Around 80 military engineers plus a command and liaison element from the Papua New Guinea Defence Force arrived in Australia today.
CAPTION: Kumul Force 17 personnel pose for a photo before embarking a RAAF C130 for Port Moresby to marry up with 18 Assault Pioneers from 1RPIR, and other elements from HQPNGDF, before being airlifted by two RAAF C130s to Melbourne, for the Operation Halivim Wantok. PNGDF photo.
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The personnel are drawn from the Engineer Battalion based in Lae, the 1st Battalion Royal Pacific Islands Regiment and from other headquarter elements based in Port Moresby.
The PNGDF contingent will be employed alongside ADF elements from the Townsville-based 3rd Brigade as part of a joint engineer element deployed to Victoria under Joint Task Force 646.
Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds said the PNGDF personnel would be highly suited to tasks in remote and arduous conditions.
“Our Papua New Guinean friends are here to help in our time of need. The warmth and affinity between our two peoples is testimony to the true friendship we share,” Senator Reynolds said.
“This support further strengthens our Defence Cooperation Program which celebrated its 40th year in 2019.”
Minister for Foreign Affairs Marise Payne said Papua New Guinea’s support to the response to the bushfire crisis strengthened the existing broad-ranging partnership Australia and Papua New Guinea enjoyed as near neighbours and close friends.
“It means a lot to our country to have our Papua New Guinean friends by our side as we face this challenging situation,” Senator Payne said.
“It marks another important step in our journey together as partners with a shared history and an ambitious vision for our future together.”
Papua New Guinea’s Minister for Defence Saki Soloma said, “We are Pacific neighbours and we are also family”.
“We are here to help our Australian brothers and sisters.
“When Australia is hurting, we hurt too.
“That is why we are here to help.
“The PNGDF and ADF know each other well through our regular exercises and training.
“Today is a proud day for our two nations.”
Papua New Guinea’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Trade Patrick Pruaitch said the two countries had been through a lot together as friends and partners.
“We stand with our Australian friends to face this devastation.
“Today the partnership between our nations grows even stronger.”