16 Feb 2004

Australia dispatches first personnel to PNG as part of Enhanced Co-operation Program

8:25 am on 16 February 2004

The first members of an Australian contingent of police and government officials to be sent to Papua New Guinea will begin work as advisors in Port Moresby this week.

The Australian Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, farewelled the eight officials last week.

They will take up positions in Treasury, Finance, Personnel Management, Customs, Foreign Affairs and Immigration.

Late last year both countries agreed that a team of 230 police and 64 public officials be sent to PNG to work along side locals in the areas of justice, public sector management, border security and transport.

The full implementation of the so called Enhanced Co-operation Programme, has been delayed by the adjournment of Parliament until 29th June.

Mr Downer says the programme, particularly the policing and law and justice elements, requires a treaty between the governments and the passage of enabling legislation through the PNG Parliament.

But he has indicated that Parliament may now meet sometime next month.

Mr Downer says Australia is working to implement as much of the package as possible ahead of the enabling legislation.

He says efforts are being made to deploy more of the 64 officials and to explore ways of deploying 20 of the police team to Bougainville.