP growth in 2015.
We are pursuing further LNG and wider gas projects, with a focus on downstream processing and providing affordable electricity for industry and households.
As with the mining resource sector, our miners many of them Australian owned or managed, are being hit hard by the mining downturn in the world commodity prices. We are reviewing our resource taxes and fees and we need to improve the vital economic infrastructure that helps improve productivity.
We must improve small business, encourage tourism and we must focus on downstream processing and value adding to our vast resources, including non-mining and gas resources.
Sadly our agriculture sector is being hit very hard by low commodity prices. This is a real challenge for us as the majority of our people are subsistence or cash crop farmers. My government is working on strategies that are affordable and practical to sustain our agriculture producers who’s basic living standards are being eroded largely by factors beyond their control.
Prime Minister Rudd, we face significant challenges, such as crime, public sector capacity and service delivery, corruption and the abuse of public money, but we are focused very strongly on meeting these challenges. However, the fundamentals are strong and arguably never better then they are today.
My government and our people, genuinely appreciate the generous support we receive under the development co-operation agreement from the government and the people of Australia. My approach to aid arrangements is a very simple one, I want the development assistance funds and programs we receive from Australia to always strengthen our government and people relationships. That is best achieved by your tax payers generous funds adding to what my government is doing to meet the many varied challenges we are addressing. In the past that has not always been the outcome. It is my firm belief that the more we can align aid programs to our priorities, the better real outcomes will be. This is an important part of our bi-lateral relationship. I am confident that as a result of our discussions today, it will be even more beneficial then it already is.
****Kevin Rudd's Visit to PNG - July 15th 2013****
Prime Minister Peter O'Neill Welcomed Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to PNG Yesterday to discuss further political ties and strengthen relationships between both countries.
*****Prime Minister Peter O’Neill discusses issues on asylum seekers and the development of the new detention centre in Manus with PM Kevin Rudd. - July 16th*****
My government is proud of its record in assisting successive Australian Governments in one key aspect of regional security – the detention and processing of people seeking asylum, and in particular people who arrive in generally unseaworthy boats.
Papua New Guinea is very happy to provide regional leadership and support on this difficult issue. We are very happy to host a regional detention and processing centre that meets the highest humanitarian standards. I hope that as a result of your visit today we can see the early commencement of the construction of the new regional detention center on Manus.
The people of Manus support it and their leaders support it. The sooner the new centre and the local benefits its local constitution will bring can get under way the better. We all have a responsibility to work together on regional security. Papua New Guinea has seen an increase in the number of illegal arrivals and visa breaches.
My Government is keen to work with the Rudd government and our other regional neighbours to ensure border protection and regional security are managed the right way. We look forward to this major initiative in the coming months.
****PM O'Neill wants safe environment for students. - July 16th*****
Prime Minister Peter O'Neill announced and confirmed swift action over the recent incident involving PNGDF at the university. It is the Prime Ministers understanding that two PNGDF people have already been arrested over their actions and further arrests will occur in the coming days. He has also advised Parliament and the minister for defence that these actions will not be tolerated and that anyone arrested and charged will be immediately terminated from the defence force. Your Prime Minister has instructed the police to place officers at the university to ensure the safety of the students and to return calm to the university.
The Prime Minister sees these young people as the future of PNG and wants to make sure they have a safe environment to complete their studies and to hopefully stay in PNG on the completion of their degrees to gain employment to further develop PNG.
****IMPROVING HEALTH OUTCOMES IN PAPUA NEW GUINEA. July 18th ****
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced today that the Australian Government will increase support for health and hospitals in Papua New Guinea to help save lives. Support for improved health in Papua New Guinea is a key agreed priority under the Australia-Papua New Guinea Partnership for Development.The Australian Government will provide just over $160 million over four years to 2016. The Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O'Neill is very pleased with the strong support from the Australian government. This additional funding will ensure continued availability of quality assured medical supplies for 2,700 health facilities across Papua New Guinea. It will build on Australia’s existing support for pharmaceuticals procurement and distribution. Australian funding will also support the rehabilitation of rural and remote health facilities in Western Highlands, Eastern Highlands, Milne Bay, Western Province, and Bougainville, which have some of the poorest health indicators in the country. Funding will also be directed toward refurbishing and expanding training schools and colleges for nurses, midwives and other health workers.The quality and amount of health infrastructure throughout Papua New Guinea is inadequate for Papua New Guinea’s fast-growing population. The additional funding will help improve the quality of primary health services.Australia’s support would also improve the retention of health workers which is currently a significant problem.
