Statement by His Excellency, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade for the Independent State of Papua New Guinea, Hon. Rimbink Pato OBE MP.
The relationship between Papua New Guinea and Australia is “stronger than ever”, Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Rimbink Pato MP said following the recent ministerial forum between the two countries.
Minister Pato said the meeting, which he co-chaired with Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, concluded with the signing of two important Memoranda of Understanding.
“The first was an undertaking to establish a high speed undersea telecommunications cable between our two countries,” Minister Pato said.
“The second was in connection with cyber security, which has particular importance to the APEC meetings this year and in particular the summit in November, but also following that gathering.”
Minister Pato said the ministerial forum held in Brisbane on 6 April also agreed on “an excellent twinning arrangement” which will build a partnership between the two countries’ foreign affairs departments and enable staff to serve in the offices of their counterparts.
“As our good friend Minister Bishop pointed out during the meeting, the recent Australian Foreign Policy White Paper said supporting a stable and prosperous Papua New Guinea is one of Australia’s most important foreign policy objectives,” he said.
“That was reflected by the agreement reached on a big number of issues, ranging from enhanced cooperation in defence and security, APEC preparations, economics and development, climate change, and border management.”
Minister Pato paid tribute to the contributions of his ministerial colleagues who participated in the meeting—Defence Minister Solan Mirisim, Lands and Physical Planning Minister Justin Tkatchencko, Immigration and Border Security Minister Petrus Thomas, and Police Minister Jelta Wong.
“We worked as an effective and harmonious team,” he said.
“One of the key agreements is that Australia will provide biometrics systems to help travel between the two countries, something of real importance to Papua New Guineans.
“We also agreed to take measures to boost the number of PNG seasonal workers who will
go to work in Australia.”
Minister Pato said Australia also offered to help in a further boost of surveillance of illegal fishing. A patrol boat, the first of three provided by Australia, will be delivered to PNG in October.
Minister Pato said an agreement to include agricultural issues in the ministerial meeting next year was a very positive move.
“The outcome of this meeting, and the subsequent discussions between key business leaders and the ministers of both countries is bound to boost trade and investment. Measures taken to assist small and medium businesses will also be helpful to the economy.
“We greatly appreciated the expression of condolences by the Australian ministers to Papua New Guinea for the casualties and devastation caused the earthquakes and aftershocks, and their continuing offers of further assistance, which has already been extremely generous.”