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PNG adds $320k Bentleys to APEC luxury car fleet

Papua New Guinea is adding to its APEC luxury vehicle fleet, with the purchase of three new Bentley limousines worth more than $320,000 (US$228,000) each.

The V8 Bentley Flying Spurs will join 40 recently-delivered Maseratis, worth $175,000 (US$124,000) each, in the APEC fleet, as PNG gears up to host the 21-member nation summit next month.

The Maserati purchase outraged many Papua New Guineans as the nation deals with the re-emergence of polio, high rates of tuberculosis infection and ongoing budget challenges.

The Australian has obtained an invoice for the Bentleys, made out to the chief executive of PNG’s APEC Secretariat, Chris Hawkins.

Hawkins is also a senior communications adviser to PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill.

The vehicles were purchased from a Malaysian-based company called South Pacific Ventures Inc., which describes itself as providing “business consultancy and services on healthcare development projects in Papua New Guinea and other Pacific Island countries”.

The cars are due to arrive in Port Moresby this month by sea freight.

The Australian has sought comment on the Bentley purchase from PNG’s APEC Minister Justin Tkatchenko, but he is yet to respond.

The Maserati Quattroporte cars were delivered to Port Moresby last week from Milan, Italy, on two privately chartered Boeing 747 cargo planes.

APEC Tkatchenko said last week that the Maseratis had been “pre-sold” to private sector buyers who would take the vehicles off the government’s hands after the summit.

PNG is the poorest nation in the APEC grouping and faces an array of development challenges.

The official minimum wage is about $1.50 (US$1.07) an hour but unemployment is rife, and the majority of Papua New Guineans live outside the formal economy.

Australia is providing at least $130 million (US$92.8 million) in support to help PNG host APEC.

Australian F/A18 Super Hornets and electronic sensor aircraft will patrol the skies over Port Moresby during the November 17-18 APEC leaders’ meeting, while the helicopter landing ship HMAS Adelaide and several naval patrol boats will protect against maritime threats.

About 1500 Australian Defence Force personnel will also be involved, including special forces soldiers, rounding out the biggest security commitment of any nation in support of PNG’s APEC year

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