ScoMo cancels PNG trip
Scott Morrison has cancelled his planned trip to Papua New Guinea after some of the Pacific nation's government ministers defected to the opposition.
The switch is expected to lead to moves to oust PNG's Prime Minister James Marape, who only replaced long-serving former leader Peter O'Neill 18 months ago.
"Prime Minister Marape contacted the Prime Minister and asked him to defer his visit, and the Prime Minister was happy to do so," a spokesman for Mr Morrison said in an emailed statement on Saturday.
Mr Marape said in a Facebook post he was not finished with politics.
"It is not over until it's over," he wrote on Friday.
"Leadership has its moments."
He labelled the defection "a debate between those who want to maintain status quo of corruption, big boys elite politics, multi national lobbyism" and new, patriotic leaders who want to change policies and laws "for a better future of our children".
In another post, he urged the people of PNG to not be "uptight of what happened today when some of my colleagues decided to leave my government".
"They are elected leaders, what they did today is within their rights so I ask our people to respect the work of our parliamentary democracy."
Earlier this week, Mr Morrison said the trip to Port Moresby was to discuss Australia's support for PNG during the pandemic.
"In particular how we can assist them during our vaccine program and the many other projects we have in place with them to address their challenges, in dealing with not only the COVID-19 pandemic, but of course the economic recession that flows from that," he said.
Mr Morrison planned to stop over in PNG after travelling to Tokyo to meet Japan's new prime minister Yoshihide Suga next week.
It will be Mr Morrison's first overseas tour since the health crisis began and he will be the first foreign leader to meet Mr Suga.
He will go into quarantine for 14 days upon his return, joining parliament by video link.
Australia is this financial year funnelling $596.0 million in official development assistance to PNG, with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade saying a stable, prosperous, peaceful and resilient PNG is critical to Australia's interests.
Originally published as ScoMo cancels PNG trip