No Prime Minister has had such a symbolic impact on our relationship with PNG since former Prime Minister Paul Keating kissed the ground at Kokoda on the 50th anniversary of the campaign 32 years ago, in 1992.

Since then, all of our connections have been conducted via carefully scripted dialogues by unseen diplomatic operatives’ expert in the dark arts of political double-speak to protect their respective patches.

Now we have two Prime Ministers on the Kokoda Trail who have to line up with a date roll under their arms each morning to have their daily bog and wipe their own clackers in a crapper they will never forget – it’s a queue that nobody, regardless of rank, wealth, or position would ever dare crash!

Like everybody else in their entourage they will get to enjoy each other’s company over a yarn, a laugh, and the odd uninhibited fart.

And along the way humble villagers will come forward to meet them with soft handshakes and warm smiles that will remind them of the unconditional love of human nature in a subsistence culture.

No Prime Minster can afford to spend more than a couple of days on such a mission but this shared experience will last well beyond their political careers and be the subject of entertaining quips in the many after-dinner speeches they will both make in the years ahead.

So Albo, while I’ve got your attention, can I offer you a few tips to take our relationship with PNG to a new level regarding our shared wartime heritage:

  • Reciprocate with an invitation to Prime Minister Marape to join you at our annual ‘Kokoda Day’ service at the Kokoda Track Memorial Walkway in Sydney on the 3rd November this year – and to bring a PNG cultural group with him to showcase those wonderful people you met during your visit.
  • Announce that you and Prime Minister Marape will proclaim ‘Kokoda Day’ on 3rd November as a national day of commemoration in both countries.
  • Develop a Joint Agreement for Commemoration to honour our shared wartime heritage throughout Papua and New Guinea.
  • Support PNG to transfer responsibility for the Kokoda Trail from the Department of Provincial and Local Level Government Affairs (DPLLGA) and the Conservation Environment Protection Authority (CEPA) to PNG tourism (TPA) so they can manage it as a pilgrimage tourism enterprise for the economic benefit of those wonderful subsistence villagers you met; and
  • If you have a few dollars left over from the budget commit to a commemorative centre at Owers Corner to tell the story of the Kokoda campaign.


The day before Anzac Day, on 24 April 2024, the Australian newspaper reported Prime Minister Albanese as saying:

“this visit to PNG is “not about announcements, it’s about Anzac Day”

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