“Many of you will be glad to know that Kokopo is only three and a half hours from Brisbane. You don’t all have to go to Bali as the only tourism destination for Australians. In fact the government is now expanding the runway at airport facilities so that we can have direct flights from Brisbane and Cairns, direct flights from the Narita and direct flight from Beijing.”
His plea comes just as Australian holiday thrill-seekers silently began a campaign to boycott Bali as a tourist stop last month because of fears of reprisals and being caught in drug trafficking scandals – in the midst of a crackdown by Indonesia’s new Joko Widodo government to root out drug crimes associated with foreign travellers.
Two Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran – referred as infamous Bali Nine leaders for their conviction in drug smuggling in 2005 - face execution by a firing squad in Indonesia once all legal avenues are exhausted in freeing them on 29 April.
The Prime Minster also highlighted opportunities in business areas outside of the resources sector and a focus on strengthening agricultural production and expanding the tourism industry in the nation:
“There are great opportunities for new investments and, of course, our old partners who are already investing in the country. Not only in the mining and oil and gas sector, or in the construction sector, but also in other areas like tourism and agriculture.
“Our government is now partnering private investors in major agricultural projects throughout the country.
“We are able to expand on the oil palm industry that we have. We are entering into an arrangement with a private developer, with the Government as a partner, to develop the large Sepik plains which will be converted into a palm oil growing area.
“That will give greater opportunities to our people within that area where there are very poor communities.
“I can say that similar structures have been contemplated for the coffee industry, our rubber and tea and the other commodities that we need to increase production - because we think that we have some of the best available organic agricultural potential anywhere in the world. Because of our fertile soil and abundance of rain and water and sun in the areas we are able to achieve output many other countries cannot.[PNC]