5 Mar 2004

Speaker of Papua New Guinea parliament urges leaders to stop knocking Australian aid

4:33 pm on 5 March 2004

The Speaker of the Papua New Guinea parliament has urged leaders to refrain from criticising Australian Development aid to PNG.

Bill Skate has made the call in light of criticism of Australia's latest aid package, which provides specialised Australian manpower in certain public offices.

Earlier this week, the Morobe governor, Luther Wenge, said he would physically remove Australians from government offices.

Mr Skate says knocking Australian aid for PNG's national ills has almost become a national pasttime and it must stop.

He says leaders must stop meddling with external windows of opportunity, from which PNG can at least make some gains towards its present national economic recovery efforts.

Markham MP, Andrew Baing, has called Governor Wenge's comments "irresponsible" and the general secretary of the Trade Union Congress, John Paska, says crictics of the deployment should not confuse development with loss of sovereignty.

Meanwhile a local TV poll has shown that more than 80% of the people of Morobe disagreed with the governor and supported the Australian deployment.