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Australian Current Affairs

Australia to send extra police to Papua New Guinea

Peter O'Neill and Kevin Rudd

Peter O’Neill and Kevin Rudd

Australia will send up to 50 police officers to Papua New Guinea by the end of the year to help tackle the country’s growing law and order problem.

Papua New Guineans will also enjoy ”passenger lane” status – currently shared by Australian and New Zealand travellers – at Brisbane and Cairns airport from September.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd on Monday announced the moves following talks with his PNG counterpart, Peter O’Neill, in Port Moresby.

”Recognising the importance of law and order to PNG’s economic prosperity, we have agreed importantly that by year’s end Australia will deploy 50 police in visible policing roles in Port Moresby and Lae,” Mr Rudd said.

”Our law and order co-operation won’t stop there, but it is a good start.”

The O’Neill government has also entered talks with Queensland for an exchange of up to 150 police officers, Mr O’Neill’s office said on Monday.

This separate program will aim to start with an exchange of 10 to 15 police.

Mr Rudd’s brief trip to PNG ended without any firm agreement on the issue of asylum seekers.

Mr Rudd said he and Mr O’Neill were working through a United Nations’ report which heavily criticises the Australian-run asylum seeker processing centre in PNG.

The UN’s refugee agency, UNHCR, last week slammed conditions at the temporary detention facility on Manus Island.

”I thank the UNHCR for its work in this report and we’re studying its recommendations. We will work through those recommendations with our friends here in PNG,” said Mr Rudd.

Mr O’Neill said he hoped the UNHCR appreciated the problems faced by governments in tackling asylum seekers.

”We agree with Prime Minister Rudd, we welcome that report and will look into the details of it,” he said.

Law and order has dominated news coverage of PNG in 2013 following a spate of grisly murders throughout the country.

The most recent was the murder two weeks ago of four Chinese nationals near Port Moresby’s busy CBD.

On-the-beat Australian police were turfed out of PNG in 2005 after the country’s Supreme Court found the then Enhanced Cooperation Program (ECP) was unconstitutional.

”This (current deal) is part of the joint agreement we signed with Prime Minister (Julia) Gillard,” Mr O’Neill said.

”This is certainly not part of the ECP program, which had some legal issues.

”Both governments and officials are working to overcome those issues that are before us.”

Mr Rudd and Mr O’Neill have also agreed to ease travel to Australia for Papua New Guineans.

The visa issue had been a sore point in relations, with Mr O’Neill telling Ms Gillard the arduous visa process was unfair.Now PNG travellers heading to Brisbane or Cairns – big business destinations for Pacific Islanders – will have an easier time getting into Australia.

”These new arrangements will be rolled out from 1 September and will allow PNG citizens to use immigration processing lanes as holders of Australian and New Zealand passports do,” Mr Rudd said.

Australia will also help PNG with the design of a new central courthouse in Port Moresby, as well as construction of the Ramu-Madang highway on the country’s east coast.

Source: The Age – Rudd signs policing, travel pact with PNG

About Craig Hill

Teacher and Writer. Writing has been cited in New York Times, BBC, Fox News, Aljazeera, Philippines Star, South China Morning Post, National Interest, news.com.au, Wikipedia and others.

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