****PNG PM PETER O'NEILL AND AUS PM KEVIN RUDD TO UNVEIL MANUS ISLAND EXPANSION PLAN IN BID TO STOP BOATS. - July 19th****
KEVIN Rudd will today announce a deal with Papua New Guinea to increase the capacity of the Manus Island detention centre to house up to 3000 people, as part of Labor's efforts to crack down on people-smuggling. Mr Rudd is expected to be joined by PNG Prime Minister Peter O'Neill and PNG Attorney-General Kerenga Kua in Brisbane this afternoon, when he will unveil a suite of policies to try to stem the flow of boat arrivals to Australia.
Your Prime Minister Peter O'Neill is making international headlines being known as the "CAN DO" Prime Minister. This is something PNG has never seen before and does a great deal for our countries reputation.
*****Local Benefits to the residents of Manus Island. - July 22nd*****
The Lombrum Naval base will be upgraded. Roads in the province will be significantly improved. There will be new health centres and schools provided, and the airport will be upgraded. In additional, businesses on Manus will directly benefit through the provision of goods and services.
Manus Island policy updates.
The benefits to PNG of these policies are:
1. The funding of the redevelopment and upgrading of UPNG and UNITECH as recommended by the Garnaut/Namaliu Report. This will be an ongoing, multi-million kina project.
2. The funding of a new and modern base hospital for Lae on a 50/50 funding basis with the national government. The funding will include the most modern equipment, and additional medical and nursing staffing.
3. Funding of the major upgrading of the Lae-Madang highway.
4. Funding of the construction of the new Lower Courts Complex in Port Moresby.
5. Support for the government’s law and order program through the provision of 50 police, funded by Australia, to be in Port Moresby and Lae by the end of the year
6. Additional capacity building assistance in health, the CIS and public service.
7. This will give our economy a massive boost, with the first benefits to be seen in a short period of time.
8. The Manus island policy will create more jobs within Manus Island and across all of PNG.
****Your Prime Minister Peter O’Neill on the Manus Island policy. July 22nd****
"There is NO guarantee of citizenship unless and until all the requirements of our residency and citizenship laws have been met. The Australian Government will meet all costs from arrival, through to processing and resettlement. There will not be a negative impact on our national budget. The agreement will be reviewed on an annual basis, and my government will take community views into account when the review takes place"
****** PM O'NEILL: "THIS IS NOT A NEW DEAL. - July 24th "******
THE refugee resettlement deal between Australia and Papua New Guinea has been in the pipeline for a number of years and is not a new idea, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill says.
O’Neill said there was nothing wrong with it being discussed with the Australian Government before going through the PNG parliament.
“This is something that governments do on a day-to-day basis,” he told reporters on Monday after arriving from Brisbane, where he signed the agreement with Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.
“After the agreement has been done, we take it to parliament, and parliament can debate on it, not the other way around,” he said.
“I know my colleagues (opposition) are a little bit inexperienced so they’re saying that parliament should have been informed first.
“Let me remind the people of Papua New Guinea that this is not a new arrangement.
“This is an arrangement that was made by the John Howard government and the then Somare government in around 2006.“It was stopped by the Gillard government, restarted by the Gillard government, and now extended further by the Rudd government, so it is not a new concept that is being introduced to PNG.
“Last Wednesday, the cabinet of our country agreed on a new arrangement that was being sought by the Australian government.
“We agreed to our very basic human principles of humanitarian grounds, and that it is becoming a regional problem and a regional issue when we have got refugees that we need to protect.
“We ourselves have got illegal immigrants that we need to process, and of course the rest of the smaller Pacific Island countries need our help, to establish a regional processing centre.“Of course, we took advantage of the issues that are before us, and negotiated these outcomes with the Australian government.
“I think it is very good for the country that we are showing some compassion, some humanitarian sympathy to the suffering that many of these genuine refugees are facing.”
He said PNG was a signatory to the United Nations Refugee Convention and had an obligation to refugees coming into the region.
****REFUGEES WILL NOT POSE A THREAT TO SECURITY. - July 24th ****
PRIME Minister Peter O’Neill has dismissed potential security threats to Papua New Guinea by refugees who resettle in the country. When asked about negative reactions by Papua New Guineans towards the refugees, culture clashes, and security threats by Muslim extremists who may be among the refugees, O’Neill said there was nothing to be worried about. He said PNG was a Christian country that should practice Christian principles. “I think these fears are unfounded,” he told reporters on Monday.
