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18 Oct 2018 7:11
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  •   Home > News > International

    PNG Government splurges on 40 Maseratis for APEC leaders as polio returns to the country

    The Papua New Guinean Government sparks anger by purchasing 40 custom-made Maserati cars — specially flown in from Italy — for leaders during APEC, at a time when PNG is seeing a resurgence of polio.

    The Papua New Guinea Government has sparked outrage after purchasing 40 custom-made Maserati cars — specially flown in from Italy — to be used by some of the world's top leaders during this year's APEC summit.

    It has been revealed the PNG Government plans to use the luxury cars for just one week of the APEC meeting, and then sell them off to recover the costs.

    The Maserati Quattroporte sedans, which retail in Australia for between $209,000 and $345,000, were delivered to Port Moresby from Milan earlier this week in two chartered Boeing 747 cargo planes.

    PNG's minister for APEC, Justin Tkatchenko, told the ABC that the APEC Authority part of the PNG Government had paid for the fleet, which would be used by world leaders during the leaders' week in November.

    "All costs will be recovered and there will be no cost to the state whatsoever at the end of the day," Mr Tkatchenko said.

    He said the Government had already received "a lot of interest" in the cars from prospective buyers.

    The minister was unable to give any figures on how much the fleet had cost to purchase and how much the cars needed to be sold for to recover the initial costs.

    News of the vehicles' arrival in Port Moresby was met with anger from some Papua New Guineans on social media, including the governor for Northern Province, Gary Juffa.

    "Papua New Guinea is facing so many problems insofar as health, education, law and order," Mr Juffa said.

    "I just think it's a slap in the face of the people in Papua New Guinea who are suffering," he added.

    After being declared free of the polio virus 18 years ago, this year has seen 14 confirmed cases and one death from a form of the virus normally found after prolonged periods of low vaccination coverage.

    Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne announced a further $6 million in aid to help deal with the outbreak, adding to $10 million earlier this year provided to the country's immunisation campaigns for polio and other infectious diseases.

    "PNG is our closest neighbour, and a strong response is needed to protect both PNG's and Australia's health security," Ms Payne said in a statement.

    Australia is also expected to spend more than $100 million supporting PNG's hosting of the APEC summit.

    This includes the deployment of Super Hornet fighter jets and elite special forces troops to help with summit security.

    Powes Parkop, the governor of the district that includes Port Moresby, defended the decision to purchase the Italian cars.

    "It's a luxury but at the same time it's a way for us to show our deepest appreciation for the leaders who are coming to our country," Mr Parkop said.

    Australia's Assistant Minister for the Pacific and International Development, Anne Ruston, would not be drawn on whether the Maseratis were an appropriate choice or not.

    "I don't necessarily think the brand of the car is really the most important issue, it's making sure that they met the specifications of APEC, for the requirements of the security and safety of the leaders," she said.

    © 2018 ABC Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved

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