10 Mar 2011

Australia warns PNG flotilla

4:12 pm on 10 March 2011

Australia says Papuans in Papua New Guinea have no legal case for Australian citizenship considering their two failed Australian High Court bids.

They claim to have been given no choice about their nationality when Australia ended its rule of PNG in 1975.

The Australian High Commissioner to PNG, Ian Kemish, says a flotilla of Papua New Guinea villagers planning to cross the Torres Strait to Australia claiming citizenship is more scam than political action.

Mr Kemish says if they cross, they will be detained, their boats seized and destroyed, and they'll be returned as quickly as possible.

In December, a PNG national, Jonathan Baure, organised more than 100 protesters to travel from PNG's Western Province town of Daru across the Torres Strait.

Most were captured but one dinghy carrying 10 passengers evaded Australian border control and landed on the Cape York Peninsula, the northern tip of Australia, where they raised the Papuan flag in protest.