“We call ourselves a very Christian country. What did Christ ask us to do? Be compassionate, help those people who are needy. Isn’t that what he preaches?
“So let us start being realistic about things that we signed up to. We are a signatory to the United Nations Refugee Convention. Let us be realistic. We call ourselves a Christian country, we must behave like Christians.”
O’Neill said the refugees would not be given priority over Papua New Guineans in essential areas like health and education.“We are not giving priority to anybody,” he said.
“There is nothing in the agreement that says refugees will get priority over our citizens. These fears are unfounded.
“And, of course, as we don’t know the numbers (of refugees) as yet. I don’t think the numbers will be as big as we think.
“As you can see from reports, smugglers who are profiting from this exercise, have already said that they are going to stop the boat people travelling.
“You can see that genuine people will travel, but non-genuine migrants will fall off, and the numbers will be much lower than what we are thinking.”
*****PM PETER ONEILL FOR BETTER LAW AND ORDER. - July 25th*****
PRIME Minister Peter O’Neill yesterday expressed concern again at members of the disciplined forces aiding and abetting wanted criminals. Appearing on FM 100’s Talkback show, he told listeners the Government was moving to weed out bad apples in all the disciplinary forces who were lax about security and who were actively aiding criminal elements, regardless of rank.
A listener wanted to know what the prime minister thought about a serving soldier who was with jail escapees William Nanua Kapris and Raphael Walimini when both were shot dead by police outside Port Moresby.
The soldier, named as Steven Yafai, another ex-soldier and two women are now in custody and will be charged with aiding and harbouring the escapees.O’Neill said: “The concern of the government is people being sympathetic towards criminals.“We have seen that the disciplined forces, especially CS (Correctional Service), have allowed this to happen on a number of occasions.
“We have changed the management of Bomana prison.
“We are facilitating for the arrest of those who are allowing prisoners to leave whenever they like.
“There are some changes taking place at management level at CS at present.“For the long term, what we need to do is break that cycle.“We are talking to development partners to bring in expertise to come in and help us and train many of the officers, who are there to provide protection and security in the facilities we have.”
O’Neill said while most officers from police, CS, and PNG Defence Force were law-abiding, it was only a handful that tarnished the image of the disciplinary forces.
“It’s up to us, including senior Defence Force, police and CS officers to weed out this kind of behaviour in their ranks,” he said.“In the Defence Force, when one of them gets in a drunken brawl, most of them come out and support the drunkard.“What kind of example is this?
“This kind of behaviour needs to be weeded out, and it will take all of us working together.”
The prime minister promised a marked improvement in law and order services.
“Over the next four years, you will see a considerable improvement in the delivery of good law-and-order services to our people,” O’Neill said.
******Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has congratulated the Government and people of Vanuatu as they mark their National Day. - July 30th******
On behalf of the Government and People of Papua New Guinea, I must convey our warm and sincere congratulations to the Government and People of the Republic of Vanuatu as they celebrate their National Day on 30th July, 2013.
Papua New Guinea and the Republic of Vanuatu enjoy an excellent relationship through close cooperation across the political, economic, and cultural spectrum.
Mr O’Neill said our active interactions at the regional and international forum such as the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG), Pacific Islands Forum (PIF), Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP), Commonwealth of Nations and the United Nations (UN) underlines the strength of this relationship.
“Since its independence on July 30, 1980, Vanuatu has developed into a strong and vibrant democracy in the region.
“PNG and Vanuatu have enjoyed a strong relationship by working together in areas of mutual concern, such as security, climate change, economic and social development.
“There is still scope for both Governments to achieve more in exploring opportunities in tourism, fisheries, trade and investment.
“By working together, we will not only secure a safe and prosperous Pacific region, but also improve the living standards of our people.“With a stable political climate, Papua New Guinea’s economy has been growing over the last 11 years.“We are ready to share this experience, and prosperity, with Vanuatu and other countries of the region through increased trade and investment, and the removal of restrictions to labor movement,” Prime Minister O’Neill said.
The PNG government is moving even further to fight corruption with the opening meeting of ICAC (independent commission against corruption) by Chief Secretary to Government, Sir Manasupe Zurenuoc today.
