4 Oct 2002

Vanuatu government denies Australian police spied on the country

10:58 am on 4 October 2002

The Vanuatu Government has rejected claims that Australia is trying to destablize the country.

And it says it has no intention of asking a team of police advisors to leave, or for the High Commissioner to be moved.

Earlier this week, Wendy Himford, the spokesperson for Vanuatu's deputy prime minister, Serge Vohor, claimed Australia has been spying on the country for years and the high commissioner needs to be transferred out of Vanuatu.

Ms Himford was speaking after Mr Vohor himself was reported in the Australian media alleging that Australian police were tapping phones and attempting to destabilise the Vanuatu government.

But Daniel Bangtor, the spokesman for the Prime Minister, Edward Natapei, says there have long been rumours about the activities of the Australian police, but there is no basis to them.

"As far as we are concerned, they are just rumours that have been initiated on the streets by persons who probably have some strong feelings against the Australian Federal police here."