FORMER Australian prime minister Tony Abbott flew to Port Moresby this week to meet Peter O'Neill and a group of Australian Federal Police officers.
Mr Abbott – whose presence as a high-profile and increasingly vocal backbencher has become a potentially dangerous point of friction inside the Turnbull government – also delivered a speech to a fundraising dinner for Anglicare PNG during his 48-hour visit, which ends today.
Mr Abbott told Fairfax Media that, in the speech, he would reflect on the Abbott government's foreign and security policy achievements as they related to PNG.
But he rejected any suggestion he is running a "parallel prime ministership" by sitting down with the leader of Australia's nearest neighbour.
As prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull has not yet visited PNG, host to Australia's asylum seeker detention centre on Manus Island. He has met Mr O'Neill at the Pacific Islands Forum.
"Peter O'Neill asked to see me while I'm there," Mr Abbott said as he prepared to depart from Sydney Airport on Wednesday.
"Former prime ministers will typically meet with people they had close associations and relationships with in government. John Howard meets with leaders he worked with during his time while he is overseas. This is just the way of things."
Mr Abbott, who visited PNG a week before Mr Turnbull led a party room coup against his leadership, said of Mr O'Neill: "We had a very close relationship and I would be confident that will continue under Malcolm."
Mr Abbott's trip is likely to trigger comparisons between the foreign policy priorities of his government and Mr Turnbull's.
"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.
"We often forget that Australia is the one superpower in the South Pacific and we have a huge responsibility in the region."
Tony Abbott's trip is likely to trigger comparisons between the foreign policy priorities of his government and Mr Turnbull's.
Mr Abbott said he would "drop by" the group of 70 AFP officers who are stationed in Port Moresby as advisers to the Royal PNG Constabulary on maintaining law and order in the notoriously volatile nation.