10 Sep 2005

PNG police minister casts doubt on return of Australian police

7:23 am on 10 September 2005

Papua New Guinea's police minister has raised new doubts about the planned return of Australian police.

Bire Kimisopa says he no longer supports a tentative agreement with Canberra, under which 30 Australian police officers would work in advisory and not frontline roles.

Mr Kimisopa says he hopes to take alternative proposals to Canberra this month, but he's not optimistic that agreement shall be reached.

More than 150 Australian police pulled out of PNG because they weren't immune from prosecution there, and the PNG government won't amend its constitution to grant them such protection.

Australia's foreign minister, Alexander Downer, says the new idea is a "second best" option.

The agreement needs the final approval of the PNG Cabinet.