The National, Tuesday 21st May 2013
AUSTRALIA’S parliamentary defence secretary Senator David Feeney is in the country to discuss developments in the Australia-Papua New Guinea defence relationship.
This includes the recent signing of a defence cooperation arrangement by the Prime Ministers Peter O’Neill and Julia Gillard.
Feeney arrived for his four-day visit yesterday and will meet government ministers and senior officials.
The arrangement provides for an enhanced Defence Cooperation Programme to strengthen the defence relationship by deepening practical cooperation.
Australia’s defence cooperation programme with PNG is the biggest, with the commitment for 2012-13 at A$ 19.5 million (about K42 million).
The recently released Australian federal budget indicates that it will grow to A$27 million (K58 million) for 2013-14.
Australia supports the PNGDF maritime and air transport capability, conducts infrastructure improvements for PNGDF barracks in the country and provides extensive training for defence personnel in both countries.
Head of Australia’s defence staff Col Dick Parker said: “This week’s visit provides an excellent opportunity for Australia to reaffirm its long-standing commitment to Papua New Guinea and in particular its defence force.
“Senator Feeney’s visit comes at an opportune time with the recent release of Australia’s Defence White Paper and the continuing increase in our defence cooperation programme.”
Feeney will also walk the Kokoda Track from Ower’s Corner to Goldie River.