Today I will travel to Papua New Guinea for a four day visit to hold bilateral talks with Papua New Guinea Government Ministers and senior members of the Papua New Guinea security community. This is my fourth visit to Papua New Guinea as Parliamentary Secretary for Defence.
During my visit I will meet with Minister for Defence, Dr Fabian Pok, to discuss how Australia and Papua New Guinea can consolidate and build on our successes, as well as identify opportunities for enhanced future defence engagement. I will also confirm Australia’s commitment to the Pacific Maritime Security Program, which is designed to strengthen regional capability in maritime security and fisheries protection.
Australia and Papua New Guinea are longstanding and natural defence partners and our close bilateral defence relationship was strengthened recently with the signing of a Defence Cooperation Arrangement between Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and Prime Minister Julia Gillard. The signing of the Arrangement reflects the evolution of our bilateral defence relationship, and provides a practical set of principles to guide our future cooperation under the Defence Cooperation Program (DCP), our largest with any country. In the coming financial year, we will be spending approximately $7 million more than we have in the current year on our DCP with PNG, at about $27 million.
I will also call on Commander Papua New Guinea Defence Force, Brigadier General Francis Agwi, and Secretary of Defence Mr John Porti, to emphasise our continued support to the longstanding and mutually beneficial DCP. We will discuss the range of current and future security concerns facing our region, and examine avenues where our respective defence forces can work cooperatively and collaboratively to ensure the security of the Pacific.
As part of my visit, I will also walk a section of the Kokoda Track from Ower’s Corner to Goldie River in order to honour the Australians, Papua New Guineans and others who died during the Pacific Campaign of World War II.
Senator Feeney's office: Jeffrey von Drehnen 0477 348 476
Defence Media Operations (02) 6127 1999