The Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, Hon. Peter O’Neill CMG MP, said is looking to members of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) to work together on advancing labour mobility in the region.

PM O’Neill made the comments after meeting with the Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands, Hon. Manasseh Sogavare MP, in Port Moresby today.

The visit was Prime Minister Sogavare’s second Capital Visit to Papua New Guinea as Chair of the MSG.

The Prime Ministers further discussed MSG membership composition, expanding trade and enhancing operations of the MSG Secretariat.

“There is tremendous opportunity before MSG members to enhance the capacity for people from around our region to work in different countries.

“The world is getting smaller and people want to travel between countries for work and business.

“We do not have a territorial model in our own country, and we believe in creating opportunities for travel.

“In Papua New Guinea, for example, we are a nation of a thousand tribes where our unity comes from our diversity.

“It does not matter if you are from Madang, Mendi, Bougainville, Aloutau or anywhere in the country, you are free to move around and settle.

“By establishing the right procedures, we would like to see people bring their skills to Papua New Guinea, and for our people to travel to build careers and strength social interaction.”

In their discussion, Prime Minister O’Neill stated Papua New Guinea’s position on MSG membership as an issue that will continue to be discussed between members.

“There are sensitivities to consider if we are to continue this dialogue in a respectful manner, and to build mutual understanding in order to make progress.”

PM O’Neill said he would like to see an increase in trade between MSG countries that would grow the regional economy.

“Papua New Guinea is ready to expand regional trade, while respecting the developing nature of many sectors in our countries,” PM O’Neill said.

“When we open up further trade this must also create jobs in each of our countries, because if we do not stimulate employment and business our countries will not develop well.”

On the issue of improving the management and output of the MSG Secretariat, the Prime Ministers agreed that ongoing reform and review is essential.

“We will do all we can to ensure we have a fully functioning MSG Secretariat that adapts to the evolving news of Melanesian countries.

“Our members and the Secretariat will continue to enhance operations of the Secretariat for the benefit our people.”
Photograph: Prime Minister Sogavare receives a gift of Papua New Guinea potter from Prime Minster O’Neill in Port Moresby.