Australia fires: PNG offers military support

12:03 pm on 6 January 2020

Papua New Guinea has offered to send 1000 emergency personnel to assist Australia in dealing with its deadly bush fires.

PNG Prime Minister James Marape has released a statement sending his condolences to the people of Australia - especially the families of those lost to the devastating fires.

A bushfire burns in the town of Moruya, south of Batemans Bay, in New South Wales on January 4, 2020.

A bushfire burns in the town of Moruya, south of Batemans Bay, in New South Wales on January 4, 2020. Photo: AFP

Mr Marape said Australia was the closest friend of PNG and was always the first to help in times of adversity.

He said he had been in constant communication with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, and if invited PNG would send 1000 combined soldiers and fire-fighters.

Mr Marape's statement follows the setting up of a national Fire Appeal Secretariat of which the prime minister is the patron.

Environment Minister Wera Mori, Gulf Governor Chris Haiveta and businessman Rex Paki have each donated $US1500 to launch the account.

PNG Prime Minister, James Marape.

PNG Prime Minister, James Marape. Photo: Facebook / PNG office of the prime minister

Mr Mori echoed Mr Marape's statement, saying Australia had always come to the assistance of PNG when the people faced natural disasters.

"The monies raised will basically complement whatever the government of Papua New Guinea will endeavour to provide [in] assistance to the people of Australia," he said.

Secretariat Deputy Chairman Samson Komati said in a testing time the efforts were part of being Melanesian and Christian.

Mr Komati made the call out to provinces to back the secretariat.

The appeal is expected to run for at least least three months.

Flight disruptions

Meanwhile, Samoa Airways has delayed its services to Auckland and Brisbane by up to 17 hours this week due to the bush fires in Australia.

The airline said passengers affected by the disruptions had been notified by email of expected delay times and updated flight schedules.

On its Facebook page, the airline said it regrets to inform customers that all flight services through to Wednesday 8 January had been rescheduled, due to operational reasons arising from weather related issues in Sydney over the weekend.

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