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PNG PM O’Neill Thanks Australia for APEC Security Partnership Looks to Expand Health Co-operation

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The Prime Minister Peter O'Neill has thanked Australia for its ongoing support to Papua New Guinea’s plans to host APEC in 2018, saying policing and Defence co-operation is an important part of APEC planning and ongoing security capacity building.
During a courtesy call by Australia’s High Commissioner to Papua New Guinea, H.E. Bruce Davis to the Prime Minister today in Port Moresby, a range of issues were discussed that also included the Manus Regional Processing Centre and programs to deal with health issues such as tuberculosis.
PM O’Neill further thanked Australia for maintaining its engagement through the Papua New Guinea-Australia Policing Partnership.
“There had been discussion that the policing partnership with the Australian Federal Police was a bout to be wound back, but this will not be the case.
“The contingent of 73 AFP will continue both in their current roles of helping to enhance RPNGC cavity, and in support of APEC planning.
“While we have seen challenges in the delivery of this program, we have also seen positive outcomes, particularly in areas such as police station arrest processing procedures.”
The Prime Minister said overall APEC logistics and policy development plans are progressing and on target to reach their completion dates, and high level focus will continue to be maintained on security efforts.
“Plans have advanced well so far to ensure that we have the right level of accommodation, that our venues will be ready and our road system working.
“Our biggest concern, as it is for any APEC meeting, is security.
“Every APEC year is a joint security operation between the Host and visiting countries, and our year will be no different.
“Threats to APEC meetings can come from a range of sources and, as APEC Host, we must be ready.
“APEC security requires a comprehensive package of elements covering land, air and sea, together with more modern considerations such as cyber security.
“Through 2018 Papua New Guinea will receive visitors from APEC’s 20 other member economies, from Pacific island nations, and other delegates from as far away as Europe.
“This includes Prime Ministers and Presidents, all with their very own security concerns.
“The heads from some of the largest companies in the world will also be in Port Moresby for the APEC CEO Summit in November.
“The path ahead to reach our objectives is long and challenging, but the timeframe to achieve this is short.
“Through our partnership with countries like Australia we are meeting our planning objectives.”
On other issues discussed during the courtesy call, the Prime Minister said plans to close the Manus Regional Processing Centre are ongoing.
“The Manus Centre has served its purpose in dealing with people smuggling, and now the court has given its directive and we are following that.”
The Prime Minister and High Commissioner further discussed current efforts to combat tuberculosis.
“TB is an ongoing concern, particularly in areas of Gulf and Western Province, and we will work with Australia on new initiatives.
“Importantly, our Government is looking at new measures that encourage people to complete their course of medication.
“Too often we hear of people who have not completed their full course of TB drugs, become multi-drug-resistant and in the end they have died.
“We cannot allow this to happen and we must help people to help themselves when it comes to completing their courses of TB medication.”

PNG Woman assumes Commonwealth Office

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Ms Winnie Kiap
The High Commissioner of Papua New Guinea to the United Kingdom, Ms Winnie Kiap, has made history, becoming the new Chair of the Commonwealth Secretariat Board of Governors.

She was unanimously elected by her fellow Board members and took up responsibilities yesterday.

Ms Kiap succeeds Ms Yamina Karitanyi, High Commissioner of Rwanda to the United Kingdom.

She will serve in this position for two years.

All 53 Commonwealth member states are represented on the Board of Governors, which meets annually to consider Commonwealth Secretariat work plans and budgets.

In welcoming Ms Kiap, the Commonwealth Secretary General, Patricia Scotland, described the event as a landmark moment as a woman succeeds another woman on the board.

Ms. Kiap will serve as chief executive of the Secretariat and first servant of the commonwealth.

Ms. Scotland says she looks forward to moving ahead with configuration of their work and adapting the Secretariat structure to deliver more efficiently and with greater impact for governments and the people of member states, including through the formulation of a new Strategic Plan.

Ms. Kiap, from Manus, was Secretary of the National Executive Council before being posted to London as High Commissioner to the United Kingdom in 2011.

She first started her civil service career with the Department of Trade and Industry, and also served as Director Corporate Services with the Investment Promotion Authority.

NBC News/ PNG Today

PM O’Neill Outlines Intent for APEC PNG Joint Security Task Force

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The Prime Minister,  Peter O’Neill  has announced a stepping-up of security preparedness and planning for APEC Papua New Guinea 2018 events that will begin with the Informal Senior Officials Meeting in December later this year.

As part of this, the Prime Minister  said the APEC Papua New Guinea Joint Security Task Force (JSTF) will increase planning for the APEC year, under the direction of the Commissioner for Police, as the Task Force Commander.

