By LULU MAGINDE
PRIME Minister James Marape says his trip to Australia was to pitch Papua New Guinea as a business destination to over 200 local business houses.
“For me, this was an Australia-PNG business council meeting; and as the leader of our country, I needed to channel new investments into our country our way coming out of the pandemic,” he said. Earlier this week, former prime minister and Ialibu-Pangia MP Peter O’Neill labelled Marape’s trip as junket and placing blame on him for killing off investor confidence.
Marape told The National that O’Neill was entitled to his opinions and that as a former prime minister, he knows whether trips were junkets or not.
“As far as I’m concerned, it was worth my time spent; I jumped on a commercial flight with my security and protocols and we went to sell the country as a safe place for continued investments,” he said.
O’Neill, in his statement, said: “Instead of attending this small get together for investors in Australia, Marape should have kept Porgera operating while it was a highly functioning mine, but instead his decision has cost thousands of jobs and K3.9 billion in lost income.
“Further adding that while the country suffers, Marape and his team had jet off to Australia to try to and undo the damage they had already done.
“The meeting in Brisbane is out of the reach of almost all Papua New Guinean owned businesses and the cost of each ticket is K5,521-plus, including the costs return flights and accommodation.”
Candidates nominate despite RO confusion
NINE candidates have nominated so far to contest the Hagen Open seat while the issue of its returning officer is yet to be resolved, an election official says.
This has caused the nominations for the seat to be collected by two different officers and at separate locations.
The appointment of the two returning officers, Willie Ropa and Amos Notifa, had initially caused confusion and consternation but candidates decided to nominate regardless.
Notifa accepted four nominations, including from the sitting MP and acting Prime Minister William Duma since May 19.
The candidates, who nominated along with Duma through Notifa were Peter Kara, Wan Kewa and Rumba Minimbi.
However, candidates Luke Mathew, James Puk and George Simon’s nominations were accepted by the provincial returning officer Joseph Mangbil on Tuesday.
Mathew and Puk confirmed that their nominations were accepted by Mangbil.
Notifa said the confusion came about because he and Ropa had applied and their names had appeared on the gazette.
He said there were only two bodies that could resolve the matter and they were the Electoral Commission and the courts.
Notifa said a court order had been put in place on May 12 allowing him to collect nominations for Hagen open while the matter was before the court.
“Therefore, candidates who wish to nominate can come forward,” he said.
Mangbil confirmed yesterday that he has accepted nominations for three candidates.
Candidate informs voters of key policies
CIVIL engineer Peter Nupiri says governance, law and order, health and education are amongst 10 of his key policies.
The 45-year-old is contesting the Southern Highlands regional seat as an independent candidate.
Nupiri spoke about his ambitions at a packed Momei Oval in Mendi yesterday.
Incumbent Ialibu-Pangia MP and People’s National Congress (PNC) party leader Peter O’Neill who was present to show support said he regretted endorsing incumbent Governor William Powi in the 2017.
O’Neill claimed that Powi did not do much for the province with millions of Kina in provincial service improvement programme funding over the years.
“I made a mistake thinking he was honourable and had good intentions, but I am making up for it with a team of quality candidates in 2022,” he said.
O’Neill said PNC has endorsed 97 candidates nationwide for this national election.
Former Nipa-Kutubu MP Philemon Embel is the party’s candidate for the Southern Highlands regional seat.
O’Neill noted that the province has around 450,000 young people under the age of 25, coupled with the fact that 21,400 babies being born each year.
“All these young people and their families deserve better leadership at the top; our provincial administration staff deserve better strategic leadership and we most desperately need to increase good governance to stop the riots that have been going on,” he said.
“We have been blessed in Southern Highlands with an abundance of natural gifts but we need a team that will take these blessing and turn them into better lives for our people with excellent service delivery.”