8 Aug 2005

PNG Minister to put possible ECP solution to Canberra

8:18 am on 8 August 2005

Papua New Guinea's Internal Security Minister and the Police Commissioner are planning further contact with Australia to try to overcome the impasse surrounding the Enhanced Cooperation Programme.

Many observers believe the ECP is effectively over amid a standoff following a court ruling that cast doubt over the arrangement in May.

At issue is whether Australians in PNG under the programme should have immunity from prosecution.

Our correspondent in Port Moresby, Peter Niesi, says the immunity demand would mean PNG amending its consitution, which would be lengthy and fraught.

He says the latest idea to solve the impasse is to bring Australians into PNG under the Police Act, which gives the Police Commissioner power to engage outsiders as "special constables".

"Internal security minister Bire Kimisopa and the police Commissioner Sam Inguba are preparing to go down to Canberra for further discussions with the Australian Government this time at the request of the Australian Government."