First PM to address Tutumang

Prime Minister James Marape is the first PM to address Morobe’s Tutumang Haus.

On behalf of the provincial assembly, Governor Luther Wenge welcomed him and applauded him for making history.

Prior to that, Governor Wenge presented the petition from the University of Technology's student representative senate regarding the contentious US Defence Cooperation Agreement.

When addressing the chamber, PM Marape acknowledged the petition presented by the governor, saying it is the right of the people to express themselves.

“It is not our core business of today but I accept it,” he said.

“I want to assure the people and leadership of Morobe, the national government will not do anything that will break PNG’s laws.

“I appreciate the maturity of students in 2023. Back then, they used to fight and burn vehicles.

“We will process their petition.”

PM Marape clarified that the DCA is nothing new, alluding to the Defence (Visiting Forces) Act 1975, which sets out the basis on which defence forces of friendly countries, together with certain civilian support staff, may be in PNG. The Act also provides for the State to enter into agreements with other countries in this regard.

“Using section 206 of the Constitution, this law was born.

“There will be more operational agreements to follow. When Parliament sits again, we will tabulate the agreement.

“Copies of the defence agreements with Indonesia and Australia will be made accessible to the public while the USA pact will come later.

“30-50 years from today, I want our military to be strengthened, hence the decision to enter into defence agreements. We are not selling the country, breaching the law or try to break the country.”

The PM said a session will be hosted tomorrow at the University of PNG to outline details of the defence cooperation agreements while a state team will visit Unitech next week to address the same matter.

Marape arrived at Tutumang at around 12.40pm today to start his two-day program in Lae.

After the sitting at Tutumang, he will address residents at the Sir Ignatius Kilage Stadium in a public forum.

At 7pm, he is scheduled to meet with representative landowners.

Tomorrow, the PM is scheduled to address the private sector in a business breakfast, facilitated by the Lae Chamber of commerce and Industry.