Australia and Papua New Guinea signed a joint declaration for enhanced defence cooperation.

It’s Julia Gillard’s first visit to the Pacific nation and there was a surprise request at last night’s welcome dinner.

Bernadette O’Connor reports.


Julia Gillard knew what topics were in order for her, on day two of her first trip to Papua New Guinea, but she didn’t expect the way they would be addressed.

Her PNG counterpart, Peter O’Neill, called for Australia to relax its visa requirements.

Peter O’Neill, PNG Prime Minister: “Our people find existing visa arrangements very frustrating, some regard them as insulting.”

The Prime Minister says granting visas on arrival just won’t happen.

But she is looking at an easy online system for the people of PNG to apply for Australian visas.

Julia Gilllard, Prime Minister: “No country is closer to Australia than Papua New Guinea, our geographic proximity mirrors the closeness of our people and our institutions.”

The Australian Prime Minister also visited a local market which will receive funding from Australia, to improve safety for female vendors in a country that has a shockingly high incidence of violent crimes against women.

Bernadette O’Connor, QUT News.