12 Apr 2005

PNG governor wants ties with Australia cut over apology refusal

4:03 pm on 12 April 2005

The governor of Papua New Guinea's Morobe province has called for diplomatic ties with Australia to be cut and food imports from Australia to be slashed.

Luther Wenge made the call after Australia again dismissed demands by the PNG government to apologise over the way security staff at Brisbane treated the PNG prime minister, Sir Michael Somare, last month.

Australia has ruled out an apology and the Australian foreign minister, Alexander Downer, says the incident in Brisbane may be due to cultural differences.

Mr Wenge says PNG has had enough of the bullying tactics by Australia.

He says PNG should close its high commission in Canberra and withdraw its diplomatic staff.

Mr Wenge says arrangements such as the Enhanced Co-operation Programme should be severed.

"Because I can tell you when we gained independence in September of 1975, in effect, as I see it now, we got independent on our right hand and on the left hand we got dependent at the same time."

Mr Wenge says the country stands to save foreign exchange by halting food imports from Australia.

Sir Michael is due to transit through Brisbane in two days on his way to Noumea where the University of New Caledonia is to give him an honorary doctorate.