PNG PM Marape makes first Australian visit

Ending offshore detention is top of the agenda for the PNG prime minister on his Australian visit.
Ending offshore detention is top of the agenda for the PNG prime minister on his Australian visit.

Papua New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape is set to arrive in Canberra for his first official visit to Australia since taking over from his predecessor Peter O'Neill in late May.

Mr Marape will arrive at the Fairburn air base on Sunday afternoon and will receive a ceremonial welcome at Parliament House on Monday.

He will then hold bilateral talks with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who invited Mr Marape as part of his "Pacific step-up" strategy, before visiting other cities across the country during his six day tour.

But he will not be addressing the parliament, which on Monday will begin its first full fortnight of sittings since the federal election.

Mr Morrison is keen to increase Australia's engagement with its Pacific neighbours through deeper economic and security cooperation.

Australia gives developing PNG more than half a billion dollars in aid each year and Mr Morrison said at the time of Mr Marape's election he was looking forward to working closely with him on "our many shared interests".

But Mr Marape has already made it clear he wants a deadline for ending the offshore processing of asylum seekers on Manus Island.

"We would like it to be ended as soon as possible," Mr Marape says.

Around 450 asylum seekers remain in PNG and another 350 are being held on Nauru.

His visit comes just days after Greens senator Nick McKim tried to visit the Manus Island detention centre, but was deported and told by PNG Immigration officials he hadn't followed appropriate procedures.

But Senator McKim denies he had done anything wrong.

"They said I demanded to be let in. I did no such thing," Senator McKim said on his arrival back in Australia on Saturday.

"They said I didn't make a formal request. In fact, I did make a formal request. I've acted in actually the same way as I've acted on all of my other trips to Manus Island."

Thousands of people also attended rallies in Australia's major cities on Saturday calling for an end to offshore detention.

Friday marked six years since the Rudd Labor government reintroduced offshore detention for asylum seekers who arrived by boat.

Mr Marape will be accompanied by his wife Rachael and several ministers.

Australian Associated Press