Envoy stoked with PNG-Aust ties

Main Stories, National

The National, Wednesday 10th April, 2013


AUSTRALIAN High Commissioner to Papua New Guinea Deborah Stokes says there is a special relationship between both countries, despite growing Asian influence in PNG.

She said this when accompanying four Australian parliamentarians on a tour of Curtain Brothers’ PNG Dockyard on Motukea Island outside Port Moresby yesterday.

“We (Australia) believe PNG should develop as many relations and develop economic ties widely,” she told The National.

“Australia and PNG have a special relationship built on history.

“Not only history, but we have a lot of common values.

“We’re well positioned in terms of our relationship to build a strong relationship for the 21st century.”

The Australian MPs are Sharon Grieson (Federal Member for Newcastle, NSW), Jane Prentice (Federal Member for Ryan (Queensland), Mike Symon (Federal Member for Deakin, Victoria), and Senator Ian MacDonald (representing Queensland in the Federal Parliament).

MacDonald said the visit by the Australian delegation was very important for relationships between the two countries.

“It’s a parliamentary exchange with PNG parliamentarians,” he told The National.

“It’s very important because PNG is our focus.

“It’s a country with which we have a very strong history, and right now, PNG is a very important player in the world and we want to build our relationship with PNG.

“I’ve been very concerned for some time now that we haven’t paid enough attention to PNG and the Western Pacific.

“I’m very pleased that our prime minister (Julia Gillard) is eventually going to come here (before September Australian elections).

“For whoever wins the elections in September, PNG and Western Pacific will figure quite prominently.”

MacDonald said the relationship between Queensland and PNG was very special.

“I often say, when I’m in PNG, that where I live in Townsville in Queensland, I live closer to the PNG capital than I live to the Australian capital,” he said.

“We have a lot in common between Cairns, Townsville, and PNG.

“We want to build a special relationship there as well.”

The Australia delegation arrived in the country on Monday and will be here until Saturday, visiting Port Moresby and Lae.

The members have visited parliament, the LNG project, talked to Treasurer Don Polye, and will talk to other ministers and visit other places during the course of the week.