17 Sep 2005

PNG prime minister insists relations with Australia still good

7:10 am on 17 September 2005

The prime minister of Papua New Guinea, Sir Michael Somare says relations between Australia and PNG remain "very good" after three decades of independence.

PNG celebrated 30 years of nationhood yesterday.

Sir Michael has denied claims by some critics that relations between Canberra and Port Moresby are at a low point.

He was furious when asked to remove his shoes during a security check at Brisbane Airport in March, and the Australian government refused to apologise.

Sir Michael says the so-called Enhanced Co-operation Programme with Australia is an excellent concept, but there's a point of difference over changing the PNG constitution to allow Australian police immunity.

He says people are saying that the relationship is at an all-time low, because he's refused to accept what Australia's proposals for the return of its police to PNG.