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Attorney General Niningi Condemns Australian Opposition's Remarks on PNG NRL Team

Papua New Guinea's Attorney General and Minister for Justice Pila Niningi has condemned Australia’s opposition for making derogatory comments about Papua New Guinea. This response comes after Pauline Hanson, a vocal Queensland Senator, questioned Australia's decision to allocate AUD 600 million from its budget to fund a new NRL team in PNG.

Senator Hanson’s remarks in the Australian Federal Senate included a critique of this financial commitment, suggesting it comes at the expense of Australians, in addition to the nearly AUD 500 million given annually to PNG in foreign aid.

Pila Ninigi /Parliament Photo

Responding to these comments, Attorney General Niningi urged Hanson to consider her words more carefully. "I believe she does not understand what rugby league does or any sport for that matter," he said.

Mr. Niningi emphasized the role of the NRL in strengthening the bond between Australia and PNG, adding that the sport has been a unifying factor beyond other aspects of their relationship.

He also took issue with Hanson’s characterization of PNG as a corrupt nation. "As Attorney General, I am not corrupt. If one or two individuals are practicing it, that doesn’t mean everyone is corrupt," he stated. "We respect Australia and appreciate what it is doing for us. Our relationship with Australia is strong and will not be undermined."

Australian Senator Criticizes Funding for PNG NRL Team

Hanson's statements included a reminder of Australia’s substantial financial support to PNG, pointing out that Australia has also loaned PNG AUD 2.56 billion for budget support since 2020. She questioned the necessity of a PNG-based team in the NRL, especially when Australians are struggling with the rising cost of living under Labor’s policies.

"Our fans wonder why a PNG-based team is even needed in the NRL. Australians struggling to put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads thanks to Labor’s cost-of-living crisis are right to be angry about this Labor government giving a foreign football team 600 million dollars of their money," Hanson remarked.

She further criticized the allocation, suggesting that the funds could be better spent on healthcare services in regional Queensland.

Hanson called for a reassessment of Australia’s relationship with PNG, especially as the nation approaches its 50th Independence anniversary next year. She argued that it might be time for PNG to stand independently, without relying on Australian aid, while expressing concerns about PNG's governance and susceptibility to external influences.

"We must prioritize putting Australians and their urgent needs first before extremely low-order priorities like funding a foreign footy team," Hanson concluded.

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