Scott Morrison’s trip to Papua New Guinea may have to be cancelled as PM James Marape faces political crisis
- Scott Morrison is to meet Papua New Guinea leader James Marape next week
- But Mr Marape is facing a political crisis with members withdrawing support
- Mr Morrison said he was watching events as they unfold but intended to visit
Scott Morrison still intends to visit Papua New Guinea despite a political challenge against the country’s prime minister.
Mr Morrison said he was looking forward to visiting James Marape next week and would not comment on the political turmoil.
‘I’m not going to speculate on those events,’ he told reporters in Canberra on Friday.
‘It’s my intention to be with prime minister Marape next Wednesday as planned.’
Mr Morrison will stop in Port Moresby to meet Papua New Guinea leader James Marape (pictured together in August 2019) before returning home on Thursday
Dozens of PNG politicians crossed the floor of parliament on Friday in a mass defection against Mr Marape.
Several high-profile government members including the deputy prime minister and foreign minister are among those who withdrew support for the government.
Mr Marape has been in power for just 18 months, after replacing long-serving leader Peter O’Neill in a similar process that involved prominent government ministers switching alliances.
Opposition members used their numbers to suspend parliament while a motion of no confidence targeting the prime minister was prepared.
The PNG leader insisted he had the numbers to stay on, declaring: ‘It’s not over until it’s over.’
Mr Morrison still plans to fly into the political storm but will keep a close eye in case he has to cancel.
‘With all of these sorts of things, you monitor events as they unfold,’ he told 2GB radio.
‘These are reports we’ve also received today, but that’s my plan.’
On Tuesday Mr Morrison will become the first world leader to meet new Japanese prime minister Yoshihide Suga (pictured) whose long-serving predecessor Shizo Abe resigned with bowel disease in August
The prime minister plans to take part in a virtual ASEAN summit this weekend before heading to Japan and then visiting PNG on the way back to Australia.
Mr Morrison wants to discuss the coronavirus pandemic and progress on a vaccine.
He also hopes to watch the State of Origin with Mr Marape in Port Moresby next Wednesday night.
On Tuesday Mr Morrison will become the first world leader to meet new Japanese prime minister Yoshihide Suga whose long-serving predecessor Shizo Abe resigned with bowel disease in August.
Visit to Japan and Papua New Guinea: Scott Morrison’s statement
Next week I will hold important meetings with two of Australia’s closest friends in Tokyo on 17 – 18 November, and Port Moresby on 18 – 19 November.
This will be my first meeting with the new Prime Minister of Japan, His Excellency Mr Suga Yoshihide. I’m honoured to be the first foreign leader to visit Japan to meet with Prime Minister Suga following his appointment.
Our relationship with Japan over the past few years has gone from strength to strength. We are Special Strategic Partners, and we work closely together on trade, security, defence and technology issues. I look forward to continuing to deepen that partnership.
Japan will play an important role in our economic recovery from COVID-19. I hope we can chart a course for the re-opening of travel, and discuss ways to deepen our trade ties worth $86 billion, including under the Japan-Australia Economic Partnership Agreement.
On the way back to Australia I plan to take the opportunity to see my friend the Hon James Marape MP, Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, our closest neighbour.
We will continue our discussions about advancing our many shared regional and global objectives, ahead of a formal bilateral visit I hope to make next year.
Australia, Japan and Papua New Guinea have managed the coronavirus incredibly well, and I am confident the precautions in place during this travel will minimise the risk of COVID-19 transmission.
I will be strictly following health advice and quarantine requirements when I return to Australia, as will staff and officials accompanying me, RAAF attendants and pilots, and media.
I look forward to hearing from Prime Minister Suga and Prime Minister Marape about their experiences in responding to COVID-19 and discussing ways to work together towards a stable, peaceful and resilient Indo-Pacific.