Opposition leader queries cost of PNG response

The Leader of the Opposition, Belden Namah, has asked for clarification on the cost involved in sending PNGDF soldiers to Australia to help with the bush fire disaster.

He said PNG should be using its own resources to send the troops over, and not the other way around.

The question was raised after the Australian army used its C130 aircraft to fly PNG troops over.

“From what we know, the cost to Australia to send two Royal Australian Air Force C-130 Hercules aircraft to pick up our personnel and to return them in three months is just under one million kina,” he stated.

“Why do we expect Australia to divert scarce military assets to collect our personnel when Air Niugini has offered to fly our personnel for free to Sydney, just as personnel from the United States have arrived in Australia. From there they can be inserted into the Australian operational response.”

Last week Air Niugini released a statement saying they stand ready to fly firefighters for free to Australia, should they need more manpower.

Meantime, the leader of the Opposition has donated K100,000 on behalf of the people of Vanimo-Green.

The donation was given to the PNG Red Cross on Tuesday.

He said an additional K100,000 will be given to the PNG Red Cross on behalf of the members of the Opposition.

Additionally, last week the government launched the country’s official appeal called the ‘PNG Hearts for Australia Fire Appeal 2020’.

Minister for Environment and Conservation, Wera Mori, encouraged individuals and organisations to make donations to this appeal.

PNG has also committed 1,000 personnel which include the National Fire Service and National Volunteer Service to help Australia.

The first 100 PNG Defence Force soldiers and personnel left PNG shores on Monday.

Freddy Mou