4 Aug 2005

PNG Chamber of Commerce head glum over ECP alternatives

9:07 pm on 4 August 2005

The president of the Papua New Guinea Chamber of Commerce, Michael Mayberry, says not only is the Enhanced Cooperation Programme dead, but any proposed alternatives also are tenuous.

There's been no announcement by either PNG or Australia about progress, or the lack of it, during more than two months of talks designed to rescue the multi-million dollar aid programme.

It's now widely speculated, at least in PNG, that the ECP is effectively dead in the water, in the face of intransigence by both parties over the key immunity from prosecution issue.

Alternatives that have been suggested include extending diplomatic immunity to ECP officials; allowing individual ECP workers to "buy out" of immunity; and secondments of Australian police.

Michael Mayberry says there's no hope for the ECP, and little room for optimism generally.

"That programme is dead but I think that the alternative suggestions is probably also a bit shakey too."

Michael Mayberry.