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I was there with Sir Michael Somare, with Sir John Guise, Iambakey Okuk, John Momis, Thomas Kavali and other early Papua New Guinea Leaders. We saw the birth of the baby Papua New Guinea on the 16th of September 1975. It was a smooth birth from its mother Australia.
Today I want to say that we live in changing times, whether we are prepared to accept it or not. Change has come upon us. People have changed, attitudes have changed and the demand for change has somewhat accelerated.
44 years ago today, half my life, we were dreamers, talking about Independence. We were tasked with a different kind of challenge. That challenge was to take Papua New Guinea to a self-reliant Independent state of Papua New Guinea.
We believed we were ready, and when I look back 44 years ago, it is now history. Today 44 years since 16th September 1975, we are still one people and one nation. I can only say that Visions and Dreams of all the Chiefs and all the big men, all the leaders across New Ireland and Papua New Guinea, were patriotic and true. If they did not stand with Government at that time. This country would have been divided. They were dedicated and we were strong. Our Nation transitioned from a colony, to an Independent state of Papua New Guinea. The transition was very smooth, we were very proud. Today I want to share with you this spirit.
The National constitution which is our written conviction to walk the Journey, United PNG together. We overcame many Political and Social challenges on the strong foundation of Traditional and Cultural values and virtues.
So on this 44th year, my message is very simple, we are living in changing times. The pace of change we are going in is very fast. Our country PNG is in deep financial crisis, with a very heavy debt burden.
We now have a new Prime Minister who is still sorting out his party connections, we have leaders under public scrutiny, we have the Bougainville referendum, we have the lobby groups for West Papua Independence. And today I must say we also have the push for Autonomy, and New Ireland is spear heading this.
I hope the Prime Minister’s speech will have emphasis on Autonomy, because New Ireland is already going ahead. It’s nothing new, we’ve always been pushing for it since 1963.
So my friends all these and other pressing issues you can just imagine, must cause us to stand together. We got no other choice. If we split up and work in isolation, development will be slow and we won’t be able to pass anything down to the next generation.
We have allocated to all the 10 Local Level Government Presidents K10,000 each to organize their people and come together for Independence. It is fitting after the successful staging of one day polling during the recent LLG Elections. A move the New Ireland Government made because we were determined and knew it could be done. We don’t do things because they are easy, we do them because they are challenging and have to be done.
So on this day 44 years ago today, you must know that life is not meant to be easy, if we want to get on in life, we have to work very hard for it. So let us rededicate ourselves on this 44th year. That we will repeat what we did 44 years ago. And this time we will do it better. And we’ll look forward for 45 and handing this Beautiful country over to the next generation, better then when we regained it.
God bless New Ireland and God Bless Papua New Guinea. Happy 44th Independence to you all.