Anthony Albanese delivers historic speech as Australia and PNG progress security pact

Australia and Papua New Guinea are set to strengthen security ties on the first day of Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s trip to the region.

Mr Albanese became the first foreign leader to address PNG’s parliament, pledging a new defence pact with Australia’s northern neighbour.

“Australia and Papua New Guinea have a chance to deepen our defence ties by enhancing our national security co-operation and achieving a swift conclusion to negotiations on a bilateral security treaty,” he said.

“A treaty that will underpin our work together to address PNG’s priority needs including law and order challenges, strengthening the justice system and rule of law and a treaty that builds on the family-first approach to regional security.”

Australia, the United States and other allies have been seeking a deal after China signed a security pact with the Solomon Islands.

“This can be a decisive decade for peace, prosperity, unity and security in the Indo-Pacific,” Mr Albanese said.

Mr Albanese received a ceremonial welcome as he touched down in Port Moresby on Thursday morning, becoming the first Australian leader to visit the country since 2018.

He was greeted by PNG’s deputy prime minister John Rosso on arrival, as well as foreign minister Justin Tkatchenko and Australian high commissioner Jon Philp.

Mr Albanese will give his PNG counterpart James Marape an Akubra Cattleman hat made in Kempsey when they hold bilateral talks later in the day.

Mr Tkatchenko said in an earlier interview the security treaty would enhance the capabilities of the PNG defence force.

“It’s all about making sure that our defence force and its infrastructure and its capabilities are able to meet modern-day standards and the situations that we face now in the region,” he told the ABC.

Pacific Minister Pat Conroy said the details of the treaty would ultimately set up the legal framework for greater security cooperation.

“That could include, hypothetically, allowing more visits by Australian naval vessels or Papua New Guinea naval vessels to Australia, it could include greater military cooperation in training,” he said.

PNG soldiers supported Australian communities during the bushfire crisis in 2020.

Mr Albanese said the two nations had a leadership role on climate change in the Pacific.

“There is not a moment to waste. It is up to our generation to protect the precious and unique natural environment of our rainforests, reefs and coasts,” he said.

“To build – and plan – our infrastructure so our communities are more resilient and better prepared for natural disasters.”

He also urged the region to continue pushing into clean energy technology and “grasp the transformative economic benefits”.

Australia provides $600 million in development assistance to PNG each year, with defence cooperation running at around $50 million, including the provision of four patrol boats.


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