The Prime Minister said one of the most pressing issues before the JSTF is to enhance border security and he expects a high-level workshop will be convened by the JSFT in the coming weeks.
In highlighting the importance of APEC security, the Prime Minister has restated the Government’s intent for security operations in support of APEC.
“The safety and security of Leaders, Ministers, delegates, staff and members of the public is of primary importance to ensuring the successful delivery of Papua New Guinea’s APEC year,” the Prime Minister said.

“NEC has approved the establishment the APEC PNG Joint Security Task Force under the Command of the Commissioner of the RPNGC.
“Direction has been given to properly staff the JSTF, so that it can formalise planning and facilitate operational deployments in support of APEC events that will begin later this year.
“In providing civilian oversight of national security services, Cabinet has directed the JSTF to ensure the safety of all Leaders, Ministers, delegates, officials and members of the public for the duration of APEC meetings.

“These meetings formally begin with the informal Senior Officials’ Meetings in December 2017 through to the Leaders’ Summit in November 2018, but will have a pre-deployment operation to support the APEC Transportation Ministers’ Meeting in October.
“To provide this, the JSTF Commander has the task of fully standing-up the JSTF, its staff and assets, in order to plan for the engagement of all force elements. This involves agencies of State, working with our partner economies, to be operationally deployed from December 2017 to November 2018.
“The Commissioner of Police, as JSTF Commander, will now develop a JSTF staffing structure that will second officers of Papua New Guinea’s security agencies to the JSTF when they are required.
“The Commander of the JSFT is responsible for establishing planning, command and staffing, drawing on the resources that had been earlier identified by the Committee on Safety and Security, as the peak advisory body, to formailise immediate planning.
“In a constantly evolving global security environment, preparation for major international events has become increasingly complex and Papua New Guinea is ensuring planning is on track.”
To cover one of the important elements to APEC Security, the Prime Minister said a high-level Border Security workshop will be convened in the coming weeks.
"Under the JSTF, a Border Security Workshop will convene that will bring together relevant Government agencies to assess concerns and gaps, and set the way forward, not only for APEC but the longer-term border security of the nation,” the Prime Minister said.
"We have ongoing border security concerns that are being addressed, and we must increase the pace of these activities.
“Part of this includes enhancing the integrated processing of passenger information that is essential for the next step in facilitating the movement of passengers through our airports.
“But we also need better eyes-on people who enter our sovereign waters or seek to cross our land border.
“We already have very close working relationships with our immediate neighbours, Australia, Indonesia and the Solomon Islands, and we will increase this co-operation.
"We must also strengthen our geospatial surveillance capacity to enhance border security so we can detect and deal with threats to national and economic security.”

The Prime Minister said an essential part of APEC planning is that it will have an enduring legacy for many sectors that are important for the economy and national development.
The Border Security Workshop will include Customs, Immigration, Fisheries, Police, Defence, Justice, Foreign Affairs, and very importantly, the APEC PNG 2018 Joint Security Task Force.
The Prime Minister said the hosting of APEC provides an important opportunity to enhance security, but all reforms put in place ahead of APEC will have long-lasting impacts for decades to come.
“APEC is of high significance for our nation, and at the same time any reform that we deliver for APEC must last beyond November 2018 when we host APEC Leaders.
“These are reforms will not only keep Leaders and delegates safe during APEC, but will help ensure longer term security for Papua New Guinea.”
The Prime Minister has extended gratitude to members of the Committee on Safety and Security, that comprises State agencies, under the leadership of the PNGDF and the RPNGC, for its hard work and determination, in laying the foundations for the success of APEC Papua New Guinea 2018.

NEC to consider Comprehensive Highway Policy - Strong Penalties for individuals who block highways

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Highlands Highway Picture by David Swanson/IRIN
The Prime Minister, Hon. Peter O’Neill  has announced that Cabinet will consider a comprehensive policy to strengthen the national road network, with high attention provided to dealing with damage caused by extreme weather that is made worse by climate change.
PM O’Neill also issued a stern warning to individuals who might seek to profit from road closures and public inconvenience, or might seek to obstruct public officials, saying these actions will be dealt with through prison terms.

“Increasing extreme weather conditions, as well as years and years of neglect by many Governments in the past, as well as a lack of investment, has made our national highways vulnerable to disruption by landslips and flooding,” the Prime Minister said.
“The National Government is approaching this as an emergency case and will provide special intervention directed by Cabinet when it meets on Thursday this week.
“From Cabinet’s decision we intent to announce a comprehensive package to address these challenges and provide a long-term solution.

