15 Oct 2003

Australian police force in PNG a year away

8:41 am on 15 October 2003

Australia says it will be at least a year before significant numbers of Australian police officers are working in Papua New Guinea.

The foreign minister, Alexander Downer, says there are resource constraints on a plan to send some 200 to 300 Australian police to help with PNG's law and order problem.

But according to the AAP news agency he says it could be helped by the withdrawal of Australian troops and police from East Timor next year.

Mr Downer also says PNG is not a failed state and nor is it on the precipice, as was Solomon Islands.

But he says it does have law and order problems, mainly stemming from lack of resources, and Australia could help.