PNG confirms no Australian foreign mission to Bougainville
Australia has backtracked on its plans to open a foreign mission in Bougainville, following PNG's strong reaction.
Australia has backtracked on its plans to open a foreign mission in Bougainville.
Following an announcement last month, the Papua New Guinea Foreign Minister, Rimbink Pato, banned Australians visiting Bougainville, saying there was no consultation.
The Australian Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, now says she is holding discussions with PNG about increasing foreign aid staff numbers in Bougainville.
Rimbink Pato told Alex Perrottet he has lifted the ban but there will be no foreign mission.
RIMBINK PATO: There was nil consultation. No consultation whatsoever with the Papua New Guinea government before the Australian government announced they will open a foreign mission on the island and that is why the issue of interference with the territorial integrity as far as our sovereignty was concerned and we had to immediately put a travel ban to get to the bottom of it. We discussed the matter with the Australian Foreign Minister, by telephone with myself in the first instance, then later on there was a meeting with the Prime Minister, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and myself in Japan. We realised there was a misunderstanding on the part of Australia. An apology was offered, we accepted that because Australia is one of our very strong bilateral partners and there's a long lasting relationship. We have now lifted the ban so Australians are free to travel in and out of Bougainville and carry on the work that they have been doing.
ALEX PERROTTET: Before the apology, what was the explanation given to you in the meeting with Julie Bishop because either there was communication or there wasn't and you are saying there was nil. There was no communication at all.
RP: There was no communication. They thought they had sent some communications to us and then they realised that was not the case. So on the basis that they had communicated the matter with us they've gone ahead and made the announcement but realising that was not the case and we were entirely justified in what we did, in other words there will be no opening of a foreign mission on the island.
AP: Surely the opening of an embassy there would be verbal communication between the foreign ministers before that happens?
RP: It should be but it wasn't. According to Julie there were written communications or some form of communications sent to us but which I have never seen and my department has never seen and the Prime Minister never saw it so there was some lapse in communication on that basis.
AP: You are confirming there will be no Australian embassy opened in Bougainville?
RP: There will be no Australian embassy opened in Bougainville. They will continue to carry out their work in the same way they had been doing and they can run those affairs from the Australian High Commission here in Port Moresby. We will give them the support that we have been continuously providing to the Australian government as an important bilateral partner of this country.
To embed this content on your own webpage, cut and paste the following: