PM Marape receives Unitech petition

A State team comprising relevant government officers will soon be dispatched to the PNG University of Technology to explain further the details of the recently-signed Defence Cooperation Agreement between PNG and the United States.

Prime Minister James Marape told the Morobe Provincial Assembly on Wednesday (24.05.23) this would happen as he received a petition from students handed through Morobe Governor Luther Wenge.

The team will comprise the State Solicitor, the Defence Secretary and the Foreign Affairs Secretary. A similar information seminar will be held for students of the University of PNG in Port Moresby.

The Prime Minister also said copies of similar defence cooperation agreements with Australia and Indonesia would be made public for anyone wishing to confirm the sincerity of these arrangements. 

“It is not wrong for leaders to receive petitions from people. This is so that if something has happened against our Constitution, we can quickly change it. It is right that you, as the people of Papua New Guinea, should be anxious to know the details of this agreement. 

“I am happy to receive this petition from the Governor. Our people are speaking; our students are speaking. I want to reassure the people and the leaders of Morobe. The National Government is satisfied that it has not harmed our Constitution in any way. 

“I appreciate the maturity of our students and members of the public in 2023 in properly handling their grievances. Previously, this was unknown. Previously, students resorted to civil unrest and burning down cars and property.”

The Prime Minister clarified that the Defence Cooperation Agreement is not a new concept. 
“There is a law passed by our Founding Fathers called the Defence Visiting Force Act of 1975, under Section 206 of the Constitution. This allows a partnership between our defence force and the defence force of the country we are in partnership with,” PM Marape said. 

“Through these, in 1989, PNG came up with the Status of Forces Agreement under which our country has entered into defence partnerships with Australia, New Zealand, USA, England and France. 

“Since 1989, Australia has progressed this leading to us signing a Defence Cooperation Agreement, done under the previous government. We also have a similar DCA with Indonesia. 

“Now, we are getting one done with the United States, as we feel this will add value to our defence force and our economy. Through this agreement, we want to grow the economy of the country and strengthen our defence force.”

The Prime Minister had stated that the DCA with the US is important, as it will further boost the country’s military.  

“Thirty or 50 years from today, I do not want our military to become completely rundown and collapse. I want to use this opportunity to rebuild our military to the point where it can confidently secure our borders ourselves.”

He said the DCA is very general, as there are still details of an operational agreement that need to be made, such as how the defence force will operate, what they will do, and so forth. 
“This will happen after we have tabled the signed agreement and Parliament decides on the needed details,” said the PM Marape. 

To help get more information across, there will be a team by the State Solicitor, the Defence Secretary, and Foreign Affairs Secretary out to explain this further. 

“For the DCA with America, as soon as the process has been completed, we will distribute this as well. There is nothing sinister about this DCA with America,” added Prime Minister Marape.