Former MP backs asylum seeker deal

National, Normal

The National, Tuesday August 6th, 2013


FORMER Lae MP Bart Philemon has thrown his support behind the signing of the new asylum seekers deal with Australia and praises Peter O’Neill’s leadership.

He said the country had huge domestic and international debts and needed the Regional Resettlement Agreement between Australia and PNG to fix what previous governments had failed to do.

Speaking in Lae last Friday, the former finance minister who served under Sir Michael Somare for 14 years, described O’Neill as a better prime minister than Sir Michael because of how he handled the asylum seeker issue in the region.

“I fought with Sir Michael Somare to understand that we have to move forward and O’Neill is a much better prime minister to understand these issues than Sir Michael and other prime ministers before him,” Philemon said. 

“I support O’Neill more than Somare. O’Neill is a new generation prime minister, he’ll understand this issue much better than Sir Michael.

“O’Neill can’t do it with the K13 billion budget. 

“He needs a little bit more to make sure that universities, hospitals and roads are fixed up. All those things we haven’t done in the last 40 years.”

He said PNG was the second biggest country in the region in terms of population and third in terms of economy size and it should step up in its leadership and assistance in the region to repay what Australia and other developed nations had done for PNG.