Tomorrow I leave Australia to visit Papua New Guinea (PNG) and Solomon Islands. This will be my first visit to PNG as Minister for Defence, and my second to the Solomon Islands as Minister for Defence.
I will be accompanied to PNG and Solomon Islands by the Secretary of the Department of Defence Mr Duncan Lewis and Chief of Army Lieutenant General David Morrison.
I will attend the Anzac Day Dawn Service at Bomana War Cemetery in Port Moresby. This year marks the 70th Anniversary of the World War Two campaigns in PNG: the Battle of Milne Bay, the Kokoda Campaign, and the Battle for the Beachheads at Buna, Gona and Sanananda.
On Anzac Day we remember the original Anzacs who died on 25 April 1915. We also remember more than 102,000 Australian service men and women who have served and died in wars, conflicts, peacekeeping, disaster relief and humanitarian assistance missions.
While in PNG, I will discuss Australia’s Defence Cooperation Program with PNG and Australian assistance to PNG’s upcoming election.
Australiais committed to assisting PNG with its election effort. Australia will provide PNG with aviation support to transport personnel, ballot boxes and material to remote regions of the country. This assistance complements support being provided by Australian Government agencies, including AusAID, the Australian Electoral Commission and the Australian Federal Police.
I will travel to Solomon Islands on Anzac Day to meet with Australian Defence Force personnel serving in the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI). Currently, 84 Australian soldiers are serving with RAMSI alongside soldiers from New Zealand,Tonga and PNG.
Since 2003, the Australian-led RAMSI has assisted the Solomon Islands in the maintenance of security, law and justice, economic governance and improving the machinery of government.
Australians appreciate the Australian Defence Force’s continued professional contribution to maintaining law and order in Solomon Islands. I look forward to meeting with them on Anzac Day to thank them for their outstanding service to our nation.
In Solomon Islands I will also discuss RAMSI’s continuing success andAustralia’s future cooperation withSolomon Islands.
Mr Smith - Ellen Shields: 0400 347 473
Defence Media Operations: (02) 6127 1999