23 Feb 2006

Australian aid important boost to security, says Vanuatu Internal Affairs minister

7:27 pm on 23 February 2006

Vanuatu's Internal Affairs minister says a new initiative by Canberra to provide over 20 million US dollars to strengthen his country's police force isn't conditional on appointing an Australian police commissioner.

Through its aid agency AUSaid, Australia has announced it will spend around 28 million US dollars to reform the police and strengthen the justice system over the next five years.

Vanuatu's Police Services Commission is currently assessing local applications for the post of Police Commissioner.

But while George Wells has expressed a desire to see a foreigner in the role, he says the Australian funding has nothing to do with the appointment, which he expects a decision on by the end of next month.

And he says the new initiative is an important boost to Vanuatu's security.

"We don't have civil unrest like in PNG, or Fiji and Solomon Islands. So we learn a lot about difficulties the other countries in the Pacific have been going through. And I think Australia also understands the needs and importance to safeguard the interests of Vanuatu."

George Wells