AUSTRALIA says it is fully committed to a strong relationship with its Pacific neighbours, but its prime minister Kevin Rudd is yet to appoint a parliamentary secretary for Pacific island affairs, three months after Duncan Kerr resigned.
An Australian department of foreign affairs and trade spokesman told The National yesterday that “no decision has been made regarding the future of the position”.
Reports in the Canberra Times had said Papua New Guinea was concerned about this vacancy.
It said Australia’s closest neighbour was concerned that Mr Rudd appears in no hurry to fill the vacancy created by the departure three months ago of his parliamentary secretary for Pacific island affairs, Mr Kerr, who resigned in October.
The newspaper went on to say PNG high commissioner to Canberra, Charles Lepani, said Mr Kerr was “enthusiastic and energetic” in the role and his appointment two years ago heralded a “refreshing new chapter” in Australia’s relationship with its Pacific neighbours.