Australia’s Feeney to start four-day PNG visit

National, Normal

The National, Monday 20th May 2013

 THE Australian parliamentary secretary for defence, David Feeney, will begin a four-day visit to Papua New Guinea starting today. 

It will be his fourth to PNG as parliamentary secretary for defence, and continues his long affiliation with the country.

“On the visit, Feeney would meet with PNG Government ministers and senior officials to discuss recent developments in the Australia-Papua New Guinea defence relationship,” the Australian High Commission said in a statement.

“This includes the recent signing of a defence cooperation arrangement by prime ministers Peter O’Neill and Julia Gillard. 

“This arrangement provides for an enhanced defence cooperation programme (DCP) to further strengthen the defence relationship by deepening practical cooperation.”

The DCP with PNG is Australia’s biggest, with a commitment for A$19.5 million (almost K42 million) for 2013-14.

The recently released Australian federal budget indicates the DCP will grow to A$27 million (K58 million) for financial year 2013-14.

Through the programme, Australia supports PNG Defence Force (PNGDF) maritime and air transport capability, conducts infrastructure improvements for PNGDF barracks across the country, and provides extensive training for PNGDF and Department of Defence personnel in Papua New Guinea and Australia.

Head of Australia 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. 

“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.” 

As part of his visit, Feeney would also walk the start of the Kokoda Track from Ower’s Corner to Goldie River.