Prime Minister Hon. James Marape will be thanking the people and governments of Australia, both past and present, for the “profound work” they have put into the development of PNG pre- and post-Independence.

The Prime Minister will do this when he addresses members and senators of the National Parliament of Australia in Canberra on Thursday, 08 February 2024, at the invitation of his Australian counterpart, Prime Minister Hon. Anthony Albanese.

PM Marape will become the first Papua New Guinean and South Pacific head of government to address the Australian federal assembly.

Before departure this morning at Jackson’s International Airport, PM Marape told a press conference the invitation by Prime Minister Albanese was a great mark of respect honouring the government and people of Papua New Guinea that underscores the special relationship both countries share.

“This is not James Marape going down to address Australian government leaders; I carry the office of the People of Papua New Guinea.

“I note a few Papua New Guinean politicians trying to rally their political banners to cast doubt on the pre-planned visit, but this is mere political rhetoric. The visit was planned over some time.

“I will be addressing the Australian Parliament in Canberra as Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister 49 years after we gained independence peacefully from Australia on 16th September 1975.

“Such a visit has never been conferred before, and it’s not a work done overnight. It is the culmination of work by prime ministers, ministers, leaders of government, and politicians now and before us. We must continue that legacy,” he said.

In his address, Prime Minister Marape will also touch on Papua New Guinea’s emerging role as a co-development player in the Pacific, and reiterate his vision to make PNG economically-resilient and self-sustaining with Australia’s support to move away from aid, grants and loans. 

“It is no longer about aid but about trade, business, and commerce, so PNG can be strong and contribute economically in the region.

“This privilege to address the Australian Parliament is to formally say Thank You, as we have never properly thanked Australia before for all it has done. I will thank them for the support they are giving and have been giving to us over the years toward our development,’’ he added.

The Prime Minister is being accompanied by his wife, Rachael; and two senior statesmen of the House of Assembly, Sir Yano Belo, the first public works minister; and Sir Nambuga Mara, formerly of the Western Highlands Provincial Transitional Government in the late 1980s.

Prime Minister Marape and his delegation will return on Friday. Deputy Prime Minister Hon. John Rosso is Acting Prime Minister.