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Saturday, April 17, 2021

Australian PM expresses condolences over former PNG governor’s COVID-19 death in Queensland

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has today expressed his condolences to the family of a 77-year-old man who died this week in a Queensland hospital after suffering complications due to COVID-19.

The man, a dual British/Papua New Guinea national, was transported to Queensland from PNG on March 28 after his condition worsened.

The man, Malcolm ‘Kela’ Smith (pictured), was a respected former PNG Eastern Highlands governor and businessman in the Pacific nation.

In 2017, he also founded the Kela Foundation to assist underprivileged children and their communities.

“I want to express my condolences to the family of the elder gentleman who passed away as a result of COVID-related illness in Queensland,” the Prime Minister said today.

Mr Morrison said Mr Smith had contracted the virus in PNG.

“It’s a further reminder of the very serious situation that is occurring in Papua New Guinea and the Government continues to make every effort we can to provide assistance to Papua New Guinea during this incredibly difficult time for them,” he said.

The Prime Minister confirmed he would be writing to the European Commission again to seek export licences for the full amount of the 3.8 million AstraZeneca vaccine doses promised to Australia.

“And I can assure you that the first million of those will be used to support the humanitarian effort that we’re putting in place for Papua New Guinea,” he said.

“So, if it is indeed the position of the European Union that they are happy for these export licences to be granted and their 3.8 million doses to come to Australia, then we would encourage them to do that in response to our request to ensure that we can do two things.

“Firstly, to provide support to our Pacific family in Papua New Guinea that are undergoing a humanitarian crisis and to support them with those one million doses, and to ensure that those contracted doses for Australia can be part of the vaccination rollout here in this country.”

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