Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz
Speaking about the controversial Manus Asylum Centre saga, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill says the deal was signed and agreed to for the development of Manus province. Video: EMTV News in Tok Pisin
Pacific Media Watch News Desk
The largest crowd ever to attend an election campaign rally on Manus greeted Prime Minister Peter O’Neill as he campaigned with Manus Governor Charlie Benjamin and Manus Open candidate Job Pomat.
As the campaign draws to the end of eight weeks of campaigning, O’Neill said yesterday now was the time for candidates who had not demonstrated any policy platforms to reveal if they have any policies.Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and Manus Governor Charlie Benjamin in Manus province. Image: PMO
“Now is the time to talk about your policies, to talk about your vision and reveal if you have anything to offer,” the Prime Minister said.
“Candidates need to discuss issues of national importance with a clear set of polices and vision for the nation.
“Instead many, particularly some former leaders, are dropping down to attacking personalities and spreading rumours.
“Our country deserves strong policy platforms from those aspiring to form government, not hollow statements and foolish claims.
‘Start being realistic’
“The candidates who are now part of one-and-two-man parties have to start being realistic.
“You have Sir Mekere [Morauta] saying he will be PM, and so is Don Polye, and Sam Basil, and all the others, but one-and-two is a long way from 56.”
The Prime Minister said he has no intention of debating with any aspirant PM if they could not demonstrate that they had the support of enough opposition members.
“I am not going to waste my time debating someone who does not have the support to potentially lead a parliamentary majority.
“If one of these opposition leaders gets the backing of their counterparts to be the opposition’s candidate for prime minister, they will get their debate.
“If Ben Micah, Patrick Pruaitch, and Belden Namah, and all the other leaders come out and say publicly they are supporting Don Polye, or another leader, they will get their debate.
“But while they are a loose gaggle of dividend group of rivals, this will not happen.”
Western eyes ‘a mistake’
The Prime Minister said the mistake some commentators made was to look at the PNG election through Western eyes.
“In Australia, historically opposition leaders are often just a few seats away from forming government.
“In Papua New Guinea, the Opposition Leader is more than 50 seats away from forming government.
“The same goes for Mekere, he is just one of the 3000 plus candidates in this election.
“He has no party support, he is yesterday’s man who abandoned his own party that he founded. He has no principles or loyalty, so why would any of the opposition leaders want to follow him?”
The Prime Minister thanked Manus for the hospitality they extended to the PNC delegation and promised them that Charlie Benjamin and Job Pomat would work hard for Manus and further improve lives.
“Manus has huge potential in tourism and fisheries, and has the potential to keep advancing.
“A lot has changed in Manus over the past five years, and communities are economically stronger than in decades past.
“We must keep changing Manus, we must keep staying strong and deliver an even stronger economy for our nation and for provinces like Manus.”