Former PNG leader blasts planned Turnbull visit

7:14 pm on 4 April 2017

Former Papua New Guinea prime minister Sir Mekere Morauta says Australian leader Malcom Turnbull's planned visit to PNG is insensitive and interfering.

Malcolm Turnbull

Malcolm Turnbull Photo: RNZ

Mr Turnbull is due to visit for talks with PNG's embattled prime minister Peter O'Neill later this week.

He said a visit now was hard to fathom given that Mr Turnbull had not found time to visit PNG in the 16 months since he assumed power only to appear now on the eve of the PNG election.

Sir Mekere said the two prime ministers met in Australia a few weeks ago and had met at countless international fora.

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Photo: RNZI / Koroi Hawkins

He said a visit now put Mr Turnbull in a very dangerous position, with the prospect of a new Government just around the corner.

Sir Mekere said it would be seen as Mr Turnbull interfering in PNG's elections.

He said public opinion was firmly against the O'Neill Government, and Mr Turnbull's endorsement of it would be a slap in the face for many Papua New Guineans.

Mr O'Neill has in recent days been the subject of criticism by his Treasurer Patrick Pruaitch who laid blame at the prime minister's feet for mismanaging the economy.

The Treasurer said PNG's economy had "fallen off a cliff" under Mr O'Neill's leadership which has been spending beyond its means while jobs in the formal sector have been falling since 2014.

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