Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs Richard Marles says the foundations are in place for a strong future for the people of Bougainville.
At the conclusion of his official two-day visit to the region, Mr Marles said there was much to be positive about in the way forward for Bougainville.
“With a continued commitment to mediation and peace, the future for the people of Bougainville is bright and we call on all parties in Bougainville to continue to work together towards reconciliation.”
“A lot is still to be done to support implementation of the Bougainville Peace Agreement. Australia is continuing to talk with the Autonomous Bougainville Government on the critical issues of weapons disposal and reconciliation. During this visit, I announced further Australian support towards improvements in policing and law and order.
“We welcome the renewed spirit of engagement between the Autonomous Bougainville Government and the Government of Papua New Guinea as evidenced by the recent announcement of a 500 million kina ($A188 million) package from the Government of PNG.”
“During my visit, I met with the President of the Autonomous Bougainville Government the Honourable Chief John Momis and key ministers to discuss the challenges facing Bougainville.
“I also held discussions with Autonomous Bougainville Government representatives, landowners and other interested parties on the on-going consultations on the possible re-opening of Panguna mine.
“This is an important process for the people of Bougainville and could be a key economic consideration in Bougainville’s future.”
Australia is an active partner to the Autonomous Bougainville Government in addressing the development challenges of the region.
Since 1997, Australia has provided continuing support to Bougainville to address post-crisis issues that demand flexible and conflict-sensitive responses. This includes more than 500 kilometres of roads, maintenance and equipment for 90 per cent of primary schools and the strengthening of maternal and child health in Bougainville.
Mr Marles will now travel to Port Moresby on the next leg of his visit where he will meet with PNG cabinet ministers and visit Australian government supported programs. His formal program will conclude with discussions with the PNG Kokoda Track Authority.
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