PRIME MINISTER PETER O'NEILL addressed the National Press Club in Canberra today and committed himself to establishing a permanent independent commission against corruption in Papua New Guinea.
Here at PNG Attitude - with the national media focussed firmly on domestic politics - we’re grateful to the ABC’s Liam Fox for posting some of the highlights of Mr O’Neill’s speech on Twitter.
Fox reported that the prime minister began his address by criticising Australian journalists for describing PNG as a failed state.
"This is just simply wrong," he said, describing the claims as "harmful" and "hurtful".
It is indeed a slur that is especially objectionable to Papua New Guineans since it combines a noxious blend of condescension, fiction and plain ignorance.
Addressing the issue of foreign aid, Mr O'Neill said PNG would like to see a greater alignment between AusAID support and his government's own development priorities.
He also said that he would like to see links between young Papua New Guineans and Australians strengthened as well as more emphasis being placed on the trade and economic relationship, particularly Australian investment in PNG construction and agriculture.
During his speech, Mr O'Neill also continued his campaign against BHP Billiton's continuing presence in board roles in the PNG Sustainable Development Program. "There is no reason they should be involved,” Liam Fox quoted him as saying.
AAP diplomatic correspondent Adam Gartrell has just reported that Peter O’Neill asked Australia to rethink its aid spending by putting greater emphasis on infrastructure like roads and ports.
PNG is in "dire need" of better economic infrastructure like roads, ports and airports, he said. "I know there will be some in the aid program who will be horrified by this suggestion.
"But if we are going to make sure your aid genuinely supports our economic and social development and helps us guarantee our security and stability we simply must make sure it is more targeted to align with our priorities."
Australia's aid program in PNG currently focuses more on health, education and governance.
Mr O'Neill said the PNG-Australia relationship is in "good shape" but warned against complacency.
While saying that the Chinese aid footprint in PNG was very small, he would welcome more.
Late this afternoon, Mr O'Neill met with Australian prime minister Julia Gillard for discussions.