PM RUDD: Good morning ladies and gentleman and it’s a pleasure to have here in
We have had a good meeting this morning about the future of the Australia-PNG relationship. This is a relationship rich in history and a relationship with a rich future because what we do together is important not just for our two peoples but also important for the wider Pacific region.
Reflecting on our past, it’s been our privilege just now to meet with veterans of the Second World War. Veterans who are great Diggers from
We are equally honoured to have with us today two representatives of the Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels and all of us in
The Chief and I also discussed today our new Pacific Development Partnership. This is a new framework for development cooperation between
And one of the indicators that we’ve agreed to frame within our Pacific Partnership for Development for
The Chief and I also discussed today the importance of our wider region, the Pacific Island Forum and within it of course recent developments in
What is necessary is this - that the declaration that we arrived at conjointly in
Therefore, two important milestones lie ahead of us. One is
The second of course lies in
Finally the Chief and I also discussed something which is near and dear to the hearts of his own people and ours, which is the great game of rugby league. And what can be done further to develop the code in
The broad concept is this, how do we working together, the Government of Papua New Guinea, the Government of Australia, develop a genuinely comprehensive national competition across PNG, with proper coaching, with proper support for players and teams. And secondly how do we better integrate the PNG competition long-term within the activities of the Queensland Rugby League, the Australian Rugby League and the NRL. This of course also goes to the adequacy of major facilities within
And our idea is this, and we want to do some work on this to reach conclusion at the Ministerial Forum in June, is if we develop effectively rugby league nation-wide in
then we believe we can achieve great results.
For example, if participation in this new, elevated, national rugby league competition and the training programs associated for kids in their villages across
Chief, this has been a good discussion. We appreciate very much the work which we undertake together within the South Pacific and I would acknowledge your continuing leadership across the region, particularly in dealing with difficult questions like
PM SOMARE: Thank-you Prime Minister. I have only a few comments to make. All I want to say first is it’s always, every year, we always renew our acquaintances between
In terms of our trade relations and all, we have discussed these issues between the two of us. There is a lot of good will and good understanding between
We are now trying to divert ourselves in trying to make sure that you know, we, with our technical assistance program, we talked about education earlier on this morning and education, we just want to place more emphasis on primary and secondary education and of course up to tertiary education. I think that’s an area where we have an understanding now and I’m sure that the Ministerial Forum in June when it meets will come to some of the final conclusions of our understanding and MOU to reach an agreement on.
Also on the other aspects of (inaudible) like sports, we’re putting more emphasis now on our sports, particularly rugby. Australian Government, Australian people have been taking great interest and of course most of us in those days are going to school, a lot of them who came down to
PM RUDD: It still exists.
PM SOMARE: It still exists? Okay, right.
PM RUDD: And it’s spread.
PM SOMARE: And it’s spreading and I think with our sports in PNG, we are taking a great interest, which we, we are also preparing our people for, we will be having a South Pacific Games soon. We’ve asked for 2015 for South Pacific Games to be held in
And I’d like it in schools, I think it’s lacking. I remember in my old days every school that we go to had sport as a very important part of the curriculum and going back to reviewing our primary education curriculum, I think athletics is very important.
Discipline is one thing in our schools. We have to make young people adhere to the rules in schools. Some of our schools are now getting a little bit out of hand. Maybe not enough discipline but I think we manage it, we’ve managed and a lot of our young people are now in schools and in university, some leaving and going to find their jobs elsewhere.
In other fronts like, I’m very proud of the fact that we could, I could be here to witness the recognition of the effort by our Fuzzy Wuzzies, and Australian Government that’s now decided and we’ll be hoping the medals sometime this week for veterans’ medal, to be worn by our people.
Our people take great pride in the support they’ve given and we are very thankful that you know, our arrangements in our cooperation, we’ve also taken into account the, particularly the Kokoda Track, and the development along the track for people who reside in the area.
I also want to express our sympathies for those who took part and I think recently, I think two weeks ago, about a week ago, we had two people (die). It’s hard exercise and I think a lot of people need exercise and when you walk our mountains, can be very steep.
