4 Jul 2005

A PNG provincial governor says ECP programme is doomed

2:14 pm on 4 July 2005

A provincial governor in Papua New Guinea who successfully challenged the Enhanced Co-operation Programme in the country's Supreme Court, says the multi-million dollar scheme is beyond resurrection.

The ECP programme saw the arrival of Australian police officers to bolster security in PNG but they were pulled out by Australia after the high court in PNG ruled that their immunity provisions were unconstitutional.

Morobe governor, Luther Wenge, originally supported dialogue between Canberra and Port Moresby after the departure of the officers.

But, Mr Wenge says he believes negotiations to see the police return have now reached a stalemate, and there's little political will to appease the Australians.

"The Australian government is pushing on the immunity and I don't think they will have it. Now that the Supreme court has ruled and cleared the minds of citizens in this country, I don't think the majority of the leaders in the country and the people at large will allow immunity in there now."

Mr Wenge is yet to seek legal advice on removing the remaining ECP officials in Treasury, Finance and other government departments.

Neither the Australian High Commissioner in PNG or advisors to the Australian Foreign Affairs Minister in Canberra were available for comment.