7 Sep 2011

Leaders of PNG and Vanuatu now on way to Auckland

12:16 pm on 7 September 2011

Two Melanesian leaders, who've had pressing domestic issues to deal with, are now en route to New Zealand for the Pacific Islands Forum summit.

The prime minister of Vanuatu, Sato Kilman, who's the outgoing chair of the body, couldn't make this morning's opening ceremony, but is due in Auckland early this afternoon.

Mr Kilman yesterday succeeded in removing the speaker Maxime Carlot Korman after a month of parliamentary battles which had delayed the passing of a supplementary budget.

The new speaker is Dunstun Hilton.

The prime minister of Papua New Guinea, Peter O'Neill, is also on his way after an emergency parliamentary meeting on Tuesday.

That session was called to advance legislation on reserved seats for women, to affirm the legality of the regional seats and prepare the ground for PNG to host the Pacific Games in 2015.

But it was notable for the disqualification from parliament of former prime minister Sir Michael Somare on the grounds he'd forfeited his seat after three consecutive absences.

Mr O'Neill is travelling to Auckland on the PNG government's executive jet which his administration is planning to sell after labelling it an unnecessary extravagance.