"Extreme weather is a fact of life today and is being made worse by climate change.
"The weather is beyond our control, but preparing for tropical storms and then responding when extreme weather strikes is something that is within our power.”
National Highways referred to by the Prime Minister include the Highland Highway, Sepik Highway, the Ramu-Madang Highway, Hiratano and Magi Highway, New Britain Highway, Boluminski Highway and the West Coast Highway in New Ireland Province.
The Prime Minister further warned that strict laws will be brought into force preventing people from obstructing access to highways.

“I am concerned about individuals blocking roads and demanding unnecessary compensation, and not allowing Government officials to attend to urgent work.
“This is causing serious public inconvenience, and we cannot afford to have individuals holding the public and the Government to ransom.
“The law clearly states that there is a forty-metre corridor for national highways, and this is public land that should not be obstructed.
“These corridors will now be strictly enforced through the introduction of laws with strong penalties.
“This includes long prison terms for individuals who knowingly abuse public property, and who prevent Government officials form discharging their duties. This is especially important during times of natural disasters.”
The Prime Minister said the necessary changes to enforce the forty-metre public space will be taken to Parliament when it meets in January.
PM O’Neill has further called on businesses to refrain from making payments to land owners in order to remove road blockages.
“Payments to remove blockages only encourage repeat behaviour and copy-cats, and leads to more problems at a later date.
“I appreciate the good intention of businesses, but payments outside the normal checks and balances of Government processes often lead to long-term problems.”
The Prime Minister said maintaining open highways is essential for communities around the nation and is a priority for the Government.
“The highways are more than just roads, but are lifelines for millions of our people.
“They are lifelines for small business, for families trying to get their goods to market, and a lifeline for all people who have jobs that depend on open supply chains.”

Video will link PNG Political leaders to illegal fishing: Lawyer

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A legal officer in Milne Bay Province claims to have access to a video implicating certain political leaders in illegal fishing.

During a top-level meeting, convened by Governor Titus Philemon in Alotau last week, Provincial Legal Officer Mea Arua said there was evidence of leaders encouraging locals to dive and sell beche-de-mer.

“They are prominent political leaders so our people believe what they are saying. We have notified the police and all they have to do is to notify the National Fisheries Authority that they are taking action to enforce the law.”

The NFA Board imposed the ban in 2010 initially for three years, but extended it twice since then. After that, the Board decided late last year (in 2016) to lift the ban for a temporary trial opening of the fishery, beginning on December 1.

However, Governor Philemon successfully obtained an injunction from the Alotau National Court, restraining Fisheries Minister Mao Zeming, NFA Board chairman Joe Pomat and his directors, managing director John Kasu, the State and two former Alotau BDM export licence holders, Asiapac Ltd and Kiwali Exports, from implementing the trial opening.

Philemon argued that the proposed trial opening was contrary to NFA’s own National BDM Fishery Management Plan of the Fisheries Management Act 1988 and the Fisheries Management (Amendment) Act 2015.

Lawyer Arua explains: “The six-month period, from October to March, is the spawning season, which is vital for a sustainable fishery but the NFA Board and management breached its own law when it decided for a trial opening from December 1.

“We have achieved the purpose of our application to stop the trial opening but certain parties are breaching the court order.”

(Harvested beche-de-mer drying in a Pacific Island village. Picture: IUCN)

PNG Police Chief expresses concerns over aeroplane incident

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Papua New Guinea Acting Police Commissioner Raphael Haufolo has expressed deep concerns over the safety of travelling passengers following an incident early this month in an Air Niugini international flight to Singapore.

Haufolo said the seriousness of this incident warrants the need for all relevant government agencies to meet to put in place measures to prevent such an incident from occurring again.

He said the appointment of air marshals is one such measure that could be considered.

“We have been hosting and will be hosting major international events and we must demonstrate to the travelling public that we are serious about their safety,” Huafolo said.

Prime Minister Peter O'Neill promises efficient, effective elections

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The 2017 National Elections will be delivered in an efficient and effective manner right across the country, vows Prime Minister Peter O’Neill.

“National elections are the opportunity for our people to have their say and elect the Members of their choosing.

“The Nation’s Electoral Commission has been preparing for this election since 2012, and I am confident that 2017 elections will take place in a transparent way that will deliver certainty for our people.

“We cannot allow the wastage and exorbitant cost that was seen at previous elections to continue.”

O’Neill assures the country that the 2017 national elections will be delivered within budget, in a safe and secure environment and the integrity of this process will be maintained.

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