BRC Chair’s speech at the return of the Referendum Writ.

Ladies & Gentlemen, Distinguished Guests and Members of the Diplomatic Corp.

I have now formally presented the Governor-General with the Writ for a Bougainville Referendum that was returned to me following the declaration of the results of the Bougainville Referendum 2019 on Wednesday. This concludes what has been an enormous effort by both governments, my fellow commissioners and everyone associated with the referendum process: international and local observers, scrutineers, officials and the media.

I want to take the opportunity to thank everyone involved and to wish the leaders in both Papua New Guinea and Bougainville every success, as you look towards the future with hope and determination in the creation of new relationships between you.

To the people of Bougainville. I want to say that while that past has been a difficult one, the result was an expression of hope for the future, and an honouring of those who you lost in the conflict.

The referendum results mean more work for Bougainville. It may take years for the outcome and Bougainvilleans must be united to see this through. There should not be any more killings or shots fired.

To both Papua New Guineans and Bougainvillians, I want to say that your best days are ahead of you.

In conclusion I want to say that as I stand here today, I am reminded of my own country and the conflict that engulfed it for 30 years. On the day I signed that Good Friday agreement with the then Prime Minister Tony Blair I said:

“Today is a day we should treasure, a day when agreement and accommodation have taken the place of difference and division. Today is the promise of a bright future, a day when we can hope a line can be drawn under the bloody conflict of the past.

Thanks, and best wishes to you all.