PNG minister proposes PNG-OZ coastguard

2:19 pm on 10 January 2019

Papua New Guinea's Deputy Prime Minister has proposed a joint PNG-Australia coastguard policing initiative to curb sea piracy and drug and arms smuggling.

The Post Courier newspaper reported the proposal comes as lawlessness increases in Milne Bay Province.

Charles Abel

Charles Abel Photo: RNZ Pacific/ Koroi Hawkins

Mr Abel said the latest robbery was reported on Misima Island over Christmas.

He said it was allegedly committed by the same gang involved in a spate of recent robberies and piracy in the province.

Mr Abel said he's asked the Police Minister to talk with the provincial police commander to look at restructuring and for some further intervention to make sure the gangs were held to account.

He conceded it's a challenge for the government to continue addressing.

Mr Abel said PNG must talk with the Australian government to involve the Australian Federal Police.

"I'd really like to see a coast guard-type arrangement with the help of Australian Federal Police that is concerned about drug trafficking who can work with our police force and Defence Force to jointly establish some sort of border and coastal surveillance," he said.

"I think we can have a good combined effort with the Australian government and even the Americans to come in and we can have a coast guard-type arrangement."

The minister said the move could be trailed in places like Enga and Hela, Western Highlands.

The call follows news late last year that Australia was assisting in the redevelopment of the Lobrum naval base on Manus Island with the possibility of having vessels and personnel being based there.

Milne Bay, Papua New Guinea

Milne Bay, Papua New Guinea Photo: Supplied