Thank you for joining us on this very important occasion for the people of Kikori – the opening of the BSP bank, the Post Office and the PNG Power facilities. These facilities will serve the community, and that is why it is important that we take responsibility in managing these facilities.

Don’t take it for granted. Recall that when the BSP branch in Kerema encountered problems they had to shut it down for many years. A community cannot function without a bank, a community finds it even more difficult operating without a Post Office and other basic services. It just takes one or two of us to create problems and the rest of us in the community suffer. So take ownership of this, don’t take it for granted because if it stops operating it takes many years to come back.

I want to take this opportunity to also thank BSP who are going to reopen a branch in Kerema next month. I want to thank them very much for their understanding. After so many years of discussions we’re able to reopen that branch, and we’re able to rebuild Kerema town.

The Kerema to Port Moresby road sealing has now started with a K80 million contract, and now Kikori all the way up to Samberigi connecting to the Highlands Highway that this government has now approved with the tax credit scheme with Oil Search.

So things are changing in our Provinces and in our country.

I know frustrations are there because many of our governments and our leaders have let us down. Our government has been in leadership for two years since the elections but great changes are happening across the country. As we speak today many infrastructure projects are happening. Don’t listen to the rubbish politics because people are desperate to get into power, people are desperate to make money out of your money that is supposed to serve our people.

We are changing our country, and listen, I’m telling you today, we are not going to stop. We are going to continue in making sure that we deliver for our people. We are rebuilding the Highlands Highway, we are rebuilding Lae city, we are rebuilding Port Moresby city. Last year we delivered K10 million to every district in the country. Last year we delivered more than K20 million to each and every province in the country for the provincial government. This year we’ve already sent K5 million to all the districts already. There is no reason why people cannot change the provinces and the districts throughout the country. No reason.

For the first time in our country, we gave close to K2 billion to all the districts and provinces in 2013. This year we’re going to give another K2 billion, next year we’re going to do the same and for five years we’re going to give close to K10 billion to the districts and provinces. Now if we cannot change our country with that kind of funding and resources – who is going to change it for you?

It is important that we work closely together. We are going to work together for the next three years. In three years time I want to assure you we are going to connect Kikori with the rest of the highlands so you can get good services. You don’t need to go to Port Moresby. We’ve already put Oil Search and Exxon Mobil on notice – the gas and oil pipeline highway is a pipeline highway that must become a national highway for our people. There is no negotiation on this matter.

We must use this infrastructure to serve our people. I know there’s so many work to be done. That’s why we don’t want to repeat the previous 40 years of neglect.

We developed Bougainville copper, we developed Ok Tedi and we have been exporting oil out of this country from Kutubu for 20 years. Nothing to show for it. We have just mismanaged all of the opportunities that have come before us. We misappropriated everything.

Our government is spending money on education – free education – of almost K700 million every year, health care – K1.5 billion every year. Infrastructure – K3 billion every year. We have invested more money in the small and medium size businesses. We are going to do more for water and sanitation over the next three years.

So I want to assure the people of the Gulf Province and of course the Kikori people, you are at a strategic position for the economic development of our country. When we develop Kekori and when we join up this highway, this place is going to become busier.

It is for you to prepare, it won’t take long. In next 2-3 years it will change.

I don’t want to come here and preach to you again that we’ll do this tomorrow and the next day. I just want you to remember in 2017, when we come back for elections, you sit down and asses what is going on in the country, asses what is going on in the province and the districts and make your decision not because someone has given you your bus fare. You make the decision for the elected leaders that will work for the good of the country and people. The kind of decisions that you and I make reflects the government that are run.

Don’t blame the leaders, blame ourselves for selecting those leaders into parliament. Don’t blame the government, because we make decisions of electing the wrong people. That is why these decisions that we make as people is very crucial to the success of government.

Thankfully in 2012 we elected a good government, and that’s why we were able to form a good government that is very strong now and we thank many of the coalition party leaders and their partners. Yes we found many difficulties along the way but we all overcame them. Making sure that we do the right thing for the country. For the first time we are taking money away from Waigani and putting it into the provinces and districts.

I’m not going to promise you that the country is going to change overnight because that would be lying to you. It will take some time but over the next three years we will do more in these five years than what we’ve done in the last 40 years. That I guarantee you.

Now the first LNG that we’ve exported has gone and I want to thank all landowners and all the provincial leaders and provinces. It is because of your leadership and commitment to the project that we are now able to deliver the project six months ahead of schedule. It’s important that we display to the rest of the world that we are capable of delivering a world class infrastructure development in a timely manner and under budget.

The commitments that previous governments have made, this government will honour over the next few years. The UBFA Agreement that was signed in Kokopo – that is the cornerstone of our agreement. Last year we put a lot of money in the budget so we can be able to fund these projects. Many of those funds have not been released because we are not happy with the implementation of these projects that have been affected. Money is still sitting in the trust accounts waiting to ensure that we roll it out effectively for the projects. All these money is adding up in Waigani and if we do not implement it properly – somebody in Waigani will misuse it.

That is why I urge the leaders and provincial governments and district authorities – let us get our act together so that we make sure that our people change, get our roads and infrastructure that they really need to help them change.

PNG is changing, Let us not leave our people behind. The rest of the country, the economy is growing very strong. As a result the people are motivated to do better for themselves, their families and their communities. It is important that Kikori keeps up with it.

We must improve the Kikori airport. I hear what has been happening. I will take personal carriage of this matter. I know K20 million has been wasted in this project. I can tell you that this government is not into the business of wasting money. That is why I will handle this personally.

The PNG Power CEO is here with me and he is telling me that they will join all houses in Kikori to the power line. He will send his officers immediately to start on that work.

As I’ve said we’re going to take care of the roads.

Oil Search is now starting to talk about the appointment of a contractor that will start building the Kikori to Simberiki Road. We are sealing the other side of the road coming this way, we are now closer to Kagua and in the process of awarding a contract from the Highland Highway turn off sealing into Kagua. Next year we start work on the Kagua to Samberiki Road, upgrade that and seal it, and then from Samberiki to Kikori, we will upgrade and seal it as well.

So you are able to open up access to the rest of the country. That means from Kikori you can drive all the way to Madang, to Lae from here, and that is a very big opportunity for Kikori.

We want to connect Kikori to Kerema and Kerema to Port Moresby. By next year we should have Kerema to Port Moresby connected on a sealed road and we want to make sure that the project for Kikori to Kerema starts before 2017.

We are able to do all these work because our economy is strong and we are managing a very disciplined government expenditure program. We are not out there wasting money (Cont’d) paying bills that are not producing results. These are changes that are happening in our country that will change our lives and our children.

Let us work together and I thank each and every one for supporting what the government is doing. I want to finish by thanking the Petroleum Resources Kutubu and the Gulf province government for the investments with the landowners you are making and giving to our country.

We will continue to support you and the Mineral Resources Development Corporation (MRDC) is a very good vehicle for landowner participation. We must continue to strengthen it and work together with the leaders of the landowner groups involved.

Hon. Peter O’Neill