4 Jul 2005

PNG Governor claims ECP stalemate will not be easily solved

8:21 pm on 4 July 2005

A provincial governor in Papua New Guinea says the deadlock between Australia and PNG over the multi-million dollar Enhanced Co-operation Programme will not be easily solved.

The Morobe governor, Luther Wenge, who successfully challenged the ECP in the country's Supreme Court, says political leaders and the public are not prepared to entertain Australia's demand for immunity.

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

Mr Wenge originally supported dialogue between Canberra and Port Moresby after the departure of the officers.

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

"A leader who's going to ask for immunity, there'll be a lot of outcry in this country you see and the leaders know this very, very well, and so there is a deadlock."

He says he believes it's unreasonable for Australian officials working in the justice, immigration, forestry, taxation and other areas to expect immunity from prosecution and their continued presence in the country is in doubt.