‘We’re already black, rich’

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FORMER Prime Minister Peter O’Neill says that only strong and stable leadership, which he is willing to again provide, will move the country forward.
“We are black already. We are rich already. But we are very poor in leadership,” he told a campaign rally in Alotau, Milne Bay, yesterday.
“We need stable, strong leaders. That is why we are happy to come here.”
O’Neill was in Alotau yesterday to support candidates contesting the General Election 2022 (GE22) under the banner of the People’s National Congress party which he leads.
O’Neill, in his “black” and “rich” remark, seemed to be referring to statements repeated by Prime Minister James Marape about transforming PNG into the “richest black nation” on earth.
The two former political colleagues have been engaged in a war of words almost daily as the GE22 campaign enters its final two weeks.
Polling is scheduled to begin on July 4.
In the past weeks during his campaigns around the country, O’Neill had been highlighting the “huge mismatch between the country’s population and the failing economy”.
He explained that he resigned in 2019 as prime minister in the hope that “young leaders” would address the country’s problems.
But it did not eventuate. He said the economy had gone from bad to worse. It is why he said the country badly needed experienced leaders.
He said poor leadership had led to the collapsing health system, scarce job opportunities and lack of investor confidence in the country.
He also explained, in response to complaints of the loans he took out during his reign, that he invested all the money into “what the people needed”.
“Since 1975, until I took over the government, the national deficit budget stood at K8 billion,” he said.
“When I took over, I increased that to K20 billion. Most of the money was invested in infrastructure. I can name all those projects.
“Young ones (leaders) cannot look after the country.
“Investors cannot come in (to invest) because they have no confidence.
“Many young people are back in the villages (because there are) no jobs.
“That’s why I want old (experienced) people back.”
The PNC candidates in Milne Bay are Gordon Wesley (regional), Ricky Morris (Alotau Open), Douglas Tomuriesa ( Kiriwina-Goodenough), Davis Steven (Esa’ala) and Henry Larry (Samarai-Murua).

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