24 May 2005

Australian police move to Solomons after sudden PNG withdrawal

3:39 pm on 24 May 2005

An Australian senate committee has been told that most of the Australian police officers who were withdrawn from Papua New Guinea last week have been redeployed to other tasks.

The police left PNG after that country's supreme court ruled that their immunity provisions were unconstitutional.

The Australian police commissioner, Mick Keelty, says of 115 police returned to Australia 79 have been sent for duty in Solomon Islands and a further 20 given other international tasks.

He says 10 administrators remain in PNG and vehicles and weapons have been secured.

The justice minister, Chris Ellison, was unable to say what impact the withdrawal has had on crime in PNG.