THE WORDS OF OUR FATHERS

Today we celebrate our freedom, and our land, and show our gratitude for the heritage passed down by our ancestors.

We thank our Good Lord for these things every day, in our National Anthem and our National Pledge.

Each year, on the 16thof September, we stand at this place, and in ceremonies around the country at dawn, to mark the day when we achieved our independence.

It is a privilege for all of us to gather here today.

We have much to celebrate, and much to be proud of.

I would like to remind you of the preamble of the National Constitution.

This is a Constitution that was developed with great care by our forefathers and adopted by our nation 43 years ago.

The words and meaning embraced by our fathers are as relevant today as they were in 1975.

Our Constitution states that we are ‘united in one Nation.’

It honours our ancestors and the customs and traditions of our people.

Our Constitution pledges us to guard our noble traditions and Christian principles, and pass these on to those who come after us.

Each of these principles are very important.

We all have a duty to uphold them in our national life.

Our national unity and harmony remains one of our greatest achievements since Independence.

At times our unity has been tested, but we remain a strong Nation.

When we look back on the past 43 years, our unity has underpinned our continued growth and development.

We are a nation of many languages and many cultures, but together at independence we established one nation.

Our Nation was founded on the very best democratic principles while honouring our traditions and our customs.

Our rich diversity, in its many forms, is one of our greatest strengths, and one of our best possible assets for the assurance of our future.

I urge all Papua New Guineans to always remember the words given to us by our Fathers.

Read our Constitution with pride, and smile with satisfaction when you sing our National Anthem and recite our National Pledge.

 

PROMOTING THE NATION THROUGH APEC

In two months time the eyes of the world will be on Papua New Guinea when we host the APEC Summit.

This will be the most significant international event that has ever hosted been hosted in Papua New Guinea.

The Leaders from APEC’s 21 member countries, and around 15,000 delegates are visiting Papua New Guinea this year.

So far we have held more than 250 meetings around our country.

In November, Prime Ministers, Presidents and Ministers, from some of the largest economies in the world will visit our country.

This is our time to show the world – true Papua New Guinea.

APEC is promoting our Nation.

We will showcase our rich culture and heritage, and the natural beauty of our Nation.

The global investment community will have the opportunity to see the tremendous growth that is taking place in our country.

It has been demonstrated in previous APEC years, that hosting APEC delivers real benefits to the host economy.

Through APEC we have opportunities to attract trade and direct foreign investment.

APEC will continue to provide us with access to the knowledge and experience of leading economies.

This capacity building support in our country leads directly to business growth and the creation of more jobs for our people.

Because of APEC, CEOs from some of the largest companies in the world will also visit Papua New Guinea, providing more opportunities for tremendous future investment.

For many APEC visitors, Papua New Guinea will be the most exciting country they have ever visited in their lives.

It is important that we all play our part in its success.

We need to have our National unity on full display, we need for them to experience our culture and see the changing face of development in our country.

The APEC summit will be the beginning of a new era for Papua New Guinea.

This is an era in which we will strengthen our regional leadership.

Above all, in the years ahead, we must improve living standards and increase the opportunities that will be available to you – the children, men and women of Papua New Guinea.

 

LEARNING FROM THE MISTAKES OF THE PAST

As we celebrate the anniversary of our achievement of Independence, we know that the foundations for a more prosperous and shared future are very sound.

We have faced difficult years with the global economic downturn, but I can assure you that the tide is changing.

Commodity prices have rebounded, the long drought has passed, and we are recovering from the tragic earthquakes.

But in our country when we faced challenges, we all pull together, including our Government, and we have introduced a number of reforms that places us in a stronger position.

But we must not relax, we must continue to work hard.

There are countries around the world that achieved their independence at around the same time as we did.

In many of these countries, they have seen dramatic economic growth and huge improvements in living standards for their people.

Our country should today be like those countries, but we have not taken advantages of all of the opportunities we have had.

When our country has faced good times, such as in the boom ten years ago, we wasted the opportunity and we wasted a lot of money.

When given the opportunity to develop our resources we failed and denied our people their rightful benefits.

We must never forget these mistakes, and we must move forward and make better decisions for our people in the future.

Today, you have a Government that is committed to getting a better deal for Papua New Guinea.

We must embrace the future for our Nation.

 

EMBRACING THE FUTURE

We must prepare our communities to adapt to changes in the modern world.

This includes making some tough decisions.

We must better in protecting our people from natural disasters brought about by climate change.

We must better adapt to the changing global economic circumstances.

We must take advantage of every economic opportunities that are available for our people.

Our country is blessed with many resources and many products, including good people, that the world wants and needs.

This is not just our oil and gas resources, but we have renewable resources that are in very high demand.

Our agriculture sector should be the food bowl of the region.

We have plenty of rich and fertile land in our country.

We have some of the most amazing tourism sites that people from around the world want to visit.

But all of this potential is meaningless if we do not believe in ourselves.

We must continue to invest in our communities and in our Nation.

This means building more infrastructure, roads and bridges that we need to transport our goods to market and deliver services to our people.

We are building the airports for our people to travel, and to construct the schools that will educate the next generation, and to provide better healthcare so that our people can be even more productive.

And we must provide an even more safe and secure environment for our people.

The only people who can deliver a strong Papua New Guinea – are Papua New Guineans ourselves.

As a country we have many friends who are helping us to advance, and we value this support, but we must do things for ourselves and chart our own course.

We have to have confidence in our potential, we have to make the right decisions for our future, and we have to stand by these decisions all the way.

Today, I give you every commitment, on behalf of our Government, we will try our very best not let you down.

We will try our very best to advance the interests of Papua New Guinea, and continue to deliver real change for in our country.

 

GLOBAL FRIENDS

On this 43rdIndependence Day, on behalf of the people of our Nation, I thank all of the friends of Papua New Guinea.

We have seen tremendous support from our partners in the international community.

I thank resident heads of missions who are with us today and their respective countries for that support.

And our Pacific brothers and sisters, who will join us for APEC in November, we say thank you for your confidence in our country.

 

CONCLUSION

To the women, children and men of our Papua New Guinea – I call on you to continue to love and respect our country, to rejoice in our development, but most of all to respect each other.

I wish everyone a very Happy Anniversary on this Independence Day.

May the Good Lord continue to bless Papua New Guinea.

Thank you very much.