Albanese sees goodwill in PNG visit

Anthony Albanese says his visit to Papua New Guinea next week will hopefully help boost ties with Australia's immediate neighbour and promote "friendship" within the Pacific community.

The prime minister will become the first political leader outside of PNG to address the island nation's parliament in the capital Port Moresby on Thursday.

"I want to thank Australia's great friend, Prime Minister James Marape, on giving not just me but, I believe, Australia that great honour," Mr Albanese told reporters in Geelong on Saturday.

His trip will also be the first to PNG by an Australian prime minister since 2018.

Talks between the two leaders are expected to focus on economic and security arrangements, while Mr Albanese said he was keen on "advancing our friendship in the region" particularly in relation to climate change.

While Australia is PNG's largest aid donor, negotiations continue for a new defence pact amid China's growing influence in the Pacific.

Mr Albanese also said on Saturday Australia was on track to announce plans to buy new nuclear powered submarines from the US and UK, despite scepticism in Washington that the AUKUS deal could kill off America's submarine-building industry.

An "optimal pathway" for building the submarines would be revealed in the first quarter of this year, he said.

Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Richard Marles said one of the reasons the three nations had struck such a significant arrangement was because it was in their strategic interest to strengthen Australia's defensive capability.

Mr Albanese was set to travel to Papua New Guinea before Christmas but the trip was postponed after he tested positive for COVID-19.

While there, he and Mr Marape will also travel to Wewak, on the country's north coast, to visit the resting place of Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare, who became Papua New Guinea's first prime minister after the country gained independence from Australia in 1975.

Sir Michael, who died in February 2021, is regarded as the "Father of the Nation".