21 Feb 2012

Australia's silence over PNG turmoil labelled incomprehensible

6:52 pm on 21 February 2012

The minister of defence in one of the two governments claiming legitimacy in Papua New Guinea says Australia's apparent support for the Peter O'Neill administration is incomprehensible.

Mr O'Neill has control of government but the Sir Michael Somare-led group hopes to overturn this through legal action.

Andrew Kumbakor, who is Sir Michael's defence minister, says despite Australia's hands-off approach to the dispute, it is still in its interests to ensure that democracy prevails.

He says in view of PNG's historical relationship with Australia, it is only natural for the people to call for Canberra to protect the constitution, which he says is under threat from the O'Neill regime.

Mr Kumbakor says since the Supreme Court order last December, Australia has maintained its engagement with the illegal regime.

He says the regime's non-compliance with court orders and its contemptuous conduct have not drawn any condemnation from Prime Minister Julia Gillard or other members of her Government.

He says this silence is incomprehensible given Australia has in the past been quick to take positions on undemocratic or illegal behaviour in other Pacific nations.