Trip ‘hardly a holiday’

Main Stories, National

The National, Tuesday October 22nd, 2013

 PRIME Minister Peter O’Neill has defended his visit to Israel last week with a government delegation, saying it generated many positive outcomes for the nation.

He was responding to comments by Opposition Leader Belden Namah who criticised the trip by the government delegation to the Holy Land.  

O’Neill said Namah lacked vision for the country and did not deserve to be taken seriously by the people. He branded his criticism as “nothing more than hot air”.  

“PNG needs to be actively involved in establishing relationship with other nations so that their citizens and businesses can confidently make investments in our country,” O’Neill said in a statement. 

“We need to strengthen this relationship because of our country and our peoples’ strong religious commitment to Israel and its biblical sites.

“It took us a total of four days to travel. And three working days in Israel is hardly a holiday.”

O’Neill said the trip was at the invitation of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and as a result, PNG had an excellent chance of strengthening its defence and security capabilities. 

He said PNG had a lot to learn from Israel’s vast experience in areas such as agriculture where they are able to yield better produce from challenging environment such as unsuitable land.

“In terms of surveillance, PNG can use Israeli technology to protect our vast natural resources like fisheries where illegal fishing is depriving us of receiving adequate revenue.”

O’Neill said Namah’s call for the prime minister and other ministers to step aside while investigations and court cases were ongoing was a clear disrespect for the agencies of government carrying out 

this work.

“Since Namah raised the issue in parliament about the legal fees, investigations are being conducted and prosecuted by Task Force Sweep and other government agencies,” he said. 

“Namah’s interference has the potential to harm these works and therefore he should allow them to do their work.”