You feel the experience of how veterans like this, two gentlemen sitting in front of us here, have walked the hills of
And I think this great effort by these men, supported by our people, I’m very thankful that
On the other matter like
All the Pacific leaders are not very happy with the outcome of what has happened in
But I think the exercise they’ve taken recently, particularly the suspension of the Constitution and dismissal of the judges, leaves no room for others because what’s in
So we are disappointed, but I’m hoping that there’s still room for them to reconsider. But I think Forum has taken the stand, the Forum gave an ultimatum that if
I think the majority, most Forum members have taken that stand, apart from two or three leaders have some reservation about the suspension of
So with Fiji, as I said you know my view has been that I’ve been giving, and the Australian Government, particularly the Australian Prime Minister - Kevin has been very flexible because of my demands for what I think we could reach the decision on Fiji, and so is the new Prime Minister of New Zealand and then Prime Minister Helen Clark. They have always been flexible, particularly when I made an appeal to give an opportunity to
They’ve all bent over backwards. We have bent over backwards. I have. I’ve tried my best, but they’ve decided to suspend the Constitution, which is not in the books of those who like to profess democracy in their respective countries. So with Fiji that’s something that Fiji themselves will have to decide and let the Forum, but the Forum has made its mind and the Forum will now be looking at next Forum meeting what would happen to Fiji. That’s on the question of
On the media, on the media front, I think I believe that the media was, our media’s always, Australian media everywhere in
You have to have some responsibility when you are writing or when you are criticising certain countries. Of course on the very tense issues, you must be a little bit cautious, because sometimes people are people and they retaliate in their own way. And that’s what
And I always say this, someone with a gun in his hand, a rifle in his hand, it’s very difficult for him to decide that’s his fighting weapon. The Fijian Prime Minister has used that and got rid of the press. We’re not very happy with what has happened.
I get it all the time in
I sympathise with him because they don’t understand a lot of these things. So I just forgive them for their wrongdoings, for what they write about me, because they don’t even know me. They think they know but they don’t. So with the press, that’s my view on press in
So all I want to say is thank-you very much Prime Minister Kevin Rudd for inviting me to come down and work, I mean be with you today and wonderful hospitality that you’ve extended to me yesterday and today.
And I’ll be also travelling to
So I’ve been invited to do that so, thankful that your hospitality has been extended to me and my delegation, and
PM RUDD: Thanks very much Chief and before we take two questions a side, I should also acknowledge as I did at the time in the Australian Parliament, the contribution which was made by the Government of Papua New Guinea to the victims of natural disasters in Australia, for which I’d again publicly like to acknowledge my thanks.
JOURNALIST: Colin Barnett, the only Liberal leader in power, has made the bold promise to never preside over a Budget deficit. As the Labor Prime Minister, can you tell Australians today when you plan to bring the Federal Budget back into surplus, and how you plan to do it?
And secondly, can I ask what was the intention of sending Mike Pezzullo to
PM RUDD: On the first question concerning public finance, all governments around
You’ve already seen the write-down in Australian Government revenues which came off the back of the impact of the recession so far. You’ve seen what Access has had to say further about that today.
And therefore, given the collapse in government revenues, it follows as a matter of course that to offset the collapse in government tax revenues that you, as a responsible government, have to engage in temporary deficit and temporary borrowings.
On the question of Liberal governments and the Liberal Party more broadly, could I say this. It’s time for Malcolm Turnbull to get fair dinkum about his own $177 billion deficit and debt strategy, which when he is pressed he admits to, and then in the next moment, seeks to attack temporary deficit and temporary borrowing on the part of the Government.
Will the real Malcolm Turnbull stand up on deficit and debt.
On the second question that you raised which concerns the Government White Paper, I can only assume that government officials are visiting a range of capitals to discuss elements of our thinking and I presume elements of our wider foreign policy context.
On the detailed travel arrangements of the gentleman you refer to, I would need to take further advice as to where he’s travelling and for what particular purpose in particular. But can I just say it is probably normal to speak to a range of countries within the region and our allies about any thinking that we have in relation to the long term trajectory of our defence planning.
Now next question.
JOURNALIST: On the flu epidemic, airports throughout the region are equipped with these thermal scanners. Why don’t we have them and do we have any plans to introduce them, and also on that, will there be a national distribution of face masks? What’s our approach to dealing with the crisis and do you think we can avoid it?
PM RUDD: This is a serious international concern for public health and therefore we share that concern with other Governments around the world, which is why the Australian Health Protection Committee has been actively monitoring developments around the world and providing the Australian Government with advice as to the necessary sequence of actions to take here.
First of all, in terms of public awareness, you would be familiar with the establishment of the relevant swine influenza hotline, and the associated Health Department website. That is an important piece of public information about the nature of swine influenza.
Secondly, as of midnight last night, all planes landing from the
On top of that, as you may be aware, the Australian Government for some time has been stockpiling anti viral drugs. We have one of the largest per capita stockpiles of these drugs in the world and that has been put in place against any such contingencies for the future and of course that will be drawn upon, based on the advice of the relevant Australian Health Protection Committee.
Furthermore, the Chief Medical Officer with whom I have been speaking over the course of the weekend and the Health Minister will be briefing cabinet today on the current status of the swine influenza crisis around the world.
I notice also, I would note also that the World Health Organisation overnight raised its influenza pandemic alert from Level Three to Level Four.
So this is an evolving threat. We base our actions on the expert advice of the Australian Health Protection Committee. The Commonwealth Medical Officer, the Chief Commonwealth Medical Officer will be briefing the Cabinet today on actions taken to date and whatever further actions will be necessary.
