PORT MORESBY, Jun 12, 2020, PNG Today. Manus Governor Charlie Benjamin has questioned Australia’s position and geopolitical and military interest in Manus Island following a Memorandum Of Understanding signed by Australia and the PNG Defence Force in 2019, PNG Today reported.
Mr. Benjamin says the Manus people do not know the contents of the MOU, calling on the Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Trade Patrick Pruaitch to shed light on the situation.
Governor Benjamin says his people must benefit and be involved in this project.
In 2018, the Governor warned he would obstruct the naval base project if his province wasn’t consulted properly.
Mr. Pruaitch in response said the previous O’Neill/Abel government mishandled the MOU between Australia and the PNG Defence Force.
He explained the MOU is to facilitate the construction, the upgrade and maintenance of facilities and infrastructure at Lombrum Naval base and to provide a broad framework for cooperation at Lombrum including the facilitation of access and use of naval base by the Australian Department of Defence.
Mr. Pruitch says the MOU was signed without the involvement of the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, stressing when the department is not involved, the interest of the country is not represented.
He says there are so many issues now surrounding the naval base because the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade was never involved.
However he assured the Governor and Member for Manus Job Pomat that he will lead on the floor of parliament a review on the MOU to make sure interest of the country and people of Manus are met.