Saturday, June 27, 2015

PM O'Neill's speech delivered at MSG Leaders' Farewell Dinner - Mendana Hotel - June 25, 2015

Prime Minister of the Republic of Fiji, Frank Bainimarama,
The Chairman of FLNKS, Victor Tutugoro and, of course,
The Special Representative of the Prime Minister of Vanuatu.
Honorable Ministers of State,
Members of the Diplomatic Corp
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Firstly, let me take this opportunity to thank the Government of Solomon Islands for hosting this very important meeting for the Melanesian Spearhead Group Leaders.
It has been a successful meeting. One we feel is historic in nature. This is a region that is starting to capture some of the challenging issues Melanesian countries have had for many years. We are a group that thrives on potential and thrives on consultation, living as one Melanesian Community in the region.
But we have to be responsive to the issues that are brought up to the Leaders by our communities.
As a Melanesian Group, it is important that we hear what our communities are demanding.
Today's decision to include our Melanesian brothers and sisters from Indonesia is one that is very historic. We, hereby, welcome them to our Melanesian Family.
As everyone else in the region, we want the same things. We want peace, we want security and we want better standards of living for our families.
It is important as a region that we continue to work together in achieving goals that our people expect of us.
Papua New Guinea is achieving many of the security that it requires for the better standards of living for its people through many initiatives our government has been implementing over the last three and a half years.
Our government continues to grow on an average of 9% per annum over the last 14 years. That is enabling us to address many challenges like education, health and infrastructure development, with a given population rise, which I must frankly say, is quite challenging.
But, Papua New Guinea has been able to put an extra one million children to school over the last four years.
Papua New Guinea is expanding its health care to many remote communities throughout the country.
Papua New Guinea today is investing more in infrastructure than it has ever done in history – investing close to 30 per cent of its budget.
Papua New Guinea is putting close to 25 per cent of its budget into rural communities, directly to the districts throughout the country.
As a result of that, we are lifting the standards of living for our people. We are educating them, we are providing them with better health care and that is a desire, I know, all Melanesian countries in the region want.
We want the same for our brothers and sisters in the Melanesian provinces, across the border. That is why today's decision is an historic one, that we should be proud of, and I also want take the opportunity to thank the Indonesian Government for the strong support that they have given in some of the ways forward that we are seeking.
And, of course, we thank all the officials, who have worked tirelessly in ensuring that we come to an amicable arrangement.
This is just the start, where I know, more can be achieved by working together with many of our partners and, of course, many of our neighbors.
Finally, Papua New Guinea, is going to host some major regional events in the next few months and years.
We are going to host the Pacific Games, next month, and I expect to see each and every one of you in Papua New Guinea. We look forward to welcoming you. It is going to be a first-class Pacific sporting event.
We have also invested substantial funds into getting first-class infrastructure for you to enjoy.
We are also going to host the 46th Pacific Islands Forum Leaders' Meeting in September this year between 7th and 11th.
Please come and join us so that we can address the challenges we face as a region.
In 2018, we are going to host 50 per cent of the world's economic leaders, representing 22 countries in the Asia Pacific Economic Corporation (APEC), which will be held for the first time in the Pacific.
Again, we expect all the Pacific Island Leaders to come and join us so that we can together and voice our concerns of the Pacific to the rest of the global community, so that it can be heard.
Tomorrow, Papua New Guinea will be opening its Papua New Guinea Chancery here and we look forward to you joining us in that occasion also.
Once again, thank you very much to the Prime Minister of Solomon Islands and its leaders, its Cabinet, its government for hosting this very successful meeting and we look forward to seeing you all, next month, on July 4 and in September.

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