31 Jul 2013

PNG minister says O'Neill deserves praise over refugee deal

10:42 am on 31 July 2013

Papua New Guinea's Minister for Environment and Conservation John Pundari says the Prime Minister Peter O'Neill should be commended for rising to the challenge on the asylum seekers issue.

He says his bold leadership has helped elevate PNG's status internationally and regionally.

The minister says PNG could not shy away from helping Australia when it was hurting and seeking help and he described Australia as PNG's big brother.

Mr Pundari says Mr O'Neill should be commended for his courageous stand which shows other Pacific Island countries the asylum seeker issue is not only an Australian problem but a regional one.

The minister's comments follow Fiji's strong attack on Australia for threatening the stability of the region through its new deal with PNG which allows successful asylum seekers to settle in the region.