14 May 2005

Australian foreign minister says assistance police could be withdrawn from PNG soon

7:12 am on 14 May 2005

The Australian Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer says Australian police officers could return home from Papua New Guinea after being stood down.

Mr Downer says if it's going to take a long time to resolve constitutional problems with PNG then it would be better to bring the officers back as an interim step.

The PNG Supreme Court has ruled the Australian so-called Enhanced Co-operation Programme as unconstitutional.

The president of the PNG police association, Robert Ali, says Australian police need not necessarily pull out altogether.

"It'd be sad in a sense that... we're saying is there any other better way of relooking at this entire arrangement. We're saying that probably the ECP, AFP assistance that is coming in, may be good. Our organisation is going to benefit. But is there any other better way of addressing this issue."