24 Aug 2005

Australia expects some police to be returned to PNG

2:46 pm on 24 August 2005

The Australian foreign minister, Alexander Downer, says Canberra expects to send about 30 police officers back to Papua New Guinea to train local police and help tackle corruption.

Mr Downer made the comment in Port Moresby where he arrived for a fresh round of talks with PNG ministers in a bid to salvage the Enhanced Cooperation Program.

A PNG Supreme Court ruling in May removed legal immunity for Australian officers, prompting Australia to withdraw its 160 officers immediately.

Mr Downer says any returning Australians would not return to the beat with their PNG colleagues.

He has told an Australia-PNG Business Council breakfast meeting today the restoration of immunities for Australian police was not possible because the PNG government was not going to amend the constitution.

Mr Downer also says another 43 officials not engaged in policing duties and still working in PNG government departments were achieving good results.