3 Oct 2005

Australia advised to change tone with PNG leaders, says academic

4:32 pm on 3 October 2005

A Papua New Guinea political scientist says the PNG Prime Minister, Sir Michael Somare, will be looking for Australian leaders to show his country more respect.

Sir Michael has flown to Australia today for talks with the Prime Minister, John Howard, that cover the economic and governance challenges facing PNG.

Relations between the two countries have been soured this year by the collapse of Canberra's huge police aid programme to PNG and by Sir Michael being forced through a security check at Brisbane Airport.

Professor Allan Patience of the University of PNG says there are hopes that a more mature relationship can be established.

He says Sir Michael would like Mr Howard to be less contemptuous of PNG.

"Both Howard and Alexander Downer have been fairly blunt in their comments on Papua New Guinea as a potentially fragile if not failing state. They have talked a lot about corruption in the leadership and I think that Sir Michael has taken this to heart and he would like a bit more respect and understanding than Canberra has been showing in recent years."