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Papua New Guinea’s Foreign Minister has resigned after his daughter’s TikToks showing a lavish taxpayer-funded trip to the King’s coronation infuriated the country.

Savannah Tkatchenko posted a series of TikTok videos flaunting her luxurious trip to London which sparked a wider conversation about the size and cost of Papua New Guinea’s delegation to the May 6 ceremony.

In response to the backlash from his 22-year-old daughter’s videos, Foreign Minister Justin Tkatchenko announced his resignation on Friday afternoon.

This was shortly after a trainwreck interview with the ABC where he branded his daughter’s critics “primitive animals”.

Mr Tkatchenko’s comments were met with backlash across the population, who marched with banners reading “We are not primitives” through the streets of Port Moresby.

Mr Tkatchenko said he would be “stepping aside” amid the controversy as not to distract from US President Joe Biden’s upcoming trip to the Pacific nation.

“I also want to ensure the truth of this matter is cleared and the misinformation and lies are corrected,” he added.

He said his daughter had attended the coronation in the place of his wife, who could not make the event.

Approximately 30 people attended as part of PNG’s delegation – more than double the size of Australia’s 14 – at a cost of around $3 million Kina ($1.2 million).

Comparatively, neighbouring country Solomon Islands only sent one delegate, while Samoa, Tonga and the Cook Islands all only had two delegates attend.

The names of the delegation members have also been kept secret.

The total cost of coronation celebrations is estimated to total roughly $6 million Kina ($2.5 million) which included a gigantic in-country celebration attended by the Prime Minister.

Each delegate in the 30-strong congregation was given a 50,000 Kina ($22,000) allowance to cover flights and accommodation.

In a country where almost 40 per cent of the population lives in poverty, the extravagance of Ms Tkatchenko travelling first class to London and shopping at designer stores in Singapore was not well received by many in Papua New Guinea.  

While her father defended her actions in the interview with the ABC, where he said she had attended to represent Papua New Guinea at the “highest order”, many on social media questioned whether the Australian citizen was the best person to do so.

Ms Tkatchenko was educated in Brisbane and currently lives in Queensland, where she studies law at Griffith University.

The law student also attended an event intended for dignitaries’ spouses, which provided education for Commonwealth nations on the eradication of cervical cancer in their home countries.  

One TikTok user queried how Ms Tkatchenko could use the information learned at the breakfast, given she lives in Australia.

“What official role/position does she hold that validates her attending those events in the place of qualified PNGeans?” another questioned.

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Several users expressed fury at the 22-year-old’s use of the hashtags “Aussies in London” and “Aussies overseas”, given she was meant to be representing Papua New Guinea whilst on the trip.

“It’s not okay to travel the world using PNG taxpayers’ money,” text from one video read, accompanied by screenshots from Ms Tkatchenko’s Instagram.

Several users also claimed it was not the first time Ms Tkatchenko had attended an official trip with her father, with allegations surfacing that she travelled to the United States with the Papua New Guinea delegation for the UN General Assembly.  

Ms Tkatchenko’s Instagram and TikTok profiles have since been deleted.

English Headline

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