CANBERRA (The National / Pacific Media Watch): Papua New Guinean Prime Minister Peter O’Neill yesterday expressed disappointment with the Australian media for its reporting of PNG affairs.
Addressing the National Press Club in Canberra for the first time, O’Neill said Australian media reports on PNG were often “wrong” and “totally wide off the mark”.
“It frequently disappoints me,” he said.
“And it especially disappoints me when journalists with the most limited contemporary contact with my country describe it as a ‘failed state’ or a ‘failing state’.
“I have no problem with your media being critical of my government, or my country. There are times when we deserve criticism and, I think, we are mature enough to accept it.
“But sweeping claims such as the use of the term ‘failing state’ to describe Papua New Guinea today is harmful and, frankly, they are hurtful.”
The questions from the Canberra media corps after his address, on the contrary, were quite constructive and indicated in-depth knowledge of current issues in PNG.
The media wanted to know what the Papua New Guinean government’s stance was on the Manus Island asylum processing centre and whether or not PNG might be courting Chinese friendship at the expense of its relationship with Australia.
O’Neill said PNG’s relationship with China was purely business and trade-oriented and that its traditional aid and people-to-people relationship with Australia would long endure.
He assured the lunch meeting that PNG’s reputation as an investment destination was sound.
The recent passage by an overwhelming majority of Parliament of the bill, to extend the grace period for a motion of no-confidence from 18 months to 30 months, indicated political will and political stability, he said.
O’Neill is expected to expound on this topic further when he opens the Mining and Petroleum Conference in Sydney on Monday.
The O’Neill entourage departed Port Moresby at 4am yesterday and arrived in Canberra at 11am where his first engagement was the National Press Club address.
He later met with Foreign Minister Bob Carr, Immigration Minister Chris Bowen and Prime Minister Julia Gillard before an Australia Air Force aircraft flew his entourage to Sydney.
O'Neill calls for 'total realignment' of Australian aid
O'Neill's National Press Club speech
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