This is a serious matter. The Government takes it seriously. All necessary resources will be deployed to meet the threat, calibrated to how it unfolds.
Next question – do we have questions from the
JOURNALIST: (inaudible) what are some of the likely tough measures you will take against
PM RUDD: Well the decisions that we took in
The communiqué issued in
That was a decision taken, taken unanimously in
What the Fijian Military Government decided to do was exactly the reverse. The wholesale assault on the constitutional integrity of the Fijian state by the suspension of the constitution, the wholesale assault on press freedom by the wanton acts against journalists, both print and electronic, in Fiji and furthermore, the assault on the independence of the judiciary.
Let us be clear about this. In the history of the Pacific Island Forum - I stand to be corrected on this chief, you have been around longer than I- but this has not happened with any other state before. This would be a first. The Pacific Island Forum has been around for a long time and we pride ourselves in one thing: we are a family of democracies. We have our problems, we have our challenges but we are a family of democracies.
And an important member of our family, through its military leader, has turned his back on the way in which this community of states chooses to organise its democratic affairs.
The second thing I referred to in my remarks before is what the Commonwealth now chooses to do. There is an important meeting of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group, from memory on the 15th of May.
Important decisions will need to be taken then about
Also, there is one further point, and that goes to the United Nations, over recruitment arrangements in relation to peace keeping forces which come from
Through our own interventions with the United Nations and supported by New Zealand and other countries, the United Nations now is not going to engage future or new Fijian troops for new operations.
There is a question which now arises, given the actions taken by
What is the common denominator with all these things? It is to send a clear cut message to the people of Fiji, the people of Fiji with whom we have had a wonderful relationship over so many decades, that the military Government which now presides over them is unacceptable because of what it has done to traverse, what it has done to traduce I should say, basic democratic principles.
Is there a further question from the
JOURNALIST: I have got a question for Mr Somare. As a witness to your country’s poverty, I know that there are children starving, scavenging the streets for food, living out of cardboard boxes. Can you guarantee Australians that every cent of their $300 million is going where it needs to? And Mr Rudd are you 100 per cent satisfied that $300 million is being well spent and that
PM SOMARE: We have of course people in the streets of Port Moresby, the streets of Lae who don’t have, who don’t reside in their villages, come and of course their parents may be looking for work and you find that there are (inaudible)
You find, if you compare
When one village is poor, the other village helps. In
We have catered for all our provinces and our districts. We, when we allocate the budget, it’s first time in the history of Papua New Guinea since I know Papua New Guinea from the beginning, it is the first time we have allocated amount of almost 980 million kina to concentrate on the districts, improvement of village, farming, infrastructure development, education and health.
Most people, most people live in the villages. What you see in
We don’t have circumstances like this in Papua New Guinea, and I can assure you, what you have seen, what you probably have seen in Moresby are kids who did not have places in schools, maybe because of the expansion of the population, influx of more people coming in, looking for opportunities in Port Moresby, could not get chance for them to provide food.
But everywhere in
And I don’t think anyone in
But I just want to give you assurance that
PM RUDD: I think when I became Prime Minister, in relation to Governments across the South Pacific, I was not happy with the then framework of official development assistance relationships.
I believe we need to anchor our official development assistance relationships in the Millennium Development goals. And the reason for that is that they are measurable, absolutely clean cut measurable. As you know there are eight of them, and a number of them go to specific measure on health outcomes and education outcomes and maternal health outcomes for the people.
The reason for the Pacific Development Partnerships is to anchor these within the new structure of our official development assistance relationship, and for it to be subject to mutual measurement and monitoring over time.
What the Chief and I agreed to today among other things is that at the Ministerial Forum in June, five implementation schedules for the Pacific Development Partnership of Papua New Guinea will be agreed. And these go across the core components of the Millennium Development Goals.
Furthermore, what the Chief and I discussed this morning was problems in the historical aid delivery into Papua New Guinea whereby too much money has been consumed by consultants and not enough money was actually delivered to essential assistance in teaching, in infrastructure, in health services on the ground, in the villages, across Papua New Guinea.
I am in the business of making a difference on the ground. I am in the business of making a difference to the measures which are attached to the Millennium Development Goals.
I am into the business of measurement. Measurement can be a very uncomfortable thing for us all over time, but it is the best way to hold us all accountable as to whether the measures that we are embracing have effect. And it is within that framework that we are not just simply renegotiating our development cooperation relationship with PNG, but are doing so progressively across each of the
And the reason for doing so, to return to where I began my answer to your question, is because I wasn’t happy with the way in which those relationships were structured at the beginning, particularly on measurement, particularly measurement on poverty, particularly measurement on infant mortality.
Thanks very much.