PM O'Neill and various government ministers inspecting the new state-of-the-art Air Niugini aircraft yesterday before flying to Angoram, ESP, to campaign for bi-election PNC Party Candidate and former ESP Provincial Administrator, Samson Torovi. - July 30th
****Prime Minister Peter O'Neill wins extra funding. - July 30th****
AUSTRALIA will provide extra funding for newly prioritised projects in Papua New Guinea - on top of the existing $507 million aid program - under Kevin Rudd's asylum-seeker deal.PNG Prime Minister Peter O'Neill told The Australian these new projects - such as the rebuilding of the Lae hospital, whose cost has been estimated at $300m to $600m - will be co-funded on a 50-50 basis between Australia and PNG, and the costs will be met over a number of years.
*****PM O'NEILL PUBLIC LECTURE UNIVERSITY OF PAPUA NEW GUINEA. - 30TH JULY 2013****
Education for all:
I am proud of what my government has done in just two years to make school education universally available and affordable. When our free education, and compulsory schooling, policies and programs are fully implemented we will be providing every child with a basic education – opening up a range of “opportunities” currently denied to many, far too many. The key to empowering our people – and allowing them to achieve their aspirations and ambitions – is quality education. To do so, we must urgently ensure that every child has a basic education, and then ensure they can use their education to participate in our economic growth. Both are great challenges – but we are determined to meet them. This year, we have lifted our total budget spending on education by 50 per cent – with education now occupying more than one third of our total budget. This spending is funding the implementation of our free education scheme for children across the nation, from elementary schooling to year 12. It is also funding new schools, upgrading existing schools, and the training of more teachers. The high education sector is not being neglected. This University, and the University of Technology, are being upgraded; a new University is being constructed in the Southern Highlands; a new Teachers College is being built in Enga Province; and we are funding community trade and vocational training colleges. The government is also increasing tertiary scholarships, and in the immediate future we will develop a major increase in teacher training. We are able to increase spending on education by a record amount because the basis of our economy is strong – driven principally by mining, and by construction associated with our first LNG project.
It will also enable us to expand tertiary education, and trade and vocational training, When we have enough schools, and enough teachers, we will make attendance at school compulsory – and we will make parents accountable for their attendance. Now we are not going to make attendance at university compulsory! But we are going to make it more affordable, and available.The agreement we have reached with the Australian Government on regional assessment and resettlement includes 50/50 funding by my government, and the Australian Government, to upgrade UPNG and UNITECH in accordance with the recommendations of the report into tertiary education.
I am determined to bring this massive program forward – and have construction work, and capacity building, given the highest priority. Since Independence we have sadly fallen well short in school education – and tertiary education, and trade training. Our school attendance levels have remained too low for too long. The introduction of free education, and construction of more schools, will change that. But it will take time given the enormity of the task.
Sadly, the overall quality of our tertiary education system has diminished – but there have been notable exceptions. The availability of tertiary education places has not matched the demand from year 12 graduates.
Last year around 17,000 students graduated from year 12. Just 4,000, less than a quarter of the total, were able to enrol at university. That is simply not good enough! And our neglect of trade and vocational training since Independence has had disastrous consequences – as evidenced by the high foreign workforce in the development of our mining sector, and our first LNG project. In summary, our massive investment in education – from free schooling to rebuilding universities – reflects the commitment of my government to really give education the front and centre role it must have not only in government spending, but in the priority of the whole nation.
*****PM O'NEILL PUBLIC LECTURE UNIVERSITY OF PAPUA NEW GUINEA 30TH JULY 2013*****
Tertiary education - we need new partnerships and a new approach:
As we rebuild our major universities, and lift capacity, we must surely learn from the mistakes of the past. And we must ensure tertiary education is relevant to the needs of Papua New Guinea today and tomorrow.
We need degree and higher courses that reflect the needs of our economy, and are capable of meeting the future professional needs of our private sector as well as our public sector. We also need new funding mechanisms that will ensure long term viability and sustainability. We also need to look at the success of the non-government, or non-taxpayer funded, tertiary sector, and embrace it, not see it as a threat. The success of Divine Word and Seventh Day Adventist tertiary institutions should be applauded – and replicated. They are enhancing tertiary education and are doing so in a caring and wholly professional way – at minimum cost to the taxpayer. I am not opposed to private universities, funded and managed as businesses. The Bond University on the Gold Coast is an example that could be looked at.
