PNG and Australia held their own bilateral meeting where issues around security and processing at the Manus Island detention centre and were discussed.
It’s the most important international gathering for the countries of the Pacific.
Papua New Guinea is the host this year.
Australia is the group’s biggest and richest member, so at times, also the biggest target for criticism.
“I am really pleased to be at my first Pacific Islands Forum unfortunately for a whole host of reasons I was unable to be at this forum last year. It’s also my third visit to PNG in just two years and that again is a sign of the importance we place on the relationship.”
Climate change is the subject that causes diplomatic division at this event.
Small nation states subject to sea level rises want Australia to pledge larger cuts in carbon emissions – a point they put strongly to Prime Minister Abbott at the Pacific Islands leaders’ retreat.
For these small nations this is a issue of basic survival.
Australia is listening but it won’t be altering it recently announced emissions reduction target of a 26-28 per cent cut by 2030.
Pacific states believe that is too low.
The Prime Minister disagrees.
“Very comparable with the pledges that other countries have made and on a per capita basis our emissions reduction by 2030 will be the largest in the world. Certainly the largest of any of those countries which have thus far made commitments so I think I’ve got a very good story to tell on climate change to the Pacific Islands Forum and I think Pacific leaders should be reassured by the seriousness with which Australia is approaching this issue.
PNG and Australia held their own bilateral meeting.
Prime Minister Abbott pledged $25 million for the PNG National Museum and Art Gallery, and $40 million for maintenance of the Kokoda Track.
They discussed issues surround security and processing at the Manus Island detention centre, and PNG’s demand that Australia extradite three Australian guards wanted over rape allegations there.
“Where there are credible allegations, they must be investigated. Where there is strong evidence, it should be prosecuted. Where people have done the wrong thing, they should be convicted and punished. Obviously we continue to cooperate with the PNG authorities on this.”
The forum’s outcomes will be explained tomorrow to stakeholders, non-government organisations and other groups directly affected.