PNG offers Albanese climate change lesson

Anthony Albanese has received a first-hand lesson in the impact of climate change as he wrapped up the first trip to Papua New Guinea by an Australian prime minister in four years.

Governor of East Sepik province Allan Bird praised the Australian leader for travelling to Wewak, on PNG's northern coast, a visit which included a wreath-laying ceremony at a memorial to troops killed in bombings against the Japanese in World War II.

Mr Albanese's convoy then travelled along a narrow coastal road to meet members of the Royal Pacific Islands Regiment at Moem barracks on Friday.

"I am pleased that we didn't build a new road and you are able to see the effects of climate change first hand," Mr Bird said, referring to the region's damage from extreme weather and coastal tides.

"These are the things that affect not only us, but all Pacific Island people. I think it drives the point home.

"So perhaps your voice can be lent to the growing voices around the world as to the plight of our island people."

The World Risk Index rates PNG as the ninth most at-risk country from climate change and natural hazards.

Australia has provided $200 million in climate and disaster support over the past six years.

East Sepik takes its name from the Sepik River - the longest in Papua New Guinea - which has been the basis of food, trade, transport and culture in PNG's Northern Momase region.

Earlier, Mr Albanese paid tribute to the late Sir Michael Somare for laying the foundations of an independent and strong PNG.

He attended a ceremonial sing-sing at Boram airport, in Wewak, on Friday ahead of laying a wreath at the resting place of the PNG leader, who died in February 2021 aged 84.

The prime minister also planted a coconut tree in the Somare garden and had morning tea with the former leader's family.

Sir Michael was the Pacific country's first prime minister and had a close relationship with former Labor leader Gough Whitlam after the pair delivered self-government for PNG in 1972 and full independence in 1975.

"Sir Michael Somare will live on through his contribution to Papua New Guinea as an independent, strong, vibrant nation into the future," Mr Albanese said.

"Our futures, just like our paths, are intertwined. We are connected. The stronger and more secure, and more prosperous Papua New Guinea is, the stronger and more secure and prosperous Australia will be and the same applies the other way around."

On Thursday, Mr Albanese and PNG Prime Minister James Marape agreed to a joint commitment for a security treaty between the two countries, which is hoped to be negotiated by the end of April and signed in June.

In a statement, the leaders said the new deal would "reflect the evolving nature of our shared security interests, recognising that non-traditional security challenges, such as climate change, cyber security, and economic elements of statecraft, affect our strategic environment".

The Australian prime minister was the first foreign leader to address the PNG parliament.

includes pool copy from Tom McIlroy, AFR