Tony Abbott has talks with PNG PM while in Moresby

3:46 pm on 4 November 2016

Australia's former prime minister Tony Abbott has this week been in Papua New Guinea where he met with PNG's Prime Minister Peter O'Neill.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

Former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott discussed national development, Pacific affairs, and sport with PNG's Prime Minister Peter O'Neill. Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Mr Abbott, who is currently a backbencher in the Malcolm Turnbull-led government, gave a speech at a fundraiser event for the Anglican Church-funded NGO Anglicare.

While in Port Moresby he also had an informal meeting yesterday with Mr O'Neill who said he's always had a "very warm relationship" with Mr Abbott.

Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O'Neill gives a talk at the Lowy Institute in Sydney on May 14, 2015

The Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O'Neill. Photo: AFP / Peter Parks

The PNG leader said they discussed various issues, including the achievements of both governments, national development, sport and Pacific affairs.

"Tony also has a strong interest in Pacific affairs and there were a number of challenging issues that we dealt with together while he was in office," said Mr O'Neill.

Mr Abbott visited PNG three times in his two years as prime minister before fellow Liberal Party MPs ousted him and inserted Malcolm Turnbull as their leader last year.

While Mr Abbott's ousting has left lingering divisions within Australia's government ranks, Fairfax reports he dismissed the suggestion that he was trying to undermine Mr Turnbull by travelling to PNG.

"I visited PNG three times in two years," Mr Abbott said. "While it is not normally front of mind for most Australians, and often not an area of focus for the nation, it's our nearest neighbour, our only former colony, and it can have a big impact on Australia."

Mr O'Neill said he discussed sport with Mr Abbott.

"I said again that I would like his support, as an Australian Member of Parliament, in our areas such as our desire to have a team in the National Rugby League and one day host the Commonwealth Games," explained the PNG prime minister.

Mr Abbott was also to pay a visit to the 70 Australian Federal Police officers stationed in Moresby as advisers to the Royal PNG Constabulary.