By GYNNIE KERO
OPPOSITION Leader Belden Namah has questioned the proposed visit by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison to Port Moresby next week, calling it “highly suspicious”.
“It is bad diplomacy and is tantamount to an attempt to influence PNG’s political process,” Namah said.
“The visit should be deferred until the motion of no confidence (against Prime Minister James Marape) has been tabled and the process of electing a new prime minister is completed.”
“There is no doubt that Morrison will be announcing additional loans and cash aid for the Marape government and this should not be tolerated by the people of either country.
“There are other matters that Morrison should consider before he comes to Port Moresby with cash and candy to support Marape’s political survival.”
In response last night, Marape questioned Namah on why he was absent from Parliament yesterday during the unanimous passing as law of the Independent Commission Against Corruption Bill.
“The Government with 80 MPs and Opposition with 16 MPs came together as one to support one of the most important laws ever in the history of our country,” Marape said.
“Namah, however, (was absent) on the day, which shows that he supports corruption. He sticks out like a sore thumb.”
He rubbished Namah’s threat of a motion of no confidence as “trivial”.
Parliament is in session with the 2021 National Budget to be tabled on Tuesday.
Morrison, in a statement, said he would be in Port Moresby next week after a visit to Japan.
“I will hold important meetings with two of Australia’s closest friends in Tokyo on Nov 17-18 and Port Moresby on Nov 18-19,” he said.
He plans to discuss with “my friend” Marape “our many shared regional and global objectives, ahead of a formal bilateral visit I hope to make next year”.
“Australia, Japan and PNG have managed the coronavirus incredibly well and I am confident the precautions in place during this travel will minimise the risk of the Covid-19 transmission,” he said.
“I will be strictly following health advice and quarantine requirements as will officials accompanying me, RAAF attendants and pilots, and media.”
Namah said Morrison had given A$400 million (K1bil) to PNG which was used to fund the district services improvement programme (DSIP), a programme the Australian Government had long opposed.
“I am told this funding was further tainted as it was paid by Export Financing Australia, which was deemed as inappropriate by the Australian Treasury,” Namah said.
Namah said the legality of the funding and its usage should be investigated by authorities in PNG and Australia.
Namah said Morrison should note the use of Australian taxpayer money to pay “Marape’s cronies” to develop a Covid-19 miracle cure.