PNG PM tours firefighting nerve centre

   PNG PM tours firefighting nerve centre

29 April 2009

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Australia — Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare has toured Victoria’s firefighting nerve centre during a visit to Melbourne.

Sir Michael met with staff at the Integrated Emergency Coordination Centre (IECC) on Wednesday following a brief meeting with Victorian Premier John Brumby.

The centre was the hub of the February firefight after Australia’s most devastating bushfires swept across the state, killing 173 people.

In the aftermath, the PNG government donated $1 million to the Victorian Bushfire Appeal.

Sir Michael said PNG did not experience fires the scale of Black Saturday, but his country wanted to show its support in Australia’s time of need.

“We thought it was a gesture to support the Australian people because they normally, in our bad times, they always come for our support and that’s why the government decided that we should support the fire victims in Victoria… and the flood-devastated area in Queensland,” he said.

Sir Michael will meet some of the survivors who have benefited from the bushfire appeal when he visits fire-ravaged Kinglake later on Wednesday.

He is expected to meet with local residents and Country Fire Authority (CFA) volunteers who fought the Black Saturday blaze.

Sir Michael will travel to the Ingham region near Townsville in north Queensland on Friday to be briefed on flood recovery efforts.

He is due back in Port Moresby on Sunday.

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