Ministers and representatives of the Governments of Australia and Papua New Guinea. With me this morning I have my Ministerial colleagues Peter Dutton, Michael Keenan, Marise Payne, Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, and Richard Colbeck will be here shortly.

Yesterday we had a very good meeting as representatives of our respective governments and with the business communities of both Papua New Guinea and Australia, and this really underpins the importance of the economic partnership between our two countries. Australia is PNG’s largest trading partner, Australian investment in PNG is nearly $20 billion, and there are so many opportunities for us to continue to enhance our trade and investment relationship.

As I look at the Ministers from our dear friend PNG across the table, I’m delighted that my counterpart, Foreign Minister Rimbink Pato, will co-host today, Sir Puka Temu dear and close friend of Australia is also very welcome, as are the other Ministers.

On my last visit to PNG, and I have visited on many occasions, we had the opportunity to open a Pacific Leadership and Governance Precinct funded by the Australian Government, which will support the training and education of, not only the civil servants, the public sector in PNG, working with the University of Papua New Guinea and the Institute of Public Affairs, but also assist in capacity building, and that is what we’re seeking to do as partners - to build the capacity within PNG.

Today we’ll be signing a new aid partnership with PNG which will reflect and align with PNG development priorities. Aid for Trade will make up a significant proportion of our investment in PNG, and this is all about the private sector in PNG having the capacity to enter into the export markets of the world. Aid for Trade is all about businesses in PNG being capable and able to trade in regional economies and globally.

We’ll also focus on defence and security cooperation, which is so very important as we face a number of regional challenges, and the Ministers here will speak about their particular area of interest and the counterpart Ministers likewise. It is a sitting day, and I know there are pressures on our Ministers. There are so many diverse areas for us to canvas and discuss. This is not the only forum in which we do that, there are many high level visits between our countries, between our officials, between our representatives and most certainly at Ministerial level.

So again, we welcome our dear friends and colleagues from PNG and look forward to a very interesting discussion today and as we always have face the challenges together and embrace the opportunities together. We know that your Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill, will be addressing the National Press Club today, so there will be an end point to our discussions because I’m sure the Ministers will have to be there to hear the Prime Minister’s speech.

The warmest of welcomes to our dearest of friends and we look forward to some very fruitful discussions today.

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