Commissioning Ceremony Of PPV Minigulai – Port Moresby

Introduction

Thank you, Superintendent Matthew Parsons, for your warm welcome, and thank you for the invitation to speak at the commissioning of the Police Patrol Vessel Minigulai.

Firstly, I would like to acknowledge:

  • The Prime Minister, the Honourable James Marape MP
  • The Minister for Foreign Affairs, The Honourable Justin Tkatchenko, MP
  • The Commissioner of the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary David Manning;
  • The Commissioner of the Australian Federal Police, Reece Kershaw APM; and
  • Australian High Commissioner to Papua New Guinea, Mr John Feakes.

Prime Minister, Minister, Commissioners, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen. I would like to extend my warm thanks to everyone in attendance for today’s event.

Commissioning of the PPV Minigulai

In December last year I had the great pleasure of meeting with Prime Minister Marape, Mr Tkatchenko and Mr Tsiamalili in Canberra following the signing of the historic Bilateral Security Agreement. And it was great to see Prime Minister Marape again in February this year in Canberra where we were honoured to have him address the Australian Parliament – the first leader of a Pacific island nation to do so.

It is an honour for me to meet with you again today in your beautiful country. And it is my great pleasure to be here to present the Police Patrol Vessel Minigulai to the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary, on behalf of the Australian Federal Police.

Papua New Guinea is Australia’s closest neighbour and our deeply respected friend, and today we have the opportunity to celebrate the long partnership between our independent and democratic nations.

In 1973, the then Prime Minister of Australia and great supporter of independence – Gough Whitlam – affirmed to the Papua New Guinea Government:

In Australia you have an assured friend and I believe we shall forge a true partnership to the great advantage of both our countries and for the welfare of both our peoples.

These words were, in fact, a prophecy.

These words foretold the links, strong and true, between our nations. Links that grow in strength, and in diversity, by the day.

Prime Minister Whitlam, and your revered first Prime Minister and father of the nation, Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare – these great men lived those words.

They showed us the benefit of working together – steadfastly – towards a common goal and the common interests of our nations.

The links that we share, and our nations’ steadfast friendship, are embodied today in our work to strengthen our economies, and forge greater opportunities for our peoples.

In our shared experience as vast countries rich in national resources – and rich in challenging and rugged terrain.

In our desire to share our cultural heritage with each other. In our peoples’ love of sport.

And in our efforts to mutually support the security of our countries, and our region.

Our links, our friendship, and our steadfast work together are embodied in the Bilateral Security Agreement signed by our Prime Ministers last year.

Prime Ministers who themselves, if I may say, Prime Minister Marape – carry on the tradition of genuine friendship and deep respect between our countries.

Through the Bilateral Security Agreement, Australia and Papua New Guinea committed to deepening our security cooperation right across the spectrum, from traditional areas such as policing and national security, right through to climate change, cyber security, gender-based violence and critical infrastructure.

This agreement represents an enhanced enduring partnership that equips us to tackle new and emerging security challenges.

Most relevantly for us here today, through the Bilateral Security Agreement we committed to deepening our ties and our work together in policing.

The commissioning of PPV Minigulai is another milestone in the long relationship between Australia and Papua New Guinea.

The commissioning of this vessel – with the support of both the AFP and Tasmania Police – highlights the enduring collaboration between our law enforcement agencies to combat transnational and organised crime.

This commissioning further demonstrates Australia’s commitment to assisting the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary to address transnational crime, and to support joint cross-border operations. through the expanded Papua New Guinea – Australia Policing Partnership.

The AFP’s partnership with the RPNGC is its largest bilateral partnership across the globe.

This is a clear demonstration of the strength of our ties, and the depth of our work together – in policing as in so many areas across government and our nations.

RPNGC Officer Cadet Program

The Australian Federal Police, the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary and Queensland Police Service recently launched a groundbreaking training program for RPNGC Police Officer Cadets.

Over the next four months, more than 60 RPNGC cadets will travel to Australia to undertake training with the Queensland Police Service and attend the Australian Institute of Police Management where they will have the opportunity to develop their leadership capabilities.

These cadets are the future leaders of the RPNGC and it is fantastic to be able to give them the opportunity to travel to Australia and experience our diverse operational environment.

Less than lethal use of force capability uplift

The AFP, through the PNG-Australia Policing Partnership Program, has commenced provision of less than lethal use of force training and provision of less than lethal munitions and equipment to the RPNGC.

This program under the Bilateral Security Agreement addresses a capability gap for the RPNGC when responding to incidents such as civil disorder or armed offenders, ensures the RPNGC uses commensurate force when resolving civil disorder incidents.

The training has been delivered to the RPNGC Sector Patrols in Port Moresby, is now being delivered in Lae, and will roll out to other Provincial centres such as Mt Hagen and Kokopo in the near future.

This is the first time the AFP has delivered this training and provided less than lethal use of force capabilities to the RPNGC.

Provision of police housing to RPNGC

The AFP has agreed to support the RPNGC with the construction of police housing across priority provinces commencing with the construction of police barracks-styled accommodation in Port Moresby, Kokopo and Mount Hagen as the first phase of the initiative.

This will allow RPNGC recruits to be placed in regional centres upon graduation.

There will be ongoing consultation and prioritisation with the RPNGC as the AFP construct and deliver more housing over the coming years.

Bomana Police Training College

I am pleased that Australia – through the AFP – is continuing to invest in the Bomana Police Training College, which I look forward to visiting later today.

I thank Papua New Guinea – and the RPNGC – for offering to open the Training College to other Pacific police forces.

This is a further example of how Papua New Guinea and Australia will continue to support the development of regional policing.

Australia is investing in police barracks and housing across the country, to support your recruits and officers in their challenging and valuable work.

I am proud that working together, the RPNGC, the AFP and our Pacific partners in the Solomons International Assistance Force, supported our friends in the Solomon Islands to deliver a wonderful Pacific Games in 2023, and smooth joint elections in 2024.

As the Attorney-General and First Law Officer of Australia I am also pleased that Australia is working with Papua New Guinea to support the broader system of law and justice.

Effective legal frameworks are critical to the ultimate success of the work of law enforcement.

Effective laws, effective prosecutions, and courts that can progress matters in a swift and orderly fashion – supporting your hard work deterring, detecting and investigating criminal activity.

Conclusion

As my remarks draw to a close today, I would like to echo the words of the Australian Prime Minister on the historic occasion of Prime Minister Marape’s address to the Australian Parliament in February this year:

Australians will never forget what the people of Papua New Guinea did for us in the past. Let us never doubt what we can achieve together in our future.

I look forward to the PPV Minigulai supporting the RPNGC’s hard work protecting the safety and security of Papua New Guinea, and of our region.

As the Attorney-General of Australia, I look forward to continuing to work with you – as those who came before us did – to support the peace, prosperity and resilience of our countries and across our region.

Thank you.

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