Morrison congratulates new PNG PM

Papua New Guinea's parliament has elected former finance minister James Marape as the country's new prime minister, replacing Peter O'Neill.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has congratulated the new prime minister of Papua New Guinea taking over from Peter O'Neill, who resigned after almost eight years in power.

James Marape, who's vowed to review management of the nation's resource riches, was elected by the PNG parliament in Port Moresby on Thursday.

Mr Morrison spoke to him on Thursday to "wish him well" and said he looked forward to working closely with Mr Marape on "our many shared interests".

Australia gives poverty stricken PNG more than half a billion dollars in aid each year.

Marape, who hails from the poor but gas-rich PNG highlands, said he would focus on "taking back our economy" and proposed an overhaul of mining, forestry and fishing laws.

"We will look into maximising gain from what God has given this country from our natural resources," he told parliament.

"I have every right to tweak and turn resource laws for my country, then it will empower my citizens as well," he told the chamber to cheers and applause.

Political instability is not unusual in the poor but resource-rich country and there are ongoing concerns that its resources benefits aren't reaching the poor.

PNG has an agreement with French oil company Total, allowing Total, Australia's Oil Search and ExxonMobil Corp to begin work on a $13 billion plan to double PNG gas exports.

2 min read
Published 31 May 2019 at 7:28am
Source: AAP