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The man who led Papua New Guinea to Independence is finally bowing out of politics after 49 years.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The man who led Papua New Guinea to Independence is finally bowing out of politics after 49 years.

As his final parliamentary term comes to an end, Sir Michael Somare, who served as Prime Minister for some 17 years in total, has been farewelling the country which he helped shape.

It was fitting then that one of the former journalist’s final public appearances was as the guest speaker at the NBC’s National Press Club event, which were launched in January this year in partnership with the PNG Media Council and the Lamana Hotel.

The Prime Minister Peter O’Neill was the event’s inaugural speaker, followed by Opposition Leader Don Pomb Polye in February. In this election year, the NBC National Press Club is part of the effort by the three partner organisations to support an open and democratic media and provide access to information.

Sir Michael used his speech at the event to highlight his political achievements and also acknowledge the challenges he faced.

“We have had our share of challenges and struggles throughout our 42 years, as nations do,” he told the crowd at the NBC National Press Club.

“We need to start looking around us to appreciate sometimes how far we have come as a nation”.

Among the panel of journalists asking Sir Michael questions were the NBC’s John Eggins, one of PNG’s most respected journalists and the Post Courier’s Political reporter Gorethy Kenneth.

They were joined by the ABC’s former PNG Foreign Correspondent, Sean Dorney, who is now a Nonresident Fellow with the Lowy Institute for International Policy.

“Sir Michael is absolutely unique,” Mr Dorney told local TV station EMTV.

“There is no one else in the rest of the Pacific or Australia or New Zealand who has had anywhere near the political career he has had,” he said.

“What Sir Michael proved is that it is possible to run this incredibly difficult and complex country”.

Sir Michael and Sean Dorney have a long history, with Mr Dorney deported from Papua New Guinea in 1984 by the Somare Government.

But at the NBC National Press Club, there was no ill-will between the pair.

But when asked if he’d been treated fairly by the media during his career, Sir Michael responded “certainly not” with no hesitation.

He used the opportunity to call on PNG’s media to play its part in the country’s development.

“To the PNG media today … please do not be complacent. Do not submit one or two stories a day and think your job is done,” he said.

“Use your time wisely, especially out of work to give back to PNG”.

MDI helped facilitate the cooperation between NBC, Media Council and National Press Club Australia so that they could work together in creating NPC PNG. MDI assisted in developing the partnership between the venue and Media Council so that the NPC PNG would have a regular catered venue. They continue to provide assistance facilitating workshops for journalists as well as the country’s leading bloggers, in the lead up to each event and other requests from stakeholders as required.