The Morrison Government needs to step up assistance to Papua New Guinea to help contain the increasing incidence of COVID-19 cases in one of Australia’s nearest neighbours.
After initial success by the PNG Government and health workers in containing COVID-19, there are worrying signs of a serious outbreak with the number of confirmed cases rising from 11 to 63 in the last two weeks.
There are also signs of the spread of the coronavirus from Port Moresby to other centres including Lae.
Labor welcomes the Morrison Government’s provision of much-needed assistance to PNG in recent weeks including this week’s decision to deploy an Australian Medical Assistance Team of medical specialists and crisis response staff to Port Moresby.
In light of the rising number of cases, the Government should ensure its Pacific Step-up is more than just a slogan - it needs to deliver for Australia’s closest neighbour with emergency medical assistance, testing and health infrastructure.
Australia should be working with PNG authorities to ensure their health system is able to cope with the rising number of cases.
We should continue providing technical advice on measures to contain and reduce the spread of COVID-19 including community education and information campaigns.
It’s in Australia’s national interest to ensure our region is safe, stable and prosperous and PNG is one of Australia’s most important development partners.
It is also squarely in Australia’s interests given the proximity between our two countries, with PNG and Australia only kilometres apart at their nearest points.