22 Aug 2005

Alexander Downer in PNG tomorrow to try for a compromise to the ECP

9:01 pm on 22 August 2005

Foreign Minister Alexander Downer and Justice Minister Chris Ellison will travel to Papua New Guinea tomorrow in a bid to revive Australia's stalled policing program.

Mr Downer said he and Senator Ellison would meet senior ministers, including Foreign Minister Rabbie Namaliu and Internal Security Minister Bire Kimisopa.

They want to discuss new proposals for assistance to PNG, after the collapse of the Enhanced Cooperation Program under which Australian police were sent to help rebuild PNG's rundown police force.

However, the police were pulled out in May after PNG's Supreme Court ruled that an agreement granting the Australian officers immunity from prosecution under PNG law breached the constitution.

Canberra has insisted such protection is needed so Australian police can carry out their job of rebuilding the the PNG Constabulary as an effective law enforcement agency.

But the PNG government is ruling out changes to the constitution to grant such immunity.

Mr Downer said both countries had been examining ways to move forward since the Australian police were withdrawn.