I am also not opposed to – in fact I want to encourage – greater corporate investment in and participation in the redevelopment and future of our main universities. There is a relatively small level of private sector funding support for our universities. As our mining and gas resource sectors, our construction sector, and hopefully sectors such as tourism and agriculture grow, we need to encourage these sectors, and companies participating in them, to contribute to university funding and other resourcing needs. I want our universities to form more partnerships with the private sector – for funding, resourcing, and enabling students to gain practical on the job experience during university studies.
We need our universities to be more involved in the life of the community, including the communities in which they are located. We also need our universities and our professions – such as my own profession, accountancy, and lawyers, engineers and doctors – to collaborate even more to ensure graduates can secure employment, and further skilling.
I believe that needs to include giving community groups greater access to university facilities – especially at weekends.
Above all, we need a tertiary education system that will help contribute to strong economic growth – and in particular greater real participation by our own people in economic growth. I am sure we can make our universities – and their students – front and centre when it comes to not just strong economic growth, but also significantly greater national participation in that growth.
But that means we have to take a modern and relevant approach to every aspect of tertiary education. We need our universities to educate men and women who can, on graduation, directly participate in our growing economy, and in increasing national participation in every area of economic growth. I hope our universities will align degree courses with the government’s key national development goals. As an example, we need graduates who can help grow our small business sector – and I include professions such as engineering and accountancy in the small business definition. I would hope we can have specific degree courses that prepare students to be leaders in growing small to medium enterprises – in providing advice to new entrants, and in taking up managerial roles in small business.
We also need to have more graduates in areas such as construction management – just to name one – that are relevant to the future needs of our nation and our economy. The other aspect of tertiary education we must address is mature-age students, As our society changes we need to offer older citizens who did not have the opportunity to attend university – and even those who did but wish to pursue new professional or study areas – the chance to return to university. They will probably need to be either fee paying or part time students – but university education must not be the preserve of the young. It needs to be available to mature age students as well. And it also needs to be available for up skilling and re-education. In summary, there can be no question tertiary education is a key to our future.
There are going to be numerous challenges, and obstacles, to enabling our universities play their part in growing our economy, in lifting national participation, and in maintaining the highest professional and ethical standards.
If we are to be an “aspirational” nation, with “aspirational” citizens, and especially young citizens, education must be at the forefront. That is the goal of my government. It is a goal I hope you embrace, and will work with us to achieve.
*****PM O'NEILL PUBLIC LECTURE UNIVERSITY OF PAPUA NEW GUINEA 30TH JULY 2013*****
Political stability and enhancing opportunity:
As we lift school attendances, and rebuild our tertiary education – and grow trade and vocational training – we simply must provide graduates, at all levels, with greater opportunity to participate in our economy.
That simply means – jobs, jobs and more jobs! The government must play a part in delivering jobs, but we cannot do it on our own. What the government can do, and will do, is deliver the right “environment” for job growth and for small to medium enterprise growth in particular. There are two key factors the government is focussing on. The first is political stability. Every major enterprise, every major investor, and even small business and professions, want political stability – and certainty. We are delivering a level of political stability and certainty without precedent in our history. The amendments to the Constitution now before the National Parliament will strengthen that even further. The second factor that will maximise opportunity for jobs growth is sound fiscal management, in a strong economy. We are committed absolutely to sound fiscal management.
We are cutting wasteful spending – and we are focussing on delivering basic services our people deserve.
That is principally being done through the decentralisation of service delivery – with provinces and districts now being directly funded and empowered to deliver services to their own communities. In time, government will be much more efficient – and that will benefit our people.
The other issue we must address when it comes to political stability and the right environment for growth is reducing corruption. We will introduce legislation in the coming sessions of the Parliament to establish an Independent Anti-Corruption Commission. It will fight corruption by increasing detection, and improving prosecution. It will be well resourced – and modelled on successful agencies in other countries in our region.
*****PM O'NEILL PUBLIC LECTURE UNIVERSITY OF PAPUA NEW GUINEA 30TH JULY 2013*****
Regional leadership and responsibility:
My final comments today concern an issue I know you want me to comment on! Our agreement with Australia for greater regional processing of asylum seekers, and possible resettlement, has attracted wide comment, and of course criticism. I want to very briefly summarise why wehave entered into the agreement. I am happy to see debate and discussion on it – and constructive criticism. I believe there are three basic reasons why we are taking up a major role in meeting the enormous challenges posed by people smuggling, and illegal border crossing,
The first, and most basic and immediate, is that our closest neighbour, and our best friend, Australia, has a serious problem – and needs help in addressing it. Whenever we have had a serious problem – such as a natural disaster – Australia has been first to come to our aid. We need to be prepared to reciprocate!
