17 Sep 2003

Australian politician says AusAID should change the way it distributes aid in PNG

4:09 pm on 17 September 2003

An Australian Federal Senator, Peter Cook, says he wants AusAID to change its procedures in Papua New Guinea.

After weeks of acrimony over the way in which aid is spent, talks are set to resume with the Australian foreign minister, Alexander Downer, travelling to Port Moresby today.

Mr Cook, who is the chairman of a Foreign Affairs Committee which last month delivered a report critical of Australia's aid effort in PNG, says he hopes the talks can end the fractiousness.

AusAID has been criticised in PNG for by-passing government departments and funding projects directly.

Senator Cook says he can understand that AusAID wants to ensure that all of the aid dollars reach their intended target and don't get siphoned off through so-called weak governance, which he says is code for corruption.

"I think there is scope, though, to revisit some of those things and with a new government in Papua New Guinea committed to being a clean administration and making improvements in cleaning up their administration, to start to find a hybrid between what AusAID does now and what a full blown give it all to the government system would be"