Rudd cans trip to focus on domestic issues

The prime minister\’s planned trip to Papua New Guinea, India and Switzerland next week has been cancelled, with Kevin Rudd instead staying at home to work on the government\’s response to the snowballing global financial crisis.


The PM decided not to attend the World Economic Forum in Switzerland next Friday “following developments in the global economy in recent days”, a spokesman said.

The trips to PNG and Indian earlier in the week were canned due to circumstances beyond Mr Rudd\’s control.

Mr Rudd\’s spokesman said the prime minister decided not to attend the economic forum “to continue working on Australia\’s response to the global financial crisis”.

Jobs the PM\’s focus

“The prime minister will spend the next week in meetings with advisers, officials and business and industry leaders formulating the next steps in the government\’s decisive and comprehensive program to support Australian jobs and strengthen the Australian economy,” he said in a statement.

The government believes the slowing Chinese economy could blow $5 billion in export revenue to China.

Official figures released on Thursday revealed China\’s economy grew at just 6.8 per cent in the December quarter, down from nine per cent.

While the PM will not be in Switzerland, Australia will still be represented with Treasurer Wayne Swan expected to fly out on Tuesday to attend the meeting of 40 world leaders who will discuss the key challenges facing the global economy in 2009.

Singh to have bypass surgery

Mr Rudd\’s trips to India and PNG were “deferred due to events in India and the postponement of the special Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) in Port Moresby”, his spokesman said.

The prime minister was due to meet his Indian counterpart, Manmohan Singh, on Wednesday, but the Indian leader must have heart bypass surgery after doctors found blocked arteries.

The 76-year-old – who has a history of heart problems – is due to have the surgery in a New Delhi hospital on Saturday.

The PIF leaders\’ meeting, scheduled for Tuesday to discuss the fate of Fiji\’s membership of the regional body, has been postponed after Fiji\’s self-appointed leader, Frank Bainimarama, said he would not attend.

Commodore Bainimarama said he needed to lead relief work after recent devastating floods that killed at least 11 people.

The PIF meeting has been rescheduled for February 10 so the Fijian leader can attend, PNG\’s Prime Minister Michael Somare said.