Papua New Guinea has accepted a request from Australia’s government to open a consulate in PNG’s second biggest city of Lae.
This was one of the outcomes of last week’s meeting between Australia’s prime minister Malcolm Turnbull and his PNG counterpart Peter O’Neill in Canberra.
Mr O’Neill said Lae is the manufacturing hub of his nation, and is the road gateway to the highlands and other areas in the north.
As such, he said, there is great potential for increased investment from Australian businesses, and to increase the export of PNG agricultural products produced in the area.
The opening of a Lae consulate would help facilitate this.
Furthermore, instead of having to arrange visas in Port Moresby, Lae and Highlands-based businesses seeking to increase their engagement in Australia can go to the new consulate.
Among the range of issues that the two prime ministers discussed was the controversial Manus Island Regional Processing Centre.
The two leaders discussed progress in processing asylum seeker claims and the refugee resettlement programme, which has been slow and problematic.
Mr O’Neill last week admitted that the Manus centre had been damaging for PNG’s reputation, indicating that its long-term future was untenable.
He told the joint ministerial forum that his government couldn’t afford to resettle all those found to be refugees.
Mr O’Neill claims the centre has served its purpose, to stop people-smuggling and the loss of life at sea.
He told Australian media that some of those asylum seekers not found to be geniune refugees were unwilling to return to their homeland.
Source : Radio NZ