22 Aug 2005

Australia and PNG to look for compromise to ECP aid package

9:06 pm on 22 August 2005

The Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer, and Justice Minister, Chris Ellison, will be in Port Moresby today, trying to finalise a new version of Canberra's aid programme for Papua New Guinea.

In May the multi million dollar Enhanced Cooperation programme collapsed after a PNG court ruled that the Australian Federal police then in PNG, did not have the immunity cover they thought they had.

After months of talks the issue remains unresolved and a modified programme is likely.

But as Pacific security expert, Dr Sinclair Dinnen, of the Australian National University says Canberra is unlikely to revert to offering to provide police advisors only as has mooted.

"The ECP - the policing component - was very much designed to overcome what were perceived to be some of the inadequacies attached to using advisors only, as opposed to in line personnel. I suspect that in terms of any compromise it might be more of a mixture of advisors and selected personnel in line positions"