Scott Morrison Meets PNG Leader In Canberra

Monday, July 22nd, 2019

Scott Morrison has rolled out the red carpet for his Papua New Guinean counterpart, as the leaders meet in Canberra.

The prime minister welcomed James Marape to Parliament House on Monday.

Cannon fire marked Mr Marape’s arrival, with more fireworks expected when the two men speak behind closed doors.

Mr Morrison invited Mr Marape as part of his “Pacific step-up” strategy, aimed at increasing Australia’s economic and security engagement with its neighbours.

Australia already gives developing PNG more than half a billion dollars in aid each year.

But the pleasantries could end when the subject of Manus Island comes up.

Mr Marape has made it clear he wants a deadline for ending the offshore processing of asylum seekers.

“We would like it to be ended as soon as possible,” he said last week.

Around 450 asylum seekers remain in PNG and another 350 are being held on Nauru.

His government has also taken issue with Australia’s handling of contracts in the immigration centres.

Mr Marape will also meet with Labor leader Anthony Albanese, visit the war memorial and see Governor-General David Hurley.

His visit comes just days after Greens senator Nick McKim was kicked off Manus Island after trying to visit an asylum seeker facility.

Senator McKim denies he had done anything wrong and had followed procedures he had undertaken on past visits.

Thousands of people also attended rallies in Australia’s major cities on Saturday calling for an end to offshore detention.

Friday marked six years since the Rudd Labor government reintroduced offshore detention for asylum seekers who arrived by boat.

Mr Marape will be accompanied by his wife Rachael and several ministers on his six day tour of Australia.

The two leaders are expected to address the media on Monday morning.

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