That underpins our readiness to help deal with the massive upsurge in illegal arrivals.
We did so in the government of my distinguished predecessor, when John Howard was Prime Minister of Australia and sought our help. The agreement to expand Manus, and establish a resettlement program for genuine asylum seekers, is an extension of the agreement entered into with the former government of Australia.
Secondly, we are a member of the global community, and our own regional community, and we must be prepared to do some of the “heavy lifting” when it comes to global and regional issues.
People smuggling, and illegal border crossing, are growing international and regional issues.
We should be prepared to help our neighbours – such as Australia and Indonesia – confront these challenges.
We are the largest Pacific island nation. We need to show leadership – and through the regional assessment and settlement program we have agreed to with Australia we are doing so.
We also need to be mindful if the need to be vigilant when it comes to the threat of terrorism in our region. That means we must maintain ourselves, and assist our neighbours in maintaining, strong and effective border security. We have been spared the devastating impact of terrorism – but we must never be complacent. The agreement we have reached not just helps protect Australia’s borders, it helps protect our own borders. There is one final reason why we have undertaken to play a greater role in challenging the people smugglers, and the real danger their activities pose for asylum seekers. And that is simply this – we are a Christian nation.
Our Christianity surely requires we exercise compassion – and exercising compassion surely means discouraging the evil practice of people smuggling. Hundreds of asylum seekers have drowned because the people smugglers are only interested in their money – not their welfare and their safety. We have the capacity to develop the Manus centre for the processing of asylum seekers – and in developing that capacity we are helping to challenge people smuggling in a direct way. I believe our essential decency, and our Christian charity, which will be evidenced through this program, will be broadly supported in the community. This project is not without massive challenges. We know that.
But we need to display regional leadership, and a sense of compassion – that is based on our Christian commitment and teaching.
****PM O’NEILL RECEIVES BLESSINGS FROM FORMER PRIME MINISTERS. July 31st 2013*****
For the first time in the Papua New Guinea’s contemporary political history, four founding Primes Ministers of this great nation have bestowed their wisdom and blessings on the current sitting Prime Minster, Peter O’Neill to lead PNG into the new era.
This historical event took place during a ground-breaking ceremony of a new Western Highlands Provincial building (Kapal Haus) in Mt Hagen and launching of various infrastructure projects in Dei district over the weekend.
East Sepik Governor, Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare, New Ireland Governor, Sir Julius Chan, Western Highlands Governor, Pias Wingti and former East New Britain Governor Sir Rabbie Namaliu – all former PNG Prime Ministers have publicly declared that they will support PM O’Neill during his term in office.
Father of PNG, Sir Michael Somare said he worked hard with his fellow politicians to develop this nation, now the time was right for young and vibrant Prime Ministers in the likes of O’Neill to continue from where they have left off.
“We are here to show our support to PM O’Neill so that he can continue what we have started. “It is now time for us to show political maturity through unity to provide the needs of our people and not to continue playing politics. Time to play politics is over and I want to assure you all that we the former Prime Ministers pledge our support to PM O’Neill so that together we can move this country forward.
“When I first became Prime Minister, we had only few educated elites to contribute to the development of the country. Now, many of our young ones together with experienced PNGans are committing themselves to serving this country and its people.
“It is now time for us the old ones to give mandate to the young politicians to lead us forward”, Sir Michael said.
After witnessing the ground-breaking ceremony of the new Kapal Haus on Friday (26/07/13), the delegation travelled to Kagamuga for the Somare Cup Golf Tee Off officiated by Sir Michael. They later travelled to Dei District at the invitation of local MP, Wesley Nukundi.
In Dei, Sir Michael performed the ground-breaking ceremony of the new Nunga High School while Sir Julius performed the grounding breaking ceremony for a new Kotna Hospital. PM O’Neill performed the ground-breaking ceremony of the new Kenembo High School, where he assured the people that with the support from the former Prime Ministers, the Government was ready to deliver to the people. Mr O’Neill thanked the former Prime Ministers for their support and assured them of the government’s desire to work closely with them.