Prime Minister Marape departs for a historic first address to Australian Parliament

Wednesday, 7 February 2024, 12:31 pm

Prime Minister James Marape and State ministers before his departure to Canberra, Australia this morning [NBC News]

Prime Minister James Marape departed the country this morning on a historic visit to address the Australian parliament for the first time.

Mr Marape speaking to media prior to his departure said the gist of his political speech would be to thank the Australian government for their continued support amongst other political agendas.

He said apart from the ministerial dialogues between the two countries, he will use this momentous occasion to acknowledge the political leaders of Australia for their contributions in the development and growth of Papua New Guinea over the years.

Mr Marape will meet his Australian counterpart Anthony Albanese to address the national parliament in Canberra tomorrow for the first time since independence.

“For Australia allowing the leadership of Papua New Guinea to address the parliament is a high honor to be stood to us 49 years on since our independence in 1975,” Marape said.

“I just want to assure our country, I'm not going down as James Marape rather I'm carrying the office of our people in Prime Minister's office to speak and address the Australian Parliament on behalf of the entire people of our country in respect to the PNG-Australia relationship.

“If I could give you a foretaste of my speech, it’s really more to do with thanking Australia for who they have been to us.

“You know, it's not always about asking. As I said, the point of reference with me and PM Albanese and ministers in our ministerial dialogue would be about trade, commerce, people to people relationship.

“Australia and Canberra knows very well our line of thought. We're just moving away from the aid and grant conversations. And so there is no greater moment than this for me to go down to Australia and thank them.”

Apart from the political delegation heading down with Mr Marape, he is also accompanied by two senior statesmen in Sir Namguka Mara and Sir Yano Belo, representing the class of Papua New Guineans who were part of the country’s birth.

Sir Namguka (first Premier) from Western Highlands represented the provincial government leaderships in the 1970s when PNG became independent, and Sir Yano (first public works minister) embodied the ministers who were administered from the transitional self-government pre-independence government to the post-independence 1975 government.

Mr Marape said the context of his visit is also along this line of conversation, recapping Australia's role in granting PNG independence.

“The two seniors are there also with us representing the group of Papua New Guineans who worked to build our independence,” Marape added.

“As I said, Papua New Guineans must not take our sovereignty for granted. It could have been a deferred independence. All you have to do is look around us for examples prevalent that some nations or some people have not been independent.

“Many parts of the planet, the colonizing flag, was pulled down, was torn down. Papua New Guinea, we had a very peaceful transition and it did not happen because of our might.

“It happened because the other side - Australian government, heard the pleas of the fathers and mothers of our country and they allowed for our independence and the process was supported.

“This sort of thing must not be taken for granted. Young Papua New Guineans must not forget where we came from.

Mr Marape said Australia has stuck with PNG throughout the years, providing necessary assistance in all development aspects and his visit to the highest office in Canberra is a great platform to outpour his speech of thanks.